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Municipality wants to be ready – if and when offers to buy QE school come forward

Council will review procedures related to the potential acquisition of the former Queen Elizabeth school property in Picton – if and when it becomes available again – for the purpose of creating a mix of affordable and attainable housing.

While council approved an expression of interest in May 2020, the process has since expired and should it be re-opened, a new expression is required.

In the meantime, council is being asked to approve proceeding with a real estate assessment to inform a financial offer for the 4.5 acre site.

The school was declared surplus by the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board in 2018. The County’s $850,000 offer was submitted in 2020, but over the past two years the market has dramatically changed.

While there were just two expressions of interest, the County was unsuccessful due to the order in which school boards are required to offer their surplus properties to other organizations. Municipalities are ranked ninth in the list of disposition of former school sites – well behind The Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board. School boards with the same boundaries are given first preference.

“Over the past two years, negotiations continued between all interested parties looking for a solution that would work for everyone; however, the impacts of the pandemic slowed down the negotiation process and through discussions it is the understanding of staff that the organization who was negotiating an offer to purchase this site has identified an alternate site for their purposes,” stated Charles Dowdall, executive director of housing, in his report to the mayor and council to be presented at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

As a result the process for expressions of interest must be initiated for a second time for the property to be sold.

At the recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference, the County delegation and MPP Todd Smith met with Matthew Rae, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education, and senior provincial staff from the Ministry of Education to discuss the Queen Elizabeth school property, where the municipality once again advocated for the sale of the property to the County.

As council begins to wind down due to October’s municipal election, staff request CAO Marcia Wallace be directed to prepare and submit this second expression of interest, without a dollar figure.

This expression does not commit the municipality to the purchase, but makes record of its interest to keep options available for a further 90 days of consideration to allow for a real estate assessment, an offer, and to identify potential partners.

If approved, staff would continue discussions with various community agencies and community housing providers (i.e. Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation, Prince Edward Lennox-Addington Social Services, etc.), for the purpose of gauging interest of potential community partners with the desire to increasing its overall on the list of parties who submit an expression of interest.

 

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