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Secret backer of Seascape condos goes public

Hayden Killam, a Sunshine Coast developer well known for his colourful personality and conflicts with local authorities, has emerged as the secret backer of the controversial Seascape condominium project in Sechelt.

Hayden Killam, a Sunshine Coast developer well known for his colourful personality and conflicts with local authorities, has emerged as the secret backer of the controversial Seascape condominium project in Sechelt.

Killam was on site this past week, supervising land clearing, excavation and a geotechnical survey on the property, located between the Driftwood Inn and Inlet Avenue. He said he hopes to begin construction by August.

Killam said he decided to buy the property after visiting a friend at the Beach House condominiums nearby.

"The ambiance of looking out from their suite was so nice, and this property had a 'for sale' sign on it," said Killam.The property was then owned by Michael Smith, an Imperial Oil executive from West Vancouver. It was zoned for a resort hotel, an earlier project, which never got off the ground financially.

It was Killam's business associate, Dean Lundy, who applied to rezone the property for condominiums. Killam said he has been the main person behind the condo project from the start, but he asked Lundy to handle the rezoning, "walking it through" Sechelt council. Killam was never publicly associated with the Seascape project while its rezoning was still in question. He said he deliberately decided to keep a low profile and let Lundy deal with town hall.

"He [Lundy] is more - I don't want to use the word refined - he's gentle," said Killam. "I'm not very gentle when it comes to bureaucrats screwing me around. Someone once described me as someone who does not suffer fools gladly."

Ray Parfitt, the planning director for Sechelt, was surprised when he learned of Killam's involvement in the Seascape condos."He's got a hell of a reputation around the Sunshine Coast," said Parfitt. "We'll see what happens."

Indeed, Killam's reputation is not a gentle one. When he owned the Secret Cove Marina, he once lost his temper and pushed an electrical inspector off the dock. Killam prevented the inspector from getting out of the water, waving a hose and yelling at him to swim until marina employees came to the man's rescue. Killam was convicted of assault for the incident.

Killam was also at the centre of controversy in the 1990s when he owned the Gospel Rock property in Gibsons. Ed Steeves, now a Sechelt councillor, sat on Gibsons council during part of that saga and remembers when Killam threatened to blow up the Gospel Rock cliff, a beloved waterfront landmark.

"Hayden wanted to develop it, but the town was not in favour of his plan," Steeves remembered. "So Hayden drilled dynamite holes on top of Gospel Rock."

Locals filled the holes with sand to prevent the blasting. Later the bank foreclosed and Killam lost the Gospel Rock property.Despite the dynamite incident at Gospel Rock, Steeves said he has no problem with Killam taking over the Seascape project.

"This [the Seascape condo] is under development permit," said Steeves. "We know exactly what's going to go there."Besides, added Steeves, "we like his money."

The Seascape condos rezoning and development got the final stamp of approval from the District of Sechelt Feb. 4. Sechelt council was split on the issue and Mayor Cam Reid cast the deciding vote in favour of the condos.

Reid said he knows Killam from years ago, when Reid moored a boat at the Secret Cove Marina. But Reid said he had no idea Killam was involved in the Seascape development until after the rezoning was complete.

"I had a call from Dean Lundy. He told me he took a partner of Hayden Killam," said Reid. "Until last week I did not know."

According to Lundy, Killam has been involved from the beginning and is taking a primary role now that construction is about to begin.

"It's not like I'm out, he's in," said Lundy. "The property is owned by a company. He is president of the company. I was president of the company."

Golden West Property Corporation owns the property, and last week Lundy was still listed as the only director of that company.

Reid had little comment on Killam's involvement, saying it is Sechelt's job to set the parameters for the development and ensure those standards are adhered to.

"It's inappropriate to judge any project by the individuals involved," said Reid. "I think it's important that we judge the project on its own merits."

Many people were opposed to the Seascape project. More than 100 people attended the public hearing on the project last summer, and most spoke against it, saying the project blocks off the waterfront and does not do justice to the spectacular location.The news of Killam's involvement has increased that public opposition.

Renee McCall said she has lived in Sechelt for 26 years and is familiar with Killam's past development projects.

"If he's involved with the Seascape condos, I would be doubly against them," said McCall. "I do not have a very good impression of Mr. Killam. I shudder to think that he's going to be the one who builds on the waterfront."

Bob D'Arcy of the Sandy Hook Community Association, who also opposed the condos, said he is concerned Killam's role was not known to Sechelt council.

"This council once again didn't do its homework and didn't know what was going on," said D'Arcy.