Re­sort an ‘in­ter­na­tional em­bar­rass­ment’

The Western Star - - Editorial -

The fi­nan­cial tragedy of Hum­ber Val­ley Re­sort con­tin­ues for orig­i­nal own­ers and more re­cent own­ers due to a lack of proper governance and ac­tion by suc­ces­sive pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments.

Ap­proval of this de­vel­op­ment in the late 1990s in an un­in­cor­po­rated area with­out any form of leg­isla­tive con­trols has been an in­ter­na­tional em­bar­rass­ment.

New­found­land and Labrador does not have any leg­is­la­tion to con­trol bare-land con­do­minium de­vel­op­ments and is the only prov­ince with­out a county sys­tem of governance to con­trol ar­eas out­side mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

This al­lowed the per­fect storm to de­velop in the area still known as Hum­ber Val­ley Re­sort.

When Hum­ber Val­ley Re­sort Cor­po­ra­tion (HVRC) en­tered into re­ceiver­ship in the fall of 2008, it is­sued let­ters of re­lease to every pri­vate prop­erty owner at the re­sort, which at the time con­sisted al­most ex­clu­sively of for­eign own­ers and no year-round res­i­dents.

This re­leased every prop­erty owner from any obli­ga­tion to HVRC and its suc­ces­sors or as­signs. When 61839 NL Ltd., with di­rec­tors Katie Wat­ton and Gary Oke, pur­chased the as­sets, they ac­quired no author­ity or abil­ity to col­lect any fees or im­pose any con­tracts or lease agree­ments on any prop­erty owner.

They then cir­cu­lated to all law firms in New­found­land and Labrador, no­tice of three con­tracts, and by this ac­tiv­ity, cre­ated an im­pres­sion that these con­tracts were a con­di­tion of sale of any prop­erty at the for­mer re­sort. The re­al­ity is that the re­sort ceased to ex­ist and the area is a col­lec­tion of pri­vate prop­er­ties, all ad­ja­cent to, but not part of, a pri­vately owned golf course.

None of these con­tracts and as­so­ci­ated fees are a con­di­tion of sale and are not re­quired to com­plete a sale of pri­vate prop­erty at the re­sort.

The only lever­age this com­pany has is the threat to ter­mi­nate wa­ter ser­vices, and it is ar­guable that, by def­i­ni­tion, sup­ply­ing wa­ter ser­vices for com­pen­sa­tion re­quires the in­volve­ment of the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Board to set wa­ter rates.

In any event, a prop­erty owner can make al­ter­nate ar­range­ments for wa­ter ser­vices, such as drilling an arte­sian well or re­ac­ti­vat­ing the well that pre­vi­ously sup­plied wa­ter to ap­prox­i­mately 70 prop­er­ties.

It seems that lo­cal law firms are ei­ther not con­duct­ing proper re­search or are com­plicit in their con­duct by al­low­ing po­ten­tial pur­chasers to en­ter into these con­tracts that have no ex­piry date and al­lows 61839 NL Ltd. to in­crease fees at will.

I doubt they would ad­vise clients to en­ter into such agree­ments un­der any other cir­cum­stance that al­lows one party an ar­bi­trary abil­ity to gain an in­ter­est in a pri­vate prop­erty.

It is time for the cur­rent gov­ern­ment to take ac­tion to re­solve this pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion that is an em­bar­rass­ment to the prov­ince on an in­ter­na­tional level, with for­eign own­ers still own­ing ap­prox­i­mately half of the prop­er­ties, and many view­ing the sit­u­a­tion com­pa­ra­ble to Third World con­di­tions.

Tim Buckle,

Hum­ber Val­ley Re­sort

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