If a new hotel is ever to be constructed on the old Terrace Co-op lands along Greig Ave. then first a plume of petroleum products will have to be followed underground and the city, which owns the property, hopes that can happen this summer.
The plume originates on the corner of Greig and Kalum, across the street from the Terrace Best Western, where a gas bar was located that was part of a now-demolished shopping centre complex belonging to the now-defunct Terrace Co-op.
The challenge for the city is determining if the underground plume extends westward to a major portion of the Co-op land which it hopes to sell to a Calgary-based hotel developer.
Before that sale can be finalized to the hotel company Superior Lodging, the city needs a clean bill of health from the provincial government and it wants to hire a company to drill at the location and map out the extent of the plume.
It has set aside $69,000 for a portion of the work and hopes to hear later this month if an application to the provincial government for a further $70,000 is successful.
The national Federated Co-op organization, which took over environmental responsibility for the property upon the demise of the Terrace Co-op, is using bacteria to eat away at the petroleum products but that approach will take at least another five years to finish.
City corporate administrator Alisa Thompson could not say whether the city will finance the drill and sampling program on its own if the provincial grant doesn’t come through, however, the city does have $126,000 for Co-op environmental work marked down in its 2015 budget.
Economic conditions forced the closure of the Terrace Co-op complex in 1997 after which it was sold privately and then bought by the city for $1 million in 2005 with the idea of making it a centrepiece for a rejuvenated downtown.
The structure gradually fell into disrepair with the city finally demolishing it four years ago with hopes of then selling the land in whole or in part.
Hopes for development were raised in 2013 when the city announced it had a conditional agreement with Superior Lodgings to purchase a major portion of the site for $877,000 provided an environmental clean bill of health was first obtained.
The city says Superior Lodging remains committed to the property.
A smaller portion of the lands located on its western edge has since been sold to a local group with hopes of building a craft-brewery and pub there.