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Report of the Auditor General on Alberta Social Housing Corporation—Land Sales System

The Audit

Fred J. Dunn, FCA, Auditor General of Alberta, released his report today on the examination of the Corporation’s systems for selling land in Fort McMurray and its land sales and grants from 1999 to the present. Also, the Auditor General investigated whether the mla for Fort McMurray–Wood Buffalo interfered in the sale of land (known as Parcel E) to a consortium of developers. 

Planning for land sales and development in Fort McMurray

The Auditor General recommended that the Corporation, working with other ministries and the Municipality, should establish a long-term plan for selling land in Fort McMurray (page 21). 

The Corporation does not have a plan to guide its land sales in Fort McMurray. Specifically:

  • objectives for land sales are not clearly defined or recorded
  • timing of land sales has been sporadic
  • sales not early enough to allow for land development in that year
  • lack of coordination between the Corporation and ministries that own land in the area
  • timing of the release of new parcels of land and development of lots may have a significant impact on housing prices

The Corporation’s systems for selling land

The Auditor General recommended that the Corporation should improve its systems for selling land to ensure that its objectives are met (page 26).

The Corporation could not demonstrate that it met its objectives and received appropriate value for four of its nine land sales (see page 10 for analysis of significant land sales). Specifically, the Corporation:

  • did not include adequate conditions in the sales agreements to ensure that its objectives would be met
  • relied on appraisal values without verifying the reasonableness of the assumptions in the appraisals
  • offered financing terms that were not typical for land sales
  • did not use an open and transparent process for three of its land sales
  • from November 1999, did not have an independent review and challenge of land sales, and the Board of Directors did not hold meetings to provide oversight of the sales

Allegations of interference by the MLA for Fort McMurray–Wood Buffalo

The Auditor General found that the mla for Fort McMurray–Wood Buffalo was involved in initial discussions about the shortage of land in Fort McMurray, but there is no evidence that the mla was involved in any negotiations or made decisions on the sale of Parcel E (page 30).

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