Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

City of Prince George land sale violated B.C. law, internal review finds

The City of Prince George failed to meet the requirement for public notice under the B.C. Community Charter for the sale of 4500 Ospika Blvd. to a Vancouver-based developer.

The City of Prince George failed to meet the requirement under the B.C. Community Charter to notify the public when it sold land at 4500 Ospika Blvd. to a Vancouver-based developer in July 2020, according to a statement issued by the city on Friday.

The staff error was discovered in an internal review, after Prince George community group Ginter’s Green Forever questioned the legality of the sale.

Under Section 26 of the Community Charter, municipalities must issue a statutory public notice before disposing public land or improvements.

“City administration and Council take this matter very seriously,” temporary acting city manager Adam Davey said in a statement issued on Friday afternoon. “At the time of the property sale, taking out an ad in the newspaper was a legislative requirement. Failing to do so makes the process less transparent to our citizens and erodes the public trust. We are taking immediate steps to improve our processes as that trust is extremely important to all of us.”

Walter Babicz remains the city manager, a city spokesperson clarified on Friday. An acting city manager is appointed when the city manager is away.

Following the review, city administration “took immediate remedial action, including undergoing a restructuring and rebuilding of the City’s real estate division.”

At a special closed meeting of city council on Wednesday, council directed staff to provide a report in a public city council meeting, with “recommendations on strengthening the policies and procedures regarding land sales.”

The City of Prince George sold the land to The Hub Collection Ltd. for $500,000 in July 2020, on the condition the developer would build a 256-unit student housing complex on the 5.64-acre lot within 24 months. BC Assessment valued the land at $682,000 in its 2019 and 2020 assessments. Following an amendment to the official community plan and rezoning, BC Assessment valued the land at $3.547 million in the 2023 assessment.

“The developer bought the land from the City for $500,000, which the previous Administration considered to be at-then current market value based on similar development lands of its size in Prince George,” the city statement said.  “Factors that are considered in a property’s valuation include, but are not limited to, the existing zoning, topography, geotechnical qualities, and access to municipal services. The property at 4500 Ospika Boulevard is not serviced and has a 1.09 ha ‘no-build’ area.”

On Feb. 6, city council rejected a proposal by the developer to change the restrictive covenant on the land to allow development of a 118-unit seniors housing complex instead.

A spokesperson for the city could not be reached for comment as of Friday evening.