POWELL RIVER, B.C. – The Sino Bright land deal appears to be in jeopardy.
On Friday, Powell River Waterfront Development Corporation (PRWDC) president Wayne Brewer told the MyPowellRiverNow.com newsroom that he is waiting for word from by Sino Bright Investments Ltd. on how they plan to move forward – or not move forward – with the deal.
Last month, The PRWDC accepted an offer by Sino Bright Investments Ltd. to purchase 10 acres of land next to Brooks Secondary for the development of an International School Campus.
The property was to be subdivided out of the remaining 80 acres of Lot 2 DL 450 (the former golf course lands in the Townsite) for $300,000, with a planned completion date of Aug. 1.
The sale was subject to the successful subdivision and rezoning of the property, which was to be done at the buyer’s expense.
READ MORE: Sino Bright land deal will ‘diversify economy,’ says PRWDC president
Now, there are fears the Sino Bright could back out of the deal, according to Brewer.
“It probably is in jeopardy because I’m hearing informally from others that Sino Bright has cold feet because of the controversy,” Brewer said. “But I can’t confirm or deny. I can’t say the deal is dead, I can’t say the deal is alive. I just don’t know because until I actually receive the letter (from Sino Bright), I don’t know what the letter says, I don’t know what reasons they are giving, or in fact if they are in backing out or just wanting to step back and wait and see what happens to see if people will calm down. It’s really up in the air.”
The controversy that Brewer touched on was, he said, members of the public alleging lack of transparency and backroom dealings.
Brewer added that some critics of the deal are “definitely using the racist card.”
“I think they must really hurt,” he said, regarding the buyers. “Imagine those poor owners of the company that want to buy it (the land). They’ve been Canadian citizens since apparently 1992, so that’s over 25 years but they were referred to by one fellow… (as the Chinese communist government.) And not just hurt personally, but does that make them feel welcome?”
Brewer said the Sino Bright owners are “probably wondering” if they bring new students to the community, is that the reception they are going to get.
“Do they even feel welcome?” Brewer said. “If they do have cold feet and want to back out, I can understand why.”
Brewer said if the deal falls through, it will be a blow to the local economy.
“The whole point of getting involved in waterfront development and acquiring those surplus lands… was trying to encourage economic diversification so we don’t have to rely so much on the mill,” he said. “We need to broaden the tax base and this was one of those pillars. Education is a clean, good economic activity. If we’ve lost that, now what do we do? It’s back to the drawing board, I suppose.”
In early February, Sino Bright President Quan Ouyang said in a release that the agreement to purchase the Townsite property demonstrates that his organization has remained committed to Powell River.
“We are pleased to have a deal in place and look forward to working toward developing the new school campus,” Ouyang said.