A Sault resident and the province’s Ministry of Infrastructure are exchanging letters regarding the status of a pair of abandoned properties in Heyden, which has left residents concerned for a number of years.
Situated along Highway 17 and across the road from one another, the former Mountain Ash Inn and the Pruce’s Motor Inn north of the Sault have fallen victim to vandalism, graffiti, and fires over the years.
Sault resident Ken Spahr wrote a letter to Minister Greg Rickford (Northern Development) back in December to see what could be done about the properties.
Spahr received a reply from the Ministry of Infrastructure on Thursday, where they say the sale of the Mountain Ash Inn was recently approved by the Minister and the transfer of the property is now underway.
The letter also said that Pruce’s Motor Inn currently has an offer to be purchased and is being reviewed.
Spahr, an OPP retiree, visited the former Mountain Ash Inn site back in mid-November.
Not only did the structure’s state leave him concerned, but it was what he discovered outside the building that really caught his attention.
“There’s an open water well that was cracked open on the side,” he says. “The cement tile is probably about four feet across, and the hole is about 30 to 40 feet deep.”
“I was pretty uneasy looking at it,” he adds. “It made me uncomfortable when I saw it; thinking about kids playing, or even animals falling into the well.”
Spahr’s visit to the site sparked his decision to write several letters to government officials, which included Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, as well as Minister Rickford.
“There’s more attention being drawn to it now,” he says. “I’m hoping more people will write letters.”
Carl Falls, chairman of the Aweres Township Community Policing Committee, has been voicing his concerns with these properties for over six years.
“Pruce’s has two storeys and is caving in,” he says. “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. Those buildings are going to go down, and I don’t want anybody in them when that happens.”
“It’s at a level where it has to be addressed.”
Meanwhile, Spahr explains there have been several interested purchasers of the Mountain Ash Inn in the past, but they never went through likely due to taxes.
While it appears that property has been purchased, Spahr says it won’t be easy to fix up.
“Whoever gets it has a lot of work to do,” he says.
The full letter from Bruce J. Weinert, Forfeited Corporate Property, reads:
I am responding to your letter dated December 23, 2022 addressed to the Honourable Greg Rickford regarding two abandoned properties in Aweres Township. They were owned by corporations which dissolved, and the properties forfeited to and vested with the Crown. The Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI) addresses forfeited corporate property under the authority of the Forfeited Corporate Property Act, 2016.
Thank you for bringing the condition of these two properties to MOI’s attention. Both properties are known to MOI, which over the years has taken limited steps to address certain safety issues. Under the legislation, there is no obligation for the government to secure, maintain, or manage forfeited corporate property. However, the government will dispose of forfeited corporate property if there is an opportunity to put them back into productive use.
I am pleased to advise you that the Minister recently approved the sale of the Mountain Ash Inn property and transfer of the property is currently underway. An offer to purchase Pruce’s Motor Inn property has also been made to the MOI and it is currently being reviewed. By selling forfeited corporate property to buyers intending to invest in their future, including remediation of sites, and who will pay property taxes is the best way forward. I am hopeful these properties will soon be an asset rather than a concern to the community.