City council has endorsed the RFP for the sale and development of a portion of city-owned property adjacent to the Westporte neighbourhood, including a recreational park.
City planner Scott Smith brought forward his preliminary plans for this RFP to council on Jan. 23. Some of the key points of the RFP are to ensure that the project is of high-quality and compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood, that the development of an active neighbourhood park of approximately two acres be part of any project and that there be a requirement for preliminary engineering plans to be provided during any amendment to the city’s Official Community Plan and rezoning process, specifically to consider possible storm drainage issues.
Smith emphasized the last aspect of the RFP, especially. “We’re advising developers that they’re going to have to have that information at the rezoning stage and we’re actually asking them to outline and demonstrate the plan about how they’re going to provide that preliminary engineering information,” he said. “So this RFP is being quite specific about letting them know.”
Councillor Jack McLeman had some concerns about the size of the property. “At this moment I’m not sure that the market would bear selling all of it,” he said.
He wondered if someone would have the option of bidding on the rest of the property after buying half and putting in a park.
Smith warned, “I would be somewhat cautious to have one portion locked up, and have an agreement of sale and purchase for development, and then to have that person lock up another section without anybody else being able to put another proposal together for council.
“That would be something the city would need to seriously consider. It’s almost like a phased purchase.”
Councillor Sharie Minions liked the concept of a phased-in approach. “I think we are making some assumptions about how developers operate and what their preference would be,” she said.
“If we put too many restrictions on the type of proposals that we can receive, we’re going to limit what we get. Keeping it as open as possible is within our best interests.”
She added, “I’ve been hearing from a lot of builders that I know that they’re having a hard time finding suitable lots right now, so I’m hopeful that that means there’s demand for this and that we’ll get some proposals.”
Mayor Mike Ruttan said that he personally didn’t support selling the entire 20 acres, because he didn’t like the idea of giving someone the opportunity to tie up the whole area.” I personally would be in favour of putting out five acres and then a requirement for a partner. If that means we have to put out six acres so that part of it is a park, then okay, so be it.”
McLeman put forward a motion to offer the entire area and let the developer decide how much of it they want. This motion was carried.