Sarnia council will examine an agreement of purchase and sale for the former Sarnia General Hospital when it meets this coming Monday.
A report from city staff recommends council authorizes an agreement with GFIVE Inc., a group of five businessmen including, Charles Dally, Alex Jongsma, Mark Lumley, Kenn Poore, and Marty Raaymakers, who have offered $1,000 for the site. GFIVE Inc. hopes to demolish all former hospital structures without delay and replace the buildings with residential plots, commercial and medical development, and a possible withdrawal management centre which is proposed by Bluewater Health.
GFIVE made a similar bid for the site in 2014, but the deal fell through due to ownership disputes between the city and Bluewater Health. Courts have since established that the city is the sole owner of the property.
The report estimates demolishing the former hospital would cost $8.8 million plus any unknown soil remediation cost.
If the proposal is approved, the city would pay the purchasers $5.35 million to cover parts of demolition and remediation.
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.
Sarina Mayor Mike Bradley is calling for public input before the city hands out millions.
“I believe the citizens of Sarnia have the right to public input on the city granting $5 million,” said Bradley.
“It’s going to impact on our budget, it’s going to impact on our dept, possibly. So I think that discussion needs the public’s input,” he said.
“Keep in mind that report only came out yesterday and they’re asking council to make a $5 million decision on Monday night,” Bradley said.
Ten parties expressed interested in the site, but the city only received two development proposals. One proposal failed because it did not provide sufficient information.
One Sarnia resident wrote the city suggesting the site could be made into revenue generating seniors rental units, according to the report.
Without buildings, the land has been appraised at $1.235 million by one appraiser and $1.75 million by another.