Colchester County serves notice of intent to sell former Diefenbunker for tax arrears

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Facility owner says sale won't take place

The former Diefenbunker in Debert, which now serves as a secure digital data facility, has been placed under notice of sale by the County of Colchester for alleged tax arrears. Submitted photo

TRURO - Colchester County has served notice that it plans to sell the former Diefenbunker in Debert because of tax arrears.

Facility owner Anton Self, however, said the notice is one of several he has received in recent years and that he has no intention of losing the bunker to the municipality.

"There will be no tax sale of our property in Debert," he said. "The amount claimed is trivial compared to the millions we have invested in the project to date. We haven't taken one penny in government capital, incidentally, which is noteworthy for these parts."

The facility, known as Dataville Farms Ltd., is controlled by Self's company, Bastionhost Ltd., and is used as a secure digital data centre.

Figures published by allNovaScotia.com indicate the company owes $17,664 on bunker property and water taxes dating to 2009 and an additional $2,135 on property taxes on an adjoining lot.

Self would not confirm those figures and calls placed to Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor and CAO Dan MacDougall were not returned on Monday.

"The amounts itemized in the notice are under review," Self said. "I cannot comment as to their accuracy – which we shall audit. There are line items for water bills. We dispute those charges, and plan to file a formal complaint with the UARB (Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board).

Under the notice of sale received last week by Self, the county said it intends to sell the property in November.

"The first such notice we received was just a year after we purchased the property, and we have received a Notice of Tax Sale each year since," he said. "Naturally, we still own the property ...

"We have already paid thousands in property taxes in the short time we have owned the property. We get little but municipal grief in return."

Last summer, Self was embroiled in controversy with the municipality over water issues that arose after the company made a request of the Debert Fire Department to hook into the municipal water system, via a fire hydrant, to refill a storage tank within the facility at the former military bunker.

 

Organizations: Dataville Farms, Bastionhost, UARB Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board Debert Fire Department

Geographic location: Colchester County, Debert

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  • Jonathan
    November 26, 2012 - 16:52

    The tax sale went ahead as it should have. Anton here said there was millions put into the place... so to snatch it all up for just over $35k should have made me an instant millionaire.. right? I explored the bunker days later with a crew of people who knew the bunker prior to the sale of the facility to Dataville Farms Ltd. They were very familiar with the condition of the bunker as they operated on it and worked on systems. I videoed the tour and put it into a playlist series so that everyone can see the current condition of the bunker today. You will be shocked at what we actually found: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvuQW_r8En0u1CA4PgNg-KxpjP6E7GVmy Feel free to share your own impressions or stories of the bunker when you visited it and how it looks today in comparison.

    • Anne
      November 29, 2012 - 07:04

      I have been following this story with interest; being aware of the Diefenbunker and all its history, I was intrigued as it being given a new lease of life as a ‘state of the art’ Data Center. Having recently seen photographs of Google’s Data Centre I was excited to be given a virtual tour around this amazing Data Center right here in Nova Scotia, courtesy of the new owner who has posted videos on-line. Oh my, what a devastating view. Knowing the condition of the Diefenbunker prior to its sale to Dataville, I was shocked and disappointed to see it in such a bad state of repair – and interestingly this amazing ‘state of the art’ facility must have very high security surrounding it as there was nothing to be seen! All I could see were a couple of boxes on the wall and some cables dangling down. No pristine rooms full of computer ‘stuff’ in sight. It leaves me wondering where the company spent its millions of investment. The evidence points to the fact that not only have there been no improvements, there has also been no maintenance, only destruction, with holes seemingly punched into walls, pipes cut and water leaks everywhere. What a poor state of affairs for our beloved Diefenbunker. I wish the new owner much success and hope he cares for and rejuvenates it. I am looking forward to seeing what he does with it.

  • A. E. Self
    September 01, 2012 - 08:04

    Thank you for your comments regarding a municipal collections notice to us that was leaked to the press the same week we first received it. I doubt the matter would otherwise have made it to the public domain. @PJ~ Actually, I have not taken or deferred any pay since I began this venture over half a dozen years ago. I've only put increasing amounts of money into it over the years, largely by borrowing against all my assets. It is never enough to make the capital investments our plant requires, or to give us a proper operating budget. The venture needs to be better capitalized. Despite considerable ongoing efforts, raising capital for this innovative venture in Nova Scotia has been and remains very challenging. Being behind in our property taxes merely reflects these facts. @Michael~ I really don't see how you can infer any decision to screw government in our narrative, whatsoever. We are the risk-takers - the government's taxes are collateralized by a first position on our real property. On the contrary, the government seller had concluded they were going to demolish your beloved Diefenbunker if they couldn't find a use for it - to avoid paying ongoing minimum carrying costs such as the power bill. We've poured constant love, money and efforts into the bunker, doing everything within our extremely limited means to give it a new life and what we think is its best use as an ultra-efficient computing facility - Nova Scotia's own little corner of the Internet. It's in much better shape than when we bought it. We purchased the property without any handouts or taxpayer capital (ACOA, the Province, etc), on a level playing field, at fair market value. The ambitious project has been a struggle, and remains so. But we're still at it, having learned a great deal along the way by bootstrapping operations out of sheer necessity. We continue to believe very much in Dataville's value proposition, and have been hitting various milestones despite almost constant obstacles and frequent setbacks - and no assurances of success whatsoever. It's easy to be an armchair critic. Try betting all your chips and devoting half a dozen -plus years without pay on a critically undercapitalized capital-intensive IT infrastructure venture in Nova Scotia rural society sometime, and making some of the hard choices and regularly fighting for your survival like we have. We have rightly disputed certain charges on our tax bill, and certainly will not let this property be sold at a tax auction. I welcome any of you to discuss the matter or our project live with me, if you wish. My contact details are on our website. Respectfully, -Anton

  • Kevin Too
    August 29, 2012 - 10:34

    Surprised thought municipal governments were always to deal with, charging only very modest amounts of tax and fees, doing their upmost to make any commercial or residential interaction simple and trouble free, with very minimalistic regulation.

  • PJ
    August 28, 2012 - 08:59

    So Mr. Self does not pay his taxes year after year. He has invested millions but will not pay $20,000 in taxes. Bet he is not going unpaid himself.

    • Michael
      August 29, 2012 - 11:34

      @PJ - That's what I thought when I read this! The claims he makes about millions do not add up to taxes going unpaid. If you invest millions into something you make sure your taxes are in order to avoid losing it all. Seems the executive decision by Mr. Self to screw the government isn't working out so well. This begs the question; If millions were invested (the most basic assumption being $2 million) but taxes are not being paid that amount to 1% of this total investment, then where did all the money go? Future story I suppose. Indeed a sad chapter in the life of our beloved historical Diefenbunker.

  • Kevin
    August 28, 2012 - 08:25

    A quick google search shows their main website hasn't been updated since 2011 and their other website, dataville.ca, is not working. i wonder what's up.

  • Lisa
    August 28, 2012 - 08:08

    I'll buy it, who do I make the cheque out to?