City council approval of land sale for LTC home not unanimous

Vacant land at 1597 London Line in Sarnia. 30 April 2021. (BlackburnNews.com photo)

Selling city land for a new long-term care home to replace Sumac Lodge was approved but not unanimously Monday.

Sarnia council accepted a $250,000 offer from Revera Inc. to purchase four acres at 1597 London Line.

Approval of the Ministry of Long Term Care is still needed for a proposed facility with 128 to 256 beds.

Councillor Bill Dennis called the proposal a “hat trick” win for the community.

“This development retains 100 jobs in the city, it may add up to 100 more jobs, there’s also the total overall investment value of between $40 and $50 million dollars if the approval happens for additional beds,” said Dennis.

Councillor Brian White also supported the infill.

“Certainly I’m excited at the prospect of easing the pressure we have on long-term care beds,” said White. “In a perfect world, I wish that we had public long-term care facilities that were filling the void, but obviously I’m happy to support anything that provides care and opportunity for our seniors to live with dignity.”

Councillors Nathan Colquhoun and Terry Burrell, however, voted against the land sale.

Burrell questioned whether it’s the proper use for the property that’s part of the city’s 300-acre business park near the University of Western Ontario Research Park.

“The money was raised to obtain those properties for a specific purpose and I don’t think long-term care homes were on the list, so I don’t think it’s a proper use of city assets,” he said. “I think there are other properties around the city that could be developed for this purpose, so it really puts the city in competition with other lands and I don’t think that’s correct.

Colquhoun also questioned the sale.

“It seems like some people are confused that this wasn’t offered to the public, and if it was there would be a bidding war on something like this and may have created more value for that land for us.”

The land is currently zoned for interim use and Revera still needs a zoning change to allow residential construction.