You may remember: last week local Winnipeg real estate empire Shindico posted a firehall for sale on it's web site even though, as far as most people knew, it hadn't even been officially declared surplus and wasn't theirs to sell. We later heard some things about a three-for-one land swap, and that the fire hall being declared surplus may need to be formalized by a council vote. The confusion and lack of transparency did not look good, but was not out of character for Winnipeg City Hall either.
Turns out, the land swap was not even negotiated by City Hall or Property Planning and development, but by a deputy fire chief.
This fire chief, still believing that what he did was correct, did an interview with CBC to defend his deal...
I don't even know where to begin with this, it's so ridiculous, so I might as well start at the beginning:
"It's like trading in a used car for a new car."No ... it's more like trading three infill properties for a single piece of land next to a railway track, actually.
"I always thought the more ground work I could do, keeps me out of the bureaucracy, going through all the fine details to get back to where I needed to be anyhow."You know, there is a reason we have a bureaucracy, including people who specialize in things like ... oh I don't know ... REAL ESTATE. These bureaucrats are paid to do stuff, like calculate financial impacts, ensure auditability, analyze market conditions ... details like that.
Douglas admits he didn't always follow procedure. The City's head of planning admits he had no knowledge of the deal.Didn't always? This isn't ... He can't just .... Gaaa, fuck it, on to the next quote.
"Douglas says he and Shindico have a verbal agreement ..."Oh that's nice. A verbal agreement. What gentlemen.
a) As per Bart Kives on twitter: "It sure is tough to FIPPA (file a freedom of information request) a verbal agreement."
b) I wouldn't swap a car based on a verbal agreement, but three properties? Oh, the nice salesman told me it was worth a million bucks ... Good grief.
c) Real estate transactions must by law be in writing in Canada. I learned this in my law class. If Shindico felt they had the authority to sell one of the swapped properties in question, you can bet they have something signed by somebody. By who, God only knows at this point.
"A deal's a deal"Really? Tell that to Crystal Developers, who had a signed and perfectly legitimate contract to build an apartment tower in downtown Winnipeg four years ago, before being told to go take a hike because we had a better use for the land: building a multi-million dollar shrine to Louis Riel. Oh geeze, you say you're having trouble raising money for that? I'm shocked. (Yes, I hold grudges.)
So now, Mr. Douglas, even though you probably had no authority to make the deal, and you followed no processes and by-passed checks and balances, you believe we should be stuck with this potentially ill-advised transaction. Great.
"With a developer, money doesn't mean a lot to a developer. Property does."It's remarkable how you have such an intimate understanding about developers, what with you working in a fire hall your whole life. Hey, you know who money means a lot to? TAXPAYERS. Just saying ...
Douglas says he'd do the same deal again.Well then he clearly doesn't understand his job and should resign immediately.