The Ontario government is expediting the sell off of 243 surplus government properties on 14,600 acres to raise between $105 million and $135 million in the next four years.

The plots range from old jails and psychiartric hospitals to empty lots. About 50 of the properties are in the Toronto and Hamilton area, including 20 in the city of Toronto. Among those is the old Thistletown Regional Centre, a children’s mental health facility in Etobicoke that closed in 2012, and 27 Grosvenor St. next door to the Coroner’s Court downtown.

Bill Walker is Goverment and Customer Services Minister. According to Walker, selling the unused real estate will save taxpayers $9.5 million annually in maintenance such as heating and grass cutting. He said that there’s absolutely no value coming from that.

Some of the sites could be redeveloped as affordable housing or long term care facilities. Others would generate revenue for government services.

The government is promising to trim about 150 days from the bureaucracy that accompanies the sale of surplus real estate, including heritage properties.

That will be done by reducing the days the real estate briefs are circulated to other governments and agencies to see if they are interested in repurposing the sites and by eliminating the environmental assessment that takes place before these properties are sold. Purchasers would still have to do that assessment, Walker said.

He said every property would be appraised and sold at fair market value. “We’ll do our due diligence,” he said.

The 243 properties on the provincial sales list represent only about half of the surplus real estate in the government’s portfolio. The remainder have still to be approved for sale, Walker said.

Source: The Star
Fulya Altunyay/ [email protected]