By July, council should have a list of at least 20 city-owned properties it can sell.
Council endorsed a motion brought forward by Coun. Kyle Sampson to have staff prepare list of a minimum of 10 city-owned properties with existing amenities such as buildings or services that could be sold; and a minimum of 10 under developed city-owned properties that could be sold.
“I believe this has the potential to relieve the tax burden on residents,” Sampson told council Monday. “Making high-value properties available to investors can diversify our economy … this must be viewed through the strategic lens of increasing the tax base, and not a tax burden.”
Once the list is compiled, Sampson’s policy also calls for the city to develop a policy that would guide council’s decision-making process on selling land.
“We have the responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure the long-term financial viability of our municipality,” he said. “I believe we can continue to make strides towards a stronger financial future through the well thought out actions of our land assets. Retaining high-value, but under-utilized property does not benefit our community in the short-term or the long-term.”
He said there may be some tenants who would like to purchase the property they are leasing. He stressed he isn’t looking at forcing any tenant out of city-leased properties.
When the city sells land the money goes into a land development reserve, which is used to buy property.
Coun. Brian Skakun said he knows that many tenants can’t afford to buy their property and can’t afford to move, so urged caution.
“I just want to make sure the non-profits or others who use our buildings can take some comfort in knowing we’re not just going to sell the property out from under them,” Skakun said.
Coun. Terri McConnachie supported the motion and said much of the work is already on the city’s “radar,” and added some community organizations are already worried about possibly having the city sell property out from under them.
Sampson said his intent is to gain information, not to push organizations out on the street.
“I have no particular properties in mind, otherwise I would have listed them,” he said.
Director of development Ian Wells said most of the organizations that lease city property have long-term leases. He said the city has had some discussions with tenants who may want to purchase the property they are leasing.