A large commercial company has a year to make good on a purchase of over 600 city-owned acres just north of Regina, Sask.
Though the potential buyer is not officially named in city documents, a source close to the matter has confirmed it is Viterra. They indicate the plan is to use the site for a canola crush plant.
The land deal is not without controversy, however.
City council has agreed to sell the city-owned land for well below market value and without much notice that a deal was in the works.
Other businesses in the region are calling foul on the entire process, saying that the secrecy surrounding the buyer and the deal itself eliminated any chance of competing offers.
Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) runs the refinery just south of the land at issue and is looking to expand after last week’s acquisition of True North Renewable Fuel’s assets. FCL was asked for a comment, but declined to provide one at this time.
However, documents submitted to the city council show that FCL is strongly opposed to the deal saying the land sale process has been rushed; that the buyer is receiving preferential treatment with a sale price of $4 million (which is less than the appraised value of $6.3 million assessed on March 16, 2021); and that there has been a lack of transparency and competitive process.
FCL states it did not know about the deal being discussed except for a media story that was published just ahead of the meeting.
“We emphatically request that the City of Regina withdraw the motion and instruct the City Manager to pursue a more transparent process with enhanced due diligence, inclusiveness and open competition that will consider the stated objectives the City of Regina would like to secure: economic vitality and competitiveness; economic growth; and, economic generators,” says Pam Skotnitsky, vice president of strategy for FCL, in a letter submitted to council.
True North Renewable Fuel has been planning to build a large renewable diesel facility at Regina, and FCL is hoping to have it built adjacent to its refinery.
Also at the council meeting was AGT Foods’ leader, Murad Al-Katib. When asked for an additional comment, Al-Katib noted that his statement at council would be his only public one. There, Al-Katib said that he’d like to see the deal “paused” and for the city to use a transparent and open process regarding land sales.
Viterra has not responded to a request for confirmation or comment.