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Builders, real estate firms gave big to BC Liberals

Real estate and construction companies were some of the most generous donors to the B.C. Liberals with some donors pushing well over $100,000 according to the 2008 Annual Financial Report.

Amongst the highest donors were Madison Pacific Properties and The Maple Bay Townhomes Corporation each donating $100,000.

According to Business Week Magazine, Madison Pacific Properties “engages in the ownership, development, and operation of industrial and commercial real estate properties,” the majority located in Metro Vancouver.

As of December 31, 2007, the company’s property portfolio contained 1.1 million square feet of net rentable area in industrial properties; 395,708 square feet of net rentable area in highway-commercial properties; and 81,149 square feet of rentable area in office properties.

In 2007, the company generated over $19.8 million in revenue.

Sam Grippo, chairman of Madison Pacific Properties, is also president and CEO of Madison Venture Corporation, a company that operates business and tourist publications as well as community newspapers. Madison Venture also gave to the Liberal party with a donation of $10,000.

Grippo is also chairman of Glacier Ventures, which had company shares acquired by Madison Venture. Glacier Ventures owns daily and weekly community newspapers including Business in Vancouver and, also in B.C.:

Whistler Question, Squamish Chief, Lillooet Bridge River News, the Sunshine Coast Reporter, the Powell River Peak, Nelson Daily News, West Kootenay Weekender, Cranbrook Daily Townsman, Kimberley Daily Bulletin, East Kootenay Weekly Extra, East Kootenay Weekly Weekender, Trail Times, Fernie Free Press, Grand Forks Gazette, Grand Forks Boundary Bulletin, Creston Valley Advance, Kamloops Daily News, Kamloops The Extra, Prince George Citizen, Prince George This Week, Prince George Extra, Alaska Highway News, North Peace Express, The Northerner, Peace River Block News, The Regional Advertiser, The Northern Horizon, The Mirror, Prince Rupert Daily News, Merritt News, Cariboo Advisor, Quesnel Advisor, 100 Mile House Advisor, Coast Mountain Advisor, the Real Estate Weekly and Kodiak Press.

Another member of the 100K club is businessperson Milan Ilich who donated $253,050.

Ilich is president of Progressive Contracting Ltd., a construction and development company. Progressive Contracting made a separate donation of $9,750 to the B.C. Liberal party. Ilich is also former owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps and is related to Olga Ilich, Richmond Centre MLA. Prior to being MLA, Olga Ilich was an executive vice-president of Progressive Contracting.

Ilich has been a loyal contributor to the Liberals donating over $70,000 in 2005 and in 2006 went on to donate over $17,000. He donated over $53,000 in 2007.

Ilich’s company, Progressive Contracting, recently submitted a bid of over $323,000 to the Greater Vancouver Sewage and Drainage District to provide “earth moving equipment.” Ilich and his wife Maureen have given to a number of causes through the Maureen and Milan Foundation. Both the Richmond Hospital Foundation and the Richmond Community Centre Transportation Program are previous causes to which the foundation has given.

Other donors of the real estate and construction company variety included Dunkley Lumber, a lumber product corporation that distributes all over North America, its location focused in Prince George, B.C. The lumber distribution company donated over $40,000 to the Liberal party in 2008.

In 2008, Dunkley Lumber constructed “a fully automated lumber grading system, along with additional trimsaws, a second sorting system, autostacker, banding and paperwrapping stations. This investment has provided significant gains with respect to efficiency, recovery, consistency and flexibility,” said the Dunkley Lumber webpage.

Dunkley Lumber also donated over $35,000 in 2005 and just over $20,000 in 2007. Delta Land Development, located in Vancouver, donated $42,000 last year. The company is a North American branch of the Delta Group, an international real-estate development company with offices located in Singapore, London and Shanghai.

The company is responsible for the construction and completion of Callitso, a massive apartment suite on Coal Harbour and a number of other projects within B.C. including the Conservatory in Oakridge Vancouver.

Delta Land Development donated over $30,000 in 2006 and in 2007, the company donated $33,000 to the B.C. Liberals.

Rennie Marketing System, a company responsible for handling the assets of real-estate properties and the manufacturing and selling of condominiums all over B.C. donated just under $30,000 to the B.C. Liberals.

The company has donated thousands of dollars to the Liberals in the past, with over $30,000 in 2007 and $1,550 in 2005.

Led by Bob Rennie, the company has managed to sell $1 billion in property in the last four years and has sales teams all over B.C.

Burnco Construction gave the Liberal party a donation of more than $20,000 in 2008. The company specializes in the manufacturing of rock and concrete bi-products made for industrial construction and is the largest independent supplier of ready-mix concrete in Canada with offices all over B.C. and Canada.

The company has also contributed to the party in the past with over $4,000 dollars in both 2007 and 2006.

Other companies who broke the $20,000 mark in political donations to the Liberal party included Polygon Homes, donating $22, 250 in 2008. In 2005, the company donated $25,000 and roughly $18,000 in 2006. The company went on to donate over $18,000 in 2007. The company has contributed over $85,000 to the B.C. Liberals since 2005.

In 2008, Concord properties donated $26,000. They also have been a generous donor in the past, having donated over $80,000 to the B.C. Liberals in 2005. The company also donated over $12,000 dollars in 2006 and over $14,000 in 2007.

Maple Bay Townhomes donated $100,000 to the B.C. Liberals in 2008 with no previous donations in past years.

While many donors to the BC Liberals are in the business of building homes, one other very supportive group is all about what’s parked in the garages.

The B.C. Association of New Car Dealers donated $107,000 to the BC Liberals last year.

Morgan J. Modjeski and Ashley Gaboury report for The Tyee.

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