| Jul 17, 2019

Kathy and Noel Bateman were surprised when they received notification from Central Frontenac Township that the property next to their house, the former location of a grocery store at the spot where Road 38 meets the Wagarville Road, was included in the township’s current tax sale.

That the land was being sold to recover back taxes wasn’t the real surprise, but a missing piece of information was. The grocery store had taken over a building that originally housed a car dealership and garage, and it is a contaminated site.

“Anybody who buys that property needs to know what is there, and what potential liability they are taking on,” said Kathy Bateman, in a phone interview with the Frontenac News last week. She went on to detail the amount of remediation that has been required on her house in order to eliminate the seepage of fumes into the living area due to migrating contamination from next door.

She said that early last week her husband Noel had phoned Michael McGovern, Treasurer for Central Frontenac, to find out why there was no warning issued about the property.

“He said that although the township had documentation about the removal of gas tanks from the property, there was nothing in their records about further environmental hazards.”

The Batemans have been in constant touch with the Ministry of the Environment, over many years, about the situation property and they contacted the ministry to let them know the property was up for sale for back taxes.

When contacted on Friday (July 12) McGovern said he had received an email from the Ministry of the Environment’s Kingston office a day earlier, informing him about the contamination.

“As I told Mr. Bateman, we had nothing in writing about the property except that the tanks had been removed,” McGovern said, “but now that I have the information from the ministry, I am sending the information to everyone who picked up the tax sale package about this property. It is still part of the tax sale, but potential buyers will be informed about the contamination.

If the property does not sell as part of the tax sale, Central Frontenac Council can choose to make it available for sale through a secondary process, with no minimum bid. It is now listed with a minimum price of $18,625.53, the amount owing in back taxes. If it still doesn’t sell, as is likely, Council will have the option of taking ownership of the property or leaving it in the hands of the current owner, which is GMD Frontenac Corporation, foregoing the missing tax revenue but saving the township from the liability that comes with owning a contaminated piece of property.

“In the email that I received, the ministry said that the land is on their list for clean-up, which they expect to complete in two to three years,” McGovern said.

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