BARRHEAD- The County of Barrhead has a potential buyer for two of its Kiel Industrial Park lots.
However, the likelihood of the sale being finalized would improve substantially if the Barrhead Regional Water Commission (BRWC) and the Town of Barrhead approve improvements to their water filtration and waste treatment systems.
That is why councillors instructed county manager Debbie Oyarzun at their Sept. 7 meeting, to submit a formal request to both the town and BRWC in two separate motions to make the improvements.
The request for the BRWC is to include the installation of new water filtration trains in their 2022 budget. The request to the town is to install a sanitary pre-treatment component to its lagoon wastewater treatment facility. Both requests are conditional on the successful sale of the properties.
The BRWC is an independent body comprised of members of the Barrhead municipalities. The commission is the owner of the region’s water infrastructure, pipelines and water treatment plant. They then sell the water to the municipalities, which in turn resell it to their residents.
"The purchaser does need higher than normal water volumes [and associated sanitary volumes that the water commission is forecasting for 2022," Oyarzun said. "So for us to entertain this offer, we need to address that."
She said, as part of the BRWC's 25-year plan, they expect they will have to install new water filtration trains to meet the increased water demand expected in 2040 to 2045.
Oyarzun said to meet the purchaser's water needs, the installation of that equipment would need to be expedited to perhaps as soon as 2022/2023.
“By 2045, [the water commission] felt that our industrial expansion would be up to that 850 cubic metres per day, but if this offer to purchase goes through, the Kiel Industrial park will need by 2022/23, 740 cubic metres,” Oyarzun said.
She added that to support the increased volumes of effluent from the purchaser's operation, the town would have to install an additional sanitary pre-treatment at their lagoons to avoid putting additional pressure on the wastewater system.
However, Oyarzun said the commission and the town could recover those costs fairly quickly.
"Should this project advance, the sale of water from Kiel alone are estimated at $642,838 a year based on the Barrhead Regional Water Commission's water rates," she said. "And as I have heard from council, especially from the reeve and [Coun. Darrell Troock], the commission is in the business of selling water."
Oyarzun did not give an estimate of how much the equipment's installation would cost the BRWC or the town.
The Barrhead Regional Water Commission is expected to discuss the request at its meeting this week. Town of Barrhead council next meeting is Sept. 14.
Although councillors Oyarzun noted that she gave the BRWC and Town of Barrhead councillors the heads up that the requests might be forthcoming.
Background on Kiel Industrial
If the sale goes through, it will be the first lots the county has sold. Presently there are seven fully-services lots available as part of the Kiel Phase 1 development.
In late June 2018, Royal Canadian Cannabis (RCC) put a deposit down on a lot at the Kiel Industrial Park to build a medical marijuana growing and production facility. However, the sale of the property fell through in 2020.
The county bought the quarter section of land located at NE 27-59-3-W5, which is immediately south of the Northplex plant on Range Road 32, for $575,000 from the Kiel family in 2012 for the expressed purpose of creating an industrial park. The land is zoned direct control.
Since then, Oyarzun said the county has put a lot of effort and expense into getting the property ready for potential sales.
Two years after purchasing the property, the county undertook a preliminary engineering study. As part of that process, the municipality undertook a visioning exercise that included extensive consultation.
Shortly after, Oyarzun said the municipality then commissioned TEC Edmonton to do a feasibility study on market development, focusing specifically on agricultural industries.
"In 2020, the county also renewed [intermunicipal-development plan and this year we started a broadband scoping and cost analysis and passed a Non-residential Tax Incentive Bylaw to attract investors," she said.
Oyarzun noted that through the stakeholder consultation process, the municipality developed "the rationale to develop Kiel so that we could have that inventory of land for industrial development, based on a series of principles that we are following very closely."
She added the principles included attracting industry and businesses that were not a good fit for the town to avoid competition, focusing on clusters or companies that can attract other related industry segments, support community growth, create jobs as well as driving economic growth and creating economic diversity.
More importantly, at least from the municipal standpoint, Oyarzun said to they want to grow the tax base.
"Currently, the county only has $33 to 34 million in non-residential assessment. That is quite low and is why we have to rely so heavily on residential taxes," she said. "If we can increase non-residential assessment, we can share the burden."