Len Barrie, the former king of Bear Mountain Resort, has fallen from grace into a dark, lonely place. Evicted from Bear Mountain, chased by process servers, hounded by media, and facing a fraud investigation – he is a hunted man.
Tragically, all this could have been avoided if you people had anted up the cash Len needed to stay above water back in 2009. He could have paid his taxes. He wouldn't have needed to "borrow" money to buy a hockey team. He wouldn't have been in Vegas trying to win it all back at the craps table (allegedly).
With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear we all share the responsibility.
There were cries for help every step of the way. Way back in 1999, when Len wantonly chopped down trees that belonged to his neighbour, a private golf club, was that not a plea for intervention? The neighbours could have cut him some slack – perhaps he is brain damaged, or something? - but instead, they threw him out of the club, and he was heartlessly spanked by a judge when he tried to sue them, of all things.
So of course Len rode his dirt bike up Skirt Mountain and decided to piss on everyone below. He would build his own golf resort empire and show us all!
How could we have interpreted this bluster as anything but the desperate posturing of a wounded soul?
heritage cave he was about to bulldoze, the bluster became a roar. It's mine, I own it, and I'll blow it up if I want to, he bellowed. I'll send my hundred-man crew to rough up the chiefs and anyone else who complains. Only now, with the passing of time, can we grasp that his heartless bullying and vicious racism was hiding another call for help.
When people started gossiping that Len was going bankrupt, we should have ignored it and trusted him with our money anyway. Why didn't we give him the highway interchange he wanted, and shut up about the native heritage sites and rare species? Our lack of empathy is painfully obvious to us now.
Instead of a multimillion-dollar bailout, Len got nothing but heartache. Heaven knows, Langford's mayor and council did everything they could, even applying for federal handouts for their golden boy, but to no avail, thanks to meddling civic busybodies.
tree sit camp to block construction of an expensive highway interchange to service his resort. Imagine the arrogance! Well, they got what they deserved from the Joint Task Force SWAT Team. It took 300 officers from as far away as Mission, BC, but they succeeded in arresting three unarmed hippy pacifists who were asleep at the time.
After the camp was evicted in 2008, the city of Langford got to work on the Bear Mountain interchange, thanks to a $25 million loan from TD Bank, on behalf of Bear Mountain. Things were looking great. Len Barrie turned his attention to his first love, hockey. He bought the Tampa Bay Lightning and began to run it into the ground.
Then, storm clouds gathered. Three years ago, auditors found that Barrie had apparently "borrowed" millions of dollars from his resort to buy the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bear Mountain's auditors filed a letter of complaint with company's directors. Then they quit. One of the worried investors complained to the Globe and Mail that things suddenly weren't looking so good.
By then, the resort was losing money. Bear Mountain missed its initial payment for the interchange ($5 million.) The city's application for federal and provincial infrastructure grants was unsuccessful. (Those meddling kids!) Overpass construction ground to a halt.
Around this time, Len went gambling in Vegas and allegedly racked up millions in debt at the Bellagio Casino. The casino tried to collect, but the personal credit documents Len had used as guarantees proved to be worthless, according to news reports.
Two years ago, HSBC, the bank that was feeding the black hole of Bear Mountain's voracious debt, decided to cut its losses ($250 million) and petitioned Bear Mountain into receivership in Vancouver Supreme Court. Len was removed as CEO and the whole board of directors was fired. Len and his partner sold the shattered remnants of the Tampa Bay Lightning at a huge loss.
Last year, Bear Mountain's creditors and investors – including NHL player Mike Vernon – got their payout under the Bear Mountain bankruptcy agreement: $500 each. Mike lost $10 million.
filed suit against Barrie for $2.2 million. Way to kick a guy when he's down!
Then the bank started seizing Len's property. On January 27, 2012, Len and his family were evicted from their $14 million McMansion on top of Bear Mountain, a stone's throw from the partially-demolished native cave.
His family trust fund is long gone. There is no more property equity. Lately, Len's stopped showing up to coach his BC Hockey League team, the Grizzlies, and he's holed up in Youbou instead. (That house is also in foreclosure.)
This spring, Barrie is scheduled to go on trial for criminal violations of the tax code from his Bear Mountain days.
Update: There are SIX criminal charges in total.
Here's the first two:
You think you have a rough life? If you have two nickels to rub together, you're richer than Len. So please give to our 2012 Charity Fundraising Appeal! Give now, and you'll receive a personal autographed copy of this photo:
|Photo montage by Bruce Dean|
Do the right thing. Give Len your money!