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Nita Lake developer defends Liberal contributions

NDP question use of MEVA in legislature

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Developer John Haibeck’s contributions to the provincial Liberal party came under attack last week in the legislature just as the government approved his development project on the shores of Nita Lake.

"British Columbians are tired of special deals for friends of this government," said Jenny Kwan opposition MLA during question period.

She pointed out that Haibeck had donated more than $3,200 to the provincial Liberals through the Nita Lake Lodge Corporation in 2002 and the following year Whistler Rail Tours, another company Haibeck is partnered in, donated more than $8,000.

"Will the Minister of Sustainable Resource Management table today all correspondence between his office and the B.C. Liberal campaign donor who’s benefiting from this arbitrary cancellation of a Supreme Court decision?" asked Kwan.

The question was dismissed immediately by George Abbott, Minister of Sustainable Resource Management as the opposition climbing "that grassy knoll of conspiracy."

He explained during the question period that the Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act, known as a MEVA, is a tool that the NDP also used during its time in power.

"For the member to suggest there’s something untoward here... She should look back on the record of her government over 10 years, during which time they used the MEVA as an instrument to correct administrative oversights," said Abbott.

"MEVA is a well-used tool to work out issues, administrative failures at the municipal level, and this MEVA is entirely appropriate in doing that."

Haibeck also dismissed the allegations that the government overturned a decision by the Supreme Court based on his campaign contributions.

"First and foremost (the government) is not overturning it because of me," he said this week.

"It’s the Municipal Enabling and Validating Act, the operative word there is municipal. It doesn’t say Developer’s Enabling Act. It was the municipality that went to the province, not I."

Haibeck readily admits that he contributed to the Liberal government, even though by comparison to some campaign contributions, his donations were small.

"We, like every other person who believes in this government, have given contributions to the Liberal party, albeit very small when you consider it’s over a two year period, and it’s from two different companies.

"And when you compare that with what the unions give to the NDP, which is in the millions, (Kwan) has no right to draw that conclusion."

On Thursday, May 20, the province approved the development bylaw for the Nita Lake Lodge under MEVA, despite a Supreme Court ruling in March which declared the development bylaw illegal.

Haibeck said he was totally taken aback by Kwan’s remarks, particularly because she is a member of the NDP.

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