Council approves $85k cost of Industrial Land report
City of Cranbrook council Nov. 25 narrowly approved up to $85,000 in funding for the Cranbrook Industrial Lands Value-added Assessment Report.
Council considered a request from Darren Brewer, of the city’s Office of Innovation and Collaboration, for the city to spend up to $85,000 with the goal of providing new strategic opportunities for economic development covering the 99 acres of former Tembec land, purchased by the city in 2018.
“As a part of the economic development initiative, staff has created the Cranbrook Industrial Lands (CIL) team to manage the development of the Tembec Lands Project. Under Direction from the CAO and guidance from The Office of Innovation and Collaboration, the CIL team has prepared and issued a RFP: the Cranbrook Industrial Lands Value-added Assessment to provide expertise in the development of the economic modelling for the project,” Brewer said in a report to council.
“Upon funding approval from council, staff will negotiate with the successful proponent to complete the assessment by no later than March 31, 2020. The successful proponent, Wave Point Consulting, is a Vancouver-based firm and has completed similar reports for the city such as the 2018 Logistics Hub Feasibility Study and 2018 Cranbrook Airport Demand and Land Analysis which were completed on budget, on time and to the satisfaction of city staff.”
Council spent considerable time discussing and debating the request.
“Personally, I don’t support this. I think $85,000 is out of context of what we really asked for. The original ask as for a market assessment of lease rates that we would be charging, because we are in uncharted territory here. That was the original ask,” said Mayor Lee Pratt.
“A lot of this information that this company is going to come back with, we’ve already got. We did that logistics study a couple of years back … and the Tembec lands was included in it, and I think the Moir Park gravel pit was included in it and also the airport. I think we’re spending $85,000 on duplication of something that we already have at our disposal. And I’m not sure if it really addresses what the original ask was for.”
Coun. Wes Graham echoed the mayor: “This, to me, is overkill on that ask.”
He also noted he believes there is the expertise within the city to obtain the needed information about the industrial lands without having to spend so much money.
Coun. Wayne Price said he supports the funding because the completed study would give council more information to work from.
“I have to say they (new study) are more focussed in that regard than what the logistics study was; it will bring new information and the type of information being collected will help support the case for the Tembec lands and the roll out, so I think it’s critical,” said acting chief administrative officer Ron Fraser.
Brewer added a new report would fill in gaps and add more focussed details, though he admitted “we had done a similar report in the near past but the data set wasn’t great information.”
Coun. John Hudak said he supports funding the report because those doing it come from an “area of expertise; this is a large project and I really think that we need to have the experts’ opinion on this.”
Coun. Rob Popoff said the city “needs this information sooner than later” and cautioned that further delays and the effort required to commission local expertise could drag things out.
Council narrowly agreed to the spending request, with councillors Norma Blissett, Mike Peabody and Wes Graham voting against it.
Despite initially noting his reservations, Mayor Pratt was the deciding vote in favour.
Lead image: Google Maps image of the former Tembec land in the City of Cranbrook. Image courtesy City of Cranbrook