"Build it and they will come," "It's a Mexican standoff," "Fail to plan and you plan to fail." A cliche filled debate at Moose Jaw City Hall this week was centred on what to do with land that was supposed to be used for a brand new industrial park for the south side of the city.
It was supposed to be home to a new multi-million dollar pea processing plant, but developers missed several deadlines and let their agreement with City Hall expired. Now the project is in limbo and City Manager Jim Puffalt wants to press on and start designing the area for construction.
"That would allow us to get the project shovel-ready and would then be able to aggressively market that land to external projects that are looking to come to Moose Jaw," explained Puffalt. "What we're finding is that developers are asking when development is going to be ready."
Originally, the suggestion was that no money was to be spent on the land until an anchor tenant was in place and had paid for the land, an argument that Councillor Brian Swanson brought up several times during the debate.
"Despite all of the efforts, two years later, there is no tenant so now we're going to forget our first caveat and design this."
With grant funding covering $200,000 of the $260,000 dollar cost, councillors argued that it's a small price to pay for moving the project to the next logical level, but made it clear that they want to hear back from administration before any actual land work begins.
"We've created this bureaucracy where we've acquired this land, put a restriction on that we aren't going to be spending provincial money until we get an anchor tenant, we start talking to an anchor tenant that has to talk to three other organizations and it's created this huge Mexican standoff," said Mayor Fraser Tolmie. "People keep asking what's going on and we need to keep things simple."
It's been suggested that the pea processing plant would attract a number of spin-off, ag-related businesses to the industrial park since the land has access to both rail and highway transportation, access to dependable water and sewer services and is located in the heart of farm country. The land has also been a topic of conversation as SaskPower looks for potential sites for an electrical plant but so far, everything has been academic with no hard construction plans being announced.