PREPARING land west of Winnipeg’s airport for development could cost nearly $113 million over 30 years.

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This article was published 26/5/2021 (192 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

PREPARING land west of Winnipeg’s airport for development could cost nearly $113 million over 30 years.

Some deem such spending as critical to Winnipeg’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It’s a significant investment to service these lands, but there will be a very important return on investment of installing the water and sewer pipes to open up (these) employment lands. When serviced, the assessed value of these properties will increase, creating more tax revenue to the city," said Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James), finance committee chairman.

It would cost about $112.6 million to add water and sewer service for Airport Area West, according to a preliminary report by KGS Group, a consultant hired by the city.

The report suggests the work — and payments — could be phased in over three decades to support the development of 3,600 acres of unserviced land in the city’s northwest corner.

The tab may sound high but Gillingham said Winnipeg must find ways to fund it, since the new builds would grow the tax base and create jobs.

"I’m very confident that the potential economic development and growth over the next 50 years would be worth the investment today," he said.

The area, also known as CentrePort South, is bordered by the Rural Municipality of Rosser to the north, James Armstrong Richardson International Airport to the east, Saskatchewan Avenue to the south, and the Perimeter Highway to the west. Industry is expected to cover 2,535 acres, with the rest earmarked for housing, said Gillingham.

The draft plans call for a "lower-density" residential development south of CentrePort Canada Way and west of the Sturgeon Access.

During a recent presentation at city hall, Economic Development Winnipeg also listed servicing more industrial land, especially this property, as one critical step to helping the local economy recover from COVID-19.

The report suggests the spending occur in stages over 30 years, beginning with a $59.8-million phase within the first five years.

Gillingham said that timeline appears realistic, but could be expedited if demand for development surges.

He said city council should consider the costs in its 2022 budget, while also seeking possible funding support from senior governments and neighbouring municipalities. He said those governments would also benefit from the development.

"The city has got to position itself to attract investment. We need serviced industrial lands ready for potential investors," he said.

While the water and waste department has warned the city could exceed its sewage treatment capacity within the next five to nine years, Gillingham said this expansion of service can’t be ruled due to that risk.

Instead, he said the city must support development while simultaneously lobbying for funding to complete a $1.8-billion north end sewage treatment plant upgrade, slated to increase capacity.

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.