CITY COUNCIL is putting another chunk of money into testing of the city-owned former Co-op property with every expectation of receiving a clean environmental bill of health so it can complete a sale to a Calgary-based hotel developer.
Lack of environmental certification from the provincial government has held up completion of the sale to Superior Lodging since the sales deal was struck just over three years ago.
Superior agreed to pay $877,500 for 2.79 acres of the approximately 4-acre parcel of land along Greig Ave. between Kalum and Emerson which once contained the Terrace Co-op shopping centre, but the agreement was only if remediation work was completed and approved first.
Because of past business activity, the location is known as a brownfield site and must pass significant exploration and testing before it can be used again.
This time city council approved spending up to $112,500 for the home stretch of the environmental work which is now scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
City economic development manager Danielle Myles told city council Aug. 22 that the figure is at the high end of what might be needed and that she’d work with Golder Associates, which has been on the project since the start, to lower that figure.
She added that city staffers are applying for a grant through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to cover half the cost when the work is completed.
“The obligations we have in that sales agreement [with Superior] are that we achieve a certificate of compliance and get clearance from the Ministry of Environment to redevelop the property,” Myles said in explaining the background to council.
Specifically, Myles said the city is subdividing the portion it wants to sell to Superior from a smaller piece of land on the eastern edge or Kalum side of the property.
That’s where a gas bar for the Terrace Co-op shopping centre was once located and it’s a site that’s far more contaminated than the piece Superior wants.
The city is going to deal with the gas bar site later but there were worries of hydrocarbon leakage to the Superior site which prompted the latest work required to obtain clearance to subdivide the two pieces of property.
In a question to Myles, councillor Brian Downie did ask about gaps in the data needed to finish the remediation project, particularly in view of the amount of work that has been done on the property already.
Myles said those gaps would be taken care of leading to the required final documentation.
Council approved the budget for the final work with the money to come from the city’s land acquisition reserve.
That’s an account which is built up from the proceeds of the sale of land the city owns.
It’s the same account the city is using to finance ongoing environmental investigation work at another city-owned brownfield, a former sawmill log yard located on Keith Ave.
The work is to cost an estimated $250,000 but city staffers are confident the project will come in under budget.
At the time of the Co-op sale deal, Superior said it wanted to build a 100-room hotel with accompanying amenities.
Since then, however, the property has drawn the attention of another hotel developer, Pomeroy Lodging, which has tagged it as its favourite Terrace and area location for a hotel of its own and a casino.
The once Terrace Co-op shopping centre closed in 1997 due to an economic downturn and the property was purchased by the city in 2005, a move considered controversial.