News » Whistler

Sea to Sky MP outraged at 1974 land deal with Squamish First Nation

by

comment

Sea to Sky Conservative MP John Reynolds is demanding action by the federal government on the lease and clean up of land rented from the Squamish Nation in West Vancouver.

By the time the lease expires in 2045, the price tag will be approximately $1 billion," said Reynolds.

In 1974, the federal government signed a lease with the Squamish First Nation with the intention of building a Pacific Environment Centre on the site.

The lease on the land, which is considered toxic because it is contaminated by iron concentrates and sulphuric acid, is reviewed every five years. The legal agreement was that the government would pay rent based on the highest and best use rates.

Originally the land rented for $241,000 but it has now climbed to $6 million a year.

It is estimated that the rent for the five-year period beginning April 11, 2004 will be between $7 and $8 million per annum.

Reynolds said the deal was part of an election promise made more than 30 years ago to get a Liberal MP re-elected.

"But it didn’t work so they dropped the program and the program is going to cost me $1 billion before it is finished," he said.

"I want it cleaned up immediately. The land should be cleaned up so it (can be leased) and then (the Liberals) should consider looking to the private sector for a project. It is prime land.

"The Liberals have been trying to hide this from taxpayers but they’ve been caught. Now they’ll be forced to take action."

Questioned by Reynolds in the House of Commons Tuesday Environment Minister Stephane Dion said the Liberals discovered in the 1990s the site was contaminated.

"We have started to decontaminate the sites and we are working with the First Nations to have a good plan to develop it," Dion said.

Add a comment