The RCMP has completed its review of a provincial decision to quash a resort proposal for Powder Mountain more than 20 years ago, and has referred the case to senior investigators.
For the mother and daughter team of Nan and Dianne Hartwick, lead proponents for a ski resort on Powder Mountain in the 1980s, the decision to open an investigation gives weight to their own claims that their project was sidelined by backroom dealings and government employees with conflicts of interest. They will meet with the RCMP’s special investigators this week to share their documents, as well as new developments that have come to light.
“Through all this time, we’ve never given up hope, we’ve never stopped investigating on our own, and now the RCMP has assigned some very senior investigators to our case,” she said. “We’re not looking for money, we just want the truth to come out and have our proposal recognized.”
This is the third time that the RCMP have investigated the Hartwicks’ case, which stems from decisions made in government to quash their Powder Mountain proposal more than 20 years ago. At the time the Hartwicks won three different calls for proposals to develop the area in the Callaghan Valley, and were the sole bid for the project.
In 1987 the province quashed the project because the Hartwicks did not have adequate financial backing, which the Hartwicks to this day deny. They had more than 75 financial backers when they applied for tenure, many of whom are still supporting the project.
The Hartwicks claim to have documents that show then-Premier Bill Vander Zalm intervened on behalf of a friend who was involved in another proposal called Callaghan Resorts, and was supported by senior bureaucrats in the land use office — some of which continue to be involved in Callaghan development through agencies like the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics (VANOC).
The most recent criminal investigation into the case was closed in 2000, shortly after a B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed a lawsuit by the Hartwicks against Callaghan Resorts and other parties. During the litigation, Land and Water B.C. issued several tenures for operations in the Callaghan, something the Hartwicks say should not have happened while court proceedings were ongoing. One of those tenures was for Callaghan Country, which is currently for sale at $5.95 million.
The Hartwicks also allege that several documents that back their claims were not considered as part of the appeal, and were not included in the judgment.
“That’s all coming in to play now,” said Dianne Hartwick, who has put together a detailed file with all of their court documents and instances where she feels there were conflicts of interest. She believes that everything that has happened since the province quashed their proposal has been a cover-up.
“We won as the legal proponent to develop a ski resort in (the Callaghan), which we still want. That’s what we’re going for. Not for damages, but to get our rights back. We were derailed through deceit, unethical conduct. Now it’s up to the RCMP to decide if it was criminal.
“We’re really thrilled, as all our investors are, that we stuck to our guns with the support of so many good people, and we’re determined to right this wrong… we never gave up because we knew we were right, and have the evidence to prove it.”
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