REGINA BYPASS LAND SCANDAL COVER-UP CONTINUED
In 2012, Long Lake Investments (LLI) purchased approximately 500 acres of land adjacent to Tower Road which was owned primarily by Mr. Murad Al-Katib. LLI purchased that tract of land for $12,125 per acre. In 2011and 2012, Mr. Al-Katib was a director of the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission. Since 2013 he has served as the chairperson of that organization (now known as Economic Development Regina Inc.). A few years before that he was working for S.T.E.P. the Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership, an agency that is privy to information regarding many proposed provincial and municipal public works projects.
LLI’s 500 acres had been categorized as non-serviceable, and wouldn’t be annexed to the City of Regina for the “foreseeable future,” at least for the next 25 years according to the city, however shortly after LLI purchased those 500 acres, not only did the city change its mind regarding serviceability, it also annexed a significant portion of his parcel of land. This was an extremely fortunate (and lucrative) turn of events for a private sector company that just so happens to be blessed with deep-rooted connections to the City of Regina and to the government of Saskatchewan.
LLI essentially struck gold in mid 2013 when the fortuitous decision was made to construct the critical Highway No.1 Southeast Regina Bypass interchange 400 metres east of Tower Road; right down the centre of its newly acquired land. LLI was able to sell the provincial government 128 of their 500 acres for $76,586 per acre. As LLI had only paid $12,125 per acre originally, this transaction resulted in LLI earning a rather exorbitant net profit of $8.2 million dollars, which is not a bad return for a short term investment of less than two years!
LLI still has about 372 acres in its back pocket. The city’s Commercial Development Plan has already been approved for a CN Rail intermodal service alongside their railroad tracks. The provincial government has already built (with public funds) a fabulous new service road for this private sector company. As a result, LLI is poised to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars of additional profits from a chunk of land that only six years ago was deemed to be non-serviceable. As a result of this assessment that land had only a modest cash value. We feel this is an egregious example of conflict of interest and a blatant example of “insider trading!”
Another instance of “insider trading” may have transpired in 2012 when Forster Projects/Harvard Developments Inc. (also longtime Saskatchewan Party allies), purchased 141 acres of land just south of Tower Road and Trans-Canada Highway No.1 East for its planned Aurora Mall retail complex. The former owner of that parcel of land, Gulf Flying J, had tried for years to obtain a development permit to build a truck stop there. They were told it would likely be at least 25 years before this land would be serviced and annexed to the City of Regina. However in a repeat performance of LLI’s “good fortune,” only a few short months later the city annexed these acres as well.
Forster Projects/Harvard Developments Inc. essentially hit its own vein of gold when that incredibly lucky and timely 400-metres-east-of-Tower-Road decision was made. If the earlier approved routing plan had been followed they would have lost over 60 acres of their 141-acre parcel—which would have severely hampered (or maybe even scuttled) their plans to build the retail complex. Ultimately, these corporate friends of the provincial government lost only 0.54 acres, and their gold-digger plans for a mega mall are still marching along.
The land scandals East of Regina most definitely did not end there. Along Highway No.48 and Highway No.1, Mauri Gwyn, another developer (and another Sask. Party supporter), needed land to build an easement and a fence between their property and the East Regina Bypass. In 2011 the Ministry of Highways sold them 7.4 acres for exactly $20,000 per acre. Three years later, the provincial government repurchased 2.44 of those acres from Gwyn. They paid Gwyn exactly $400,000 per acre!!
On the other side of the tracks, thousands of good people have been brutally impacted!! They have lost their land, homes, businesses, ball park, access roads, life’s work, health, history and future. People along Tower Road, who were never properly consulted, were literally bulldozed through by the government’s relentless expropriators. At least half a dozen people in the vicinity of Tower Road are now battling terminal illnesses. The extreme stresses they’ve been subjected to have certainly contributed to their problems. Heinous examples of Highway Robbery!!