Councillors re-thinking industrial land investments

Some Sudbury city councillors are questioning whether industrial lands are a wise investment for taxpayers.

Sudbury city council debates merit of developing industrial lands if returns prove lacking

Sudbury has spent millions developing industrial lots with the hope of attracting new businesses — a move that, in turn, creates jobs and fills city coffers with taxdollars and development fees. One such project off the Kingsway saw $2 million spent several years ago, but very little development has happened so far. (Erik White/CBC)

Some Sudbury city councillors are questioning whether industrial lands are a wise investment for taxpayers.

In several areas, the city has spent millions putting in water and sewer to empty lots, with the hope of attracting new industrial businesses.

Sudbury city councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann. (Supplied)

One of these lots is off the Kingsway, where $2 million in tax dollars was spent in 2007.

Sudbury city councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann pointed out that, six years later, most of that land is still waiting for development.

"There's been absolutely no return — oh, pardon me — $6,000 has been returned on a $2 million investment."

But Coun. Fabio Belli, who has been a staunch supporter of developing industrial lands, said it has more to do with high tax rates in the city.

"I've been approached by land owners basically [asking] if the city was prepared to buy their land," he said.

"Because they're having a very difficult time marketing and bringing actual businesses to this community because of cost-wise."

Sudbury city councillor David Kilgour. (Supplied)

The city was in a very public fight last year with industrial businesses in New Sudbury that wanted the city to put in new water and sewer infrastructure, but didn't want to share the multi-million-dollar construction bill.

Coun. Dave Kilgour said the city should be more cautious with future industrial land investments.

"When we do it this time, I think we got to take a close and careful look at the overall package," he said.

"The general taxpayers of the city of Sudbury should not be picking up the total tab."

In the coming weeks, council is expected to consider spending money on another industrial land project on Fielding Road in Lively.