County response unfairly aimed to discredit Netook developers
Re: Netook projections ‘not realistic’ and Council pushes for infiltration remedy by John Gleeson, May 29.
We would like to respond to what seems like a deliberate strategy by Mountain View County to discredit Netook developers and defend proposed changes to the MDP by dismissing the results of the Netook Fiscal Impact Analysis (FIA) and attacking the actions of Netook Crossing developer, Prodev, as they relate to the issue of groundwater infiltration. Both of these issues were brought to council’s policies and priorities committee on May 23 without notification to either Netook developer, providing NO opportunity for discussion and meaningful dialogue.
With respect to groundwater infiltration, despite inflammatory and unfounded statements by some councillors, a resolution to this complex issue is underway. As security for satisfactory performance of its obligations, Prodev has provided Mountain View County with a valid Letter of Credit in the amount of $1.73 million. All costs associated with existing development have been and continue to be incurred by Prodev including the hauling and disposal of wastewater and resolution of remaining technical issues.
As an aside, the existing development is already providing in excess of $300,000 annually in tax revenue to MVC. Imagine the benefit of this project if this council actually shifted gears and supported the opportunity in Netook. Prodev is committed to meeting its obligations under a development agreement executed with MVC; this is despite serious concerns that council is not upholding its end of the deal specifically around the planning and implementation of regional water and sewer services.
With respect to the Netook Fiscal Impact Analysis, this comprehensive report was developed by a third party independent consultant who used realistic, and in many instances conservative assumptions in arriving at its conclusion that Netook would provide Mountain View County with substantial financial benefits. This FIA is based on a “marginal” or “incremental” cost approach that is accepted in practice by every municipality in preparing annual budgets and also accepted by the Municipal Government Board in its review of annexations and other matters regarding forecasts of the financial future of municipalities. We stand behind the assumptions in the FIA and would appreciate an opportunity to address any and all questions that Mountain View County administration or council have regarding this analysis.
Unfortunately, in dealing with MVC Council we are beginning to question a number of assumptions we have made about the process that we want to share with you.
Netook ASSUMED … the county would honour its existing agreements and allow Netook to move forward as planned. This ASSUMPTION was based on the fact that the county created the vision through strategic planning, signed agreements and approved plans that in essence created Netook.
Netook ASSUMED the council would conduct some form of meaningful engagement with us around major changes to the MDP impacting our developments. Again, wrong … no effective consultation, limited or no notification and no meaningful engagement.
Netook ASSUMED the county would want to diversify its revenue base and seriously consider the financial opportunity presented by Netook. Instead the council is dismissing the opportunity for a $17-million financial benefit over the next 20 years out of hand because it will not move beyond broad generalizations to consider the opportunity of creating a new rural future for the benefit of all its taxpayers.
Netook ASSUMED the county would want to protect its ratepayers. To that end, developers stepped up to the plate and committed to pay for water and wastewater servicing infrastructure in a realistic/phased manner, removing all risk from taxpayers. This was not part of the original plans. Did this satisfy council? NO. Instead they made last-minute changes to the MDP requiring developers to pay for all infrastructure up front with no phasing allowed.
Netook ASSUMED council actually wanted to preserve farmland. Yet overnight, without notification, council cut Netook’s residential densities in Netook by 66 per cent and increased parcel sizes. This not only works against a developer-funded infrastructure model and decimates the fiscal opportunity presented in Netook’s FIA, it also works directly against their stated goal of preserving farmland.
As an MVC taxpayer you can ASSUME that unless council hears from you at its June 27 public hearing (either in person or through a written submission), the MDP will pass as will the opportunity for Netook in MVC.
Now is the time to ASSUME responsibility for the future of MVC. We encourage you to visit www.netookfuture to learn more about how to speak out against the MDP and in favour of a sustainable rural future for MVC that includes Netook Crossing.
Herb Styles and Terry Johnston
Netook Developers and concerned taxpayers