City will sell Kinsmen Centre, former school property

Damage of building said to be too severe to make repairs viable; land to be sold for future housing

Former Parks and Recreation director Beth Gignac, pictured in this file photo, was on staff when the Kinsmen Centre was first identified as being in need of repair. That was in August 2015.

Sarnia City Council has approved a staff recommendation that the Kinsmen Centre, a former elementary school that was constructed in the 1950s, be sold and the property rezoned as residential. It was first repurposed into a community centre in 1981.

It is expected that the building, which has been damaged by mould and water damage from a leaky roof, will ultimately be demolished and sold. It is estimated to be worth $600,000. Repairing the building is estimated to cost as much as $240,000, not counting repairs to windows and the electrical system.

The Kinsmen Club of Sarnia, which has no financial ownership of the building, had hoped at one point to take on a renovation of the building as a 90th anniversary project for the year 2020, which is the 100th anniversary of the national Kinsmen organization.

The vote on Monday declared the building surplus to the City, beginning a legislated process that includes offering the property to other municipal agencies.

Under a possible plan, the two acre property would see nine residential lots created, connecting Lakeshore and Colborne with a new street. The adjacent Baxter Park would have a new parking lot, but otherwise remain intact.

Kinsmen representative Bob Marks, speaking ahead of the Council vote, asked for a six month reprieve, during which time the club would investigate how funding for repairs could be raised. Currently, the club is meeting at the Sarnia Arena.

The majority of Council members, all excepting Councillor Dave Boushy, said it was time to move on, although members lauded the club for its works in the community, including its Sarnia Kinsmen Parade of Lights that takes place in December.

It is said that funds from the proceeds of the property would be directed to the Strangway Centre, specifically for improvements to programming.

In the meantime, the Kinsmen Club is looking for suggestions for its anniversary project.

“We just want to do something significant for 2020,” said the club’s Bob Marks.

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