MPC paves the way for Shantz Crossing
Town can now freely wheel and deal to get tenants for controversial development
After months and months of controversy the town has finally leaped past its last bureaucratic hurdle for Shantz Crossing to become Didsbury’s economic saviour.
On July 11 the town’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) unanimously approved a motion to subdivide the 45.7-acre parcel of land in the town’s north end into 12 sections, including 10 lots that will be offered to potential tenants. Sizes of the lots for paying tenants will range in size from just under two acres to just over 10 acres. The lots are being offered at prices between $162,000 and $169,000 an acre.
The MPC approval means that Didsbury officials can now approach potential clients with a precise plan and layout of the business park, which is expected to cost the town at least $3.8 million to have up and running. For several months town officials have been talking to several potential clients but discussions stalled until MPC approved lot sizes for the park.
“People who are interested in the properties can see exactly what size they want,” said Coun. Gayle Veno, who is the chairperson of MPC. “We can now say this is what the parcels are going to be. We have a map.
“It hasn’t been an easy road getting this far,” she added. “Until this was approved we couldn’t accept any offers because we didn’t know what we had for sale.”
She said the MPC-approved plan includes provisions to have clients that have potential noise problems moved to the development’s north side so that residents in the nearby Morris Meadows neighbourhood will not be impacted.
“They will be moved as far away as possible,” said Veno.
As well, businesses facing the neighbourhood will be required to have aesthetically appropriate frontages. Trees and other visually pleasing vegetation may also be ordered as well.
The land for the Shantz Crossing Business Park is now under construction. Infrastructure for the land, including full electrical, water and sewer services, is expected to be completed this fall. The town is hoping to then have its first clients signed at that time.
The project is considered critically important for the town to correct the gross inequity between residential and commercial tax revenues. Didsbury’s residential tax revenues now account for 89 per cent of the town’s income compared to 11 per cent for commercial and industrial.
Town officials repeatedly note that provincial studies and statistics show that in order for a municipality to be sustainable it has to have a 70 per cent residential and 30 per cent commercial and industrial tax revenue structure.
Opponents to the Shantz Crossing project, however, have countered that Didsbury’s deteriorating infrastructure should have been the first priority over the development’s $3.8 million expenditure. As well, critics have charged the marketing plan for the development should have been implemented much sooner.
“We have heard it has been called a white elephant,” said Veno. “We know it is not going to sell out right away, that it might take two or three years. But we are hoping the people of the town will eventually feel better about it.”