Mayor McFadden was quick to support an overture from the province received last week seeking a location for a new auto manufacturing facility. The letter, sent to municipalities across the province, outlined a request for a 500- to 1500-acre site for a new plant. At the February 21st Special Council meeting, staff was directed to make a pitch for the township to secure this opportunity. In addition to offering access to all major transportation options including highways, rail and air, land costs in Cavan Monaghan are reasonable relative to other locations with a similar proximity to Toronto, making it a desirable host. According to McFadden, the land surrounding the airport offers an ideal location for this type of industry, but there are several other possible options for consideration.
To be eligible for a project like this, the property would have to be serviced, which means a deal would have to be struck with the city of Peterborough. Should the proposal gain traction, the township will seek a cross-border servicing agreement with the city of Peterborough. Because they have no more industrial land for development, the city might be more willing to consider this type of agreement than it has been in the past.
Of course the other option to get the land serviced would be annexation. Media reports that the township’s interest in this opportunity indicates a willingness to re-open annexation discussions are premature. After the failure of the previous agreement over payment schedules two years ago, Cavan Monaghan Council seems unanimous in the view that annexation is off the table.
All parties should be motivated to attract a business investment of this magnitude that could create thousands of jobs for the region. Last week’s offer by a landowner holding 78 acres on Brown Line to front-end servicing costs illustrates a willingness by businesses to invest in the area to get their projects launched. In his presentation, agent Richard Taylor indicated that the owner of the property has been approached by many interested parties but they require serviced land. He encouraged Council to endorse a cross-border service arrangement and promote it to the city and County of Peterborough. He pointed out the existing legislative framework that supports these mechanisms and went on to explain that if the parties are not co-operative, outstanding differences on such agreements can be resolved through the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
The political landscape is also different than it was when the annexation deal fell through, with our local MPP in the cabinet of a government focused on job creation. Of course there will be stiff competition to secure a job creation opportunity like the one described by the province. Expect to see Cavan Monaghan Council and staff put the township’s best face forward as they seek ways to make a successful bid for this remarkable project. It’s a game-changer that could boost the economy of the entire region and stem the tide of economic migration of our youth who are often forced to seek employment elsewhere. KG