Kent blames golf course bail out on NDP

Resources Minister Scott Kent has yet another new explanation for the 2011 $750,000 bail-out of the Mountain View Golf Club: It's the NDP's fault.

Resources Minister Scott Kent has yet another new explanation for the 2011 $750,000 bail-out of the Mountain View Golf Club: It’s the NDP’s fault.

In the legislative assembly Wednesday, Kent said that the structure of the lease signed with the golf course in 1997, under an NDP government, forced the later Yukon Party government’s hand so that it had to pay full market value of the property to the golf club in order to terminate the lease.

“It was a 60-year lease and it gave the golf course exclusive control of the area, as though it were private property. It was necessary for the government to purchase it at an appraised value, which is exactly what was done in 2011.”

The explanation appears to hold no water, and Kent has not responded to a request for evidence to support his assertion that paying the full value of the land was somehow a legal requirement for the termination of the lease, for which the club had been paying $125 annually.

For one, title of the property never left the Yukon government’s hands.

The Mountain View Golf Course did not have the right to sell the property, so compensating the club the price they might have received if they could have sold it makes little sense.

And even if the club could have sold the land, it’s unlikely it would have been successful if it tried to so.

A study on the viability of the land for development found 40 per cent of the parcel completely unsuitable, and that the rest would have significant challenges in terms of servicing the lots.

Further, developing the parcel would require the City of Whitehorse to amend its development plans for the area, which it was not and is not willing to do.

Kent specifically called out MLA Lois Moorcroft, who was a member of that NDP government in 1997, for her role in the lease signed with Mountain View.

But Minister Elaine Taylor, who was in cabinet during the 2011 bail-out and remains so today, has refused requests for comment on her role in the deal.

Documents show that the $750,000 agreement with Mountain View was prompted by a request by the club for help with its $500,000 of debt.

Then-minister Archie Lang instructed staff to find a way to help the club.

Staff members expressed concern in emails to each other with respect to the how the deal was being done.

“Ultimately we will need to develop some options for Min Lang to consider re assistance for the golf course,” wrote Angus Robertson, the deputy minister of Community Services at the time.

“Some of the options kicked around some time back make me a bit apprehensive to be sure, but need to think everything through.”

“If sand traps await, nobody can say we did not set them out for all to see,” he wrote in a later email.

Despite the evidence that the deal was concocted to obscure a bail-out for the golf club, Kent continued this week to portray what happened as if the land transfer was a necessary thing, and the benefits to the golf course were just a side effect.

Yet, in almost in the same breath, Kent also asserted that the government struck the deal in order to help the golf course.

“This NDP lease that was entered into did not include conditions that would enable the government to break the lease without compensation. Therefore, as I said, it was necessary to purchase the parcel at an appraised value.

“The government came to the aid of an NGO that benefits Yukoners – I’m sure there are even a few NDP golfers out there – and freed up land to facilitate the development of Whistle Bend, something that was important to Yukoners who were looking for lots in the day – and we still have a golf course that is an incredibly important piece of recreational infrastructure for this community.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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