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City looks to sell former depot sites

Rules waived so properties can hit the market as soon as possible

Prior to going on their summer recess, city councillors voted to suspect municipal rules so that a former depot, as well as the property purchased with plans to expand it, pictured below, can be put on the market as quickly as possible. Staff will also be bundling the properties together with one broker in order to save money. The site at 991 Simcoe St. S., next to the former Ritson depot, was purchased for more than $1 million in 2011.

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Prior to going on their summer recess, city councillors voted to suspect municipal rules so that a former depot, as well as the property purchased with plans to expand it, pictured below, can be put on the market as quickly as possible. Staff will also be bundling the properties together with one broker in order to save money. The site at 991 Simcoe St. S., next to the former Ritson depot, was purchased for more than $1 million in 2011.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

A pair of properties once part of Oshawa’s plans for a consolidated operations depot may soon be back on the open market.

In April, city council decided that the former Ritson Depot, located at 894 Ritson Rd. S., and the adjoining property at 991 Simcoe St. S., formerly the site of McCord Concrete, were not required for the city’s needs, and are now looking to find a broker to put the properties up for sale.

As part of the closed portion of its final meeting prior to council’s summer recess, councillors approved a motion to waive the rules of its purchasing bylaw, “and staff be authorized to retain a real estate broker for the potential disposition of the city-owned lands.”

According to the city’s purchasing bylaw, several regulations exist when dealing with the disposition of city-owned property. However, it becomes vague when dealing with city-owned land as these clauses dictate that they do no apply to city-owned “real property,” which is defined in the bylaw as either “land, whether or not buildings, tenements or improvements…or buildings, tenements or improvements to same, which are situated on land.”

Speaking with The Oshawa Express, Warren Monro, the city’s director of purchasing services, explains that when the city looks to sell a piece of land, a “disposition strategy” is created for each individual piece.

“As it is right now, we’re ad hoc,” he says.

“Each individual application, we respond back to council with a specific strategy which is tailored to that site.”

According to Munro, the main reason for waiving the bylaw was in order to get the process moving as quickly as possible to sell the properties. Staff were also seeking permission to “bundle” the pair of properties with a collection of others for one broker in an attempt to save cash.

“We could go out with seven different (requests for proposals) and hire seven different brokers,” he says.

“We think that we can save money by bundling them together.”

The two sites have been in city hands for a number of years. The former Ritson Depot, previously the home of a large chunk of city operations prior to the opening of the Consolidated Operations Depot down the road, was purchased by the city in 1946.

When word began kicking around that it would be beneficial to consolidate the city’s operations, council approved the purchase of the adjoining 991 Simcoe Street South property for $1,033,000 in 2011, with plans to expand the Ritson Depot on to the site.

However, the idea was ditched in 2012 when staff and council deemed the 11.45-acre site (combined between the two plots) to be too small, with enough space to accommodate roads and fleet, but not the city’s waste management functions. The project was also deemed much more expensive than the eventually chosen option of  the 12 acres at 199 Wentworth Street East and 945 Ritson Road South properties.

Currently, the city is in the process of finalizing the request for proposals to hire an interested broker, and while the environmental state of both properties is unknown, Munro says he is confident the city will find interested buyers in no time.

“I think we will be able to identify buyers fairly easily,” he says.