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TBM considering sale, options for former Foodland site

Council agreed to request proposals for the future use of the property, once identified for an affordable housing development
The Blue Mountains will conduct an RFP process for the potential future uses of the high profile 171 King Street property on Highway 26 in Thornbury.

The Blue Mountains council will be looking at options, including the possible sale of the land, for the property the town owns at 171 King Street in Thornbury.

At its committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 26, council approved a staff report from CAO Shawn Everitt that recommended the town begin a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for the potential disposition, sale or lease of the 171 King Street property.

The Thornbury property, formerly the home of Foodland, was purchased by the town for $1.6 million after the grocery store moved across town to a new building. Over the past few years, the town and the Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corporation engaged in an extensive process that would have seen the Gateway attainable housing project built on the property.

However, that process was not successful and the future of the land has been in limbo ever since.

Everitt said the town has been receiving ad hoc suggestions and ideas for what to do with the property for some time now and he suggested the town formalize the process by asking the greater public to submit proposals for the property directly to the town through an RFP process.

Everitt said a formal process would bring transparency and accountability to the project “rather than staff entertaining a lot of different proposals.”

“This, in staff’s opinion, is quite needed,” he said.

Everitt said the RFP process would not preclude council from saying “no” to any of the proposals the RFP process might attract. Nor would it prevent town staff from continuing the preparation of a report on the possibility of 171 King Street (along with four other town properties) being a future location for a new home for the Events for Life organization.

Coun. June Porter said she was worried the town could conduct the RFP process that ends with the land being “sold by default.”

Everitt said the RFP would clearly identify that the town reserves the right to award or not award any proposal it receives.

“I have zero concern about going through an RFP and being forced to sell,” he said.

Coun. Gail Ardiel opposed the recommendation and said she couldn’t support potentially selling the land with the economy down.

“I’m not in favour of this at this time,” she said.

Mayor Andrea Matrosovs said she was pleased to see that the RFP process could be initiated at the same time that staff was reviewing the Events for Life situation.

“I see the value in the parallel process. The whole community is wondering: what is the next step with 171 King Street?” she said. “I wouldn’t want to delay one process for the other.”

Council approved the report and recommendation in a 6-1 vote with Ardiel opposed.


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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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