Questions swirl around selling government assets
The sale of publicly-owned property has been in the news lately, including the sale of the former Hoyles-Escasoni buildings and land in St. John’s, for just $650,000. Today in the House of Assembly, NDP MHAs tried to get answers on government’s stewardship of real estate assets.
“During the 2015 election the current government committed to do a comprehensive review of government’s real estate portfolio and determine how best to enhance its public value,” said House Leader Lorraine Michael.
“I ask the Premier has he kept his promise of a comprehensive review?”
She then raised the Hoyles-Escasoni sale. “During the 2015 campaign the Liberals stated that their plan for selling government real estate would provide $50 million in revenue,” she said. “But this week Hoyles-Escasoni was sold for a mere $650,000.
“Does government’s plan consist of selling off public assets at fire sale prices instead of waiting until markets pick up again?”
Housing Critic Gerry Rogers had a suggestion: Rather than losing the properties for good, the provincial government could follow the federal lead.
“The federal government has renewed its surplus properties program that provides government properties across the country for affordable housing and shelter projects. The province also has valuable assets that can used for these projects,” said Rogers.
“I ask the Premier why has he not halted the sale of all provincial assets until government has comprehensively consulted with community organizations and municipalities about the potential use of government property for affordable housing and shelter projects?”
She reminded government of the promise in The Way Forward of a plan for affordable housing options and supports for seniors, saying vacant properties could be used for affordable seniors’ housing.