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The building at the corner of Tremaine and King has been abandoned and left to be demolished by neglect for many years now. It was originally owned by Cooey who manufactured guns and ammunition. Cooey sold to Winchester in the late 1950's who in turn sold it in 1970 to Southam Newspapers (Cobourg Star). They moved out in 1995 and it has been derelict since then. It was bought by a foreign owner in 2007 but they have not paid taxes or done any maintenance since then. Recently Scott Glover (Glover and Co.) was interested in building "rental lofts" there but found that the site was contaminated. He tried to make a deal with the Town but was turned down.

Tremaine King Bldg The site is known as 415 King Street West and Scott told me:

I'm a local landlord and occasional developer. I commissioned phase 1 and 2 environmental studies at 415 King with the intention of buying the site and developing rental lofts there. When the contamination levels were found to be far higher than anticipated I approached the town about contributing to the clean-up. I've walked away from the project so the town will end up owning the property for back taxes and paying the entire remediation bill.

My suggestion to the town was for them to contribute 25% of remediation costs up to a maximum of $200,000 which was the amount of back taxes they would have collected if my purchase had gone through. The remediation will require the removal of all of the soil on the 2 acre site. About 500 truck loads.

gloverI had 23 bore holes drilled [they all failed MoE Standards] and installed 4 test wells on the site which show that the soil contamination has polluted the ground water. Until the site is stripped that contamination continues to spread into the creek and lake. The town has the data proving this. [See the picture at right].

Scott says that he was able to get Winchester to pledge money toward the cleanup even though their ownership ended over 40 years ago. He says that:

... the town just repeats the same mantra of not wanting to set a precedent of subsidizing a private developer. They fail to consider that the only alternative is to expropriate the land for back taxes and pay for 100% of the cleanup while they lose another 5-10 years of tax revenue and are left with another white elephant like the Tannery.

Scott says the owed back taxes are more than the property is currently worth and that the completed site would generate $50,000 per year in property taxes.

It's true that subsidizing a private developer would not be a good thing (this was decided when NMAI asked for a waiver of fees - see link below) but perhaps a deal could be made that forgives some back taxes in exchange for remediation being done. The money will be lost anyway. Forgiving back taxes (lost money) is not the same as forgiving new development charges - surely a policy can be developed that would cover this situation. Otherwise, this site would be another white elephant and taxpayers will be paying to fix it as well as never getting the back taxes.

Links

NMAI Waiver Decision - Waiver was denied at the Council meeting of 29 Feb 2016 - and as noted by Bryan (in a comment below), it was because it would be illegal under the Municipal act.  But I believe this case would be legal if it were declared a CIP area (like the Tannery property) or if it were a tax rebate of some kind.

This idea that assistance is available through CIP and property tax reduction/forgiveness is supported by a Nov 2012 Ontario Bar Association article which includes the following:

The effect of subsection 106(3) is to expressly authorize a municipality to provide financial assistance with respect to community improvement plans (section 28 of the Planning Act) and cancellation of property taxes to promote the remediation of brownfield sites (section 365.1 of the Act).

Thanks to Bryan for the pointer.

 

 

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