Published: September 26, 2008 2:00 PM
Updated: September 26, 2008 3:04 PM
The City of New Westminster is involved in closed-door meetings to buy the Westminster Pier from an Alberta investor group. The deal could be completed within a month.
The Westminster Pier is a seven-acre former dockside property located on the Fraser River, east of the Fraser River Discovery Centre and the Larco property parking lot. Acquiring the land would allow the city to continue its goal of reclaiming its waterfront for public access.
But the deal is in jeopardy, say some members of New Westminster council, now that details of the sale are public.
Voice New Westminster, which released the information Thursday, counters some council members’ plan to use the announcement of the purchase to score political points with New Westminster electors, who go to the civic polls Nov. 15.
“If this is being trotted out as an election goody, there better be some substance to it,” said Blair Armitage, the mayoralty candidate for the Voice slate.
“I’m sure (Mayor Wayne Wright) wouldn’t comment about trotting this out as an election goody but the timing of everything is once again too coincidental,” he said, referring to the mayor’s 2005 announcement regarding the Plaza 88 development prior to the 2005 civic election.
“If they’re going to do this again, let’s have the substance behind it.”
Voice learned about the sale when members of the civic electors group spoke to surveyors working at the site, said Armitage.
But Coun. Johnathan Cote accused Voice councillors Bob Osterman and Betty McIntosh of revealing information about the deal, which was discussed by council during an in-camera meeting.
“This release of information may compromise the city’s ability to complete this incredibly important deal,” said Cote.
Armitage came to the defence of the two Voice councillors, and explained that he asked Osterman about the land deal and was told he couldn’t discuss it because of its confidential nature.
Mayor Wright refuted Armitage’s claim that the land purchase was aimed at gaining votes.
“We’ve been really diligent in trying to get this for a waterfront park for some time. That part is public knowledge,” Wright said. “We’ve been trying to get the waterfront back for over 30 years.”
The land had been owned by the provincial government but was then sold to Westminster Pier Development Corp., which planned to build residential towers on the site. The land was then sold to the Alberta investment group when Westminster Pier Development Corp. ran into financial problems.