Land deal for new health care facility causes controversy
Published Friday, April 21, 2017 6:08PM ADT
Controversy is swirling over the new land deal for an outpatient health clinic announced Thursday by Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
Members of the opposition parties are now calling for the process and purchase to be investigated by the Auditor General
"We need to have someone independent like the Auditor General clear the air and make sure taxpayers are getting the best deal and we're making investments that are better for healthcare, and not for winning the election," says Rob Batherson, PC candidate for Halifax Central/Sable Island.
On Thursday, Premier McNeil held an unveiling for the newly announced site of the Halifax Health Centre, a new outpatient centre for the QEII hospital.
The root of the controversy is how much money was paid for the site and to whom.
"Earlier today I wrote the AG to ask if his office could look at the details of the agreement or contract of sale and shed some light on whether this was appropriate and if this was the right thing for the government to do," says Dave Wilson, health critic for the NS NDP.
The health centre property is set to be built on 15 acres of land in Bayers Lake, that the province purchased for $7.5 million.
But the entire parcel of land, made up of some 183 acres, had been purchased from the city four years ago for $9 million, and with an assessed value of close to $7.5 million.
The land is owned by Besim Halef with Banc Group, a Liberal party donor and member of the QEII foundation.
The head of acquisitions for the province says the price also includes getting the site pad ready for building.
"He was able to give us $500,000 an acre for a pad ready site. We felt that was a very good deal," says Steve MacKenzie of N.S. Transportation Renewal.
MacKenzie says comparable prices in that area range from $650,000 -$750,000.
The Auditor General's office has confirmed receipt of the complaints from the PC's and NDP to investigate and will now have to determine whether it will proceed with a full audit.
The Auditor General said it will take a few days to confirm whether or not the complaint will lead to a full audit, but if an election is called they will not reveal any decision until after the campaign.