Re: Water negotiations ‘not going well’, June 19.
It appears the City of White Rock has wisely sought public approval of the use of expropriation – a forced sale and government takeover – to now quickly acquire the Epcor-owned and operated water utility.
However, at its June 16 public meeting, the city heard much more than a simple carte-blanche endorsement of expropriation.
The city heard that the 2.67 acres at 1454 Oxford St. that the city allowed Epcor to break off from its other utility land holdings and subdivide in May 2013, two months after the city had announced its intention to acquire the water utility, must be included in the assets the city is taking over through expropriation.
This parcel of land has been sold for a reported $12 million, subject to the purchaser receiving favourable OCP amendments and rezoning to enable the construction of twin highrise towers of 24 and 21 storeys. But no such amendments and rezoning have happened; the sale is a long ways from being finalized, if ever.
This land is still owned by Epcor, and one of the assets obtained when purchased for $9 million in 2005. As such, it must be included among the assets for expropriation.
As a matter of principle, Epcor ought to be barred from selling off any of its assets subsequent to the city’s 2013 public announcement of its intention to acquire the water utility. Certainly receiving a fair market value of $20 million for a company that Epcor paid only $9 million for in 2005 should be a sufficient capital gain.
The city has a rare opportunity with this cheap utility land to create a lasting public legacy at never-to-be-seen-again rock-bottom prices.
Dennis Lypka, White Rock