Council to pay $770,000 for Scouts property

St. John's city council has negotiated a expropriation settlement of $770,000 for a chunk of land it sold decades ago to Scouts Canada for $1.
The City of St. John's has decided to expropriate the Scouts Canada property near the old Metrobus depot, even though the organization had found another buyer. (CBC)

St. John's city council has negotiated a settlement of $770,000 for a chunk of land on Terra Nova Road that it is expropriating from Scouts Canada. 

In a memo to council, city solicitor Robert J. Bursey said the sum is "the same amount that a third party was prepared to pay for the property prior to the decision to expropriate." 

Scouts Canada had reached an agreement to sell its property — which houses its headquarters as well as a retail shop for Cubs, Scouts and others in the scouting movement — to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

However, city hall quickly moved to begin expropriation proceedings to reclaim the land, which it sold to Scouts Canada for just $1 about 30 years ago.

The city has not disclosed its plans for the land, which is sandwiched between Wishingwell Park and the former Metrobus depot. Some councillors have suggested moving some city activities to the property. 

Meanwhile, councillors said at Monday evening's regular meeting that they will help the CMHA's local chapter find a new location elsewhere. 

"We are as a city, as a council committed to mental health and we don't want to send the wrong message here," Coun. Dave Lane said. 

"We are certainly willing to work with them and hopefully find something very appropriate." 

The CMHA had wanted a new office that was more centrally located and which was closer to hospitals and other public services.