Council wants more information before Mohler decision
Camrose council wants to gather a few more facts before making a decision regarding the development and funding of the Mohler Phase III subdivision.
"We have asked administration to provide us with more information," said Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
"They're hoping to bring something back to us by September."
Among council's concerns is the question of whether the City has the financial room to move ahead with servicing costs anticipated to be $1.5 million in 2012, $1.3 million in 2013 and $200,000 in 2014.
"It costs huge money to do the servicing," said Chalmers. "How are we going to fund those costs if in fact we decided to move ahead? Do we keep moving forward knowing what the economy has been like and have faith that we are coming out of the downturn? When is the right time to make that decision? We have to make sure we look at the big picture."
City administration is recommending that funding for the servicing of the next phase of the Mohler subdivision be obtained through debenture borrowing rather than through the land fund.
Council also has concerns about the requirement for developers to build within a certain period of time after purchasing the industrial land. The requirement that owners develop property within a two-year time frame was waived in 2009 after several requests were received by council for extensions.
"Should the building time commitment be re-established, the City may have greater assurances that newly sold lands would be developed within a certain timeframe, which would lead to greater taxable assessment for the City," stated a recent report from City engineering services general manager Kriss Sarson. "However, it is recognized that, even under the former system, developers could be granted extensions to existing building commitments, although this would require the specific approval of City council."
City of Camrose economic development officer Ray Telford stressed at council's July 16 meeting the importance of having an adequate supply of developed industrial land.
"The City of Camrose must make available serviced industrial and commercial land, in a shovel-ready state to respond quickly to opportunities, thus retaining businesses that are expanding and attracting new businesses," said Telford.
"This is crucial, especially in a highly competitive environment that surrounds our city."
Telford said some of the main benefits of having more industrial land are entrepreneurial development, resident and business attraction and workforce development.
"Industrial land by the City will provide a mix and range of employment to meet long term needs and provide a diversified economic base, including maintaining a range and choice of suitable sites for employment users. If there is no developed industrial land our city will not be competitive and we will lose the labour force, residents and growth."
Telford noted that business attraction and business retention/expansion will be a large component of the economic development plan that will be presented to City council in the fall.
"We will be collaborating with various organizations such as the Rural Alberta Business Centre, Community Futures, BRAED and the Alberta Family Institute to develop strategies for business clusters for this area."
Telford said economic development must be seen as an investment and not simply a cost.
"The focus must be on the revenue-generating potential of economic development and the social benefits that will accrue to the community through prosperity and higher quality of life. Attracting firms to relocate to lower cost municipalities, with a strong existing manufacturing and industrial base, is very possible with a good land inventory."