Marina Estates requests to HPO grandfathered 

The province's decision to eliminate the Homeowner Protection Office, which was created over a decade ago to assist British Columbians living in so-called leaky condos, will not affect the applications by Marina Estates owners in Squamish.

According to strata chair Hazel Giese, they have been told that all applications submitted before July 31 would be considered by the HPO.

"It looks like we got in just under the wire, which is great, and if people are eligible they will be funded," she said. "That is great news for people here. They were not able to say when, but it's definitely good news for our residents."

The HPO does not cover the costs of repairing buildings but extends interest-free loans to individuals that live in buildings where owners have to pay for repairs. In the case of Marina Estates, that amounts to $50,000 to $80,000 per unit, which was due on July 31.

That left some residents scrambling to find funding or face foreclosures.

Giese could not give any more details on the state of the repairs or the status of residents within the complex's six buildings because of ongoing litigation, but said she appreciates the support of the community. There's no word on when the HPO would be able to rule on applications, as the organization is currently clearing a backlog of approved loans.

A search of the provincial website did not turn up any information about the nature of the litigation or whether the Marina Estates Strata was involved.

Mayor Greg Gardner says that council has sent letters to the province in support of the Marina Estates condo owners, letting them know that the District of Squamish expects the HPO to approve applications.

"This is a fund that Squamish has contributed significant money to over the years and it's our expectation that Squamish should be able to benefit from that as well," he said.

Since the HPO was formed, housing developments have contributed $750 per unit to the fund. Squamish's contribution is in the neighbourhood of $600,000.

Oceanfront board members resign but work goes ahead

There was a shakeup on the board of the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation last week as two of the three new members appointed by the District of Squamish Council resigned. Kirsten Delaney was forced to step down when she realized that the group was a for-profit organization, which conflicted with conditions for volunteering by her employers at Deloitte and Touche financial services.

The second board member, Donald Graham, left when he discovered that his area of expertise in international banking was no longer required as financing had already been secured for the project. He was also disappointed that door had closed on creating affordable housing within the Oceanfront development, according to board chair Bill McNeney.

McNeney said the resignations came after a four-hour orientation session with new members to bring them up to speed. Some replacement board members have already been identified, but McNeney says they will receive the orientation before being named to the board to ensure that there are no future conflicts or misunderstandings.

"I think we've learned our lesson at this point not to appoint anyone unless they know exactly what they're getting into," he said.

"Sandra Bicego (the third new member appointed by council) summed it up after our meeting on Monday when she said, 'wow, there is a lot to catch up on.' I think that's a fair comment, there's a lot to catch up on because there has been a lot of work since March and April when we brought on our management team to do the land use plan, business plan, commercial plan and so on."

The new appointments to the board stemmed from a council decision to lengthen board members' terms to two years, with half of the board remaining in place while the other half decides to return or not. The goal was to create some continuity in the board as the process to develop the Oceanfront lands continues.

The change to the board comes as the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation's management team is preparing to release a draft management report. The plan will be presented on Sept. 14 in a joint session with the District of Squamish council and board members, then will be presented to council the following day.

The Sept. 14 meeting will be in camera because it touches on private developers on the peninsula. After that, McNeney says he hopes the draft can be presented to the public as soon as possible.

"I'm pretty excited about this," he said. "I think we have a really good handle on what the public said it wanted in that phase of the development, while showing how it can fit financially into the big picture, and in terms of a business plan to take into financing. It shows how we can have commercial components, residential components, arts and culture, marine components, the tourism component, the education component, it's all represented in this document. It's a really impressible piece of work."


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