EDITOR'S NOTE: A version of this article originally appeared on SooToday on May 29. It is being republished for readers who may have missed it.
Two infamous properties outside of town may not be eyesores for much longer.
Sitting just down the road from one another along Highway 17 in Heyden, the former sites of the Mountain Ash Inn and Pruce’s Motor Inn were recently sold after years of inactivity.
Publicly available land registry records obtained by SooToday show that Daniel Gagne bought the Mountain Ash Inn on Feb. 24, 2023, and then the Pruce’s Motor Inn on Apr. 21, 2023 — each for $125,000.
The seller was the provincial ministry of infrastructure, which took control of the properties years ago.
Development on the former Mountain Ash Inn property has been well underway throughout the winter and spring months as the skeleton and rooftop of an ongoing construction project currently stand where the long-ago motel once operated.
Prior to its demolition, the former motel had been concerning residents for a number of years, particularly in November 2022 when Sault resident and retired OPP officer Ken Spahr visited the site and photographed several safety hazards around the property.
SooToday reached out to Gagne to ask about his plans for the properties but he was unavailabe for comment.
Unlike the Mountain Ash Inn, the former Pruce’s site just up the road has yet to be demolished. The crumbling two-storey structure has been riddled with vandalism, graffiti, and fires ever since the motel ceased its operations years ago.
Earlier this year, Carl Falls, chairman of the Aweres Township Community Policing Committee, had voiced his concerns with this particular property.
“Pruce’s has two storeys and is caving in,” he told SooToday in January. “There is no fence and no way to stop a 12-year-old from going in there. We’re going to lose a child.”
“Everything that was seven or eight years ago has amplified itself into a disaster now,” he continued. “Those buildings are going to go down, and I don’t want anybody in them when that happens.”