No Teddy for Richmond!

The City of Richmond has failed to win a Teddy Award from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF). The Ottawa-based CTF had nominated Richmond in the Municipal Waste category after seeing a Toronto newspaper article about the purchase of the Garden City Lands for $59 million. Edmonton ran away with the Teddy by holding a haiku contest, even though it cost far less.

CTF’s figures appear online in its awards press release. It states Richmond’s claim to blame as “$59 million for city purchase of land for five-times real value.” Clicking through to the “backgrounder” for details, one finds that the “real value” is the assessed value of $13 million.

ALR land in Richmond was actually selling above assessed value. However, to keep this simple, let’s pretend that the real value of real estate is what a tax assessor thinks it is, not what a buyer and seller agree on. A Grade 3 kid could do the math:
    5 x $13 mil = $65 mil
   $65 mil – $59 mil = $6 mil

It’s as though CTF has credited Richmond with wasting another $6 million. The ramifications are mind-boggling. For instance:

  • Think of our embarrassment if we’d won and someone had spotted the extra $6 million of credited waste we didn’t waste at all. Would we have had to give the Teddy back?
  • Personally, I’d use it to shelter 300 people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness ($20,000 each). Would the powers that be have found that just too wasteful to contemplate?

CTF actually copied the “five-times real value” error from the “five times land’s value” error that appears in the headline of its source article but not in the article itself.

Although CTF can be useful, it wastes its taxpayers’ money when it doesn’t check its facts. In this case, it could have started by first reading the source article. It was not sufficient to skim the article and assume the headline writer’s simplification to be accurate.

Was the price Richmond paid for the Garden City Lands too high? Or, as the Musqueam Indian Band has told the B.C. Supreme Court, was it far too low? CTF made a joke of it, but there’s a serious question with complex factors. It is worth addressing—with correct facts—when the legal smoke clears.

Update, Feb. 12, 2011: The Richmond Review has expressed complementary views in an editorial titledRichmond the wrong target for a Teddy in this case.”

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Al Says:

    If you do a property search. the City of Richmond OWNS the building the Richmond Review is located in.

    Hmmm.

    A weekly columnist in the Richmond Review is on the Richmond Agricultural Advisory Committee

    A weekly columnist in the Richmond Review is part of a group that accesses $15,000 in City Grant funds

    Who cares if the City wins the Teddy…..

    Forget the multiplier effect..

    The city paid “between” $46 – $49 million more than the value stated on their own documents

    How can any business exist paying that kind of premium?

    With loss of property taxes the CLC and Musqueam were paying and the interest that accrue form proper investing….the City is losing $ 2 Million a year….and shifting the tax burden on everyone else.


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