Petrolia buys vacant bank for $200K

The Scotiabank building in Petrolia was built in 1911 and has been home to the bank for 112 years. Heather Wright Photo

Mayor looks for residents ideas for the Petrolia Line building

Heather Wright/The Independent

Petrolia has purchased the vacant Scotia Bank in the downtown. And it plans to designate the 1911 building under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Employees of the branch were told in mid-October that the 112 year-old fixture on Petrolia Line would be closing. Clients were told the accounts would “merging” with the Bright’s Grove branch when they moved out March 7.

The news came around the same time Scotiabank announced it is cutting three per cent of its global workforce – about 2,700 staff members across the country.

Local politicians spoke out about the closure. “Scotiabank has been in the center of town as a beautiful building and served a lot of people so it is definitely impacting them,” said Deputy Mayor Joel Field at the time adding the town wanted a meeting with the multinational company get an explanation of the closure.

After months of talks, Chief Administrative Officer Rick Charlebois said Monday a deal had been struck with the bank to buy the building. It had been appraised for $1.2 million, the town purchased it for $200,000. The town will not be able to sell the building to another bank for 10 years. And Scotiabank will have access to an office in the branch occasionally. The building will also house two ATMs for former Petrolia clients of the bank to use. The bank will maintain that area.

Mayor Brad Loosley is pleased the deal has been struck. “We went through it, it is an immaculate shape,” he tells The Independent. The building has three floors and the roof has recently been replaced.

The mayor admits the town first tried to secure the building for free, as Plympton-Wyoming had done, but Scotiabank wasn’t biting.

“We actually asked for that to start with,” he says adding Scotiabank planned to just sell it.
When pressed about the price, Charlebois said the bank had a “professional appraisal” of $1.2 million despite the fact in the last 10 years not a single building in the downtown has sold for even $1 million.

And while the building has been purchased, Loosley says there are no firm plans for what it will house.

“I’m going ask for their input of what they would like us to do with it,” says Loosley. “We’ve had different discussions, but we don’t have any set ideas. … I want to ask the residents of Petrolia for input.”

The town will hold a public meeting to gather ideas of the residents June 26.

One thing is certain, he says. The town will designate the property under Ontario’s Heritage Act, something the bank was reluctant to do in the past.

The deal for the property closes June 6.

“I’m really pleased with this, because it’s been a kind of a long ordeal,” says Loosley.