City owns derelict hospital, court says

The former Sarnia General Hospital building. Glenn Ogilvie file photo

Journal Staff

Sarnia is weighing its options after the Ontario Superior Court ruled it is the legal owner of the former Sarnia General Hospital buildings.

The ownership question has long vexed both Sarnia and Bluewater Health, which had been paying $400,000 annually for maintenance and security at the boarded-up Mitton Street hospital site.

The city has always maintained it owned the land but wasn’t responsible for expenses on the building itself.

Last year, five local investors offered to buy the derelict hospital building for $1,000 and turn it into a health campus with health agency offices, clinics and pharmacies as tenants.

But council withdrew its initial support, in part, because of the unsettled ownership issue.

The building’s demolition has been estimated at $8.8 million, and Sarnia maintains the Ontario government should be responsible for most of it.

But the province has remained firm it has no obligation to pay for clearing the site, and has offered to contribute only $75,000.

The former Sarnia General building has been empty since 2011. Its operations and those of St. Joseph’s Hospital were amalgamated when Bluewater Health opened.

City council is expected to review the court decision on June 20.

The judge gave Sarnia and Bluewater Health 30 day to respond if the two parties can’t agree on the issue of legal costs.