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Omni's servicing strategy causes concern

Last week’s RV Weekly included the first notice of the public hearing on the Omni Area Structure Plan, although the County didn’t bother to properly identify it as such. This is another developer-paid ASP. This time funded by Genesis Land Development Corp, one of the major landowners in the area.

When the terms of reference for this ASP came before Council, Administration had recommended against going ahead with it since there is no servicing capacity for the proposed development. However, the majority on Council, in its wisdom, supported Genesis’ wish to move ahead with its development.

It should be noted that this ASP appears to have no support from residents who live in the area. According to the County, feedback received at its open houses was almost unanimously opposed to the commercial/industrial development being proposed in the ASP. So, this looks to be a second developer-paid ASP where the only support is coming from the landowners who stand to profit from its approval.

The ramifications for the County if Council approves this ASP go far beyond the boundaries of Division 5 where it is located.

According to the cost estimates in Omni’s Servicing Strategy, the costs to upgrade the East RV water / waste water systems to service Omni will be $183.7 million, $166.8 million of which it is assumed will be collected through future off-site levies. One can only hope that collection of these off-site levies will be more successful than those from the existing East RV infrastructure (a decade after its construction the existing infrastructure still needs to collect over $86 million of the $135 million it took to build).

The prospect of the County taking on an additional $166.8 million in debt is staggering enough. However, the actual cost of servicing the Omni development appears to be seriously underestimated. Omni’s costing is based on 2016 actual utilization rates plus its own requirements. This appears to ignore the fact that much of the currently underutilized capacity has already been legally committed to others.

In addition to these infrastructure costs, there will also be significant costs associated with storm water management since this is an area that has historically been prone to flooding. The ASP assumes that Omni will connect to the regional storm water management system at an additional cost of $31.6 million. This is despite the fact that the regional storm water system still has no approvals to move forward, has been years in the planning, and has not included the Omni area in its plans. Very little detail is provided on interim storm water solutions, other than assuming significant on-site reuse of storm water.

One should not forget that Councillors Solberg, Ashdown, Kendall, and Lowther all received significant campaign contributions from Genesis. Unfortunately, given this, it will not be

surprising if Council approves the Omni ASP against solid opposition from local residents and in the face of the significant debt implications for the overall County.

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