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Thompson sold city lots from $2.25 per square foot

Price was more than twice what the buyer had offered for the vacant sites
moak crescent vacant lot 3
An aerial photo shows one of two lots on Moak Crescent adjacent to Safeway that council approved options to purchase for at their March 14 meeting. The buyer intends to build a dental clinic on one and a commercial/residential building on the other.

One of the largest one-day sales of city-owned land in Thompson, Manitoba, reveals the price gulf that exists between urban real estate values in northern Manitoba and most of the the southern Prairies.

Thompson council approved resolutions concerning the sale of four city-owned lots at its March 14 meeting, a move that promises to bring new housing to the northern Manitoba city. 

The first two resolutions concerned agreements with Meetah Building Supplies Corp./NCN Builders on prices for 99 Juniper Dr. and 20 Pelican Cres.

Council approved their sale at a price of $2.25 per square foot each, as offered by Meetah Building Supplies. Meetah intends to build housing on the sites, one of which is zoned for multiplex housing of up to four units.

Meetah had originally proposed a price of $1 per square foot. for each of the properties and the city countered with a price of $2.53 per square foot for the Juniper Drive lot and $2.82 a square foot for the Pelican Crescent property.

Both lots have been empty for years. An option to purchase 20 Pelican Cres. was provided as an in-kind contribution to Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation for their Our Home Kikinaw housing development project in 2012. It was intended to be the site of the third house built by the organization modelled on Habitat for Humanity but that plan never proceeded as the second OHK home at 335 Juniper Drive, construction of which began in 2011, has never been occupied because the family that was intended to live there withdrew due to long construction delays.

Council also approved options to purchase two Moak Crescent lots, one of which currently lacks road access.

The buyer, 11500201 Canada Ltd., applied for options to purchase valued at $10,317.51 and $16,075.50, which gives them the right to purchase the property for one year with an additional one-year extension if required. Money for the second option was already paid to the city for an option to purchase one of the lots that was approved by council in July 2020. Options are sold at a cost of 10 per cent of the purchase price for the lot plus the federal GST.

The buyer intends to build a dental clinic on one of the lots and a commercial complex with apartments above on the other, provided zoning changes to allow residential development in that area are made. An easement will be established on one of the lots to provide road access to the other.

Council was pleased to see the land sales moving forward, with Coun. Kathy Valentino saying she couldn’t recall ever passing four property purchase resolutions in one council meeting before.

“Moving forward, I think we try to encourage more people to invest in those city-owned lands so we can develop better housing and stuff like that in Thompson,” said Coun. Duncan Wong.

Coun. Les Ellsworth’s only gripe about the deals was how long they took to come together.

“We’ve got to be the slowest level of government in history,” he said. “We need to move these faster. Some of these have been discussed for some time."

Ellsworth’s charge is one often heard in larger cities. It underscores challenges facing housing developers across Canada, even in smaller centres.

According to initial data from the 2021 federal census, Thompson lost 40 units of housing between 2016 and 2021. However, a 4.7 per cent drop in population meant housing units per capita increased marginally over the period.