The Town of Bracebridge will look into the possibility of saving 36 Ann St. from demolition.
Town staff have been given the green light by council to begin negotiating a rental agreement with Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) for the Ann St. property as well as the building on 89 Kimberley Ave. The leases will end on Aug. 31, 2024.
However, as part of a report to council by Matt Gower, assistant to municipal clerk/land and agreement coordinator, he recommends adding the cost of the demolition to the current contract the town has with Aquicon Construction Co. Ltd., who are building the Muskoka Lumber Community Centre.
Coun. Don Smith was against demolishing the building.
“If there is somebody out there who feels they can use it and we can add a home to somebody for a nominal amount of money, plus the expense of moving it, then I think we should be looking at that,” he said during the Feb. 7 General Committee meeting.
In May 2010, the town purchased 32 and 36 Ann St. for $182,000 and $220,000, respectively. The idea behind the purchase was to
“further the Town’s land assembly efforts surrounding the arena for future redevelopment purposes.” Gower notes in his report the town owns all the properties on this block except the State Farm Insurance building at 46 Ann St.
The building at 32 Ann St. was demolished and remains vacant, however, a couple of doors down, the two-bedroom, brick bungalow at 36 Ann St. remains.
Meanwhile, 89 Kimberley Ave. was purchased by the town for $324,000 in Oct. 2014. The partial-brick, two-storey, four-bedroom house has been rented to three different tenants since.
Both properties have been vacant since Dec. 2022.
“Knowing that we have an issue with housing, it just seems to be a shame to destroy something that may have some value to somebody,” said Smith.
Gower and Stephen Rettie, chief administrative officer, said the option of moving the building instead of destroying it wasn’t looked at by staff. Neither was sure if it would be possible to do considering the age and condition of the structure.
The reason why the town is working on an agreement with MAHC stems from the organization’s Housing for Healthcare program that was started in Oct. 2022. “We felt it checked two boxes,” said Gower, explaining it addresses the housing shortage and will, hopefully, bring new healthcare professionals to town.
Committee was unanimously in favour of working on a rental agreement with MAHC while also having staff look into the possibility of moving the building at 36 Ann St. instead of demolishing it.