A recent debt settlement agreement between the City of Swift Current and a landowner had to be revised due to a restriction on a property that was part of the arrangement.
The original terms of the negotiated land acquisition agreement determined that the owners of the company J & P Bardahl Investments will transfer a parcel of land consisting of 1.1 acres to the City and pay a sum of $100,000 in four installments to cover the outstanding amount of the servicing agreement.
This agreement was approved during a council meeting on June 28, but since then a new agreement was negotiated. The previous agreement was therefore rescinded at a regular council meeting on July 26 and the new debt settlement agreement was approved.
The new agreement will not involve any transfer of land in lieu of cash. Instead, Bardahl Investments will pay the full settlement cost of $400,000 in cash. The company will retain ownership of the land and the City will rezone the property from commercial to residential, which will allow the subdivision of the land for development as single-family dwellings.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Tim Marcus told the meeting the City began providing services along Adams Street close to the Cypress Regional Hospital in 2016, but it has been unable to reach a servicing agreement with Bardahl Investments. The company’s pro rata share of services has been outstanding since then.
“The property owner, the mayor and administration have been working to come to an agreement based on various proposals from the owner,” he said.
The negotiations after the previous council meeting in June resulted in a new offer of cash settlement for outstanding debt. There will be an initial payment of $25,000 on or before Aug. 15 and there will be no interest on the unpaid balance of $375,000 until Nov. 1.
The subdivision application will include a hydro and geotechnical engineering report that will ensure compliance with the 1:500 floodway and the creation of a safe building elevation for that land. A new servicing agreement will be required after the finalization of the subdivision and lot plans.
“Administration believes that this will satisfy the outstanding amount for the servicing of the lots and provides for future development in this area,” Marcus said. “The owner has indicated that he would like to name the development Creekside Estates.”
Mayor Al Bridal spoke to media about the new agreement after the council meeting. He did not expect this matter to be back at council, but it became necessary due to a restriction on the property.
“I sort of thought we had it all signed and sealed, and then when we went to transfer the land it was discovered that Canadian Tire actually had a binding covenant on the land,” he explained.
He felt positive about the new agreement, because it means the City will receive the full outstanding amount in cash. He noted the initial payment of $25,000 was already paid and the City will receive the remaining amount from Bardahl Investments within the next month or two, once the subdivision application has been processed and approved.
“So the taxpayer has that money and then he gets to develop the land in a way he sees fit and make some money out of it,” Bridal said.
The development of land for residential use will also add the property to the City’s tax base, which will be a benefit to ratepayers. He is relieved this agreement is finally done, because it had been an ongoing issue for quite a few years. He felt the need to give this matter his personal attention after being elected as City mayor last year,
“I guess sometimes a new set of eyes looks at something maybe a little different and this problem has been around going for quite a few years,” he said.
He added that all parties were interested in finding a solution to the situation and this made it possible to reach an agreement.
“So we all got our heads together and we said how can we do this to the betterment of all of us, and so that's what we've done,” he said.