Strathroy hotel focus of municipalities in court set to open
The long-awaited Holiday Inn Express hotel on Centre Road just outside the border of Strathroy in Adelaide Metcalfe is set to open in the first quarter of this year — probably.
With delays pushing back targeted opening before, senior communications manager for IHG Hotels and Resorts Michelle Dias wrote when asked that there is no specific opening date yet.
“Right now, I can share that we are aiming for Q1 of 2023,” said Dias.
That would mean the 90-room hotel — the first of its kind in the Strathroy area — would be open by the end of March.
But while there is a message on its website stating, “the Holiday Inn Express Strathroy is now accepting reservations for arrivals on or after April 8, 2023,” online reservations are only available starting June 3.
“It’s fantastic news. There are many venues in the district that the hotel will provide accommodation supports to: so from weddings at Sydenham Ridge, to events at the Texas Longhorn Ranch and Amy’s Place,” said Adelaide Metcalfe Mayor Sue Clarke when asked about the hotel opening.
She stressed it was a boon to the entire region.
“And also with direct access to and from the (Highway) 402, those travelling now can stay at the hotel and stimulate the local economy with their tourism dollars, which is fantastic. Further to that, we’re going to have sports teams now come and attend local tournaments and have first-rate accommodations available to them. It’s a win-win to the district, there’s no doubt about it,” said Clarke.
The largest hurdle leading up to the hotel’s opening had been its ability to connect to Strathroy’s water and sewer system. According to court documents, Holiday Inn requested connecting to the water system in November 2021.
“I’ve been getting calls for the last year-and-a-half saying ‘when’s the hotel going to be opening because we’re trying to organize our wedding,’” said Clarke, who added there was also a slight delay with on-site equipment now resolved.
The mayor added that with a primarily rural township, the Centre Road corridor is vital to bringing in more tax revenue.
With negotiations failed on the expired service agreement with Adelaide Metcalfe, Strathroy-Caradoc said in 2021 not until a deal was made. The hotel was approved by Adelaide Metcalfe in October 2019, after the water deal was expired.
The approval of the hotel was also a concern for fire services, with Strathroy having the only ladder truck capable of responding.
The case is still before the courts and has had multiple rulings, but in a nutshell the hotel was one of three properties granted the ability to connect by the Ontario Land Tribunal on July 4 last year, then had that ability yanked away by an interim, interim order (yes, that is two interims), until an interim interlocutory order (a temporary order while things are before the courts) July 20 that said yes, the hotel and other two properties can connect for now.
Strathroy-Caradoc has been granted an appeal in Ontario Superior Court’s Divisional Court on the Ontario Land Tribunal’s decisions. Strathroy-Caradoc’s position is that the deal is expired and the time limit to get the Ontario Land Tribunal is long past, so that any negotiations on service need to be from scratch.
No date had been set yet but Strathroy-Caradoc CAO Fred Tranquilli told council in December it was expected to be heard by April.
The Holiday Inn hooked up on Sept. 7.
AZ Storage on Centre hooked up Jan. 24, and the lands owned by Cuddy Farms across the street from the hotel have not put in a request to connect yet.
The mayors of the two municipalities both said they have a good working relationship and continue to be in contact, but Clarke said no formal negotiations have taken place.
“All I can say at this time is that Adelaide Metcalfe will continue to represent those who have invested in the system,” said Clarke.
As described in court documents from November that ruled Strathroy-Caradoc could appeal the Land Tribunal, this dispute arises out of a Shared Services Agreement which was negotiated between the two municipalities, and which became effective on Oct. 1, 2003. Adelaide Metcalfe wished to provide water and sewage services to a desired development along Centre Road/Highway 81 within their boundaries, but did not have services in that area. Strathroy-Caradoc, which abutted this area, required a second water transmission line themselves as it was experiencing growth, and had the option of either twinning an existing line or building a new line, which could be shared with Adelaide Metcalfe.
Under the agreement reached after three years of negotiations, Strathroy-Caradoc would provide sewage treatment and water to Adelaide Metcalfe for specified lands in the service area for a term of 10 years commencing Oct. 1, 2003, with an option for a five-year renewal term.
It was extended five years, then six months to the end of March 2019. Negotiations continued after the expiry into 2022.
“In January 2022, Adelaide Metcalfe advised that they would authorize connections to the system despite the opposition of Strathroy-Caradoc, and Strathroy-Caradoc in turn advised that it would commence an application to secure an order to prevent any unauthorized connections to the system,” read the Land Tribunal ruling.
“The opposed views reached a head on Feb. 24, 2022 when a letter was forwarded from the Mayor of Strathroy-Caradoc to Adelaide Metcalfe. The correspondence sheds light on some of the issues between the parties, but the letter can fairly be characterized as the ‘final line in the sand’ for Strathroy-Caradoc as it asked that its final proposed draft be signed,” continued the ruling.
That is when things seemed stalled, and Adelaide Metcalfe requested arbitration with the Land Tribunal in April 2022.
Strathroy-Caradoc responded in Superior Court asking that it be confirmed the agreement was no longer in force and that an injunction stop any more connections. Superior court Justice J. Garson said let’s see what the Tribunal said first, the Tribunal ruled it had the right to arbitrate and that the three properties could connect, and after some back and forth in the courts Justice A.K. Mitchell gave the go-ahead for the hotel and other two properties with the interlocutory order.
Adelaide Metcalfe paid $1.1 million to be allocated 12.85 percent of the sewage treatment at the beginning of the agreement, and paid for 82.7 percent of the new water main according to evidence presented at the Land Tribunal.
The old agreement also said that Adelaide Metcalfe was to pay 12.85 percent of any future capital costs of upgrading the sewer system, which Strathroy-Caradoc has started the process of in Mt. Brydges and Strathroy.
Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner