Shantz Crossing development sparks heated debate
Town urged to hold off on awarding construction contracts until land sells
The state of the Shantz Crossing Business Park and what should and should not be done to the site was an issue of hot debate at the March 27 regular council meeting.
The meeting, which was heavily attended by supporters of the ‘stop spending’, directional signage appeal petition, saw a debate on the subject of awarding construction contracts in order to go forward with sidewalk and other site development for Shantz.
The lowest total tendered price out of the listed firms was $3,095,000, from J.S. Ferguson Construction Inc., from British Columbia.
However, the fact that the firm was out of province raised concerns among the public and among councillors.
“J.S. is out of province, so how does that complicate the matter of communication?” asked Coun. Lavar Adams, who added that he did not feel comfortable with this recommendation.
“Communication was identified as a risk, but communication does not mean risks with everything,” said Coun. Karen Henry. “With their references, this firm should be quite capable, they have been prompt and professional so far.”
It was asked why council would consider an out-of-province firm though, and over one of the local firms, including Richardson Bros. Ltd. out of Olds, that had also given a total tendered price and was on the list.
Richardson Bros. Ltd.’s bid was $3,386.542.42.
“We can’t discriminate on location, it’s a provincial and federal obligation,” said Mayor Brian Wittal. “It’s tough to explain to a local individual, and I have to question why the local bid is 10 per cent higher than the lowest.”
“With all due respect, don’t rush into something and make decisions when we do not have one person to buy (the land),” said Lance Plewis, who had presented the ‘stop spending’ petition to council alongside Linda Plewis earlier that evening.
Coun. Ray Anderson said he did not feel comfortable going ahead offering contracts when no land on the site had been sold yet.
“The town needs a bunch of sidewalk stuff done already,” said Anderson, followed by resounding approval from the audience.
However, Wittal stated that the town was currently undergoing confidential negotiations and contracts with potential buyers.
“(Buyers) are aggravated that we are not ready to go,” added Coun. Gayle Veno on the lack of development on the Shantz site.
“The problem is, we are small, and we struggle. We need to bring in big businesses for jobs and revenue,” added Wittal.
When asked why council had not managed to form an economic development or other oversight committee between the town and residents, Wittal said, “It does come down to council trust. I don’t disagree and would like to see more communication (with the community), but I do not agree on an oversight committee. Council is responsible for oversight of budget for the town.”
Wittal added that the project was “taking a calculated risk” for the future of town growth to help ensure that it did not become a bedroom community.
However, council motioned to hold off on awarding bids until after more discussion and review on the topic in terms of what has and hasn’t been done for the Shantz Crossing project, as well as other options for the town to look at for it.
A special council meeting on the Shantz Crossing Business Park (and North-Industrial Stormwater Pond), will be held on April 11 at 7 p.m.