A beloved facility that once served as a community hub and one-stop shop for residents in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley has been sold.
The Basinview Centre served many purposes for people in Cornwallis, N.S., who went to the complex for a variety of reasons including grocery shopping, swimming and haircuts.
The Municipality of the County of Annapolis announced Thursday that the building was sold on July 9 for $100,000 to a numbered company with ties to Zuri Inc., a cannabis producer that already owns a processing facility in the area.
The building — built in 1977, with an addition in 2005 — was owned by the municipality.
The centre closed on June 18 because the building's insurance policy was cancelled due to structural issues. All businesses in the complex — including the YMCA, a grocery store and hair salon — were given the required 30 days notice.
Many residents in the area expressed concern about the sale of the property and hoped the municipality would pay for the necessary repairs. An online petition to save the centre garnered more than 800 signatures.
'I feel gutted'
Eliza Desmarais lives just up the road from the centre and used to walk there frequently with her five-year-old daughter to attend programs at the YMCA. She said the way the building was sold without a public hearing is upsetting.
"I feel gutted, completely gutted.... I feel like we are paying a council that doesn't really care about the citizens of the community at all," said Desmarais.
Alan Parish, the warden of the Municipality of the County of Annapolis, confirmed a public hearing was not held before the sale, but a public request for proposals was issued.
"We have a legal opinion that it was appropriate to sell the property the way we did," said Parish.
A condition of the sale is that the purchaser must remedy all structural issues with the building and get it insured. The municipality has said the new owners will repair the building, not rebuild it, and it will include all of the previous amenities.
"The plans for redevelopment will far exceed what is being replaced," a news release from the municipality said, listing services that will be provided in the upgraded facility including a licensed daycare and medical clinic.
Timeline for repairs not known
Desmarais said many people in the community are upset because they don't trust that the new owners will follow through with that plan.
She said residents also don't know how long it will take to reopen, noting she must now drive 20 minutes to Digby or Annapolis to access the services and facilities previously housed by the centre.
"Not a single person that you would speak to is happy about this," said Desmarais.
But Parish disagrees.
"My current understanding is that the city's citizens are very happy with the result of the sale and that there's a purchaser that's going to put substantial money into the building, bring back the amenities that they are used to and perhaps even more," said Parish.
"I do hope that's what happens."
When asked about the timeline of the building repairs and reopening, Parish said that would be up to the new owners, and that the municipality is no longer involved.
"[The new owners] are already working on it and they've got good plans, and as soon as they can get that building producing some revenue, the better it will be for them," he said.
No one from Zuri Inc. was available for an interview Thursday.
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