Council approves 10 property sales to be examined by outside firm

Selby Community Hall. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

A building sold to a former mayor of Greater Napanee was included among 10 property sales that will be reviewed by an outside firm at the bequest of the Town of Greater Napanee.

At their Nov. 24 meeting held at the Selby Community Hall and broadcast on the town’s YouTube channel, council officially approved the list of 10 property sales to be reviewed. The 10 approved with the same 10 suggested by the staff at KPMG, the firm that will be doing the review.

A property located at 32 Oke Road, which served as a catalyst of sorts in ordering the review, is among the 10 that will be examined. The sale of the property to a former mayor sparked public outcry among a group of Greater Napanee residents who have questioned the legitimacy of the sale. The winning bid for the property, the only one submitted to the town on time, was 20 per cent below the listed property value.

During their presentation to council, representatives from KPMG gave a brief overview as to why they selected the properties they did, which were sold between Sept. 24, 2012 and Oct. 19, 2020. Reasons range from repeat purchasers paying more than 120 per cent of the property’s value, to repeat purchasers paying 20 per cent below value. A pair of properties sold for nominal values of $2, located at 480 Salmon River Road and Big Creek Road-will also be looked at.

This year’s sales of 401 Angila Street to James Selkirk Custom Homes Ltd for $1.15 million and 37 Dundas St. W to Patel Gandhalikar Holding Inc. for $411,000 are also included as they too are of high public interest.

Councillor Dave Pinnell Jr. originally questioned the need to look at the nominal property sales, but then agreed it would be better if council left the list as is and trusted KPMG to do what they felt was best.

“I’m not sure we’re in a position where we should start to cherry pick as to what properties we want to look at,” said councillor Terry Richardson. “We’ve entrusted these folks to use as transparent and open a process to select the properties as they can.”

KPMG was originally given the files to 20 properties and was asked to select 10 they felt warranted a closer look.

Council unanimously approved their original list of 10 properties. Over the next month KPMG will do a deep dive review of the agreed upon property sales. The firm will then present its findings to council in January, complete with notes on best practices the town could adopt for future sales.

-Council voted to add its support to Quinte Conservation, which has raised concerns over the Ontario government’s proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities and Planning Act.

“We had a meeting about this last week and there was a lot of upset board members, not just because they are proposing drastic changes to the work that the conservation authorities do, but also because of the implication of these changes is that our planning department would pick up the work that they’re taking away from the conservation authorities,” said councillor Ellen Johnson, who sits on the board at Quinte Conservation as a council rep. “It benefits everyone who lives in a watershed area to have an independent review to comment on proposed development for areas and it also strengthens our Planning Act as a municipality in order to have this independent review and gives them more power to manage our municipality in the best interest.”

Johnson noted the proposed changes would also take away high water mapping responsibilities from conservation authorities.

“The decisions that can be made, if this goes through, would be to the determent of the environment and Quinte Conservation is proposing that it could also be at the risk of public safety,” said Johnson.

All of council agreed to support Quinte Conservation and to send a letter that demonstrates their support.

-Deputy mayor Max Kaiser brought back accolades from Lennox and Addington council that were directed to mayor Marg Isbester, who just wrapped up her first term as warden. Kaiser, who also represents the town at the county level, said the entire council expressed how impressed they were with Isbester’s leadership through the pandemic. County council officially named Loyalist mayor Ric Breese as warden for the upcoming one-year term.

-Greater Napanee council will next meet Dec. 8 for a budget meeting and will hold the final regular session of council for 2020 on Dec. 15 in Selby.

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