Investment announcement biggest in Sparwood’s history
A group of investors and dignitaries gathered at Sparwood’s Visitor Information Centre (VIC), before a freshly painted Titan Truck, at noon today (Sept. 10) to celebrate the announcement of $85 million in development investment and potential coming the town’s way.
“What a wonderful day for Sparwood,” District of Sparwood Mayor Lois Halko stated while welcoming about 60 special guests.
On hand for the announcement was Minister of Energy and Mines, Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, who hailed the announcement as “the biggest thing that has happened here since the creation of the town. I think the size of the truck behind me is actually a pretty good metaphor for the size of the opportunity that has come along as a result of the work of the mayor and council and business community.”
The crux of what is going to occur in the development project, which will encompass the strip of land between the VIC and the junction of Highway 3/43, including aspects on the east side of the junction and across the highway in the old pit area.
Development participants include Schickedanz West, which is building an 82-room hotel at the junction, including a 3,500-4,500 square foot restaurant and lounge and they are in negotiations to bring in a fast food outlet. The project will also present retail and similar opportunities.
Teck has purchased eight acres that it intends to add to the potential of the project, while Joy Global is constructing an office and operations building on the south side of the highway, which will be accessed by an underpass. Additionally, BC Hydro is providing the district with a beautification grant to bury power lines in the area and Greenwood Mall ownership is spending about $500,000 in upgrades to the inside and outside of the mall – all part of Sparwood’s ongoing efforts to beautify the downtown area, Halko said, adding the plans are “another great step forward for our community. This will take us further in our journey to develop our community by adding more valuable assets that will create jobs, services and further economic opportunity.
“Our staff has worked tirelessly to accomplish this goal. Under the dynamic leadership of CAO (chief administrative officer) Terry Melcer, District of Sparwood have worked hard towards making today’s announcement possible,” Halko said, adding she thanks the investors on behalf of the community and council.
“Today’s announcement of a multi-faceted investment program is the largest and most significant business development initiative since our municipality was incorporated in 1966,” he said.
Noting that Highway 3 is the second busiest in B.C., Bennett said Sparwood will find more of that traffic stopping in town thanks to the proposed project, expected to take three to five years to complete.
“That represents a huge commercial opportunity for the small businesses here, and the big businesses and it also represents an opportunity for the community to grow their tax base and improve the already high standard of lifestyle and living that you have here.”
“It’s the old adage – if you build it they will come and that is what is going to happen here. We’re looking forward to a very bright future and I believe that if you look at what will happen in the next 10 or 15 years with Sparwood, you’ll find some amazing things are going to happen. I truly believe this is what the community was meant for and I think in the years to come you’ll find that it is a phenomenal place to live. It is a great day for Sparwood.”
Joy Global representative Steven Droste stated, “We are really excited to be a part of this community’s future. The future that we are investing in is better facilities for our employees, to enable us to provide better service to our customers and to really improve the mining industry in this particular area.”
Droste noted to the audience that Sparwood “is really quite influential” in the coal mining industry, explaining he’s met people around the world who have lived and worked in the town.
“There is always someone who has worked here and it had a real impact on their lives and career,” he said.
Phase one will be the 82-room hotel will be “a branded hotel,” he said, adding they are not yet certain what brand it will be.
The facility “will include all the modern amenities which you see in a modern hotel,” including meeting spaces.
“For Sparwood this will be a very modern business centre,” Kraemer said.
While negotiations are ongoing to lure a fast food chain, he pitched to those gathered an opportunity for businesspeople to consider taking on the restaurant/lounge feature.
“We welcome your great ideas. We’ve got a great opportunity for you right there,” he said.
Phase two of the development “is fairly conceptual at this time and it is based on enquiries we’ve had to date from various people. We see great opportunities for potentially a gas station/convenience store, another fast food, various retail activities on that site,” he said, noting that property is located on the east side of Highway 43 at the junction.
He explained the site visibility and large traffic volumes on the highway “makes it a great location for any type of investment, for retail or commercial activities. We look forward to great times in Sparwood.”
Teck’s Nic Milligan said the company, which owns five coal operations in the Elk Valley, is “very supportive of Sparwood’s efforts to enhance the community, to enhance its economic development and to enhance this beautiful gateway to the province of British Columbia.”
The property Teck has purchased is potentially for an office complex but no firm plans have yet been developed.
“But let me emphasize, we are so grateful for the relationship we have with Sparwood; our shared past and our shared future,” he said.
Click to see video of Mayor Halko addressing the crowd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmwS31-P3Co&feature=em-upload_owner#action=share