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MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. A public private partnership to redevelop the downtown core of Maple Ridge has been ruled illegal by the highest court in British Columbia.

In a unanimous decision, the B.C. Court of Appeal has found that the agreement between the city, P3 International Trade and Investments Inc. and Voth Bros. Developments Ltd. was invalid because residents were not given a chance to vote on it.

The terms of the agreements are outrageous and represent all that can be bad about a public private partnership, CUPE BC president Barry ONeill said.

Those terms include the city agreeing to a 50-year, $25 million deal where they fronted $7 million to the developer. The city also agreed to pay $2 million for demolition and another $2 million for capital financing.

At the same time, the city agreed to lease back office space for 25 years, guaranteeing annual lease and parking payments of $2.7 million. The city also agreed to accept higher lease payments if interest rates go up. And it is responsible for maintenance and capital repairs of the public portions of the development.

A lower court ordered the deal shortened to five years. In the end, with the five years of lease payments, and a buyout for the years of lost lease payments, the developer will walk away with $40 million in 2007.

As well as the office space, the developer also promised to build a hotel. The hotel, and a promised arts center are yet to be built. Does the failure to meet timelines by several years matter? Not if you have a clause in your contract that says the Developer does not agree to a specific completion date for any specific item of work.

There are many questions to be asked, and we think the citizens of Maple Ridge deserve answers, ONeill said. So we are calling on council to hire a credible, independent auditor to do a forensic audit to get to the bottom of this disaster.


Barry ONeill, CUPE BC President, 604-916-8444.