Vancouver, global money laundering capital?

Ching is the developer behind Collection 45, a recent building in Mount Pleasant

Plus, Site C moves into a new phase with a new boss and Kelowna’s water troubles

Ill-gotten gains 
The evidence that the Lower Mainland is a magnet for ill-gotten—mostly mainland Chinese—money is stacking up fast. On Wednesday the South China Morning Post outed Michael Ching, the developer behind a future Opus Hotel in Richmond, as an Interpol-listed fugitive wanted for graft (Ching, for his sake, denied the accusation and is currently suing the federal government for sharing the information). That news follows the revelation by the Province that Chinese police agents were scouring real estate records as part a secret operation to “repatriate suspects and money.” It doesn’t stop there. Twenty-six of the 100 fugitives wanted by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection are said to be in Canada, likely in Vancouver—along with untold capital in Canadian (principally property) assets. 

And the fallout, when Chinese officials come knocking, will hit Vancouver hard, or so writes Terry Glavin in an unsettling summary of the situation in the Ottawa Citizen:

“China is going to want to get it all back. This is not a casual exercise. This is an active recovery operation, and all that money is going to be removed back to China,” said Christine Duhaime, a Bay Street specialist in international money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. “In Canada, it’s in the billions. I’m sure it’s in the tens of billions. This is a major monetary drain on the Canadian economy. The whole thing is being driven by China now. It should have been driven by us.”

Site C switch 
The head of B.C.’s most expensive public infrastructure project is out and a new face is in. Susan Yurkovich will step down in June after eight years of heading up the Site C dam mega-project. Yurkovich guided the project from adding a timeline to the decades-old idea to guiding it through the planning and regulatory approval phases. The departure is voluntary and Yurkovich will not receive severance, according to the company. Her replacement, Diane McSherry, comes to the job with 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors, and recently shepherded BC Hydro’s upgrades to the Ruskin Dam in the Fraser Valley. You can read more in the Globe and Mail.

There must be something in the water
One of the Okanagan’s largest municipalities is slowly running out of water. Thanks to a low snowpack, the District of West Kelowna is facing the equivalent of a 20-year drought scenario if dry conditions persist, according to a report presented to its council on Tuesday. (via Kelowna Now)

On the other side of the lake, a different water problem: City of Kelowna homeowners are emptying their pools and hot tubs, rich in chlorine and other contaminants, into Lake Okanagan. Not directly, of course, but by siphoning the water out into a storm drain, it eventually runs through the sewer system and into the lake. As a city supervisor noted to Kelowna’s Infotel, that happens to be where the city gets its drinking water.