Sarnia Council has deferred a decision on a development proposal for the former Sarnia General Hospital site to allow for public input.
GFIVE Inc., a group of five local businessmen, is proposing a commercial, residential, and medical development on the site. The group has submitted an agreement of purchase and sale for the location that includes the city paying $5.35 million to help with remediation and demolition — which has been estimated to cost at least $8.8 million.
A public meeting will be held before the next Council meeting on July 31 to hear the public’s opinion on the topic and GFIVE’s offer expires August 1.
Last week, The Lambton Shield spoke to Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley who said he believes the citizens of Sarnia have a right to public input before the city grants over $5 million.
Micheal Hurry, who lives near the former hospital, spoke at council asking for public input regarding the sale.
“I just wonder why it has been hurried along so quickly and why there is not the opportunity for the public to have some input,” Hurry told council, referencing the fact that the report on the proposal was released last Wednesday and council was expected to make a decision five days later on Monday.
“I don’t want to kick [the decision on the proposal] down the curb, that building is a cancer on the city,” said Councillor Mike Kelch, who supports seeking public input.
Kelch said one meeting is likely enough to hear what the public thinks.
Councillor Brian White said he fears deferring the decision may result in losing the deal, but supports deferring the decision for one week.
City staff recommend two ways to finance the sale. One would see the city taking money from its own reserves and slight tax hike for the next three years. The other would find the city borrowing money from somewhere else.