A 162-hectare site near Sandy Hook once known as Silverback is now in the hands of Sechelt Sustainable Community Properties Ltd., (SSC Properties) a development company consisting of Sechelt Mayor John Henderson, Clark Hamilton, Rob Barrs, Randy Knill, Glenn Hafey, Mark Sager and Werner Hofstatter.
The team came together earlier this year to purchase the site, knowing the former Silverback endeavour had gone bankrupt.
“It’s very rare to see that much property in such close proximity to a town centre and to all of the amenities with the ocean and everything, and it was a good buy,” said Sager, the team’s head of community relations.
The group purchased the parcel of land for $11.75 million.
Henderson said he wanted to buy the property because he felt there was a “better opportunity than letting a bank sell it to some big investor that doesn’t know anything about Sechelt.”
“The idea and the opportunity to actually have it be influenced and controlled by local investors is something I think is really important,” Henderson said. “My idea is we’re going to get a lot of investment from, I don’t care, Vancouver or Texas or Asia or Europe, but it’s so important for me that we maintain the quality of life that brought most of us here, because that’s what we want. We moved here for the quality of life and we’ve got to make sure we protect that at all costs.”
Henderson said he was thinking about having the team purchase the property last year, but that there were a lot of things going on for him as mayor and that Hamilton was also busy at the time “so we really just got active earlier this year.”
“At the time I think I said to Clark, ‘we’ve got to move on this because somebody’s going to come along and grab it,’” Henderson said.
The group was formed through Henderson and Clark, Sager noted, adding it was their “respective friendships” that brought them together.
When asked if Henderson might have concerns about conflict of interest being on council and purchasing the former Silverback site, he said he wasn’t concerned, but added, “Of course I have a conflict of interest. Everybody does in elected office at one time or another.”
“So what I’ve done, I did from the very early days, is I kept our District legal counsel and I kept our senior staff and council aware of what I was doing and that I was considering it, working on it. And when the time came I told council quite early on that this was something we’re working on as a private sector initiative and that obviously I wouldn’t get involved in anything where my vote would be provided in a situation that’s a conflict.”
Henderson has voted on the first reading of Sechelt’s new zoning bylaw, which identifies this site specifically; however, he may excuse himself from future votes.
“I’m going to get some legal advice on that because the fact that nothing has changed [in the zoning], I don’t feel that I have a conflict because I’m not dealing with that. It was there before and it’s still there,” he said.
SSC Properties may ask for a change in zoning to the property in the future as they decide what exactly they’re going to build there.
The decision won’t be made without much community input, according to Sager.
“Right now we’re starting a community consultation process and we’re literally going to knock on doors and have community meetings and talk to people and get ideas. So at this point in time we’re in that process. There are no plans specifically to do anything until we really get to talk to people and think about what is the best plan for the property,” Sager said.
The property is currently zoned for 1,600 lots, a golf course and seaside resort.
“I think we can do better,” Sager said.
The community can give their input online and find out more at www.sscproperties.com.