Contractors, developers and business partners interested in potential growth for Humboldt and area gathered at Jubilee Hall in Humboldt on May 9. The City of Humboldt with BHP invited key players to participate in an information session entitled “Preparing for Growth in Humboldt.” Attendees had a chance following the presentations to meet with representatives to ask questions and further illuminate the growing demand for building sites and construction expected with BHP Jansen mine’s operation startup.
Ann Paton, principal corporate affairs, and Graham Reynolds, GM Jansen - BHP, were on hand to take listeners through an update on progress at the Jansen site. Stage 1 construction is still projected to be largely completed and production underway by 2026.
Paton hit the keynotes of a baseline assessment completed by the company to define current services and future needs. BHP consulted with 31 urban municipalities, 19 RMs and 8 First Nations within an 85 km driving distance of the BHP site. Among the findings of the assessment were a need for expansion of daycare seats. Changes from previous outlooks carried out in 2017 show an increased need for housing of different types. The company acknowledged that the uptake in operational workers would blend with inflation and labour market challenges to put pressure on area employers in terms of worker recruitment and retention.
A projected regional population increase of around 2,200 people is expected.
BHP has shared its research with regional officials. It expects to resume its series of public open houses to provide additional information in June.
The City of Humboldt is aware of the need for additional development to house new BHP and spin-off workers. Through its presentation, City staff members Joe Day and Mike Kwasnica took the parties through its sector planning process for development. Day touched on land development approval mechanisms currently in place, while Kwasnica touched on building development approval processes.
Day noted some of the work that the City is undertaking, like the Carl Schenn Dry Detention pond, is necessary not only for current residents, but for future development. Potential expansion of lift stations and continued amendments to storm systems and the drainage networks, along with other infrastructure expansions, are all costly and need to be addressed, noted day.
“Waste water, water, drainage, roads, parks, rec facilities - there are going to be higher demands on all that,” noted Day, “And so what that means is that we look to the developers to help fund the growth in those infrastructure pieces.”
Rates on developable land haven’t changed since 2015, said Day, and with the increase in construction costs, those rates are due for a change. Day said through the sector planning process, the data gathered would be used to come up with fair off-site levy fees that are capable of funding growth.
The public can expect more updates in the upcoming open houses slated for several regional communities in June.