Council OKs sale of doctor's house
for South Peace News
High Prairie town council passed a motion at its July 11 meeting which will allow them to put the doctor’s house on the market.
Though the decision was not a unanimous one and had some councillors making strong arguments for keeping the house, when put to a vote, four councillors voted to sell. Councillors Wayne Forrester and James Waikle opposed while Councillor Barry Sharkawi excused himself because he is the current tenant in the house.
The sale of the doctor’s house has been an issue that has come before council on several occasions. However, council was told on these occasions by representatives from Municipal Affairs that they could not vote on the motion due to its vagueness and a lack of critical information. CAO Keli Tamaklo has since gathered the information required to make a legal motion.
During discussions before the vote, Forrester reminded council they had bought the house for a reason; that is, providing a place free of rent for new doctors to live in when they first arrive in High Prairie, as well as help with physician recruitment and retention.
“The reasons for having the house have not changed,” said Forrester. “I am not in favour of selling it. Now is not the time to jump in and sell this property.”
“Well [the house] does not seem to be working with physician retention,” said Mayor Rick Dumont.
“We knew it would not always be occupied when we bought it,” said Forrester. “That hasn’t changed.”
Waikle, who was also against selling the house, said, “I don’t think we should be selling this house at this time. Has it been occupied all the time? No. But I still think it’s a good initiative for attracting doctors.”
“The M.D. has an alternative plan,” commented Dumont.
“This house is just a money pit waiting to happen,” said Councillor Michael Smith. “It needs a lot of work.”
“We knew about the costs when we purchased this property,” Forrester reminded council. “I have a real problem with selling this property.”
After the motion to sell the house was carried, council next made a motion regarding the furniture in the house.
According to a town document, in 2009, the M.D. made a contribution of $6,623.27 toward the furniture in the house. Although recommendations were put forth to reimburse the M.D. for the value of the furniture, council passed a motion to just return the furniture to the M.D.
Waikle voted against the motion.
The motion, however, will have to be rescinded at some point, as the M.D. did not purchase the furniture. It actually belongs to the Physician Retention Committee.
In agreeing to sell the house, council agreed to list the property with Century 21 Sunnyside Realty for 180 days at a listing price of not less that $212,000. Any offers for purchase must be approved by council.