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MLA questions Victoria marina team’s Liberal donations

The provincial government should make a decision on a Victoria marina proposal that’s in the public interest, not the interests of B.C. Liberal Party donors, said New Democratic Party MLA Maurine Karagianis.

“The developers and the people involved in this are donors to the B.C. Liberal Party,” said Karagianis, who represents Esquimalt-Royal Roads. “They also have very strong financial ties to the federal party that’s in power right now. Does that sway government’s mind in this? I’m very concerned that it does.”

Since 2005, she said, the Liberals have received $13,000 in donations from three companies listed as part of the project team on the Victoria International Marina’s website, she said. It includes, as confirmed in Elections B.C.’s donations database, $6,000 from Chatwin Engineering Ltd., $5,375 from Crease Harman and Company and $1,100 from Thomas Consultants.

“It’s news to me and irrelevant also,” said Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell, who will make a decision on whether the developers may lease a 2.63 hectare Crown water lot in Victoria harbour. “We get donations from a wide variety of different groups.”

He noted that the developers, WAM Development Group, requested a meeting with him that he declined. “I’m confident in the role that we've played and that I’ve played,” he said. “Unfortunately Maurine’s playing politics with it. I think that's totally inappropriate. I think we should allow for a thoughtful and reasoned response from both the province and the city and I’m confident we’ll get that.”

Bell said he met with Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin on May 17 about the proposal. “It’s more appropriate for us to follow the direction the city provides us,” he said. “We’re considering all of our options. We want to work with the City of Victoria. We’re not out to make life difficult for them.”

The project recently received federal environmental and navigable waters approvals. Victoria member of parliament Denise Savoie in January asked the federal commissioner of lobbying to investigate allegations about the involvement of political insiders in the marina proposal.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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