PEI

Summerside council debates land purchase

The City of Summerside is looking at acquiring a big piece of land for economic development.

24 hectare property would cost $1.25 million

The proposal would see commercial development on part of the land and some left as green space. (City of Summerside)

The City of Summerside is looking at acquiring a big piece of land for economic development.

At the monthly meeting Monday night, the council heard a presentation from CAO Bob Ashley about acquiring 24 hectares on Greenwood Drive, in the northwest corner of the city, adjacent to the Confederation Trail.

The idea behind the purchase is to create what the presentation called an Eco Park. The just over 16 hectares of developable land would be used for an industrial park. Most of the rest, which is marshland, would be for trails and green space. 

The proposed cost is $1.5 million, including closing, legal and design costs. The actual land is priced at $1.25 million. Ashley suggested that money could come out of the city's reserves, which now sits at around $1.9 million, including money that has been put away for any future business park land purchases. 

Ashley's plan laid out the potential for six buildings that could hold up to twelve tenants, which he predicts would bring in $600,000 annually in taxes. 

Majority against 

This isn't the first time this particular piece of land has been before counci. The city has been looking at  buying it for years.

In the past, the price has been too high, but recently Mayor Bill Martin has been working to get that price down. It is still, however, too rich for some. Coun. Brent Gallant said the city had the land assessed and it came out at just over $600,000. 

"I wasn't paying $625,000 more than when I had an independent assessment done," said Gallant, adding he saw no urgency in making the purchase.

Coun. Brent Gallant thinks the property is too expensive and not needed. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

The majority of council agreed with him, especially to his second point that there are many buildings sitting empty in the city that need buyers and development. 

"If we went and built a park right now with all these other empty spaces, it make is much more difficult for them to rejuvenate their properties or have an opportunity to rent out their spaces," he said.

"It might be more appropriate that we work with some of these properties [rather] than to go out there and start all over new."

A few in favour

Mayor Martin spoke in favour of the purchase, along with councillors Frank Costa and Tyler DesRoches.

"This council has been very very fiscally responsible, and we've paid down debt rather than adding debt to our city over the last four years. And acquiring this land it won't be another debt to our city. It's money that's already been set aside for economic development land purchases." said DesRoches. 

Coun. Tyler DesRoches thinks the plan is sound. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"It took us four years for us to get to where we're at with this property, we've had numerous, numerous meetings on it."

DesRoches will bring the issue to the next committee of council meeting in the hopes of getting a resolution for council to vote on.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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