- BC Games
Port not renewing lease with province on water lots
Port Metro Vancouver is getting out of the water lot landlord business in Ladner, giving tenants a few weeks to apply for a new lease with the province.
The Port has kept a head lease with the province for the past 35 years that covers most of the Fraser River’s North Arm, Middle Arm and in the Lower Arm from the LaFarge Cement Plant downriver, including Ladner Reach, Sea Reach and Steveston. That lease is set to expire at the end of 2014, meaning 360 subtenures from logging operations, marinas, municipal assets and float homes will have until Feb. 17 to apply to the province for a new lease.
Tom Corsie, vice president of real estate for Port Metro Vancouver, said the Port will retain responsibility for federally administered uplands adjacent to the water lots and the navigational jurisdiction in the Fraser River, addressing its core mandate to facilitate international trade.
Because Port Metro Vancouver is a federal entity which is accountable to the federal Minister of Transportation, it has historically negotiated its head lease with the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Beginning in 2015, the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations [FLNRO] will be responsible for leases, as it is the ministry primarily responsible for Crown land tenures.
The Port was on the receiving end of a public backlash from several subtenures along the river in October 2012 when float home owners saw their lease rates hiked by as much as 80 per cent following the expiration of the head lease on Dec. 13, 2011.
Corsie said that did not play a part in their decision not to extend the head lease with the province beyond 2014.
“As the Port Authority we are very much a landlord organization,” he said. “We have about 3,000 acres of land in our portfolio with 1,800 agreements and many of them are in negotiation for new rents. Those are going on all the time.”
With respect to the float home lease hikes, Corsie said the Port had an obligation to their own landlord, the province, to charge a market rent. Water lot rent is influenced by a number of factors, including the rent yield, property value, as well as the last time the rent was reviewed.
“We don’t want to undercharge, we don’t want to overcharge, we just want a fair market rent,” he said.
Corsie said based on discussions with the province he doesn’t believe the rents will change much without the Port’s involvement.
On Jan. 20 the province sent out a letter to every subtenant advising the change and requesting that people apply for a new tenure by Feb. 17.
A spokesperson with the FLNRO said that before deciding how rent will be set, staff will need to review the 360 tenures transitioning to the province.
“This move makes sense as the [FLNRO] is the ministry primarily responsible for Crown land tenures within the province,” said Greig Bethel. “Moving management of the leases to the province will provide certainty for the tenure holders.”
Throughout 2014, FLNRO staff will implement a transition plan to ensure an efficient process is followed.