Kelowna's mayor renting waterfront home from one of B.C.'s biggest developers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Kelowna's mayor renting waterfront home from one of B.C.'s biggest developers

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran has been renting a multi-million-dollar waterfront home for the past two years from one of B.C.’s most prominent developers.

Basran lives in one of the city’s heritage homes, the Hughes-Games house in the Abbott Street Heritage Area. B.C. Assessment lists it as a three-storey, 4,218-square-foot house on .246 acres with four bedrooms and five bathrooms. Its assessed value is $2.4 million, though the house next door recently sold under a listing of just under $4 million.

The owner of the home is a company called Resear Ltd. registered in the British Virgin Islands, but owned by David Negrin, former CEO of Aquilini Investment Group and currently involved with several large B.C. development companies.

Basran says there’s no conflict because Negrin has never done business in Kelowna under his watch.

“Has that developer done anything in our city in the past?” Basran responded when iNFOnews.ca questioned him about his living arrangements. “I haven’t made any decisions where he has been impacted, as far as I’m aware.”

Hughes-Games house that Mayor Basran is renting from a developer.
Hughes-Games house that Mayor Basran is renting from a developer.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

Negrin has done plenty of business in the City of Kelowna, though not since Basran began renting the home. While CEO of the Aquilini Investment Group, a large company responsible for, among other things, the Vancouver Canucks NHL team, the investment group bought SOPA Square in the Mission neighbourhood of Kelowna. It applied for development permits for the project on July 14, 2015, while Negrin was still its CEO and Basran was mayor.

Basran seemed unaware of that connection.

Basran said he learned the Hughes-Games house was available for rent from a mutual friend. At that time, he had just separated from his wife and was looking for a place to live. He said he knew Negrin at the time but they were not friends.

He refused to say how much rent he’s paying to Negrin.

“I’m renting the home just like anyone else would rent a home and it’s a private matter that’s not anyone’s business,” Basran said. “Quite frankly, how I live my life as it pertains to where I live and where my children stay with me is not anyone’s business, as far as I’m concerned.”

READ MORE: SOPA Square in Kelowna won't be finished until 2018

Sean Holman is an associate professor of environmental and climate journalism at the University of Victoria and has a background in political analysis.

“These are all legitimate matters of public inquiry that the mayor should be asked about and the mayor should respond to,” Holman said.

“Oftentimes powerful people have relationships with other powerful people,” Holman said. “This is to be expected. Where this becomes an issue of public interest is when one of those powerful individuals is beholden to another of those powerful individuals in one way, shape or form.”

That is especially true when the powerful person is an elected official, he noted.

Key to whether this is a true conflict of interest or not is the nature of the financial arrangement between Basran and Negrin, Holman said. Is he paying market prices?

Basran refused to disclose that arrangement, nor is he required to under financial disclosure rules for civic politicians. His latest financial disclosure lists ownership or partial ownership in two Kelowna homes. A third in West Kelowna was recently sold.

It's hard to find waterfront homes in Kelowna for rent but a couple on Rental.ca of roughly the same size — but away from the lake — recently rented for $4,200 a month, or more than $50,000 a year.

Basran earns $110,000 a year as mayor along with roughly $19,000 as a director of the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

READ MORE: Kelowna mayor rails against populist politics

We were unable to contact David Negrin. Since 2016, Negrin has been CEO of MST Development Corp, a company owned by three Lower Mainland First Nations, to develop properties in Vancouver and Burnaby. He is also involved in several other development companies in various aspects and has a long history in the field.

He was CEO of Concord Pacific Development Corp. in Vancouver before becoming CEO of Aquilini Development and Aquilini Investment Group in 2007, where he stayed until 2016.

Negrin is also currently listed as the director and principal of Attollo Management, which is a “comprehensive real estate investment and development management company specializing in originating off-market opportunities,” according to its website.

“We specialize in the acquisition, development, re-positioning and sale of multi-family and mixed-use properties for ourselves and our clients,” it adds.

Negrin is also a shareholder and on the board of directors for Kadestone Capital Corp., described on its website as “five complimentary business lines spanning building materials procurement and supply, property development and construction, construction finance, asset ownership, and property management.”

While still with the Aquilinis, the company picked up SOPA Square out of foreclosure in 2015 and submitted for development permits while Basran was mayor but long before Basran rented the home. SOPA Square is a 14-storey commercial/residential development on Pandosy Street that was first approved by Kelowna city council in 2008, before Basran was on council (he was first elected in 2011 and became mayor in 2014).

iNFOnews.ca has found no other records of Negrin doing direct business with the city while Basran was mayor, except for a foray with local heritage groups when he applied to bulldoze the house next door to where Basran lives in. He eventually relented.

Negrin, his companies and-or his wife own three waterfront homes side-by-side, including the one rented to Basran. One of them recently sold.

These facts were explained to Basran before he was asked if voters should see this as a conflict of interest — even the perception of one.

“No, because I would likely declare a conflict of interest, which is what we do any time when there’s an interest, either perceived or real, of conflict, we step aside for decisions, as I’ve done in the past when there’s been applications made next to properties that I own,” Basran said. “I have declared conflicts of interest on items where I deem it appropriate and I would do no different if this particular individual brought something forward to council, which he hasn’t to my knowledge.”

That may be hard to determine if the Mayor’s landlord is involved in local developments since it may be through companies like Kadestone Capital Corp., Attollo Management, or a numbered company Negrin recently resurrected.

Basran said the whole question is a non-issue being raised by his political enemies.

“This is just another example of critics in our community trying to damage my reputation,” he said.

He said his separation and divorce are in the process of being finalized so he expects to move out of the Hughes-Games house and into another home he owns within the next few months.

 — This story was updated at 8:39 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, to remove the street address of the house where Mayor Basran is currently living.


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