This past Wednesday, November 8, was a landmark day in the history of North Grenville. Though the Municipality is only 9 years old, there was an announcement on Wednesday that may indeed be commemorated for a very long time to come. The Municipality of North Grenville and the Government of Ontario released a joint statement to announce that the two parties had agreed in principle that the Province will sell a large portion of the main campus and surrounding property of the former Kemptville College Campus to the Municipality.
Although there were no specifics provided on the agreement, such as financial details, breakdown of what exactly the municipality bought, or if other parties were involved in the deal, North Grenville CAO (and North Grenville’s negotiator), Brian Carré, said that the responses to these questions wouldn’t be provided until the formal Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) was signed. He could only speculate on when that would be, but he hoped that it would happen by Christmas. The CAO added that the non-disclosure agreement that was in place during negotiations, which kept him from sharing information, is still in place until the APS is signed.
The statement released by the two levels of government failed to disclose many key pieces of information about the purchase. What was the price that North Grenville paid? How will it be paid? Where will the money come from? Will we be taking on debt, or be somehow financing the deal? What’s included in the purchase? Is another organization or private company involved in the purchase? Why does nothing about Kemptville Campus appear in the municipal budget? How will the plan move forward without any money? Who’s responsible for fixing/replacing the underground infrastructure? Do the schools that are there have a financial stake in the deal? Will we finally be able to see all of the feasibility study prepared by BDO?
When asked about what he could disclose, Brian Carré was able to explain that most pieces of the main campus lands and buildings were included in the deal. He also said that areas such as the crop land, forested area, trail system, agroforestry centre, greenhouses, sports facilities, teaching and administration buildings, storage buildings, residences, and the main cafeteria were all included. As far as which pieces of land were included, approximately 633 of the 850 acres will now be owned by North Grenville. During negotiations, the provincial government decided to assign dollar values to particular items and pieces of the former college’s land.
The biggest piece missing from the deal was what is referred to as “the Farm”, which is the piece of land that lies on the east side of County Road 44 and includes the Barr Arena, amongst other buildings. When asked why this piece was excluded, the CAO replied that “bottom line, it was simply too expensive”. The CAO also mused that it didn’t really fit into the future vision for the Kemptville Campus Education and Community Hub. Another piece that was not included was a section of land that is bordered to the south by Concession Road and on one side by the South Branch River. This section was believed to be desired by developers as prime residential development land. Despite the rumours, the message was clear that there was absolutely no intention of selling any part of this new land acquisition for further residential development.