Categories: Local News

Visions for employment lands

The city is looking for feedback on three potential concepts for development of the employment lands, an area west of the city hoped to house non-residential development one day.

Guy Boston, director of economic development, presented the concepts at Tuesday’s economic development breakfast. He later told the Gazette that development of the lands largely depends on the vision of its different landowners.

The concepts were designed to get a conversation started on different kinds of development possible on the lands, he said.

“We thought there’s a couple ways we could go about thinking and envisioning what we could do in the employment lands,” he said. “We want to know what everyone thinks.”

The employment lands are expected be home to as many as 5,000 jobs one day. The site consists of 617 acres split between different landowners. The lands are designated for non-residential uses. Two parcels of land, Riverlot No. 7 and No. 8, are owned by the city.

The three proposals suggested the development of a light industrial and office park, a business park with some entertainment uses (such as a movie theatre), or a research park, which could include high-tech businesses or a university campus.

Boston said the concepts were developed in late 2014 by Vancouver-based consultant firm Urbanics. Urbanics previously created the city’s entertainment demand study.

In creating the three themes, the firm looked at different studies on entertainment, industrial and commercial demand in the city and region, and recommendations from the capital region board. Urbanics also interviewed different stakeholders, such as the city, the chamber of commerce and developers to “get a feel for what could these lands potentially be.”

The breakfast was the first time the concepts were revealed to the public. Based on sticky notes attached to the boards, many attendees preferred either a combination of proposals or the third option including the campus. But it’s too early to say what residents want, said Boston.

The city considers holding an open house on the proposals in May or June and is open to suggestions for development of the land. But the open house will not take place until the city finds out what the landowners want, said Boston.

The city was able to talk to some of them in the past but never to all at once. Asked if some of them may just want to keep the land and not develop it, Boston said that’s “why we need to have this conversation.”

“We are working very hard now at getting in touch with the land owners but very few have replied back to us on this,” he said. “So we will make a very active approach in trying to set up meetings with each one of them.”