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General Surgery: Want to buy a used hospital? We know of one going cheap

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Troy Shantz

Sarnia has issued a Request for Proposals on the former Sarnia General Hospital site, but residents who attended a public meeting last week weren’t optimistic it will sell anytime soon.

“It’s certainly a possibility, if not entirely likely, that they could get through this RFP process without anybody submitting a bid for the land,” said Jason McMichael, one of about 75 people who filled the Lochiel Kiwanis Centre.

“What I hope they’re doing — I’m not suggesting they’re not — is preparing for that potential that no one comes forward.”

Before the site can be redeveloped the vacant hospital building would require $2.9 million in asbestos abatement, $5.3 million for demolition and $640,000 for soil remediation, among other things, said city solicitor Scott McEachran.

Closed since 2011, the Mitton Street building has also become a hot spot for illegal activity. Sarnia Police arrested six people and laid 26 charges in January alone against trespassers at the site, many of them thieves stealing copper and other scrap metal.

Resident Mac Kechnie also doubts a developer will step forward with a plan and a $50,000 deposit.

“I don’t think anyone in their right mind would jump back in,” he said.

“I think the city should amortize the cost, bite the bullet, give the contract out there to tear it down and clean it up. Then they can control the land and do whatever they have to do for rezoning or whatever.”

McEachran said the city hasn’t looked beyond the current RFP.

“I don’t have a plan B. We’re still trying to figure out plan A,” he said.

The land sale includes the 4.6-acre hospital site at 220 Mitton St., which has zero value in its current condition. It also includes 2.4 acres across the street at 327 George St., appraised at about $300,000.

“Why don’t you give it back to the Lumley and Poore group and save us some tax dollars?” called out one person from the audience.

Mark Lumley and Kenn Poore were two of five local investors who entered into a legal agreement with the city in 2014 to purchase the hospital for $1,000 and redevelop it into a $15-million medical campus.

But the deal came unravelled in 2015 after city council tabled the proposal.

Coun. Anne Marie Gillis said she’s hopeful the new process will bear fruit, noting many of the unknowns from that time have been resolved.

“We have direct control over this RFP process because we are the sole owners of this property. That changes the dynamic tremendously,” she said.

The next public meeting is Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Lambton College Event Centre. Suggestions can also be submitted at [email protected].

The RFP, open from Feb. 10 to May 31, can be viewed at



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