April 19th, 2019

City notebook: Blowout sale for city land?

By Collin Gallant on September 8, 2018.

Topping headlines this week is a move by city administrators to pull the trigger on council’s wish to sell excess land to bolster land department profits and private development.

It checks two boxes for a majority of councillors who’ve questioned the size of the land inventory as well clearly laid out they feel tax base growth is the no-pain-all-gain way to lessen tax increases.

So, here’s the pickle.

One of the initial properties is a greenspace near the horse-shoe community of Connaught, which — it’s not telling tales out of school — is home to some of the most influential people in the city.

They don’t seem keen on the plan to allow condos on Primrose Drive. One attendee to an open house this week described the crowd as “irate,” and other said there was a pamphlet shortage.

Some councillors have spent several years saying the wishes of nearby residents are paramount when land rezoning is considered, so it should be an interesting issue to watch.

Similarly, another of the properties is the lot beside the Moose ball diamonds that was surprisingly the subject of a $900,000 conditional sale last year.

The buyer walked away reportedly due to the high costs of bringing utility upgrades to the site, so officials are suggesting a price drop to $564,000 for about four acres. That alone should raise the eyebrows of land department critics who argue private landholders are constantly being undercut.

Regardless, if sold, city hall would then be on the hook to pay about half that amount in a offsite levy subsidy to help the developer bring services to the site.

Such work would be “significant” to bring utilities to the site, not including the likely need for traffic lights at Southridge Drive.

Since land sales dividend go to capital reserves, not tax abatement, in the end, a million-dollar development would only bring an extra $15,000 per year in tax revenue to the city.

On the Tube

Terri Clark, of Crescent Heights, will be the focus of a special tribute at Sunday night’s Canadian Country Music Awards to honour her 2018 induction to the nation’s country music hall of fame. It was announced Thursday that the Hatter who’s sold five million records will be joined on stage by recent touring partner Suzy Bogguss, as well as Jessica Mitchell and Meghan Patrick.

Catching up

— The Helena Brewers played their final game this week before the franchise that was once the Medicine Hat Blue Jays moves to Colorado Springs next season.

— Wondering if you’ve heard the name Erin Weir before?

The Erin Weir in the headlines this week is the MP from Regina who was removed from the New Democratic Party’s federal caucus. The Erin Weir you may remember is a nurse who lives in Raymond who ran unsuccessfully for the NDP in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding in 2015. Same name, same party, different people.

A look ahead

The Medicine Hat municipal planning commission will decide on one new application Wednesday to set up a cannabis retail store, not the five or six predicted, though administrators say more applications are in the early stages.

100 years ago

Heavy fighting by Canadians, supported by the largest artillery barrage of the war had led to gains on German lines, reported corespondents with the recently formed Canadian Press Association and reprinted in the News in September 1918.

The reports came as Entente powers continued a week-old offensive against the Hindenberg Line.

The Calgary Gas Co. announced it would raise rates to recover increasing piping costs that rose from $1 per foot before the war to $3 at present.

Medicine Hat led the province in auto registrations, the News crowed in an editorial, relating that 1,400 of 20,000 in Alberta were issued to local vehicle owners.

It was announced that a massive potash bed, discovered in a dry lake 30 miles north of Maple Creek would soon be developed

Mr. James Sellers was elected as chief organizer of the Knights of Columbus drive to collect and send items of comforts to troops at the front.

The American and National league pennants were won by the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, sending both clubs directly to the World Series.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics of the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com

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