Business in Vancouver

Provincial Canadian premier’s landlord linked to soccer team owner

Spokesman says Christy Clark’s renting of C$3.7 million house from close associate of Whitecaps FC has not been disclosed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 11:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 11:50am

By Bob Mackin

BC Premier Christy Clark is renting a house from a close associate of the owner of a professional sports team that plays at a provincially owned stadium and practices at a provincially-funded training centre, yet her tenancy is not disclosed in published conflict of interest filings.

The land titles registry shows the house is registered to Nevin Sangha with a declared value of C$3.688 million (US$2.751 million).

According to the BC companies registry, West Vancouver-based Sangha is the only director of Carrera Management Corp. Carrera manages Greg Kerfoot’s real estate holdings in downtown Vancouver, including The Landing, the heritage office building on Water Street where the Kerfoot-owned Major League Soccer franchise is headquartered.

The companies registry shows that Kerfoot is the only director of Landing Holdings Ltd. Carrera’s office in the Landing is listed as Kerfoot’s mailing address. Carrera and Landing have the same records and registration office in a law office at the RDG Corporate Centre in Langley, according to updated filings from last summer.

Sangha donated C$1,250 (US$932) on August 5, 2010 to the BC Liberals, but Kerfoot is shown by the Elections BC database as Carrera’s only principal officer for a C$7,500 (US$5,595) donation to the BC Liberals on April 14, 2014. The party’s annual Elections BC report shows that it raised C$148,830.78 (US$111,031.49) at a Surrey fundraiser on that date, but the ticket buyers were not identified.

Kerfoot has donated C$72,375 (US$53,994) to the BC Liberals since 2005 under his own name, Inspirit Group, Vancouver Whitecaps and Carrera. The Whitecaps play at provincially-owned BC Place Stadium and practice at a University of BC training centre benefitting from an C$11.6 million (US$8.7 million) provincial construction grant made in 2012 while Clark was the Vancouver-Point Grey BC Liberal MLA.

The house was assessed at C$2.505 million (US$1.869 million) in 2015.Real estate agent Tina Oliver of Dexter Associates Reality announced the sale of the house on her Facebook page in early April. “SOLD in 6 days, way over ask, super happy Seller and Buyer!” Oliver is a close friend of prominent BC Liberal strategist Patrick Kinsella and his wife Brenda.

Ben Chin, the Premier’s executive director of communications, said Clark is personally paying the rent, between C$5,500 (US$4,103) and C$6,500 (US$4,849) a month.

“The Premier had been looking for a more secure, frankly, safer and more private place for some time,” Chin told BIV.

Through a Google search, however, BIV found an open source, real estate sales website that includes floor plans and a gallery of internal and external photos of the house.

“As for the landlord, it’s strictly a tenant-landlord relationship,” Chin said. He added that Clark and Sangha “may have met or crossed paths at different things a few times I understand.”

Clark remains the registered owner of a two-storey duplex near Vancouver city hall in Mount Pleasant. That property was assessed at C$1.73 million (US$1.29 million) last year and referenced on her 2015 Public Disclosure Statement.

The only Material Change update to her annual public disclosure statement that she has filed this year was on October 27 with the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Paul Fraser, regarding the September 30 acquisition of a half interest in recreational property. That document was, in turn, filed with the Clerk of the Legislature on November 4 and obtained by BIV.

The land titles registry shows that transaction involved two parcels on Galiano Island, totalling 3.87 acres and a declared value of C$720,000 (US$537,174). The larger parcel has beachfront and includes a one-storey, 953-square foot house built in 1966. Her brother Bruce bought the other half-interest. Clark’s 2015 Public Disclosure Statement mentioned she held trust property on Galiano Island, specifically an “inherited estate: money on deposit and property.”

“Any politician, particularly the premier or cabinet minister, should go further than any legislation ever requires in terms of disclosure,” said Dermod Travis, the executive director of the non-profit watchdog IntegrityBC. “The premier has already demonstrated that it is not her practice and, given the entanglement of potential business and public interests with the players on this particular rental agreement, the premier’s office should’ve recognised this was something that should’ve been put on the MLA disclosure statement, so that there was no suspicion that when the story broke, that it was anything potentially improper about it.”

Clark had vowed, after winning a seat in Westside-Kelowna in 2013, that she would buy property there. She told a Global TV reporter earlier this year that she is renting. However, her calendar and expense reports show that she has rarely stayed overnight in Kelowna. She has opted instead for same-day, round-trip charter jet flights from Vancouver with members of her staff.

Vancouver-Quilchena, widely considered the safest BC Liberal seat, is held by Andrew Wilkinson. Wilkinson is already advertising for his re-election campaign with bus shelter posters that include the BC Liberal Party branding, but not the name of Clark, the leader.

Clark was nominated in September to run again in the Kelowna riding for the May 9 provincial election and Chin said that nothing has changed on that front.