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Where be the businesses in business park?

As business parks go, the Hanlon Creek Business Park has certainly been high-profile. Now it’s back in the news as a result of Coun. Bob Bell’s bleak assessment of it during council debate on a new development charges bylaw.
After investing more than $40 million in it, Guelph has a business park that is “not a performing asset” for the city and “is losing all kinds of money,” Bell says. He was part of an unsuccessful push by some councillors, including mayoral candidate Coun. Cam Guthrie, to alter the city’s new DC bylaw by including a lower industrial DC rate to try to lure more manufacturers.
It’s amazing how long this business park has been a big part of politics in Guelph. Former mayor Kate Quarrie spent from 2003-06 lamenting the difficulties in getting the Hanlon Creek Business Park open. Getting it open was key to her electoral pledge to create a better balance between residential property assessment and industrial/commercial assessment in Guelph. But environmental considerations had slowed the project, and the Ontario Municipal Board was involved.
The business park’s profile got even higher after Karen Farbridge became mayor again. Indications that a protected species of salamander might call the business park home got the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources involved. There was a showdown with protesters against the business park development who occupied the site in the summer of 2009. Also, the Hanlon Creek Business Park was touted for being planned as a showcase for green industrial development. Easements were included to allow for the possibility of laying pipes for a district energy system to heat and cool buildings from a central source.
Bell doesn’t fault the city’s investment in this business park. But he argues the new DC bylaw won’t help lure industries to it or help Guelph compete with the county in attracting industry. Let’s hope, for the sake of the city’s finances, that he’s wrong. But kudos to him for speaking up about the current situation at the business park.

One Response to “Where be the businesses in business park?”

  1. Tim says:

    Perhaps Bell’s point of view as a manufacturer blinds him to the realities of the situation. Development charges are the city’s way of recovering the costs of infrastructure that the new owners will benefit from. The very low development charges that he wants would effectively be a subsidy on business and I don’t want to subsidize business through my property tax. If they can’t pay their way, let them go elsewhere.

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