Mayor Opens the Door to Annexation

In a surprising about face, Cavan-Monaghan Mayor Scott McFadden presented a notice of motion at the last Peterborough County Council meeting, outlining a proposal that would see a parcel of 271.8 acres of land in the township annexed to the city.

The area consists of five properties located south of the North Monaghan Parkway and west of Airport Road and is zoned as employment land, but lacks water and sewer services.

The previous week, Cavan-Monaghan staff had sent a request to the City asking for confirmation that the issue was dead after the city’s draft Official Plan indicated there was a surplus of employment land in Peterborough.  The township was seeking a formal acknowledgement that the city had no interest in engaging in discussions about regional economic initiatives together after many overtures to do so remained unanswered.

The shortage of serviced industrial land has been a challenge in the area for thirty years.  An extensive negotiation in 2017 led to a proposal where 4140 acres were to be transferred from Cavan-Monaghan to the city, with payments to the township flowing over 25 years.   Developed by staff members from the city, county and township under the guidance of a provincially appointed facilitator, it was scheduled to come into effect January 2018.

When presented to Peterborough City Council, the 2017 proposal was rejected in a unanimous vote.  Peterborough asked for a revised stream of payments that were more favourable to the City by changing their timing.  Much of the payment value in the proposal was based on projections: the only firm cash flows were those replacing lost property tax revenue.  Revenue stemming from growth was to be shared, but control over that growth would have remained in the city’s control.  Cavan-Monaghan declined that proposal, but offered to go back to the table with the provincial negotiator.  No response to that offer was ever received.

After the failure of that negotiation, the township moved on to exploring other avenues to secure services for employment land within the township, including cross-border servicing or developing the services themselves with third parties.  Peterborough has since made it clear they will only service land that falls within its boundaries, and no alternative for servicing has yet been found.

Peterborough County Council voted in favour Mayor McFadden’s Notice of Motion endorsing the land annexation in the hope that the move could bring development and jobs for the entire region.  Only two County Councillors voted against the motion.  Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell felt the motion was too specific in nature as it identified specific properties to be annexed, and felt it was inappropriate for the County to endorse a motion which included conditions that had not been approved by the township.  Matt Graham, Deputy Mayor of Cavan Monaghan, said he supported the “effort and intention of the motion”.  With plenty of evidence indicating the region is falling behind provincial economic performance averages, he recognizes the urgent need to formulate a well-considered, regional economic strategy to reverse this trend but felt this process might result in further setbacks.

At Monday’s meeting, Peterborough City Council approved their new Official Plan along with a parallel process to negotiate with Cavan-Monaghan and Peterborough County on a proposal to add employment lands to the City through annexation.

To be clear, Mayor McFadden’s proposal did not mention negotiation, but identified specific parcels of land representing a fraction of the land that was previously on offer.  Will this proposal gain traction, or will history repeat itself?  KG

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