There was palpable excitement in the room as Holyrood council shared details of a deal the town's deputy mayor called a "game-changer" for the Conception Bay community.
On Sept. 11, the town finalized an agreement with a developer to sell 44.1 acres of land zoned for industrial use to Blue Ocean Development Partners Ltd. Town CAO Gary Corbett said the land was sold for just under $900,000 — money that goes directly to the town. The area in question is located off of the former Holyrood Access Road, now known as Liam Hickey Drive.
Deputy Mayor Curtis Buckle, chairman of the town's business development and marketing committee, said this will allow the Blue Ocean Industrial Park to bring new businesses to the community, resulting in jobs and increased commercial and residential tax revenue in the years ahead.
"This is a good news story — one which will allow the town to complete projects to benefit our residents without financial burden to existing programs," Buckle said at the Sept. 17 regular meeting of council.
Corbett said there were a number of steps taken over several years for the town to reach this point. There were amendments to the municipal plan, dealings with Crown Lands to secure 50 acres. The town then completed a feasibility study for the Oceans Holyrood Initiative, a project geared to position the community as a centre for oceans-related commerce, applied research, training and education.
A request for proposals was issued, and the town ultimately met with nine developers. After selecting a company, it took a further two years to finalize the agreement council announced at Tuesday's meeting.
"We're grateful that the developer was able to find financial backing," Corbett said, adding that an entrance for the industrial park has already received approval from the Department of Transportation and Works. Work on the road network running through the park should begin early in 2020, and Corbett said a number of companies have signed on to purchase land within the park and more are still in the process of securing agreements.
There is potential to open up a further 20 acres down the road, the CAO added.
Mayor Gary Goobie commented there once was a time the whole area was considered an eyesore and of no use to the community.
"It was just viewed as a useless piece of land," he said, adding it took a long-term vision to see this concept through to where it is today.
"You'll see businesses coming to town, you'll see an addition to the tax base, you'll see job creation, and that all falls in line with our strategic plan," the mayor later added.