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No takers for Isaacs Harbour centre

MODG council to decide fate of 100-year-old structure

  • December 6 2023
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

ISAACS HARBOUR — The future of Isaacs Harbour’s former medical building – which failed to attract even one bid at a sealed auction last month – now rests with its owner, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG).

“The question is, “Now, what do we do with it?” MODG Chief Administrative Officer Barry Carroll told The Journal last week. He said council would be weighing the options and making a decision about the 100-year-old structure at its regular meeting on Dec. 6.

The municipality put the building up for sale in September when it realized that no community group wanted to take over the lease – which expired in April – from the recently disbanded medical centre board of directors. The centre hasn’t offered clinical services in years.

In recent times, the property – originally built as a school – also served as post office, fitness centre and lending library. “When it [ceased] being a school, [the community] decided that it might be good to get a doctor, a nurse and maybe a dentist in there,” Carroll said. “When the medical centre went away, we put a little gym in there; the post office also went in there.”

After the board’s lease expired, council gave potential lessors three months to come forward with new proposals for the property. In September, as The Journal reported, one community group, which had shown interest, ultimately backed away. Said Carroll last week: “The post office moved [to the fire hall], and since [the community group] gave up... the building has been closed since the end of August.”

On Oct. 17, municipal officials posted a request for proposals to its website for sale of the property.

As “there were no bids on it,” Carroll said councillors “will have to decide what they want to do.” He added that, while staff have prepared “options” for them, he was not at liberty to discuss any details prior to the council meeting.

Still, those options seemed limited. “It’s been renovated a bunch of different times over the years,” Carroll said about the building, which he and others agree has seen better days.

Hudson MacLeod, who represents Isaacs Harbour on council, also declined to discuss the property’s fate prior to the meeting. But in May, he told The Journal that the increasingly moldy premises had cost as much as $38,000 a year to heat and power.

What’s more, he said at the time, “We did... the electrical... about six years ago [but] because it’s only 100 amps we’d have to bring it up to 200 amps and the quote at that time was 36 or 38 thousand dollars... To me, as a councillor, that’s a no-no. We can’t afford that.”

Ultimately, he noted, the building may simply be an obsolete and expensive legacy of a bygone era. “People have got to be realistic... This is 2023; we’re not back [in] 1970.”