Edmonton has a massive 3,800 hectares of industrial land lying vacant, and the reason has more to do with economics – the developer who starts on a project also has to build roads and sewers for the next development project, irrespective of whether it is undertaken by them or not. The first developer is reimbursed the costs of doing so, but only when the second developer starts work.
Taking a stance
But in the last five years, 10% of second and third developers have cancelled their projects in the area, creating a situation where no one wants to develop anything for fear of having to construct roads and sewers for others and then not getting paid in time. To overcome this, an increase in taxes has been proposed; and half of this rise will go towards compensating ‘first developers’.
As long as the issue is resolved
Mayor Don Iveson believes this to be fair, as the tax increase would result in more development. He points out that Edmonton has a strategic advantage in terms of location, a fact which is echoed by Chris Davis, a member of the non-profit Urban Development Institute. Edmonton has a large workforce, and is well-connected to all the major transportation corridors.
Councilor Ed Gibbons is another supporter of the additional tax levy. He says that the industrial area has already attracted $13.8 billion in actual development, with 8,000 workers engaged in construction at present and another 7,000 employed at the plants that have already come up.
Steve Jensen, a planner with the Sustainable Development department at the City of Edmonton, adds that the proposed Industrial Fund in any way place additional financial burdens on the City, since it will be fully covered by the increase in taxes. It will give first developers a greater chance at recovering their costs and spur development in the region.