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Post Info TOPIC: 'Giveaway' of lands irks developer


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'Giveaway' of lands irks developer


Just a week after being criticized by one of its own councillors for selling municipally owned land for less than market value, the city is again being challenged over another planned property sale.

Timmins council has provided notice indicating the city's plans to give away three parcels of land in Tisdale Township to Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mine.
One property is 56 acres and located just east of the Shania Twain Centre. The other two parcels are approximately 40 acres each and located southeast of Schumacher.

"No money is being exchanged," said Mark Jenson, the city's manager of community and development services.

The properties are essentially being given away.

Peter Doucet, a Timmins lawyer acting on behalf of land developer Alan Deluca, said he plans to raise concerns with Timmins council about the apparent exclusivity of this transaction.

Deluca, who is a principal of a company which owns lands in those areas, would have liked the opportunity to bid on these properties. However, Doucet said it appears his client and everybody else has been shut out from that opportunity.

Doucet questioned why city officials would not be maximizing full value of its property assets to reduce municipal taxes.

"As with any government, city council is in a position of trust and has an obligation to securing the highest and best price to the benefit of municipal taxpayers."

To achieve this, he said, the city should be offering its land up for sale to the highest bidder.

Goldcorp wants to use the properties southeast of Schumacher so it can develop an alternate route to Dome Mine processing site.

"I would hazard a guess, Goldcorp would be willing to pay market price in order to access its transportation routes," Doucet said.

The lawyer explained that Deluca isn't attempting to block Goldcorp from building a road. He simply feels the opportunity to invest in and profit from that property should be made available to all abutting landowners in that area -- not just one.

Doucet said city council appears to be making a "conscious decision" to pick and choose the prospective purchasers of lands it deems as surplus.

Consequently, Doucet said his client "finds himself in competition with the authority that comes to him at the end of the year and says, 'We want your taxes.'"

Coun. Denis Saudino had expressed concerns last week about the city selling land for less than market value after council agreed to unload 562 acres of city-owned land off Highway 655 to Custom Concrete for $85,000. Saudino had complained that amount was well below market value for aggregate land.

However, he said he won't be objecting to this proposed transaction with Goldcorp.

"It's apples and oranges," the councillor said, on comparing the Custom Concrete deal with the one proposed with Goldcorp.

For one thing, he said, the city is simply transferring ownership of one of the parcels back to Goldcorp. The city acquired the parcel near the Shania Twain Centre during the development of that attraction.

The city was also keen on unloading that particular property because there are a number of hazards on it including open stopes and subsidences which Goldcorp has offered to rehabilitate with a series of open pits, explained Jenson, Timmins' manager of community and development services.

"The city doesn't want to own property with mine hazards."

Jenson said there is liability associated with owning a property that has mine hazards, adding the city is happy to turn it over to a company that "has the expertise" to deal with them.

He said the transaction was also viewed favourably by city officials as an investment in the local economy, providing land that will help to create or sustain jobs at the mine.

The municipality issued a public notice about the proposed transaction which was published in The Daily Press and posted on the City of Timmins website.

Letters of support or objection relating to this matter will be received July 9.

Doucet said he hopes to make a presentation to city council on this matter at some point in the near future.

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