Burned Down Strip Club: City Staff say $60,000 but Mayor talks $350,000 with owner

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Mayor Provenzano and City Hall

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – Citizens were right to ask questions about how this decision was made and Mayor Provenzano’s fingerprints are all over it. Regardless of what the Integrity Commissioner preliminary report says.

The official acquisition for this property started way back at 2:01 a.m. March 14, 2019, with an official request from property owner Andre Trahan to see if the city had an interest in the property.

After being instructed by City Solicitor Karen Fields the previous day a request would need to be in writing.

Trahan was assured the city would look into it by Fields later that day.

Fields then reached out to Orsilina Naccarato supervisor of legal with Sault Ste. Marie.

She asked Naccarato to circulate his request and make sure the note stated Trahan’s options of rebuilding or approaching the bridge authority or city to see if any purchase interest so they would know his intentions.

By March 21, 2019, it was clear there had been no interest so far in purchasing the property. An email exchange between Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer Shelley Schell and Fields. This email also shows no funds available to purchase the property.

The Freedom of Information Request (FOI) contained no communications between any parties again until April 22 when Trahan reached out to inquire about the process and how long it takes. He asks if City Council is a part of the process.

His response comes Tuesday, April 30, 2019, from Fields stating the matter would be going before the council in an “in caucus” (closed meeting).

On Friday, May 2, 2019, Trahan responds he had already spoken with Provenzano about the price. There had been no council meeting between when Fields spoke to Trahan about going to council and when he admitted to talking price with the Mayor. He also wanted to move the strip club license.

Mayor Provenzano either spoke with Trahan about the price before going to council or there is more stuff missing from the FOI than already is.

The first time the acquisition of 89 Huron Street was discussed in a closed session after Mr. Trahan’s most recent approach to the City regarding the property was May 6, 2019, according to the city clerk’s office.

May 7, 2019, there is a flurry of emails between departments starting from Fields asking for an assessment on the value of the two parcels of land at 89 Hudson. Over half a dozen emails later it is determined the lot is worth $61,000.

On May 27, 2019, Fields and Trahan have another conversation about the property at 89 Hudson. It appears as though the city was willing to pay $60,000 according to Trahan’s email debating the price talked about on the phone.

He was rebuffed quickly and clarification was given by Fields shortly after.

The FOI shows no more discussion inside city hall took place between May 27, 2019, and May 14, 2020.

Although missing most of the email chain between CAO Malcolm White and Mayor Provenzano it appears as though Provenzano is asking for the contact information for Trahan.

On June 11 of this year, Provenzano again asks White and Fields for contact numbers for Trahan. It wasn’t included in the FOI when Provenzano actually talked to Trahan.

The last time this property was discussed in a closed session was July 22, 2020, according to the Clerks office. A decision was made to purchase the property in this session as you can see by what follows.

On August 5, 2020 staff was instructed to draw up an offer sheet for $350,000 to purchase the two lots at 89 Hudson Street. The mayor applied pressure on August 6 to see if it had been offered yet.

Fields responded the same day saying there was pressure to get the offer out. It would be made conditional on Council saying yes in an open meeting although they had already said yes in a closed one.

Council in an open meeting in September voted 10-1 for purchasing the land with Scott being the only No vote.

This is how it went down according to the information we received after filing a Freedom of Information Request.

We are missing information and there are a few holes in their story to us.

As always stay with Sault Online for more in-depth reporting of city issues.

25 COMMENTS

  1. You mean Sault Online was able to uncover this information while the Integrity Commisson either thought that this was irrelevant or chose to ignore the information. Where is an opinion of value or appraisal stating the true value of the property? Mr. Trahan is a business man and it appears that he got a big one up on the city and the mayor. As a business man there is no way he had any intention of rebuilding. The cost to do so would be in excess of the value of the finished product at that location . It seems that Mr. Provenzano has a hate on for adult entertainment and wanted to ensure that strip joints would cease to exist in this city . However he did so at the expense of the taxpayers. Cmon Christian , what other reason could there be or are you still thinking that you can convince the citizens that the market value was 6 times the assessed value. More explanation is definitely required and kudos to Matthew Scott for voting against it.

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  2. There is a lot more to this story that has been hidden and neglected. Investigations, (yes plural), should be commenced.

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  3. The Mayor is setting himself up to run against Romano in the next Provincial election. He will make a perfect Liberal, he is sneaky, never tells the truth , hides so he does not have to answer questions and spends tax payers money without any concern. How many people wish they had voted for Rory now.

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    • Not to fear…Ford has the support of many in this province. I can see the Conservatives easily getting another mandate to lead. The Liberals are in total disarray in this province(have you had a look at their leader?). The chances of a Liberal being elected here is slim…next time Christian???

  4. I think people have the right to call a spade a spade. Decorum be damned.

    That said official investigations won’t lead anywhere (and haven’t). People know FOI and not to put in damning things in email form.

    All people can do is vote for someone else, and hopefully not be swayed by politicians that spend more on ads then their opponents combined…

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  5. I’ll leave a comment. If you want Canadians to take your opinions and comments seriously, surf to Dictionary and look up the word decorum. Using the words idiot and moron and referring to an elected official as a thief indicates immediately you’re most likely uneducated, possibly didn’t vote and without all the facts are quick to judge. Thankfully we have checks and balances in Canada and our forefathers understood the importance of Law & Order. I’m not choosing sides, I’m simply stating that we should be able to have meaningful debate amongst all you keyboard warriors out there, even with those voices that have meaningless, crass input.

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  6. 1. Did Trahan get an insurance settlement for the building? Why no reporting on that?
    2. All but one Councilor agreed to the purchase. Were any of them interviewed? The Mayor is only one vote.

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  7. Wow such reporting, much words written well.

    This News ‘Organization’ is a travesty in every way possible, none of this is sourced well or particularly well written. It’s a complete sham, to declare “something is missing’ with out publishing the full unedited information package.

    The owners of this news site seem to have it in for the Mayor of this city, based on the constant hit jobs written by this ‘author’. I wonder who in this town both hates the Mayor and has enough money to float a failing organization to execute hit jobs like this.

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    • This story is well-sourced and comes from City of Sault Ste. Marie documents gathered through a Freedom of Information request.

      Reply moderated
    • SomeInterest. In case you didn’t know, reporters who actually do their job properly, don’t hide behind a desk but rather put the truth out for the public to read. You call the reporting from this agency a hit job, but they are the ones who supply us with an unbiased display of facts. If you have something to share with us that would tell us different, please speak. This is also the only local news that actually allows people to comment on stories. I have paid close attention to many controversies rolling through our city hall and these guys are not afraid to speak. The other two news factions seems to cater their stories and sugar coat however it looks good for city hall. It’s too bad that you let your personal feelings get in the way of the truth. I bet you thought our city council was right when they cut bussing, killed daycare and tried to destroy the fire service all at the same time. Go back to your bleachers outside the Mayors office and watch the show with open eyes. And as far as the Mayor, you may know him as a good person, family man, etc. but not everyone gets that side from him. A good person treats everyone with respect and kindness. Not sure he can fill that bill.

  8. Sounds like the plot of a hollywood movie where a seedy establishment owner has a little ‘inside information’ on a politician.

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  9. He and all other councilors that participated in this fiasco should
    be forced to pay back the money.
    Who in their right mind would spend 350000 dollars for a parcel
    of land worth only 60000 dollars ?
    There’s a sucker born every minute …
    Congrats Andre …

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  10. This deal should NOT OF HAPPENED whether it was an open or closed Council agreement. As stated earlier the city staff said they could only offer 61,000. So where did they find the sustantial difference Sounds like our Mayor and 9 councillors have some explaining to Do. Also did they approve Mr. Trahan’s transfer of Licence to the new site for his adult club operation.

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  11. Looks like something is not right here. The investigative reporting by the journalist seems to be top notch. This city is very fortunate to have a news outlet like Saultonline. Some will like it, some won’t, keep up the very noticeable integrity. Ron…..

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  12. I firmly believe that because this is Provenzano’s last term as mayor, he intends on running for either a Provincial or Federal seat. He has already lost in previous elections. If he thinks that the people of this city are going to vote for him, he is sadly mistaken and really overestimates not only his abilities but his popularity in this city. This debacle along with other decisions he has made will bury him in any election.

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  13. Looks like Trahan laid out his bluff that he was going to rebuild and new strip joint and the Mayor took the bait. Just like the Mayor believed that crooked Fire Chief a couple years back. I think it also cost the taxpayers a good chunk of money to get rid of the that guy. Either way, taxpayers will never recoup the loss for this property.

    Reply moderated

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