News Local

Town ponders buying hotel, Fisher Field

Morgan Ian Adams

COLLINGWOOD - The town could be in the market for property in 2012.

But whether they're buying, or just kicking tires, could be another story.

In the town's 2012 capital budget, staff are proposing the municipality buy the Mountain View Hotel at a cost of $1 million, with another $400,000 to demolish the structure in order to widen Huron Street to five lanes at the intersection with First and Hurontario.

Construction work to widen the road would be about $400,000, with another $100,000 needed for engineering costs.

The road currently narrows to four lanes in front of the property - from five lanes on either side - because of the location of the building.

The proposal is contingent on the town getting more than $1.7 million from the Ministry of Transportation. The rest of the purchase, and the work to demolish the building would come from reserves ($100,000) and development charges ($68,000).

A hotel was originally built on the site in 1856, and expanded in 1885; by that time it was known as the Globe Hotel, which was first referenced by that name in a local directory from 1867.

According to local history, in 1857 the original hotel was also the site of a public meeting to debate Collingwood separating itself from then-Nottawasaga Township

Local developer Larry Dunn bought the property in 2004.

The bar operation closed several years ago; in 2009, the residents were booted out after the fire department closed the building down because of health and safety concerns. The problems cited by the fire department included an inoperable fire alarm, breach of fire separations, inoperable emergency lighting, inoperable fire extinguishers, and inadequate exit signs.

The fire department issued a second order in June of that year calling on the owner to properly secure the building to prevent entry.

Staff are also recommending the town explore purchasing Fisher Field at a cost of $650,000; the town has a 99-year lease with the Fisher Foundation for the property, and has spent more than $1 million in building three soccer pitches. According to documents within the town's budget manual, staff recommend buying the property prior to making any additional infrastructure investment.

That purchase would be made through a debenture.

Under the agreement with the Fisher Foundation, the town pays a rental fee on the property the equivalent of the property taxes for the entire site (including the heritage village). The Fisher Foundation also receives 90% of the revenue from large tournaments.

However, last year, the town paid out approximately $18,500 for repairs and maintenance to the buildings and grounds. The town collected $22,600 in rental income for the soccer fields.

However, finance chair and deputy-mayor Rick Lloyd emphasized there's no decisions yet.

With the Mountain View, he said, the purchase is nothing more than an item that's part of the five-year Connecting Link plan with the Ministry of Transportation.

"We've put it on our report on the connecting link as one of those things to end the bottleneck (at the intersection)," said Lloyd.

As for purchasing Fisher Field, "we do not have the money for capital acquisitions such as that.

"In the future it might be prudent," said Lloyd. "However, it is not within the realm of our current finances."

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