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John Vollmar's picture

Setting the record straight

Thu, 12/29/2016 - 09:02 -- John Vollmar

I was very pleased to see Mark Lumley, one of the proponents to recreate the present Sarnia General Hospital site, add truthful input about the terrible injustice to the respected Sarnia businessmen and the negative treatment that they have received by Mayor Bradley.  One of the mayor’s comments when the group was requesting funds to  offset their expenses was, that the group may use those monies to sue the city. Which in itself was simply inane.  This entire situation has resulted in the General Hospital remaining as it is, when five gentlemen including Mark Lumley would have taken ownership and developed the property. Even the financing was in place.  At a recent meeting of council there was an approval of a new RFP process to seek bidders again for the Hospital site.  Nothing was said in defence of the five gentlemen nor any reference to the boondoggle created and the misinformation publicly aired by Bradley. As Mark has expressed, Bradley lied, and our local media, Sue Storr, the Observer lapped it up. I was also aware of the blackmail scenario Mark talks about regarding future business. This was apparently not new, as others had mentioned this practice to me when on council. The taxpayers of Sarnia have now witnessed truth rather than fiction regarding the lost sale of the Hospital property, a sale that was as has been said before, complete with an Agreement of Purchase and Sale. And the purchasers were shoved aside and the deal quashed, even after the lengthy report by staff gave the project the go-ahead, including recommending the acceptance of zoning changes etc.  It was at the same meeting that Councilor Kelch had devised a motion worded in such a way that the Proponents could not proceed with their end of the agreement.  It is interesting that Kelch made a motion to open the property up for sale, and all but Burrell agreed, and again on September 8th a motion was made by MacDougall and seconded by Boushy that the Agreement of Purchase and Sale had been accepted and the Mayor was authorized to sign.  The only detractor was Burrell once again.  At this meeting Bradley was not in attendance.  Even on December 15, the Council passed a motion agreeing to the waiver of planning fees.  The mover of the motion was Councilor Kelch.

Included with the RFP criteria was an Authorization regarding the Hospital site attesting to the fact that the City had ownership of the property.  Quoting from said Authorization it reads…”The undersigned registered owner of the property hereby authorizes and permits the release of any and all information concerning the property to the solicitors of the PURCHASERS….”.  This document was signed by Acting Mayor Bev MacDougall, and the City Clerk at the time, with the assertion of binding authority for the Corporation of the City of Sarnia below their names.

Schedule “B” attests that the Vendor (City of Sarnia) warrants that there were no outstanding or pending litigation or other proceedings with respect to the property or against the Vendor due to its ownership, and…”the Vendor will be the registered and beneficial owner of the Property.”

As to ownership being a drawback and reason to quash the Agreement, it is exceptionally difficult to understand the Mayor’s constant referral to Ownership debate as a reason for the backing out of the Agreement as was done.  On January 14, 2015 a letter provided by the City Manager to the Mayor and all of Sarnia Council clearly stated that the sale of the Sarnia General Hospital site through the RFP process was approved by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, and the approval was a requirement under the Agreement of Purchase and Sale for the hospital site.  The letter of approval of sale was signed by Dr. Bob Bell, Deputy Minister, referred to each of the proponents by name, approved the sale to them of “the land and premises by the Corporation of the City of Sarnia referring to the sale of the asset as simply…”220 N. Mitton Street, Sarnia.”

This information, coupled with the open letter by the Proponents of describing their frustration, the Mayor being called out for being a liar, and his lack of leadership in assisting, rather than killing, the deal are completely unprofessional.  And the development of a new RFP by council was certainly unfounded and in poor taste.  Five Sarnia businessmen were trapped by a motion of Mike Kelch, and months later were subjected to the reality that the Sarnia General Hospital site was once again put on the “auction block”.

And the taxpayers of Sarnia are once again the victims of the lack of leadership and business integrity and acumen in the councilors who were participants in the initial and recent charade.

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