Orser worried city dragging its feet on McCormick proposal
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Ward 4 Councillor Stephen Orser is worried that city council is again dragging its feet on an economic opportunity that could not only redevelop the former McCormick property, but lead to 200 new jobs.
JEC Contracting, from Toronto, has said — through its agent, Zubacorp Sustainable Development Consultants — that it was interested in purchasing the abandoned McCormick/Beta Foods factory on Dundas Street East and turning it into a $45 million seniors’ complex. The company would then train 200 Ontario Works (OW) clients on how to use the proprietary building technology.
Orser had prepared an agenda item for the Tuesday (July 31) meeting of the Investment and Economic Prosperity Committee (IEPC) to discuss this issue. However, on Monday, the IEPC meeting was rescheduled to a date to be determined later in August. That rescheduling, along with the red tape that Orser said is slowing the progress of this proposal, has the councillor worried about the city missing out on a huge opportunity.
“I have talked to the consultant, he has expressed concerns. We want to get this thing forward. Nobody had been even nibbling at the tax sale. So we are wasting time,” Orser said. “I want staff and elected politicians to put their noses to the grindstone and if it takes special, quick meetings to pass things, to get this moving, then that’s it.”
In his letter, Orser wrote the developer “requires access to the building and that to have the city conduct the environmental site assessments (ESAs) immediately, and based on that, enter into possible negotiations soon thereafter.”
Orser is suggesting the city needs to accelerate the ESAs to take advantage of JEC’s proposal or London risks missing out on a significant development, much the way he said Sysco Canada took their business recently to Woodstock.
Bonnie Bergsma, an ecologist planner with the City of London, said the ESAs are a requirement of the Ministry of Environment that look at properties for risk of potential contamination. Bergsma said site assessments are a “fairly standardized protocol,” although she doesn’t deal with them in her work.
If something is found in the first assessment, a more in-depth report would be required. “If you don’t find anything, then generally you are OK,” Bergsma said.
Orser said with the city dealing with massive unemployment it can't afford to miss out on what is “a done deal if we can get these ESAs done.”
The councillor said he wants council to move quickly on this opportunity and that should it fall apart, it won’t be for lack of trying on his part.
“It is a call to action from Coun. Orser in Ward 4. I am shooting up a flare. I know people, they are coming up to me all the time,” Orser said. “I want to create an environment where people can get jobs. I want to be able to hold down property tax because the OW rolls are climbing.”
Find us on Facebook: London Community News