The Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP) and Progressive Conservative (PC) Party are calling for an investigation into a government deal.
Last year, the province had the Global Transportation Hub (GTH) buy 204 acres of land west of Regina to be used for the hub and for the Regina bypass. The CBC reports the land changed hands three times until the GTH bought it for $103,000 per acre, which added up to about $21 million in total. The price was quite a bit more than the $9,000 to $23,000 nearby land was being sold for, and the $35,000 the NDP says the government had the land appraised for.
The Ministry of Highways then bought the land from the Crown Corp, GTH, for as much as $65,000 per acre for one package, and $50,000 for another.
Trent Wotherspoon, the NDP’s finance critic and deputy leader, says the whole deal stinks.
“At best we’re dealing with a circumstance of incompetence and mismanagement that’s wasted millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money, public money. At worst something much uglier than that and something that authorities will need to get to the bottom of.”
Wotherspoon contends millions of taxpayer money was wasted by the government, and that it’s unacceptable.
“This amount of money and the amount they paid per acre here is bizarre and outrageous, and seems indefensible.”
Wotherspoon is pushing for a review by the provincial auditor, the conflict of interest commissioner, and by the RCMP.
Minister of the Economy and minister responsible for the GTH, Bill Boyd released a letter from the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Ronald Barclay.
Boyd asked him to look at some business dealings Boyd’s seed company had with the first buyer, Robert Tappauf. Barclay concluded there is no connection and no conflict of interest.
Further to that, the minister released a short statement to the media:
“I have never met Robert Tappauf. At no time did I ever speak to Robert Tappauf about anything regarding the Global Transportation Hub or any land pertaining to that project,” Boyd wrote.
“I rented farmland from Tappauf Joint Ventures a few years ago. Their company owns thousands of acres of land in Saskatchewan and Alberta and rent to numerous different people.”
Speaking at the SUMA convention Wednesday morning, Boyd insisted when the deal was made, they had to move quickly for two reasons.
“First of all, to make sure that the bypass could have the land available to build the interchange at Dewdney. But in addition to that, we also wanted to complete the free-flow access into the Global Transportation Hub, which is very, very important for the companies at the Global Transportation Hub.”
Boyd claims the amount paid was negotiated based on “the appraisals that were out there”.
Boyd also says he will be taking legal action against the CBC for the story.