Musqueam, Glenlyon, CLC, Nokia and the Lands

A Friend of Garden City has emailed about “Musqueam Band: This Land Is My Land,” a BCBusiness magazine article. The correspondent wondered what to make of this:

Another legal challenge resulted in the Musqueam taking ownership of a 100,000-square-foot office building in Burnaby’s Glenlyon Business Park, currently occupied by Nokia Canada. When the Musqueam saw no resolution in the offing to a dispute with the City of Richmond and the federal government over a 55-hectare block of Richmond farmland known as the Garden City Lands, the band chose to swap its interest in the land for clear title to the Nokia building. The building, formerly owned by Canada Lands Co., the Crown agency that handles the federal government’s surplus land, now brings the Musqueam about $1.75 million annually in lease payments.

The background is that the federal land disposer, Canada Lands Company CLC Ltd., passed on a 50% beneficial interest in the Garden City Lands to the Musqueam Indian Band in 2005 as required by the MOU, the basic Garden City Lands agreement. In effect, that meant the Band was entitled to half the profits those parties expected to make from the Agricultural Land Commission excluding the Lands from the ALR and the City of Richmond then rezoning them. After the commission kept the Lands protected in the ALR, the City of Richmond’s purchase of the property might have netted CLC and the Band about $24 million in profit each. The B.C. Assessment Office indicates that the Nokia building was sold on Feb. 17, 2010, for $21,880,000, and no doubt that was the sale from CLC to the band.

It appears that the Band made a deal with CLC to receive the Nokia building in exchange for its share. That would give the Musqueam a secure revenue stream of about 7.3%, no doubt increasing with time.

This has little effect on the Garden City Lands issue from a community standpoint. For instance, in my view it does not affect the Band’s legal efforts to get more money from the City of Richmond.

I have little use for some of the ways the Band has acted, but I’m happy for the Musqueam people that they have business managers making solid investments like this one for them.

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