Stan Kroenke, 57, is one of the 400 richest people in the world according to Forbes. He began with a real estate development company that builds shopping malls. He married Ann Walton who is an heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune. Although Kroenke denies that any kind of special agreement exists, Wal-Mart tends to be a tenant in his malls. One reason may be that Kroenke tends to split the tax incentives with the store. For instance, of the $117 Million in tax write-offs given by local governments to build ten malls between 1994 and 2006, $54 M went to Wal-Mart. And of course, Wal-Mart has paid a great deal in rent to Kroenke’s malls. One hand washes the other and, by the way, Wal-Mart’s good fortune is also Kroenke’s since he holds more than $3 Billion in Wal-Mart stock [...]
Another sport that appeals to Kroenke is fishing. Some years ago he bought the Douglas Lake Ranch in British Columbia. The ranch had belonged to billionaire Bernie Ebbers of Worldcom who went bust in the biggest personal bankruptcy ever — $11 Billion of debt [...]
Kroenke owns at least four very large ranches including one in Wyoming and two in Montana. The Douglas Lake Ranch sits on a half milion acres of land. Some of this land, including a couple of lakes, is public or Crown property. In B.C. you can’t buy or sell a lake; it belongs to the people. What you apparently can do though, is fence off all the access to the lake so that no one else can use it even if that means closing public roads which is also not legal in B.C.
So little Minnie Lake, a prime fishing hole, is located on the Douglas Ranch and Kroenke has shut down the road that locals used to drive down to go fishing. Also, Kroenke has flooded a great deal of land, enlarging the lake — does that mean that the new lake area belongs to Kroenke as he claims leaving only a tiny bit of Crown property in the middle which can only be reached by trespass? Or is it still Crown property? (I kind of think that he should have been stopped from changing the lake but that’s a matter for the Ministry of the Environment which has very little presence in the current B.C. government.)
Kroenke has stocked Minnie Lake with trout and he has said that the locals who fish there are thieves, stealing his fish. They could, if they wished to be honest, pay $550 a night to stay at the lodge Kroenke has built on the lake. The locals say that they have fished there for generations, that they have proof that the access road is public, and are scraping together the cost of a legal battle they expect to fight very soon [...]
The Minnie Lake business has a medieval ring to it, like being forbidden to hunt the King’s deer in Sherwood Forest. But Kroenke has a lot more force on his side than the Sheriff of Nottingham and, unless the locals can find a crackerjack lawyer, they are going to be shut out of the public lands of B.C. by one of our new feudal lords, Stan Kroenke.