Local landlord is crying foul

By Sarah Deeth
Local News - Thursday, December 16, 2004 @ 07:00

A local landlord is crying foul over the loss of tenants to the planned health centre attached to the library.

Gilles Belanger, CEO of G.R. Belanger Enterprise Limited, says his company stands to lose $275,000 in profits because his tenants are planning a move to a new building.

Belanger said the government-funded health centre, approximately 60,000-square-feet, is actively seeking tenants to fill empty space.

Once the building is finished, Belanger said it will be handed over to the Canadian Mental Health Association, which will be responsible for filling the space.

Carole-Anne Fournier, chief communications officer with the CMHA, said plans for tenants to move into the new building have been in the works for years.

“It’s all a part of a health and social services coalition,” Fournier said. “These partners formed years ago.”

Fournier said the new building will give tenants access to greater technical capabilities.

“There were also other issues like parking and wheelchair access that can be solved with the new building.”

All tenants in the Health Coalition building will be paying full rent, she said, and won’t be subsidized by the government.

“The bottom line is that this is a free market and people can choose where they are going to be housed,” Fournier said. “Tenants have the right to seek out and choose what their options are.”

Fournier said housing a variety of medical and social services will be a key feature of the building.

“Being able to go to one place to get the majority of the services one needs is a huge benefit,” she said.

But Belanger believes he’s the one who has the most to lose with the new building.

“The government shouldn’t be buying buildings in competition with private business,” Belanger said. “Especially when there is plenty of space available in Timmins already.”

Belanger said he pays almost $300,000 a year in property taxes, and the fact that a government-funded building could run him out of business adds insult to injury.

“This is the government going into the rental business,” he said.

Alain Lefebvre, president of G.R. Belanger Enterprise Limited, says there is absolutely no need for another new, empty building in Timmins.

“There isn’t much demand for it,” Lefebvre said. “There are so many vacancies in town right now.”

Lefebvre feels the empty spaces in his buildings aren’t likely to fill up soon.

“There aren’t a lot of commercial tenants coming to town,” he said.

“The Timmins economy isn’t bad right now, but it’s not good for the rental business.”

Current vacancies in commercial buildings have been around for awhile, he said.

“The mini-mall at Maple and Algonquin has been empty for awhile,” Lefebvre said. “And that’s a brand new building.”

Both Belanger and Lefebvre said tenants have given them no reason for the move to the health centre, but they believed they are losing money on the move.

“They’re already set up in their current buildings,” Belanger said.

He said his letters to the government have gone unanswered.

Though he has spoken to officials at city hall about his concerns, Belanger said they are unable to help him.

“It’s very discouraging,” he said.

A current ad campaign run by the company hasn’t generated any calls, Lefebvre said, and if the situation remains the same, the company is going to have to make some drastic changes.

“We can convert some places into apartments, but that’s going to cost millions,” he said. “We needed this like a hole in the head.”



Note: the CMHA is the local one stop divorce stop in Timmins well known for its influence on the local officials with absolute power in the judiciary and police amongst others.

This writer predicts that the above saga will continue and we can expect more " interesting revelations".