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HomeNewsCity hall sweeping $1.5M tower discount scandal under the rug

City hall sweeping $1.5M tower discount scandal under the rug


Bob Mackin

Onni’s Charleson.

Vancouver city hall isn’t going to send the Onni development cost levy waiver scandal to an external firm after all. 

Last fall, the developer of the 43-storey Charleson tower in Yaletown was found to have illegally received a $1.5 million break. The developer of the mixed strata condominium/rental should have paid $4.5 million in DCLs, but it got the big discount under a program reserved only for 100% rental towers. The developer-friendly, Vision Vancouver city hall called it a mistake.

Council had passed a motion Dec. 13 that said “in the interest of transparency, accountability, and openness,” it would direct staff to recommend an independent third party inquiry into the matter. 

“The scope of the inquiry should also include a review a review of all similar waivers relating to the STIR and Rental 100 programs,” said the motion.

A June 1 memo from City Manager Sadhu Johnston to Mayor and Council said the city’s chief risk officer did an internal review report Dec. 8 on the Charleson, and blamed an “administrative error.” The city’s internal auditors found no issues with the other 29 DCL waivers granted since 2009. KPMG was paid $26,771.35 to review the internal audit plan. 

Johnson estimated that it would cost $230,000 to $350,000 to hire an external firm “to replicate the full scope of the internal audit review.”

“Given the other actions undertaken to date, it is our recommendation that the significant cost of a further external review is not warranted,” Johnston wrote. 

Documents obtained by theBreaker under Freedom of Information show that bureaucrats Berg Balantzyan and Kathy Morgan were handling the file in 2014 when Onni got the DCL waiver. The company wrote a Dec. 1, 2016 cheque to city hall for $1,558,753.33. 

2017-004 – res by BobMackin on Scribd