Portage in negotiations to sell most of its zoned industrial land

Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp. has an offer before the City of Portage la Prairie to buy nearly all of its available industrially zoned land.

Last night city council gave its manager and administration team the green light to pursue a possible deal that would see 317.72 acres in two parcels possibly sell for $2,211,200., $277,600 less than the city’s 2019 assessed value of $2,488,800.

A first search for information about Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp. (https://carpere.ca/) brings up its website with a bold front page promising a “Healthier Future, Sustainable Practice”. It says, “Carpere wants to bring food grown by our family of farmers to your family.”

On that first impression the future for the Canadian company negotiating to buy almost all of the remaining city-owned industrial land is promising, given it hasn’t proved to be much in demand.

Right off its internet landing page, Carpere explains it is in the business of designing high-tech industrial parks and supporting infrastructure to host the production of food, feed, and materials as well as services to move the products into global markets.
“We invest in relationships. Guided by a shared purpose, we partner with communities, businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers to grow, process, manufacture and market Canadian-based products to the world,” the company’s PR script says.

In introducing the Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp. pending deal, Coun. Brent Budz said, “it is an exciting offer to consider.” Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp. wants to purchase 317.72 acres of city land for industrial development. The industrial land is located north of the Campbells Soup factory and land southeast of the McCain’s potato operation. The industrial land is separated into two parcels one being 161 acres and the other 156.72 acres of land in the McMillan Industrial Park.

“There are two things I really want to identify for us to consider, is the two conditions. They are very important in this offer,” Budz explained.

Sitting in committee, council agreed to authorize the city manager and administration team to negotiate the suitable terms of a sales and development agreement with the following conditions identified:

  1. That the proponent (Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp.) ensure the commencement of the first industrial project within two years, with the possibility of an additional year extension if mutually agreed upon; and
  2. That the proponent recognize that any lands not developed within three years may be re-acquired by the city for the purchase price less 30%, respective of any lost opportunities as a result of lack of available zoned land for those intended projects.

“It is worth noting that the city for many years has had a policy in place for very, very cheap industrial land available for development. There simply has not been land development in these areas,” said Budz. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to partner with somebody that obviously has some things in mind for our City and our region.”

Coun. Melissa Draycott asked if Carpere Canada has been successful elsewhere.

“Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp. is a relatively new company,” explained City Manager Nathan Peto. “They are Canadian-based but a company that has done several industrial projects. They are newer projects in communities in Saskatchewan and they do have industrial and commercial developments in B.C. They are specialized in the agri-food business so again that is value added.”

Investment brings investment and Portage la Prairie continues to ride the economic high of Roquette deciding to build a plant protein here and the decision by Simplot to double its capacity. Portage and area continue to garner national and international attention that a billion dollars in business investment will bring.

“We should not be surprised with the announcements we have seen in the last 12-18 months and more will come,” said Coun. Budz. “We are seeing a little bit of that through this company. They do see the potential that the location of Portage has and what’s been happening here. It shouldn’t be a surprise that someone else wants to get in on what is happening in Portage.”

“There were at least six locations in Manitoba that were considered for this investment,” Portage Regional Economic Development Executive Director Vern May said. Portage la Prairie was selected in part because there was a large parcel of municipal land available.

“They also communicated that they had significant confidence after working with the economic development office that we knew what we were talking about and were able to get them the answers in a timely fashion,” said May.

If Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp. and the city can conclude a sales agreement, available industrial with the urban boundary will become limited.

“In regards to industrial land if council chooses to sell the land, there would be very limited land left,” Peto explained. “There would be some potential land located near our wastewater treatment facility and there are some other parcels of the land the city owns that may not be serviced or zoned industrial.”

Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp.’s offer to purchase is $277,600 less than the city’s assessed value on the two industrial land packages, but maybe not a final purchase price.

“I think it is a starting point of a negotiation,” May said in an interview following the council meeting. “If they made an offer considering the size of the property, I think it is worthy of consideration.”

Asked if Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp. would build its own business or develop land for resale to other businesses, May was unable to comment.

“At this time, we’re in the process of negotiating a sales agreement with them so there are a lot of terms under the nondisclosure agreement that we can’t discuss, yet. We hope to have more news on that in the coming weeks.

Carpere Canada Industrial Park Corp. has announced a 45-acre industrial park in Tisdale, Sask. with a project date of December 2019 and as city council was introducing the possibility of doing business with the Vancouver-based company, Moose Jaw city council voted 6-1 in favour of a 780-acre land sale for $7.8 million to Carpere Canada.

Carpere Canada is heavily involved in food trade with Asia. Carpere photo

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