OBITUARY TO THE PROVINCE OF SASKATCHEWAN
Let's do a thought experiment; let's say you worked all of your life to get an education, get a job, build a home, raise a family, and start a business. Envision you have plans to expand your business nationally and internationally with proprietary technology, the only machine like it in North America. You bought some land outside the City off Highway No.1 South Service Road, and Tower Road, you began your expansion project and started construction. Now, let's pretend that midway through construction of your first of four buildings, you discovered at a public open forum that the Regina Bypass had a new preferred plan to move 400 meters east of Tower Road. The new preferred plan would destroy your business access, and you would lose your land. Imagine that the last 30 years that you had been in business taking risk everyday working 100+ hours a week, seven days a week, was about to be washed away.
Now, snap back to reality. This has been our reality for the last six years. We have embarked on the fight of our lives, a fight for our human rights, a fight for the rights of our neighbors, the people that were impacted by the Regina Bypass, the human rights of the taxpayers and people of Saskatchewan. The unnecessary Government waste on the Regina Bypass has affected the entire province with the recession created in large part by deep-rooted corruption in our government. Would you stand up and say this is wrong, this is criminal? People need to be held accountable.
The Premier of our Province needs to be held accountable as he is in charge of the public purse. We elect the government to operate democratically. The Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan website states under the Role of a Member, "Members are elected to represent the specific interests of their constituents but are also representatives of the province of Saskatchewan and must consider the province's needs as a whole. Whatever their political outlook, and regardless of which side of the Assembly they sit on, members' duties and obligations are considerable." We as constituents need to stand up and hold the government to account, or we can say, "You can't fight city hall." You can't. You can't. You can't.
It was 1978 when we started our family business. We fought to get into the business, we fought to stay in business, and we fought to get the right products and services so we could build a successful business. In 2010 we began our final journey to take all of our life experience in the industry and the technologies and products we had acquired and developed over the past 30 years to build a 200,000sq. ft manufacturing plant to house this technology. We purchased a state-of-the-art insulated residential steel siding machine that is 300ft long. This product and technology is the only machine in North America. We could have made Regina the home base for exporting this technology across the continent, setting up plants across Canada and The United States.
The planning for the Regina Bypass had been in the works for many years, having multiple different studies conducted. The final Stantec study in 2010 approved the east terminal for the Regina Bypass to be located at Tower Road. We ordered our first two buildings in 2010. We had the perfect plan, an ideal opportunity, the best siding product in North America, insulated steel siding. We even had an international company that wanted to purchase our technology and establish manufacturing plants across North America. This would have generated hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in sales. We could have created employment opportunities for hundreds of people locally and thousands nationally and internationally. We had the approval, technology, knowledge, and experience to put all of this together. Until, one day, in June 2013, we attended the first public open forum for the Regina Bypass midway through the construction of our manufacturing plants. Unfortunately, our dream had suddenly become a nightmare.
So what did we do, you ask? We began doing research, talking to stakeholders, and writing letters to the government to try to get answers. What we soon discovered was alarming. We found out that there had been closed meetings held on May 6th – 9th, 2013, that we were not invited too. The only people invited to this meeting were the developers along Tower Road, the provincial government, the City of Regina, and the R.M. of Sherwood. We found out that two major developers purchased 640 acres of land along Tower Road in 2012. Long Lake Investments purchased 500 acres of land for $12,125/acre, a total of 6 million dollars. We also found out that the principal of Long Lake Investments, Murad Al-Katib was a director on the Regina Opportunities Commission along with Mayor Pat Fiaco in 2011. In 2012, Mr. Al-Katib was again on the board of directors of this organization, along with Mayor Michael Fougere. Al-Katib has been chairman of the board since 2013 of what has now been renamed Economic Development Regina.
In 2013, the City of Regina annexed the recently purchased land along Tower Road into the City of Regina. Long Lake Investments sold some of this land back to the government for the Regina Bypass. In the process, Long Lake received seven times more for this land than they originally purchased it for, $85,000/acre for 128 acres, a total of $10.1 million. Long Lake still had 372 acres for free that they are now selling for between $350,000 and $400,000/acre, a 3300% profit.
Another major developer, Forester Properties Harvard developments purchased 141 acres along Tower Road from Gulf Flying J. Flying J tried for years to get approval for a truck stop but were continually told by the government that the infrastructure was not there and the land would not be annexed into the City for at least 20 years. Using this information, Flying J sold the land in 2012 to Forester Properties Harvard Development for the Aurora Mall. Shortly after the purchase, the property was annexed into the CityCity. Mere months later, the new preferred plan for the Regina Bypass appeared on the scene.
We started a lobby group, The Regina Committee for an Alternative Bypass Solution/ Why Tower Road. We wrote many letters to the government asking dozens of questions and for the reason behind their decision to move the Regina Bypass 400 meters east of Tower Road. The only meaningful answer we ever received from the government was that it was the engineers who decided where the Regina Bypass should go. This motivated us to speak with Highways and Infrastructure engineers, and in recorded and documented conversations, they told us that they did not agree with the location of the Regina Bypass. They revealed that their mandate was to study only how to get from Tower Road to Pinkie Road. They also speculated that it was the developers who influenced the decision.
We spoke with many people who were impacted by the Regina Bypass along Tower Road. We spoke with Brandt, and they told us they did not agree with the location of the Regina Bypass. Brandt approached the government in 2013 with an alternative plan to take the east terminal to Gravel Pit Road, just outside the CityCity. This plan would have saved taxpayers over 25% of the cost of the Regina Bypass when it was estimated to be $400 million. The interchange at Gravel Pit Road would have been able to re-route traffic north and south around Regina. This plan would have been 100% functional to re-route traffic to where it needed to go. An eastern terminal at Gravel Pit Road wouldn't have affected any land, home, or business owners, including our business. Except, this plan had one small problem, Sask Party MLA Christine Tell's family owns land along Gravel Pit Road and has plans for a commercial development.
We wrote several letters to our Sask. Party MLA, Christine Tell requesting to meet with her. We wrote letters to Premier Brad Wall asking to meet with him to discuss the impact of the Regina Bypass to our business. The only response we got was that their schedule did not permit time for us to meet. Instead, we were referred to the Minister of Highways, Don McMorris. So, we wrote letters to Minister Don McMorris. In fact, we wrote letters to many different government people provincially and federally.
We tried to spark the interest of the media. We started a petition calling for the government to reevaluate the location of the Regina Bypass. The NDP opposition party promised to bring up our petition on budget day 2014. We sat in the Legislature with eager anticipation. We hoped this would turn into an opportunity for the media to pick up on the story and expose the story to inform the public. We sat through question period, and nothing was mentioned. The NDP did not read our petition into Question Period. In the rotunda at the Legislature we asked the NDP why they did not mention our petition after they told us they would. The answer we received was that they ran out of time.
This was when we realized that we were in a much bigger fight than we initially anticipated. We had no allies, no one on our side. The Sask. Party certainly did not want this story to come out, and the government is in control of the media, the opposition party did little or nothing to help us. We were alone taking on the world when we began our campaign and still were alone.
We wrote a two-page article in the Regina Leader-Post to inform the public of what we knew about the Regina Bypass. We published a letter addressed to the Government of Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall. This letter generated a bit of attention as no one knew anything about the Regina Bypass. We would never have known had we not spent 10,000 hours researching, asking questions, and talking to people that were involved.
We began advertising in the Star Newspaper in White City as paid advertisements trying to inform the public. For years the people of White City had unsafe entrances onto the Trans Canada Highway. This problem could have been alleviated with three sets of traffic lights from Balgonie to Regina. We helped to inform many people with our advertisements in the Star Newspaper and frequent letters to the editor.
Suddenly, after a year of paid advertising, the Star Newspaper began refusing to print our articles. They also stopped publishing our letters to the editor. They told us that they were getting complaints from people in White City. Of course, we knew who these "people" were, namely the mayor, Bruce Evans. We knew it was Mayor Evans as we had written him many letters only to discover that he was the poster boy for the Regina Bypass. He targeted our group, saying that we were against increased safety, and the Regina Bypass was needed.
The more research we conducted, the more we discovered that the Regina Bypass was a cover-up tainted with lies and deception. The entire project has been spin doctored by the government, media, and the power players, the land developers who purchased land along the Regina Bypass route at White City, Tower Road, and at the GTH.
I attended the Premier's Dinner in 2015 in hopes that I could set up a meeting with Premier Brad Wall to discuss how we could salvage our business plans. Instead of being met with helpfulness, Premier Brad Wall threatened me saying that I better watch what I am saying about his MLA's, namely, Christine Tell as what I was saying could be considered as slanderous. Two weeks later, after just completing a letter to Premier Wall, the champion of the cause, my sister Sylvia, brought it to my desk and collapsed in my arms. Sylvia fell into a two-month coma and has been living in Wascana paralyzed on half of her body for the last four years. Sylvia did not deserve this; no one does.
We continued to fight without Sylvia with the help of three elderly gentlemen all over the age of 80, still trying to operate our business. We did our best to get out and talk to the people. We organized rallies at the Legislature, we wrote many letters to the editor, did T.V. and radio advertising, compiled binders of information.
We hired a lawyer, Bob Hrycan, in November 2015, after the government came bulldozing through our property four days after the land was expropriated. The government land grabbers destroyed tens of thousands of dollars worth of building products. They hauled them away to the garbage dump. The government then cut off our access, cut out the driveway, and dumped dirt on it, preventing us from being able to access the property. Before they would agree to build us access at the back of the property, they wanted us to sign a Release and Settlement Agreement. We refused to sign the agreement and have been left without proper access to get into and out of our property for the last four years. We made do with rig mats that we brought in.
The lawyer we hired took a $100,000 retainer. We provided him with all of the comprehensive information that we had acquired. He provided the information and handed the file to a lawyer in B.C. who had no knowledge or experience, and left on a two month holiday. When he returned, over five months after we hired him, the Regina Bypass builder was moving dirt 24/7 in front of our property. He told us there was nothing more that could be done and quit the file.
We then hired a lawyer to represent us in the land expropriation action to get fair value for our property and damages that resulted from the Regina Bypass Land Scandal. The lawyer filed a statement of claim and then did little or nothing to move the case along. In fact, he eventually stepped down from the case, saying that we might get a bit more for the land we lost, but we would not get damages. We later discovered that the Law Firm he worked for, Miller Thomson had a conflict of interest as they worked for Vinci, the Bypass Builder.
We even had an employee who worked with our lobby group, The Regina Committee for an Alternative Bypass Solution/ Why Tower Road, start a frivolous legal action. This legal action has worked its way through the courts as a result of lawyers conflict of interest, misrepresentation, and negligence. A lawyer that I hired from McDougall Gauley, to represent us in this frivolous action took a retainer, did not provide a retainer contract, gave the file to a junior lawyer and left on a holiday. He did not advise me of the date of the court hearing, and I was not in attendance at the hearing where the employee had a lawyer that was in conflict. The lawyer that was representing the employee had previously represented me in a similar action. After we received the discombobulated decision from the Judge, we discovered the lawyer had a conflict and brought it to the attention of our lawyer and filed a complaint with the Law Society. When he did not respond for two months, we wrote another letter. When he finally responded, saying, "With respect to the complaint to the Law Society, it is your complaint, not ours. Further, as a matter of policy, I do not bring complaints against other lawyers. It is a small family bar in Regina, and I need to maintain a civil relationship with other counsel or my clients' interests will suffer." Then, in the same letter, "It is apparent that you have lost confidence in our representation of you. Accordingly, it will be necessary for you to find new counsel." Again, we later discovered that McDougall Gauley represented Vinci, the Bypass Builder. Did they have a conflict of interest in taking on our case?
We have filed complaints with the Law Society on all three of these lawyers for legal misrepresentation and negligence in failing to provide a duty of care expected from a legal professional according to the Lawyers Code of Professional Conduct. The Law Society has supported two out of the three lawyers saying that they were not in breach of the Code of Professional Conduct. We are still waiting to hear the Law Society's opinion on the one lawyer with a conflict of interest. We expect that the Law Society, a self-funded, self-governed, self-regulated organization will take the side of their members.
We have hired several social media people, beginning in 2014, to develop a social media campaign and website to inform the public. The government was pushing the Regina Bypass through in a hurry, and the public was not informed of the details. We have had social media people sabotage our success in getting the story out. They took our money and ran.
We continued to lobby the government and advertise before the provincial election to create public awareness. In February 2016, CBC investigative reporter Geoff Leo, broke the story on the GTH Land Scandal. The government needed 54 acres of land for the Regina Bypass at the GTH. Instead of purchasing the property from the Order of Nuns for the same amount everyone else in the area was getting (5,000-$6,000 per acre), they waited for an Alberta land baron to make an offer to purchase 204 acres of land. This land baron, Robert Tappauf, rents Kindersley-area farmland to Sask Party MLA Bill Boyd (then-Minister responsible for the GTH). Months later, Mr. Tappauf flipped the land, earning a net profit of $6 million virtually overnight without going through land titles. Another government-friendly developer, Anthony Marquart, was the purchaser of those 204 acres. In February 2014, Premier Brad Wall signed an Order in Council to pay Mr. Marquart $21.1 million for four times more land than the was needed at 20 times the rate others in the area were getting. The 54 acres of land that was needed for the Regina Bypass was only worth $315,000. Bill Boyd subsequently sued Geoff Leo and the CBC, presumably to keep the scandalous story from being published before the 2016 provincial general election. This legal matter was settled in 2018.
The NPD did little or nothing with any of the information we provided them or what Geoff Leo had uncovered to expose the deep-rooted government corruption and the Regina Bypass Land Scandal. If the NDP had pressed this issue, they might have been able to form a majority government and conduct a Judicial Public Inquiry and a Forensic Audit into the Regina Bypass Land Scandal.
When Gordon Wyant was running for Premier, he stated multiple times that no matter the results of the RCMP investigation, he would call for a Public Inquiry into the Regina Bypass to put the scandal behind them as a party and because there were still unanswered questions for him. Once Mr. Wyant was elected Deputy Premier, he backed down from this statement and even voted against a public inquiry.
We approached the RCMP and provided them with three binders of comprehensive information on some of what we had learned about the Regina Bypass Scandal. In September 2018, the RCMP reported that in consultation with Manitoba Prosecution Services, they had completed their investigation of the land dealings in and around the GTH. The investigation spanned two and a half years and dedicated 7500 hours. They disclosed that all of the information they relied on was freely provided to them, and they never met the threshold to subpoena evidence. As such, it was recommended that no criminal charges be laid. Here, we are our last line of defense, the RMCP, who are supposed to be an independent body protecting the rights of citizens in our country and uphold the laws, nothing. They closed the file and didn't even look at the Tower Road and White City land scandals.
Over the last year, we have been writing weekly articles in the Compass Magazine detailing everything we know about the Regina Bypass. The people who are informed and follow these articles understand. They realize that we have a corrupt system of government, and no one is keeping them in check, not our opposition party and not the media. The principals in our business and the member of our group have been standing up for the survival of our business, the people of our province, and the taxpayers who work hard to put food on the table, to have shelter, to raise a family.
Everyone in Saskatchewan has been impacted by the Regina Bypass with this 2017 provincial budget and the 6% PST tax on the construction and service industries. The construction industry has been brought to a screeching halt, and Saskatchewan is now in an economic recession. Thousands of people are out of work, businesses are shutting down, and warehouses are for lease. And yet, the government continues to spin the story.
Our investigative team has been discredited by the media; threatened by former Premier Brad Wall; assaulted by the Deputy Mayor of White City; harassed and almost arrested by the police during the 2018 Cathedral Village Arts Festival; kicked out of Saskatoon's 2018 Show and Shine Car Show (an event that is sponsored by Deputy Premier Gordon Wyant's brother); ejected from Regina's 2018 Santa Claus Parade (because our vehicle's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas decorations were not "Christmassy enough"); pushed out of the 2019 Queen City Ex Parade (because we were "too political"); and delayed during our supporting cruise in this September's Special Olympics Saskatchewan convoy.
This week was the opening of the Regina Bypass. The Saskatchewan Party and Vinci held a closed Grand Opening on Pinkie Road and had a tent and speakers set up. We discovered the details 30 minutes before the Grand Opening and quickly got our P3 Cruiser, the crime finding cruiser, and made our way there to be part of the festivities. We got there after all of the speeches had been completed, and everyone had begun mingling. We took some pictures at the event and mingled with the crowd. By chance, we happened to speak with a gentleman from France who turned out to be Xavier Hulliard. Xavier introduced himself to us as the President and CEO of Vinci. Just as I was about to engage him in conversation, we were approached by a man who introduced himself as Tony Plaxton. He told us that this was a closed event, and he wanted us to leave as it was only for the Vinci people. I was confused as I thought it was a public opening of the Regina Bypass and that there were others there who were not Vinci people. He told us that they would be asked to leave as well. We decided not to create a scene and left voluntarily.
We sent out a press release to the media. Not long after, we were contacted by one media station for an interview, CTV Wayne Mantyka. Mr. Mantyka has been following our story and has given us several interviews and a little bit of media attention.
We can't help but wonder why we weren't invited to speak at the Grand Opening? Is the government trying to bury this story? During the Grand Opening, we heard the government say that they saved $300 million using the P3 model. This is part of their lies and deception. If we compare the Coquihalla Highway in B.C. to the Regina Bypass, we can see that the Regina Bypass is 40km of new four-lane highway, 12 overpasses, 55km of service roads, 5km of highway twinning, and 20km of resurfacing. Compared to the Coquihalla's 320km of four-lane highway, 18 interchanges, 38 bridges/ overpasses, 319 underpasses, 8 avalanche dams, 19 containment basins, 3 diversion trenches, 73 sets of avalanche benches, and 1 massive snow shed. The total cost of the Coquihalla highway adjusted for inflation was $1.63 Billion Contrast this number with the $1.88 Billion Regina Bypass, and this price doesn't include land purchases from the over 100 landowners along the Regina Bypass route. How is it possible that the Coquihalla highway through the mountains cost less to build than to 40km Regina Bypass on flat prairie land?
The Fire Chief from White City made a speech at the opening stating that we can already see the improvement in safety as they have not had to use their jaws of life since the opening of the Bypass. Why didn't the Fire Chief talk about the accident that occurred when a confused driver on the diverging diamond got off the ramp on the wrong side into oncoming traffic and was confused, causing a head-on collision? Another speaker at the Regina Bypass opening was a woman named Wanda Campbell. Wanda lost her son in a fatal collision on Highway No.1. We want to send our sympathies to Wanda and her family for their tragic loss.
The government has been trying to spin this story and go back on their word that the main reason for the Regina Bypass was increased safety. However, in 2008 the Minister of Highways is quoted in the Legislature saying, "I wanted to come up with a fairly clear set of criteria on which we evaluate each and every project, so that the projects would be driven by economics first off, and then secondly safety, and thirdly socio-economic criteria." And then again on June 20, 2016 the deputy minister of Highways said in the Legislature, "And so when we look at highway development projects, we do take a look at the whole area as a whole and determine, based on the condition of the road, the economic importance of the road, as well as the type of economic activity that is generated in that area. We proceed to prioritize these roads." It is clear the government spent $2 billion on the Regina Bypass for purely economic reasons and not safety. Although safety is of great importance to us and others, the government was not driven to build the Regina Bypass to improve safety for taxpayers.
As the government continues to spin the story, we will continue our efforts to expose what we know about the Regina Bypass, the biggest infrastructure project in Saskatchewan's history will go down in history as Highway Robbery the Regina Bypass Land Scandal. We keep finding ourselves asking, how can something so wrong happen in the 21st century? This is like 19th century Highway Robbery in the 21st century. We have tried many things to create public awareness of the Regina Bypass Land Scandal. We have found that 99% of the informed public agrees that the Regina Bypass, the biggest infrastructure project in Saskatchewan's history, will go down in history as Highway Robbery the Regina Bypass Land Scandal. Everyone we talk to agrees that the Regina Bypass is wrong for Saskatchewan and sign our petition for a Judicial Public Inquiry and a Forensic Audit into the Regina Bypass.