In order to stay competitive, Wellington North council voted 4-1 to raise the price of municipally-owned industrial land.
Economic development officer Dale Small recommended the price increase, from $15,000 to $25,000 per acre.
Wellington North owns 5.92 acres of industrial land off Industrial Drive in Mount Forest. In his report, Small recommended the parcel be divided into seven lots that range from 0.68 to 1.1 acres in size. He added the lots could be bundled for larger requests.
The price for acreage was set in 2005 and had not been updated since.
In his report, Small said the township participated in the Town of Minto’s industrial land comparison study. It showed Wellington North had among the lowest land costs in the region, with other municipalities ranging from $27,000 in Brockton to $72,500 in Centre Wellington.
“You think $25,000 is enough?” asked councillor Lisa Hern. “To me that sounds low. I looked at $15,000 in 2005 dollars and I looked how much land has gone up; I ended up with in excess of $30,000, so we’re kind of behind.”
Small said by combining development charges and land costs, Wellington North sits more in the middle.
“What I tried to do as part of this report is to paint an overall picture by incorporating the cost of development charges into the equation,” he said.
“It’s council’s decision in terms of how much incentive you want to put on, that’s the whole thing with our industrial land price is … to incent development.”
Hern said council should consider getting the land price “right” then move on to development charges. Wellington North is expected to review its development charges this year.
Councillor Sherry Burke said she supports the increase to $25,000.
“I just think the original intent of that property was to bring businesses to the municipality and it makes us competitive,” she said.
Mayor Andy Lennox said he too supports the increase but worries that municipally-owned industrial land is almost gone. “The cost to replace that is going to be significantly more,” he said.
Small agreed, noting there is an opportunity to extend Industrial Drive for future development.
Council voted in favour of increasing the price per acre of industrial land and accepted the proposed site plan for the lot. Hern was opposed.