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Local builder says city lot sale puts his business at a dead stop

City says builder never made an official offer - calls his efforts to stop sale 'self-serving'
EL 11
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The owner of Elliot Lake Home and Reno is currently building new homes in the city and he wants to build 30 more of them this year.

Richard Laurin says that won't happen, though, now that Elliot Lake City Council has approved the sale of the last of 19 city-owned serviced lots to a Hamilton-based company, Kingsbridge Investments.

"(We) are building homes currently in Elliot Lake and geared up to start building four homes at a time, and 30 this year," Laurin said. "The mayor and other city councillors were informed of our progress (and) this sale blocked our efforts and literally brought our company to a dead stop."

He inquired at City Hall last fall about lot availability.

"We feel we were misled by city officials that those lots were already accounted for when they were not," he said this week. "Unfortunately our entire team will be laid off and millions in worker wages and materials at local stores will be lost."

Laurin says he has lawyered up and plans to have a court stay filed to block council's decision if needed.

He believes that with no other serviced lots available, it will take months for any more to be offered for sale, thus bringing his company to a dead stop this building season.

"We were very grateful that Mr. Patrie (Coun. Chris Patrie) had concern for local builders...(being) shut out of operations," at last Monday's virtual council meeting, Laurin said.

He also said he was told the city could not sell the lots for less than $38K each, considerably more than Kingsway offered, at an average of $23K per lot. 

"I really think our story is extremely important for our community," he concluded.

Mayor Dan Marchisella responded to Mr. Laurin's comments and allegations saying the builder was fully aware of the city's procedures. 

"Mr. Laurin has been advised of proper procedures for the purchase of municipally owned lands in the past year and to my knowledge never followed up with the clerk's office," Marchisella said. "He has also been informed that staff are working on providing an update on additional residential property to add to the surplus list, which will be coming in shortly."

"Sadly, this attempt to block development in our community is self-serving and not in the best interest of the community," Marchisella added. "The municipality is growing and needs additional housing and with that outside investment is always welcome."

Elliot Lake CAO Daniel Gagnon responded to the allegations with a similar comment. 

“Mr. Laurin knew the process to make a legitimate offer for municipal land. We never received any such offer. We have no record of staff ever telling him there was 'no land available'," Gagnon said.

"In fact, last fall there were lots available. Since we never saw any expression of interest from Mr. Laurin, council followed all municipal due processes – the Municipal Act – in selling the 19 lots for development when a legitimate written offer emerged over the past several weeks (Jan – Mar 2022)."


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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