Settlement agreement results in return of land to City of Swift Current
By Matthew Liebenberg
The City of Swift Current is taking back two undeveloped lots after reaching a settlement with a developer.
Council members approved the settlement agreement between the City and Sunrose Enterprises Ltd. during a regular council meeting, Oct. 2.
The company will transfer the two lots back to the City and also make a lump sum payment of $120,000 to the City.
“It was nice to get it done,” Mayor Al Bridal said. “I know when I look back, it’s always easy to look at things that were signed a long time ago and see where the problems arise, but I do hope that we as council will have learned something and administration will have learned something about this.”
He referred to the original agreement and the eventual default on the mortgage payments to the City.
“The only thing we had is we had a mortgage on the property, and so the only thing we could really get back from was the land itself,” he said. “I really think as council, if we have one of these coming forward in the future, or future councils, we need to take a serious look at what the value to the citizens of Swift-Current would be in the future. So I’m glad this one was resolved.”
The original agreements between the City and Sunrose Enterprises for these lots were made over a decade ago. The initial agreement was approved by City council on Sept. 28, 2009 for a portion of the former Swift Current hospital site on 4th Avenue NE. It allowed the company to purchase and develop the property in three phases.
The company paid 10 per cent of the $577,000 purchase price as a deposit and the balance was secured as a mortgage in favour of the City. Payments were to be made in installments as units in each phase were completed and the balance was to be paid not later than Aug. 1, 2013.
The agreement for the second lot was concluded on June 14, 2010. It is adjacent to the previous lot and the purchase price was $129,600. The terms were similar, including 10 per cent paid as a deposit, the remaining amount secured by registration of a mortgage and paid in installments, with balance due before Aug. 1, 2014.
The two parties negotiated two addendums to the original agreements. One gave a four-year extension for payment of the balance on both properties and the other extended the final payment date an additional five years.
However, Sunrose Enterprises could not fulfill the terms of the agreements and addendums. It paid $325,660 of the $706,600 total purchase price. The outstanding balance was $457,295.58 (including accrued interest of $76,355.58). The two parties therefore began negotiations and they were able to reach a settlement agreement.
City Chief Administrative Officer Jim Jones said after the meeting the settlement was the best outcome for the situation.
“These were lots that Sunrose Enterprises had purchased from the City quite a while ago and they were hoping that they would extend the condos that were in that area,” he noted. “With all that’s happened through COVID and other stuff, they just haven’t sold. So at the end of the day, it was just the best plan, I think, from council and from administration and from Sunrose, that the best thing might be to just turn the land back to the City.”
These lots will now become part of the available inventory of land for sale by the City. Jones mentioned that the City has a lot of land parcels available at the moment.
“If you look at Swift Current over the past four years with the census, we’ve only grown from 16,000 to 16,750,” he said. “We haven’t had a boom like a lot of the others do. So the City has a lot of inventory available and there’s lots in the City for people to choose from. There’s lots of people that are preferring acreages right now. So it’s a competition here. We remain the hub for the southwest and we feel strongly that we’re going to sell and the lots are going to be coming in demand again, because there’s going to be more and more people that want to move to rural Saskatchewan and a rural way of living as opposed to living in the big cities.”
The City will continue to look at ways to attract people and businesses to Swift Current. He felt that the development of the helium industry in the southwest is a potential opportunity.
“We know that there’s helium in the southwest and we know that Swift Current would be the hub for wherever that helium goes,” he said. “And so we’re hoping that’s going to help us down the road, but they’re not quite ready to drill yet. … . With having our own electrical franchise, it allows us the opportunity to give some incentives to big business that comes here.”
The City is always looking at what can be done with the land it owns and what the potential land use can be within the official community plan.
“I think our biggest thing right now is Munro [industrial park], which we have it all serviced and it’s ready to go,” he said. “We now got a new business that’s in there and we’re hoping that it’s contagious, and that like-minded businesses will actually take part of that as well too.”
Council approves bylaw amendment for liquor stores:
Council members approved an amendment of the City’s zoning bylaw during the Oct. 2 regular meeting to allow liquor stores as a permitted principal use in the C1 central commercial district.
The City previously gave public notice of the proposed amendment, but did not receive any written submissions and there were also no requests from anyone to speak about this matter at a public hearing held during the Sept. 18 council meeting.
Liquor stores are already allowed as a permitted use in all highway and shopping centre commercial districts in Swift Current. The bylaw amendment adds liquor stores as a permitted and compatible form of retail use in the C1 central commercial district.