Council asks Town staff for report on future of Humber College lands

May 13, 2015   ·   0 Comments

After a long first five months of Council, Monday night’s meeting saw a lot accomplished despite a large agenda.

Several good things came out of the meeting, including final approval of the Lions Park lighting project, two proclamations (including Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Orangeville Minor Soccer Weekend on May 22-24), a presentation by Orangeville Army Cadets, and final approval of the 2015 Tax Bylaw.

The big topic at Monday night’s meeting was what next step should be taken concerning the Humber College lands on Veterans Way, which had been part of budget discussions the previous Monday. Along with a report provided by the Town’s Director of Economic Planning, Nancy Tuckett, Council was asked to provide direction to staff regarding disposition of the lands.

Despite a general consensus that something needs to be done with the mortgaged lands, which are costing the Town $230,000 a year in interest, Council was slightly divided on what should be done with the land and how they should go about it.

“I would like to see consideration for the Humber lands to be used for an office complex that would help provide employment,” said Councillor Sylvia Bradley. “I’d also suggest that possibly instead of selling the land, that we lease [it] to a potential user as a way to entice a company to come to our community. We keep getting asked what we are doing to bring jobs to our community.”

She added that part of the reason a company might not consider coming to Orangeville could be because they could not afford the cost of both purchasing the land and building on it.

“If they could not afford to do both, perhaps we could lease the land and then they could build on it,” she said.

Ms. Tuckett’s report said some developers have expressed interest in the lands already, but no prices or offers were outlined. While some would definitely be looking at residential, there were also no indications of uses of the lands in the inquiries.

“I think it’s important that we move forward, and either sell the lands, or if Councillor Bradley has a plan for leasing, move forward with that,” said Councillor Scott Wilson. “But we need [to do] something to get us out of this expenditure of what amounts to passive parkland.”

The land was purchased as the site of a proposed new Humber College campus, but after many delays, Humber abandoned the project.

Councillor Don Kidd suggested the possibility of asking staff to put together a report outlining not only the actual value of the land, but what it should be used for, and information on potential buyers, before any decision is made.

Councillor Bradley, who agreed with that suggestion, introduced a motion that staff bring back a report to council outlining the potential uses of the land – both commercial and residential – as well as the feasibility of the lease option, so Council could consider the information before determining what the use of the land should be.

“I won’t be supporting the motion,” said Councillor Wilson. “I want to be rid of the property, I’m not asking the staff to come back with suggestions on how it might be used for parkland. Before we had this land, we got by fine in terms of parkland and recreational uses. I think it would be a mistake to do anything less with the property.”

Deputy Mayor Maycock also voted against the motion, adding that the new owner could seek to rezone the land as they wish, and Council could take into consideration the planned use of the land prior to accepting the offer.

“We should put it up for sale, and council can determine if it is a fair offer,” he said. “If we like it we sell it, but if we don’t we won’t.”

Despite the concerns from Councillor Wilson and Deputy Mayor Maycock, the Bradley motion passed 3-2.

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