The County of Barrhead is one step closer to seeing its first development in its industrial park.
On Aug. 21, councillors unanimously awarded MPE Engineering Ltd. with a $74,440 contract to provide engineering services for the development of Phase 1 of the Kiel Industrial Park.
The county bought the quarter section of land located at NE 27-59-3-W5, which is immediately south of the Northplex plant on Range Road 32 for $575,000 from the Kiel family in 2012 for the expressed purpose of creating an industrial park. The land is zoned direct control.
Phase 1 is a 45-acre parcel in the northern portion of the property that encompasses six lots. In June, the county announced that Royal Canadian Holdings purchased the first lot to build a medicinal marijuana facility.
County manager Debbie Oyarzun noted they sent out a request for proposal (RFP) to three potential contractors and posted publicly on the county’s website. MPE Engineering submitted the highest-scoring bid.
Services included in the contract include environmental, biophysical, geotechnical, historical resource impact and preliminary stormwater management assessments.
MPE Engineering will also be responsible for overseeing the connection of the property to water, sewer, and natural gas lines as well as topsoil removal and stockpiling.
“I was hoping to provide you with an area structure plan, but it has been delayed because of a wetland,” Oyarzun said.
“The frustrating part of it is that we are on the same page with [Alberta Parks and] Environment in that we are not going to be disturbing wetlands, so the wetland in the RFP is out of scope. It will be delineated and protected.”
Oyarzun added that in order to serve the Phase 1 lots, the county will build an internal service road. Depending on weather, all the work in the RFP is expected to be complete by year’s end.
Coun. Dennis Nanninga asked if the province required the county to keep any wetlands on the property.
Oyarzun said no, but before they removed any wetland, they first would have to do a wetlands assessment at a cost of $10,000 to $30,000 to determine its class.
“The class, along with the number of acres, would determine how much we would have to pay back or we have to put up another one of equal or greater value in its place,” she said.
Nanninga said he still believed it could still be in the county’s best interest to fill in the wetland for the potential of extra lots.
Coun. Darrell Troock agreed, saying the wetland is located near the highway.
“It is a prime location -— where you almost double the price of that land. (It would be ideal) if we could not so much remove it, but just move it,” he said. “I’m sure somewhere we are going to need stormwater retention ponds and there is a spot at the back that would make a better place for a wetland.”
Oyarzun said it isn’t as simple as replacing one wetland area for another.
“The process (of creating) an artificially-made pond to balance off the natural, larger wetland might not fit our project,” she said, noting they would still have to go through the wetland assessment process, which could take as long as nine to 18 months to complete.
“In order for us to get Phase 1 developed so that we can uphold our service agreement with the lot that’s sold, we couldn’t bite that off.”
Troock agreed, but said he would like to revisit the issue for future phases.
“When you are talking $60,000 or $70,000 an acre, the extra cost involved might not be such a big deal, especially if it [storm water retention pond]is something we are going to have to do anyway,” he said.
Coun. Walter Preugschas agreed but noted they might find that keeping the wetland as is will add more value to the lots.