Section 25 of this Act defines a “General prohibition against assistance to business”. This section says that a council must not provide a grant, benefit, advantage or other form of assistance to a business including any form of assistance referred to in section 24 (1) or an exemption from a tax or fee. It goes on to say that assistance may be provided for history or heritage purposes.
Section 24 (1) of the Community Charter says a Council must give notice in accordance with Section 94 of its intention to provide any of the following forms of assistance to a person or an organization:
a) disposing of land or improvements for less than market value
b) lending money
c) guaranteeing repayment of borrowing or providing security for borrowing
d) assistance under a partnering program.
Section 94 of the Charter says public notice must be given in public posting places at least once a week for 2 consecutive weeks.
Section 26(1) of the Charter says that before a council disposes of land or improvements, it must publish notice of the proposed disposition in accordance with section 94.
Section 191 (1) of the Charter says that a council member who votes for a bylaw or resolution authorizing the expenditure, investment or other use of money contrary to this Act is personally liable to the municipality for the amount.
This is what the Act says and based on the Act, I think these are the questions:
- Was an independent arms-length appraisal of the airport land based on fair market value obtained prior to Council voting to give a 40 year lease to an air industry corporation at 24 cents a square foot? (Section 25)
- Is 24 cents a square foot fair market value for industrial land in Langley? (Section 25)
- Is Langley subsidizing the air industry? (Section 25)
- Why? (Section 25)
- Is there a partnering agreement? Between who? (Section 24)
- If Langley is subsidizing the air industry, did it publicize its intent to do so prior to Council’s decision to approve the 40 year lease? (Section 24 and Section 94)
- Was the publication of Council’s leasing decision in accordance with the Community Charter Act? (Section 24 and Section 94)
- Was the community charter act violated? (Sections 24, 25, 26 & 94)
- Are Councillors who voted for this decision personally liable for the difference in lease rates over the life of the contract? How much is this liability? (Section 191)
- Are these Councillors now disqualified from holding office? (Section 191)
I guess I’ll have to ask these questions at the next meeting (and I will). In the interim, I wonder if we’ll see any municipal ads in the local papers about this property – mitigation perhaps?...