BY BILL PHILLIPS
The wood still has that yellow tinge that wood has before it gets weathered. That’s how you know it’s new.
And it’s the first thing you see when you pull into the Prince George Equine and Animal Rescue Centre off Bendixson Road.
New wooden fences surround a handful of paddocks that have doubled in size since the summer. The wood is part of a donation to the centre from the Brink Group of Companies, which has committed to give the centre $50,000, in cash and materials, over the next five years.
“John (Brink) asked what kind of help we needed and I said … well, wood,” says Nicola Redpath who, along with her stable boy (partner) Grant, operate the facility.
Wood is something Brink Forest Products has a lot of.
“It was such a small thing to him but such an incredible, incredible gift because for us to do a paddock, it’s very difficult.”
Operating on the generosity of supporters, the centre would have to save up money to do one big project a year. This year they got five big projects done and they ran out of time or more would have gotten done.
They did manage to double the size of their paddocks and next year the Brink wood will help build more shelters for animals in need.
Brink found out about the centre in the spring and after a short tour, decided to help out.
“What Nicola and her partner are doing is amazing,” says Brink. “It makes you realize that if they were not doing this, what would happen to these animals. It fills a need and the commitment by them is huge. It’s so rewarding for us to be part of this.”
In the past year the centre has rescued about 100 cats, 85 dogs and 40-50 horses. It also rescued a herd of sheep and some goats. Redpath works with the SPCA and Humane Society to help animals.
“Our mission is to go out of business,” says Redpath with a laugh.
In reality the goal is simple to be available to people who have a need for a home for their animals. People fall on hard times and can’t take care of their pets, seniors often can’t care of their pets any longer, the centre takes in some animals may not qualify for other shelters.
The acreage on Bendixon Road is the ideal environment for horses and livestock, of course, but also for dogs who get to run around the property all day. The dogs don’t end up in a cage all day, they have a home environment.
“At the end of the day, these guys are tired because they’re out with me all day,” says Redpath.
With the larger animals, the centre is getting a little more selective on what it will accept.
“We try to keep it a definite necessity,” says Redpath “We don’t want to be a dumping ground for people who don’t want to deal with their old horse. Now we’re focusing on horses that are really, really in need … horses that are really emaciated and on death’s door.”
And it’s not for the faint of heart. Dealing with animals in distress, often human caused, can be an emotional thing.
“You definitely have to have a thicker skin,” says Redpath. “When you get to see, daily, how life changes for them from the minute they come through our doors, that makes it all worth it.
We also see the giving of so many people. We get these little children who come and save all their birthday money to give to help the animals.”
BY BILL PHILLIPS
A decommissioned landfill, located 100 metres from a City of Prince George water well and 200 metres from the Fraser River, is likely leaching toxic materials into the groundwater, according to environmental studies commissioned by Brink Forest Products.
In addition, the covered-over landfill is at risk of exploding, according to the reports, prepared by Amec Foster Wheeler Environmental and Infrastructure from Nanaimo and Case Forensics from Washington State. Brink Forest Products released the reports Monday.
“In light of these two reports and the information they contain, I believe the public has a right to know what they are dealing with,” said John Brink, owner of Brink Forest Products, in a press release. “It is my moral and ethical duty to warn the public, which is the purpose of this press release.”
In 2005, Brink Forest Products signed a lease-to-purchase agreement for a 100-acre site in the BCR Industrial Park with BCR Properties. Brink Forest Products had planned to build a new two-line sawmill on the site, which would have employed 200 people, With the mill partially-built, construction came to a halt with the discovery of the landfill.
Amec Foster Wheeler Environmental and Infrastructure conducted a water quality analysis on the site in July, 2017 and Case Forensics provided an expert opinion regarding the hazards posed to public health and safety.
Water sampling conducted by Amec discovered various metals that exceed Canada Safety Regulation and British Columbia Approved Water Quality (BCAWQ) guidelines. “Groundwater results indicated elevated levels of arsenic, cobalt, iron, manganese, and sodium,” reads the report. “Elevated concentrations of dissolved manganese, exceeding BCAWQ guidelines were observed within the drainage ditch, which flows directly into the Fraser River.”
The Amec report also discovered the landfill was covered with pit-run sand and gravel, which, according to the report, provides minimal protection against surface water and air intrusion into the landfill. In addition, there are no leachate collection provisions at the landfill, meaning the leachate likely flows subsurface with the groundwater towards the Fraser River, the report concluded.
Modern landfill designs call for complete encapsulation of the landfill contents and the gas emissions and liquid effluent are collected and treated.
According to the Case Forensics report, the landfill materials are susceptible to spontaneous heating and ignition. This could result in a smouldering fire at the site, it stated. The report also determined the landfill materials are “undergoing decomposition and are producing combustible methane gas that could accumulate in ignitable mixtures that could produce an explosion and/or deflagration.”
Brink Forest Products launched a civil suit against BCR Properties in 2013. The company is suing BCR Properties for fraudulent misrepresentation, claiming BCR Properties had a duty to disclose the presence of the landfill, which created an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment; and that it failed to comply with its obligations under the Waste Management Act or the Environmental Management Act.
“There were three critical elements which would qualify a suitable site; it must be a minimum of 100 acres, it must have rail access and must be environmentally clean,” said Brink. “We identified such a site, which was a part of a former sawmill site. It met all my requirements. We started to build our new sawmill immediately in May of 2005.”
Over the course of this development, Brink says he has discovered many contamination issues in relation to the property, including the landfill that is 22 acres in size, approximately the equivalent of downtown Prince George, and in places 30 feet deep.
“I would find it hard to believe that BCR Properties, as an owner of the land, is not already aware of the danger to human health and fire hazard that exists due to the landfill and its toxic nature,” said Brink. “What’s more alarming is that if they did know, why have they not come forward and warned the public; especially considering the property’s close proximity to a city water well and fish habitat? This would have allowed the City of Prince George to apply appropriate measures to shut down the water intake and remove the landfill.”
BCR Properties’ director of real estate Richard Myhill-Jones said he was unaware of the issue and declined further comment.
“You’re best to talk to Mr. Brink, he seems to be the one with the information,” Myhill Jones said.
BY BILL PHILLIPS
The Prince George real estate market has been steady. And that’s a good thing.
“It’s not boom, it’s not bust and that is actually a healthier market,” said Gord Langer of Brink Boardwalk Properties. “When you get extremes, like in Vancouver, it’s unaffordable. Homes in Prince George today, at the average price level (just under $300,000), are still very, very affordable.”
Houses on the market are selling for about 94 per cent of asking price, some up to 97 per cent. In addition, they are only staying on the market for 30-35 days. This year the market has been better than 2016 and on par with 2015.
New construction, however, has been down. There were 140 new houses 2015 about half of that in 2016 and about 50 new homes this year.
Langer says Prince George has been capitalizing on the hot markets in Vancouver and, more recently, Kelowna as home buyers look north.
“Vancouver residents are taking a good look at Prince George,” he said. “They moved away years ago and now they’re looking at moving back and capitalizing on the gains down there.”
Vancouver home owners can often sell their home there, pay cash for a home here, and end up with money in the bank. That makes the city an attractive place for those looking to get out of the big city.
Boardwalk Properties has been around in Prince George for about 25 years, but in the past couple of years a new owner and a new culture of selling has descended on the company. It was originally Homelife Boardwalk Properties, which gave way to Coldwell Banker Boardwalk Properties for about 14 years.
A couple of years ago the company was bought by the Brink Group of Companies and is now Brink Boardwalk Properties.
“It’s the same company, it’s just owned by the Brink Group of Companies,” said Langer, who is the agent nominee for the company.
With the new ownership comes a different approach to real estate.
“We’re really trying to create a brand within Prince George that really caters to the client,” said Joe Postnikoff, one of the company’s realtors. “We’re bringing in new technology. In our recruiting we make sure agents are really aligned with our culture, which is to execute on the highest level to our clients.”
Postnikoff, who spent 10 years with WestJet prior to getting into real estate, is very familiar with a corporate culture that caters to its clients and he brings that experience to Brink Boardwalk Properties.
Part of that catering to clients includes getting three-dimensional tours of their houses to display online, professional photos, videos of their houses, website and social media exposure and the latest, using drone technology to market properties. The idea is to be consistent with how they present all the properties they are marketing.
“New real estate agents, who come in, will have access to professional photographers, graphic designers, web designers, videographers,” said Postnikoff. “We have a whole package to support real estate agents and make sure people are getting the best value for their home.”
It makes for a consistent and high quality presentation online, where prospective home buyers are turning to to get information about new houses for sale.
“We’re going to assist the agents to provide very professional exposure on all the different media,” said Langer, adding they are recruiting agents. “We not going to re-invent the wheel, but we’re going to re-invent ourselves. We’re looking at all the technologies. The big thing is people want to see pictures.”
And the new owner, John Brink, sets a good example, said Langer.
“John brings a lot of experience from all is other companies,” said Langer. “He thinks out of the box. He really wants quality and he wants to show the consumer we’ve got a really good product.”
Brink Boardwalk Properties has also been busy selling lots in the new Nechako View subdivision, just off Nechako Drive.
“It’s a beautiful subdivision with gravel soils right on the Nechako River,” said Postnikoff.
This the first year they have been selling the lots and about 10 have sold, he said.
Anyone driving along Nechako Drive will notice a few new houses in the subdivision and a few more are slated to begin construction this year.
“Nechako has always been a very desirable spot,” said Langer. “The bowl has basically been developed for a lot of years. North Nechako is very close to downtown.”
Historically a lot of the new housing developments have been on the other side of the city as big box stores and shopping centres sprang up in College Heights, so did the new developments.
The Nechako View subdivision does have a building scheme attached to it in order to ensure high quality. That doesn’t mean cookie cutter houses … far from it. A lot of the homes are custom built homes. The building scheme means there are expectations that the driveways will be finished, yards fenced, landscaped, no vinyl siding … is has to be higher quality material such as Hardi-Plank.
If you follow the building covenant, you end up with a really nice subdivision,” said Langer. “University Heights and the golf course subdivision as Aberdeen golf course are good examples. You get a nice product overall. When you get a whole subdivision that’s finished, the houses retain their value.”
Housing size is also restricted so there won’t be monster houses on small lots.
In addition to the houses in the subdivision, 34 lots right along the river will be strata units. The strata units will also be high quality and, Langer says, there is a definitely a market for them as baby-boomers become empty-nesters and find they don’t need that big house with a big yard anymore.
The strata units will really live up the subdivision’s name as, being right on the river, there will be a great Nechako view.
BY BILL PHILLIPS
Have you ever thought of a career in real estate but didn’t know where to start? Or didn’t feel that you knew enough about the business of plunge in head-first?
Getting into the business will be a whole lot easier for four Prince George residents as they will do so with the full backing of Boardwalk Properties.
The company is going to help out four prospective realtors by paying for their real estate licensing course as well as set them up in an office and mentor the prospective realtors throughout the process.
Boardwalk Properties’ agent nominee Gord Langer followed his father into the real estate business and that mentorship was key in his success.
“It was my father who was my mentor,” said Langer. “He was a big developer in Prince George. He brought me into his fold and I got lots of support, lots of knowledge. I started off on the right foot in real estate.”
Langer started Boardwalk Properties in 1990 and has been agent nominee for 20 years. He will lend that expertise and experience to new agents looking to get into the business. The four prospective realtors will get their own office, access to web designers and videographers, social media expertise, and a managing broker who isn’t inundated with 50-60 other agents.
“I would consider myself an expert,” he said. “I’m a valued commodity to anyone who wants to get into real estate, because I enjoy it.”
Langer says having that support early on in a realtor’s career is crucial to their success.
“If you’re thinking of getting into real estate, it’s important to have that support because there are ups and down,” he said. “It’s not like you come into the business, sit behind a desk and the phone rings. You need guidance and you don’t get that in the real estate course. That I can do.
“You’re the master of your own destination. If you don’t work at this there’s no rewards, but if you work at it, the sky’s the limit. To be successful you have to do all the things the other realtors don’t like to do, or become complacent about.”
Langer’s mentorship is already showing through with realtor Joe Postnikoff, who has been learning the ropes from Langer for the past seven months.
“He has taught me a lot of the tricks of the trade, things you don’t learn in the school portion,” said Postnikoff. “It’s been a lot of fun. What we’re trying to give to new realtors is support. That’s what I was really fortunate to have. I came in and had a huge team around me. When you start out at other brokerages, you’re on your own.”
If you’re interested in a career in real estate and want to be one of the four who will benefit from the Boardwalk Properties advantage, simply apply to Boardwalk Properties at pgrealestate.com. The deadline to apply is November 15.
Mark NIELSEN / Prince George Citizen
September 26, 2014 04:17 AM
An application seeking to have a lawsuit brought against BCR Properties Ltd. by lumber manufacturer John Brink dismissed will be the subject of a hearing at the Prince George courthouse next month.The hearing, set for Oct. 6, will also consider whether Brink should post nearly $79,000 in security for legal costs should the case over a land deal gone wrong be allowed to proceed.Brink is alleging BCR acted fraudulently by trying to hide the true state of the land on which he had intended to build a new sawmill complex, a 100-acre site in the BCR industrial area where the old Netherlands sawmill once sat.Once an offer to lease was executed, Brink started work immediately and within six months had constructed the foundations and the mill’s superstructure and had installed a number of machines with the intent to start processing logs by the winter of 2005-06.But then Brink became aware that the site included a 22-acre landfill, which contained log yard and sawmill residue, heavy and light petroleum compounds, heavy metals, clinker, copper, mercury and zinc, tires “and many other deleterious substances,” for a depth of five to 10 metres.His company filed a lawsuit against BCR in February.BCR has denied of Brink’s allegations, saying in part that Brink knew a portion of the site had previously been used as a landfill and had access to all relevant information regarding the land’s condition.BCR also denied Brink’s allegation that it failed to disclose any relevant government orders or environmental reports and in fact, included reports related to neighbouring properties.BCR also noted a previous lawsuit brought by Brink alleging the Crown corporation breached an option or offer to lease was dismissed by the court.Brink is seeking costs for remediation and for 15 years of foregone profits from BCR.
February 13, 2014
A BCR Properties Ltd. employee repeatedly assured Prince George lumber manufacturer John Brink that the land he was buying was “remediated” and “clean,” according to a court document filed last week as part of an ongoing lawsuit over a failed effort to build a new sawmill complex.
Brink had been looking to purchase 100 acres at the BCR industrial site, where the old Netherlands Overseas Mills once stood, but is now seeking from the BCR costs for remediation and for 15 years of foregone profits.
In a Feb. 5 filing, Brink said he effectively ended up with only 62 acres of usable land, because a 22-acre landfill up to 10 metres in depth was found on the property that, in turn, made a further 15.6 acres inaccessible because of the property’s unusual shape.
Brink said that during negotiations, he emphasized he needed a site of at least 100 acres to locate not only a sawmill, but also three fingerjointing plants, a pellet plant, and dry kilns and storage for logs, rough green lumber and dry lumber ready for shipping.
He also said he repeatedly asked the BCR Properties employee he was dealing with about the land’s environmental condition, knowing that “sawmills can be places where industrial fluids and various toxins can enter the ground.”
The Canfor-owned Netherlands Overseas Mills ceased operating on the site in 2000.
Brink said he was “repeatedly advised that the premises were ‘remediated’ and ‘clean,’” according to the filing, but in exercising an option to purchase the site found that it contained the landfill.
“Because the landfill is ‘capped,’ no structure can be built upon it. Neither logs nor lumber can be stored on it. Cars cannot be parked on it. Roads cannot be built upon it,” according to the filing.
Brink asserted he was ignorant of the landfill’s existence and BCR Properties did nothing to inform him of this “critical fact.”
“Silence on a critical issue can amount to fraudulent misrepresentation,” Brink contended in the filing.
In a response filed this week, BCR Properties denied the allegation and also argued the limitation period for filing the lawsuit has expired. The lawsuit was launched in February 2012.
A date for trial has not yet been set.
February 21, 2013 Mark NIELSEN
Brink Forest Products owner John Brink has launched a lawsuit against BCR Properties Ltd., claiming the Crown corporation acted fraudulently by trying to hide the true state of the land on which he had intended to build a new sawmill complex.
According to a notice of civil claim filed Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court at Prince George, Brink had planned in 2005 to consolidate all of his facilities at 1077 Boundary Road, a 100-acre site owned by BCR Properties in the BCR industrial area
His plan included building a sawmill, a log sorting facility and a pellet plant and moving his existing facilities, which include three finger-joint lines and a remanufacturing plant to the site.
The claim also states that time “was critical, in that a large inventory of beetle-killed timber was available to be manufactured into lumber.”
“It was important for the business plan to proceed quickly, since the inventory of beetle-killed trees is diminishing, as these trees eventually either rot of fall in windstorms, are destroyed in fires or are being harvested by other forest companies,” the notice says.
Once an offer to lease was executed, Brink started work immediately and within six months had constructed the foundations and the mill’s superstructure and had installed a number of machines with the intent to start processing logs by the 2005-06 winter.
But then Brink became aware that the site included a 22-acre landfill, which contained log yard and sawmill residue, heavy and light petroleum compounds, heavy metals, clinker, copper, mercury and zinc, tires “and many other deleterious substances,” for a depth of five to 10 metres.
The site is where the old Netherlands sawmill was once located.
Although the property’s state was well known to BCR Properties, Brink claims it failed to produce the relevant environmental reports, which showed in part a number of areas considered “high risk” by the Ministry of Environment.
When BCR finally did hand over the reports to Brink’s environmental consultants, it did so “in a reluctant and piecemeal fashion in the fall of 2008 and in 2009 and thereafter.”
Brink had “no knowledge of the landfill as the landfill was buried in a valley, was capped, and had vegetation growing on it. It was not visible on inspection.”
Not only is it impossible to construct anything on the landfill cover but it straddles a corner of the property in such a manner that about 40 acres is unusable, leaving Brink with just 60 acres, not enough to support the envisioned project.
Brink also claims BCR’s actions delayed subdivision of the property by the city, prevented Brink from obtaining financing and made it much less feasible than in 2005 due to the diminished volume of beetle-killed pine.
As a result, Brink is seeking from BCR costs for remediation and for 15 years of foregone profits.
The civil claim is the latest in a series of legal actions that have gone through the courts over the matter. BCR Properties has 21 days to file a response, according to the notice