The parties’ relative ability to wait

With the need for renegotiation of the basic Garden City Lands agreement (“the MOU”) comes the question of how long each of the parties would be prepared to wait to get a favourable outcome. The four parties are the federal government, Canada Lands Company CLC Limited (CLC), the Musqueam Indian Band (Band), and the City of Richmond (City). Here’s a quick analysis.

For the federal government, a favourable outcome would be a harmonious settlement among the other three parties or, if it needs to get involved, any outcome in which it would be seen to bring something positive out of the mess made by its predecessor in 2005. While it would prefer a swift resolution, it can wait indefinitely and let future governments deal with things.

For CLC, a favourable outcome would be one in which it makes a lot of money fast without being seen to violate its mandate, which includes creating community value, or its community social responsibility. Its costs keep on mounting, and awareness of its questionable conduct will increasingly come to the fore, costing the company credibility throughout the country. Of the four parties, CLC is by far the most desperate for a swift resolution.

For the Band, a nice outcome would be a lot of money pouring in right away. However, the Band would could let things out in the hope that a foolish government will hand it a windfall, as has happened before. Apparently the ongoing legal costs can be borrowed from the federal government, to be paid back from a far-off treaty settlement that may never even happen. The Band can wait a long time if it has to.

For the City, the preferred outcome is changing as more council members listen to the community instead of trying to manipulate public opinion. For the community, the preferred outcome is for the lands to remain green for ecological and food-security uses for community benefit, with ownership that assures that in perpetuity. Some would like to enable development as an agricultural park soon, but others would be happy to leave things as wetlands habitat, and almost everyone can live with that if need be. The property would remain as a carbon sink, potential food-producing land, and green space with a view. Some politicians may try to rush things for political grandstanding, but the community can wait as long as necessary.

In brief, the ability to wait ranges from CLC’s impatience to get out of a situation that is sapping money and that will increasingly sap its reputation to the City community’s willingness to wait forever for a final solution, since the status quo in the interim is already an acceptable outcome.

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