Nine years of waiting are coming to a head as a municipally led negotiating team attempts to nail down a sale agreement for the community's Oceanfront lands.
In November, the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corp. (SODC) board resigned en masse as the District of Squamish took over talks with Bethel Lands Corp. and Matthews Southwest Developments (MSW), the two companies selected to transform 59 acres of former Nexen lands.
The district team is under a tight timeline if the municipality plans to have the “sold” sign up before the SODC's first debt repayment deadline. The Oceanfront's overall bill sits at approximately $9.41 million, which includes environmental cleanup of the former wood treatment chemical plant and the cost of creating an overall plan with the community.
The debt is secured by the property itself, with the loan's first principal payment of $3 million due on May 5, 2014.
Informal talks began after the swap from the SODC board to the municipal team. The next meeting aimed at nailing down a sale agreement is slated for early January.
The Oceanfront represents a large, multi-faceted brownfield development, with exceptionally complex scenarios, big price tags and risks to a developer, Squamish Mayor Rob Kirkham said in a statement issued on Dec. 23.
“As such, the negotiations are by no means straightforward as both sides work to achieve an outcome in everyone's best interest,” he said. “The meetings have been very productive to date.”
The parties have to determine a final sale price and the full scope of investment required by the developers to deliver the community's vision for the property while turning a profit. District officials must consider the municipality's level of responsibility with regards to site servicing.
Council is being kept in the loop as negotiations continue and will weigh in when required, municipal spokesperson Christina Moore noted.
SODC officials are working on a detailed financial presentation regarding the corporation's statements to share with the community. The statements will be expanded to include a list of consultants that have worked on the project. Considerable work is required to extract that level of information from records dating back 10 years, officials said.
“The current financial statements provide the level of detail that's legally required,” Kirkham said. “We want to provide greater detail to the community and have asked the SODC to provide that.”
The SODC’s financial statements from 2005 to 2012 are available online at www.squamishoceanfront.com/plan/process/financial.