A show of hands at Kings County council has empowered the chief administrator to explore the acquisition of surplus federal agricultural land in Sheffield Mills.
Chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan told council at the June 17 committee of the whole session that the province or municipality has been given the opportunity to acquire 72.84 hectares of farmland and three buildings at market value. The land, which was once used as a research facility, has been declared surplus by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
“I think it’s worth exploring the terms of sale,” MacEwan said.
Mike Spurr, senior real estate advisor with Public Works and Government Services Canada, wrote in a letter to the province dated May 27 that excess federal properties are circulated to other federal departments, agencies and corporations to determine if any of these groups wish to exercise their priority interest. The province and municipality both have a priority interest to acquire excess federal real property.
MacEwan said the municipality had been given 30 days to express an interest and doing so wouldn’t be binding. The province has the right of first refusal. He said he would bring recommendations back to council concerning the cost of the land and potential uses. Recommended uses would meet agricultural zoning requirements.
MacEwan said staff has identified two potential uses: recreational open space or agri-business.
“We have no property bank to make available to people who want to come to the county for agri-business,” he said.
MacEwan said it would probably be cheaper to purchase surplus federal land than to buy a similar parcel from an active farmer.
Coun. Kim MacQuarrie asked MacEwan to explore aspects of the property’s use as a research facility. MacEwan said the property was used for spraying and an environmental assessment would be part of any terms of sale.
MacEwan said if the province or municipality were not interested in purchasing the property, located at 326 to 329 West Haver Road, it would probably then go on the market.
Warden Diana Brothers asked for a show of hands in support of having MacEwan express an interest in the land on behalf of the municipality. All councillors in attendance indicated their support.