A Trading Thoughts column published in the Dec. 30 edition of Moose Jaw Express noted the city council foible costing the city and taxpayers over $1 million on the sale of land to Canadian Tire.
The loss came from $400,000 additional city work to prepare the 11.95 acre site for development and a nearly $700,000 reduction in land price from the 2016 deal that Canadian Tire approved.
Staggering as that forgone gain is, the loss is even larger when you read the “fine print” of the offer to purchase from the cross-Canada retailer.
The city has granted Canadian Tire a right of first refusal on 20.44 acres of land directly north of the site being developed. That is standard procedure where a company thinks it might plan future expansion.
What is not so standard are the restrictions placed on development of those 20 acres — restrictions agreed to by city administration and city council.
For 20 years — that’s a whole generation — these restrictions will apply and will cost Moose Jaw future development, future land sales and future taxes.
At the current land price of $265,000 an acre the city has deferred sales of $5.4 million for 20 years — unless Canadian Tire buys the site.
The restrictions are far reaching, practically excluding any other development from the 20.44 acre site.
One wonders if this agreement breaks federal laws that try to ensure competition is fair?
The purpose of these restrictions is intended only to stop nearby competition to Canadian Tire from setting up shop.
The two-page list of restrictions includes no development of stores selling automotive parts, auto service, gas bars, sporting goods, plumbing and electrical supplies, paint/wallpaper, pet food, work wear, food, groceries or pharmacy.
That makes sense for Canadian Tire to restrict competition in services and goods it sells.
The second page of restrictions on new business make no sense whatsoever.
Restrictions on entertainment business development mean no one can build a movie theatre, bowling alley, pool hall, bingo hall, night club, strip club or adult bookstore on the adjacent land. Why? Is Canadian Tire planning to get into the amusement business?
Nor is off-track betting, second hand/liquidation stores or auction houses allowed.
What is really amusing and ridiculous is the restriction on any house of worship. Is Canadian Tire going to get into the religion business? Will Canadian Tire money be accepted in the collection plate?
The agreement also restricts any store selling legalized marijuana. Hint: Canadian Tire might want to get into the cannabis business.
Or does the company fear a nearby pot shop might be too tempting for employees?
This deal is just another example of incompetence from this city council and administration.
Ron Walter can be reached at email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.