FERGUS - The Township of Centre Wellington has purchased 58 acres of land in Fergus to create the area's first business park.
The land at 6518 1st Line was purchased in response to a study by Watson & Associates Ltd. which highlighted the need for new municipal employment land.
“We’re expected to absorb 50 per cent of the growth in Wellington County for 20 years,” said Patricia Rutter, the township's economic development officer. “That includes 48 per cent of the employment growth and at the moment we had nowhere to accommodate those projected numbers. We had to do something to expand our ability to absorb it. “
The land is intended to stimulate outside investment to Centre Wellington.
“I know that it’s becoming more and more expensive in the urban centres and it makes small towns like Fergus much more attractive,” she said. “The price point is much lower than the large cities.”
Rutter said she also sees it as an opportunity for local business to expand.
“Our local businesses either have to go out of town if they want to grow or they aren’t able to grow,” Rutter said. “So it provides some room for growth from our companies here.”
She expects most of the businesses that will eventually set up shop there will be manufacturing.
After being on the market for a long time, the township purchased the land for just over $2.2 million. Rutter said there are benefits to the town owning the land and the private sector isn’t willing to take the risk.
“Sometimes industrial land needs to be held for longer periods at a time to realize some return and they aren’t willing to do it,” she said. “A municipality owning it, this allows us to service it, get it on the market, we can hold it for a longer term if necessary but otherwise we wouldn’t see any opportunity for industrial growth in Centre Wellington.”
The largest sector of the region’s economy is manufacturing and that’s likely to continue with this property. However, the land is zoned for other uses such as offices.
“We will be doing some additional sector analysis to see where the biggest demand will come from and where the marketing should be directed to,” Rutter said.
Parcels of land will be ready for sale in late 2021 after planning, zoning and servicing on the site.