While Laurentian University finally exited creditor protection late last year, the university is still dealing with the aftermath of its 22-month journey under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (or CCAA).
That includes the upcoming sale of university properties to the province of Ontario.
Laurentian’s plan of arrangement to pay out its creditors is to be funded by a pool of cash of up to $53.5 million to come from the sale of university real estate to the province within three years, as per an agreement last year with the province.
Exactly what assets the province is purchasing has still not yet been publicly revealed.
During a closed session of Laurentian’s board of governors Feb. 17, there was an item on the agenda (see page 2) entitled “Term Sheet regarding the Sale of University Lands.”
Laurentian’s communications department said the university and the province are collaborating on this term sheet, and once finalized, the community will be updated. “The end of March is the expected time frame for this,” said an email from LU communications.
To find out more on what’s going on behind the scenes, Sudbury.com reached out to Jeff Bangs, chair of Laurentian’s board of governors.
Bangs said the “term sheet” referenced in the agenda is basically Laurentian “setting the table” with the province about how the property negotiations will be conducted.
Within that negotiation framework, which still needs to go before the provincial cabinet, “is a preliminary list of properties that the province is interested in,” he said.
He said the property sales to the province will “take three years to sort itself out.”
Bangs said the province “had already been doing their due diligence on and having meetings as far back as last spring and site visits last summer with our people in facilities to really understand our property.
“So they have a shortlist of properties and buildings they're interested in acquiring as part of the $53.5 million.
“It’s not final in that it could well change over the next three years. And that sounds like a long time, and it is. And the whole bundle might come together sooner than that, but the province has been quite conservative in agreeing to a quicker timeline.”
He said some of the negotiations with the province are quite complex.
“...If a building, for example, becomes owned by the province and Laurentian is the tenant, what are the terms of that lease?” Bangs said. “What’s our rent in the first year, and in year five, and so on.”
While Bangs is currently unable to comment publicly as to what properties the province is interested in purchasing, many in the community have been wondering about the fate of Laurentian’s beloved greenspace.
He is able to say, however, that “everyone recognizes the significance” of these lands to Laurentian and the Greater Sudbury community.
Bangs said the transactions with the province are “going to take time.”
“We recognize that people are anxious to start seeing some of the proceeds flow that they're entitled to, and that will come. It's just going to take some time and some process to get there. And it's between Laurentian and the province to get those negotiations moving along and start bearing some fruit, closing some deals.”
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s award-winning associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.