Documents contradict B.C. ministers’ claim
B.C. cabinet ministers Pat Bell and Shirley Bond were aware of and appear to have played a role in the procurement process for a multimillion-dollar contract in Prince George, according to The Globe and Mail.
March 4, 2013 By The Globe and Mail
Briefing notes for Northern Development Initiative Trust chief executive officer Janine North that were prepared for a special board meeting held in September, 2009, obtained by The Globe and Mail, show that Ms. North met with Mr. Bell and Ms. Bond, as well as other provincial government officials that same month to discuss the process to procure land and build the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George. The special board meeting of the NDIT was held to review approval for an $8.9-million loan to Commonwealth Campus Corp., a company controlled by Prince George businessman Dan McLaren. Commonwealth, the documents show, intended to use the loan funds to purchase the land in downtown Prince George with the assumption that the property would eventually be sold to the University of Northern British Columbia or the province for use as the site of the WIDC.
“I have had discussions, during September, 2009, with the Honourable Pat Bell, minister of Forests and Range, the Honourable Shirley Bond, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and vice-chair of the Treasury Board … who have all clearly articulated the strong interest of having UNBC’s Wood Innovation and Design Centre located in downtown Prince George. The province is aware of the land assembly opportunity underway on the 500 block of George Street and it is a preferred location for both UNBC and the city of Prince George,” Ms. North’s briefing notes say.
In an interview, Mr. Bell denied he was consulted as part of the loan approval process and said he merely referred Mr. McLaren to the NDIT.
“We just said, ‘You should go talk to NDIT,'” Mr. Bell said. “I see Janine [North] every three or four weeks. I’m certain she said, ‘Did you refer this?’ Yes we did. It’s something that is interesting, it could be good for the community, but you guys as a board need to decide what you are going to do with it. We’re not making the decision for you. That’s always very clear. The board is the one making the decisions.”
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