Colwood puts Royal Bay parcel on market

In a bid to bolster city coffers, Colwood is sending out feelers to gauge interest in the possible sale or lease of a municipal tract of land.

In a bid to bolster city coffers, Colwood is sending out feelers to gauge interest in the possible sale or lease of a municipal tract of land.

The four-hectare parcel, which straddles Metchosin Road south of Latoria Road in Royal Bay, could be made available if a deal comes in that is sweet enough.

“Quite frankly this is exploratory,” said Ross McPhee, Colwood’s chief administrative officer. “Council wanted to find out if they could do something better (with the land).”

Issuing the request for proposals was prompted after parties, including the Capital Regional District, recently expressed some interest in the surplus land, said Mayor Dave Saunders.

In the past, the CRD indicated the Royal Bay area would be suitable for a sewage treatment plant, although that is not part of its current planning.

Fiscal opportunity is the primary reason why the municipality would even consider selling all or possibly part of the unserviced lot, the mayor said.

“I don’t feel it’s a good time to sell property,” Saunders said. “It would have to be a good deal.”

Any money generated would replenish the City’s general reserve fund and even provide a surplus, the mayor added.

“We’re in fairly restricted financial circumstances,” McPhee said, but not to the extent that a sale is urgent. “Are we really in a situation where we must sell? No. We’re just looking at all possibilities.”

Colwood hasn’t had the tract appraised, however, the enormous mounds of stone, rock and sand currently stored on the site were valued at $1 million last year.

In addition to the land, the municipality is looking to sell some of the fill but keep a supply on hand for use by its public works department for road surfacing and stormwater projects, for example.

“Basically it’s like money in the bank,” Saunders said of the stockpile of fill, adding that the City is interested in seeing whether or not there is interest in the acquisition of either all or some of the land, the fill or both.

The request for proposals was first advertised last week. Interested buyers have until Feb. 11 to submit paperwork, a deadline that could be extended if strong suitors need more time for research, said McPhee.

The idea of selling fill was bandied about in March 2010, coinciding with a looming tax hike in support of core services.

The chunk of land that potentially is up for grabs is the largest block of available land Colwood has in its inventory, and is currently zoned rural residential.

Following the proposal deadline, staff will prepare a report for council for early March, McPhee said.

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