‘There’s something called the market’: Andrew Wilkinson defends BC Liberal land sales

B.C.’s new leader of the opposition is downplaying the price the province received for land sold under his watch while in government.

Andrew Wilkinson was the minister responsible when the provincial government sold hundreds of millions of dollars of land between 2013 and 2015 under the “Release of Assets for Economic Generation” (RAEG) program.

The BC Liberals sold gobs of land for $493M. Three years later, they were worth $860M

The land sold for a total of $493-million, but would have been worth more than $860-million had the province waited just a few years.

The map below shows precisely where those deals happened in the 2013/14 and the 2014/15 fiscal years:

“There’s something called the market,” said Andrew Wilkinson, adding that it’s not fair to assess land sales in the past by current prices.

“If you put your car on the market and you sell it and three years later it’s worth a little bit more, a little bit less, you don’t cry over spilled milk,” Wilkinson added.

“You say at the time the decision was right and I got the market price. That’s how the world works and the government is subject to market forces just like everyone else.”

A Global News investigation found that the province failed to put some of the lots on the market — instead selling them to neighbours —  and that others didn’t have proper bidding processes.

READ MORE: Tax hikes, asset sales, tight spending allows B.C. government to balance budget

The then-opposition NDP took particular issue with the $85-million sale of 14 lots on Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain to a BC Liberal donor. The property had been appraised at a value of $128-million and a later appraisal in 2015 valued it at $107-million.

The Liberal government of the day did make money through the RAEG, which helped boost asset sales to $601-million in 2013/14, and $135-million in 2014/15, according to an auditor general’s report.

At the time, the government said the sales helped create thousands of jobs and incentivize hundreds of housing units.

-With files from Charmaine de Silva

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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