Say goodbye to the eyesore motels

Council awards demolition contract

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Slave Lake’s two major eyesores should start disappearing pretty soon. Town council awarded the demolition contract for what’s left of the Lakeside Motor Inn and the Highway Motor Inn to a local company at its Oct. 15 meeting.

Strike Contracting was the second lowest of nine bidders on the job. The report before council said the reason for not going with the lowest bid was that it left the door open for “additional costs,” related to hazardous materials. Strike was firm on doing the whole thing for the tendered amount, whatever might turn up.

That amount is $504,771. With various other costs (including a contingency), the total for the project will cost the town $566,271.

It should be noted that the amount is entirely unbudgeted for 2019, since the town was not expecting to have to do the work. However, negotiations with the owners have not produced any results, council heard. Therefore the town sought and was granted a court injunction allowing it to proceed with the clean-up work.

Mayor Tyler Warman, although fully in favour of going ahead with the clean-up, expressed his frustration with the situation.

“It’s pathetic,” he said. “They can come and make money in our community, but can’t pay for their problem. It frustrates me no end that these landowners don’t deal with their own stuff.”

The owners may have other ideas about how to deal with it. According to CAO Brian Vance, at least one of them is not happy with the action the town is taking and has threatened legal action. Vance said however that according to the town’s legal advisors, its position on the matter is defendable.

The plan is to recover the cost of the clean-up by applying it to the property tax bills of the owners next year. Whether they pay it or not is another question. If they don’t, the normal procedure would be to put the properties up for sale via a tax recovery auction, and hope for the best. Could two commercial lots bring in $566,000?

It’s hard to say, is about as close as councillor Brandle was willing to speculate when asked last week.

Councillor Darin Busk had a question about the haul route away from the former Lakeside Motor Inn site. Noting the ‘bunker’-like holes in the pavement next to the site, he wondered if they would need to be filled, or if the contractor would have to negotiate with Boston Pizza on the use of its Main St. access.

“That’s generally a detail you’d leave to the contractor to figure out,” said Vance.

“Fair enough,” said Busk.

Work on the Highway Motor Inn site is expected to start this week. The contractor expects to be finished both sites by the end of December.

The Highway Motor Inn demolition and removal should begin this week.

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