The discussion surrounding SYSCO and their decision to locate in Woodstock raised a number of questions around industrial land development. There were also a number of things that I learned, and a number of assumptions that were challenged. To get an overview of industrial land in London, check out this report from 2011. A couple of highlights:
- We do have industrial land available
- But it is moving, so we are going to keep requiring more
- Part of the reason it is moving is that it is at a discount
- But given the economic context and the policies and prices of our neighbours, we will need to continue to offer it at a discount for the foreseeable future
How much of a discount land is offered at is highlighted by Councillors Polhill and Hubert’s comments to the press that we couldn’t out-bid Woodstock without breaking the law, and costing taxpayers a huge amount of money. That said, we lost the facility. So, the tough question is, in the race to spend money to purchase jobs, should we ever pull out?
A part of this picture is our current policy on development charges, particularly that there is an exemption for industrial land (and residential development in certain areas). Development charges cover the costs of both engineered services and soft services; for (much) more on these charges and how they are calculated see this background study. Industrial land costs $108.64/sq m, which is currently carried through property taxes. To be more clear, you and I pay the cost of bringing new businesses to London. Industrial land pricing and policies seems very much a catch-22 in my mind, so I’m interested in hearing your perspectives. Do you think that development charges on industrial land should continue to be exempted?