Eight of the 10 top donors to the B.C. Liberal party in 2016, and so far in 2017, are involved in the province’s property development and construction industries.
Combined, the eight donors contributed nearly $1.5 million of the $12.5 million collected by the B.C. Liberals during the period, an analysis by Postmedia News of the donor list released by the Liberals last week shows.
Some of the real estate development and construction sector donations came in six-figure instalments.
Property developers claimed some spots in the top 10 list between 2011-2015 — along with natural resource companies such as Teck, Encana and West Fraser. But the contribution of the developers appears to be trending up.
The donations poured into the Liberal party as home prices skyrocketed in Greater Vancouver, which is a significant issue of public concern and is sure to be an election issue. The Liberals attempted to cool the market with a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers in August.
The move was unpopular among developers and construction firms, however $214,000 was donated from those sectors by the eight in the top 10 after the foreign-buyers tax was introduced.
The Liberals released the list voluntarily to dampen criticism over party financing, which has included large amounts of money from corporate donors and cash-for-access events. The Liberals have raised $32.5 million since the last election, the majority from corporate donations.
University of B.C. political scientist Max Cameron said there is little doubt that money buys influence.
Cameron is in favour of banning corporate and union donations and putting a cap on contributions, as is done federally and in most provinces.
“We don’t want the appearance or the reality — and both are important — that policy is actually bought,” said Cameron.
The top-10 list was compiled by consolidating multiple contributions and consolidating those from donors who gave through several entities.
Topping the list are Peter Wall and nephew Bruno Wall, who gave a total of $400,000.
Of that, $200,000 came from 2300 Kingsway Residences, while $100,000 each came from BJW Investments and PWO Investments, entities owned by the Walls, according to B.C. Corporate Registry documents.
Peter Wall is most well known for the 48-floor One Wall Centre in downtown Vancouver, completed in 2001.
Peter Redekop gave $260,000, including some through Redekop Kroeker Developments, while John Redekop Construction gave another $200,000. The Aquilinis, owners of the Canucks and involved in property development, gave $136,000.
Also in the top 10 and giving more than $100,000 were the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C., Kebet Holdings (owned by Beedie family and involved in property development), RPMG Holdings (the parent company of Onni, a property developer) and real estate developer Rick Ilich.
The property developers and construction firms did not respond to requests for comment. Ryan Beedie, reached by email, declined to comment.
Also on the top-10 list for 2016-17 was Teck Resources, which operates coal and metal mines in B.C. The company gave $133,250.
Teck declined to make an official available for an interview. In a written response, spokesman Chris Stannell said the company supports government policies that encourage job creation, sustainable development and economic growth.
The B.C. Liberals have argued they are being transparent by releasing donations and that caps on spending during campaigns means citizens can have confidence in democracy.
The donor list is also released by B.C. Elections, but there is a lag. For example, the political donor list for all parties for 2016 will not be released until April.
The NDP have accused the Liberals of selling access to power, and have called on Premier Christy Clark to ban corporate and union donations.
Vancouver-Point Grey NDP MLA David Eby said it’s no surprise to him that real estate developers dominated the B.C. Liberal donor list in 2016.
He said the Liberals were slow to recognize and move on a housing “crisis” as prices rose beyond what regular people can afford. “It really explains everything to me — simply that the interest of their donors were different than everyday families and Metro Vancouver,” said Eby.
Top 10 donors to B.C. Liberals in 2016
2300 Kingsway Residences/BJW Investments Ltd./PWO Investments Ltd. - Peter and Bruno Wall $400,000
Peter Redekop, including Redekop Kroeker Developments $260,000
John Redekop Construction $200,000
Aquilini Investment Group LP - including Geri Partnership $136,000
Teck Resources $133,250
Independent Contractors and Businesses Assocation of B.C., including president Phil Hochstein $130,425
Kebet Holdings Ltd., Ryan Beedie, including Beedie Investments $130,125
RPMG Holdings Ltd. - parent of Onni Group $116,500
Rick Ilich, including Townline $113,900
New Car Dealers’ Association of B.C. $112,050
Source: B.C. Liberal Party, compiled by Postmedia News