More work to market Sarnia business parks planned

Work continues to attract more development to Sarnia’s business parks.

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Work continues to attract more development to Sarnia’s business parks.

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City council recently approved $400,000 for development patterns for the Sarnia Business and Research Park and 402 Business Park lands, city spokesperson Steve Henschel said in an email.

The patterns are expected to outline possible development parcels and potential locations for infrastructure such as roads, enhancing marketability for the lands and providing would-be investors with more clarity about what’s available, he said.

The lion’s share of the funding, $300,000, is for the northern and eastern portions of the 68-hectare business and research park, near the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, a recent economic development report stated.

Some of the lands south of Wellington Street were approved for conversion to housing in the city’s new official plan, although that plan is still in limbo after conditional approval was granted by the County of Lambton and Sarnia appealed.

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The city’s official plan from 2014 remains in effect in the meantime, city officials said in the report.

Plans for the business parks were outlined in a recent update to the council after 18 recommendations were made for the lands in a $61,000 competitive market analysis last year.

That analysis suggested more lands could be converted to residential from employment — Sarnia has a glut of 403 hectares of employment land, not including the conversion of 34 hectares southwest of Wellington Street and Highway 40 — but that didn’t make the new official plan, city officials said.

What has happened, along with the funding for development patterns, includes listing details of the parks at, creation and development of the Invest Sarnia brand, and regular contact with businesses and companies, city officials said in the report.

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A supply chain analysis project is underway, a business directory is being developed to help with business retention and expansion, an economic diversification strategy budget request is penciled in for 2024, and plans are later this year to explore a memorandum of understanding with realtors to market city-owned lands, the economic development report outlined.

“(Another) report outlining (MOU) possibilities in this respect will be reported to the city council later this year,” Henschel emailed.

Various other recommendations to facilitate the development of investment-ready built forms on the sites would require a significant investment and may be considered over a longer time frame, the city report stated.

Zoning by law updates are also underground.

“Once development patterns and updates to the zoning bylaw are complete, we can start leveraging the marketing assets and tools completed (by developing and the Invest Sarnia brand) to present a wholistic picture to potential investors,” Henschel said.

A 1.35-hectare woodlot in the 20.6-hectare 402 business park was set aside as a bat habitat for species at risk in 2021, and Ontario Rural Economic Development grants helped create the city’s economic development site.

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