Plan B: Township Staff to Seek Alternative Routes to Secure Serviced Industrial Land

Last month, Council rejected an appeal made by Peterborough Chief Administrative Officer Alan Seabrooke that the township accept an alternative payment schedule in compensation for a successful boundary change transferring 4140 acres of residential and industrial lands to the city for future development.

Since that meeting, there have been no further discussions regarding the proposed annexation deal.

Following directions from Peterborough City Council, Seabrooke presented a proposed payment revision designed to balance the cash from generated from the growth the annexation would provide the city with their payments to the township and the County in an effort to retrieve the boundary adjustment deal from its trajectory towards oblivion.

As a City representative at the table during the extensive negotiations that resulted in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was the subject of discussions, Seabrooke was very familiar with the current agreement, which was to form the basis for moving towards a restructuring proposal that would be presented for public feedback and ultimate approval by the three levels of government involved.

The city’s revised proposal incorporated reduced payments to the township during the first seven years of the agreement followed by increased payments in years eight through 25 to make up the balance. The total projected payments would remain at $62.5 million total over the 25 year agreement, but the timing of those payments was quite different. Explaining why the city was renegotiating so late in the process, Seabrooke admitted that while staff had signed off on the original deal, they had not analysed the cash flow projections closely until after it was presented to Council in March. Their revised proposal was designed to mitigate the financial burden on the City by making the deal cash flow positive in the first seven years of the agreement by reducing payments to the Township and the County, with cash flow falling into negative territory in subsequent years. Much of the payment value in the proposal was based on projections: the only firm cash flows in the proposal were those replacing lost property tax revenue. Revenue stemming from growth was to be shared, but control over that growth would remain in the city’s control.

Finance Director Kimberley Pope presented her own analysis of the revised proposal, explaining that while the total dollar value of the payments might remain the same, the timing of those payments represented a loss in value of over $2.6 million for the township. In short, the City’s gain was the County and Township’s loss in the deal.

The shortage of serviced industrialized land in the community persists and remains a source of concern for Council. After almost twenty years trying to work out a solution with the city with no success, they are moving on to explore other avenues to secure serviced employment land within the township boundaries, including cross-border servicing or developing the services themselves and have directed staff to explore other options with other interested third parties. KG

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