Despite the recommendations of Town staff, Bracebridge councillors have decided to retain a property they own at 89 Kimberly Avenue.
The decision was made during the most recent Bracebridge general committee meeting after some debate regarding the current state of the real estate market and affordable housing.
The property is located behind the Bracebridge United Church and was formerly used as the manse for the United Church.
In 2014 the Town purchased the property for $324,000. Originally it was thought the property could link future new parking to the town’s existing parking lot beside the public library.
The two-story, four-bedroom building on the property has been rented out since the Town made the purchase. While there was some discussion earlier this year about Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) taking over the property for staff housing, MAHC ultimately decided not to proceed with the lease.
During the last general committee meeting staff recommended the land be approved for sale and listed with the Town’s realtor.
Councillor Don Smith said the property is integral to the community.
“It has significant value in the core area of the Town,” said Smith. “In the long term, I think it’s not in the best interest of the town to sell it.”
With the current challenges on the affordable housing front, Smith said the property had the potential to offer multiple units in the downtown core.
Town Clerk Lori McDonald said the Town has reached out to the District, which spearheads affordable housing initiatives in Muskoka, but they have not received much interest. As such, staff felt it was preferable to return the property to the local housing stock than to continue to maintain it.
Mayor Rick Maloney agreed with staff, pointing out that the property will become vacant in October.
“Sometimes it’s best for the private sector to take over what the government can’t do,” he said.
Councillor Barb McMurray said now is not an appropriate time to sell, as property values are currently down. She suggested they wait until market conditions become more favourable.
The committee ultimately opted to defer their decisions for 90 days and see what progress could be made.
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