NORTH PERTH – Council agreed at its July 5 meeting to have MHBC Planning complete an economic feasibility report for the North Perth-owned employment lands in the northeast portion of the town.
CAO Kriss Snell told council a masterclass environmental assessment has been completed on what staff refer to as the “northeast study area” to look at servicing that whole quadrant for existing development and to bring services to lands considered future development.
“In the 2021 budget process the budget did include a detailed design for the southern portion of the study area and… tentative documents for the construction happening sometime in 2022,” he said. “With that, we have discussed the municipally- owned employment lands formerly known as the Moore property. MHBC Planning has been involved… from the beginning and we have proposed that they would be the obvious choice to do the planning and groundwork to proceed with taking those lands to the next step.”
MHBC Planning will create an economic feasibility study to give the municipality comfort knowing that the development of these lands makes sense financially.
“For a project of this scope what kind of timeline might we expect?” asked Mayor Todd Kasenberg.
Snell said he thinks the feasibility study would come back to council fairly quickly. He estimated within 90 days.
“Of course, the planning process would take some time just because we act like any other developer,” he said. “Going through the subdivision process does take some time so I would think it would go into the later part of 2022 at the earliest.”
Coun. Allan Rothwell asked for more detail on the work MHBC Planning has done so far and what additional work is needed to move forward.
“MHBC was the planning consultant on the environmental assessment master planning process so they prepared the conceptual street layout and all the other planning requirements of the environmental assessment which did include a traffic study as well as a commercial market review,” said Snell. “So going forward, if council feels that the feasibility study makes good financial sense we would require an Official Plan amendment, a zoning bylaw amendment and… a subdivision process to be followed through to create parcels of the land council could then sell for employment land purposes.”
Rothwell said there was no mention in the report of this special project being discussed with the county planning staff.
“I’m just wondering, if not, why the county planning staff cannot move forward with the application on the foundation work that MHBC has done in terms of the master plan to this point,” he said.
Snell said he did not ask the county planning department specifically about this project, but his understanding is currently the capacity of the county planning staff is at maximum just trying to get the Official Plan review completed but he said if there is a desire from council he can ask the manager of planning if this project is something they can take on.
“My understanding is… it is at full capacity at this time,” he said.
“My spidey sense is telling me that planning at the county is quite busy at this point so I will lend my voice to support that notion shared by CAO Snell,” he said
Kasenberg asked Snell to clarify that the employment lands would be developed for industrial and commercial use.
“That has been the intent of the previous council as well as this council through the master planning process and how they have been identified through the conceptual planning,” said Snell. “Now, if during the feasibility phase of the project council decides otherwise, certainly that could be amended but it would be council’s prerogative and if council has the desire to change the use they certainly could do so.”
“So at this point, just for some clarity, a mandate at MHBC if this motion were to be approved would focus on the employment market, if you will, and will not consider other possible uses in their scope of work,” said Kasenberg. “Is that fair?”
“That would be the general intent – yes,” said Snell.
North Perth council voted in favour of having MHBC Planning complete an economic feasibility report for the North Perth-owned employment lands in the northeast portion of the town and if council approve the feasibility report, MHBC Planning will be sourced to complete the necessary planning applications to develop the lands.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner