Eleven of 37 properties left behind when the Faro mine was abandoned have been purchased to date.
The town began selling the properties July 12, after officially acquiring ownership of them in late 2016. The buildings have been abandoned — with property taxes unpaid — since 1997, when the company that owned the Faro lead-zinc mine went bankrupt and closed up shop.
Four of the properties have been sold in on-going ‘over the counter sales’ and seven have been sold through a bidding process which closed on Aug. 23.
The properties sold in the over-the-counter sales range in price from $15,000 to $34,000. The properties sold via bid-sales ranged between $10,000 and $12,000, and were mostly multi-dwelling units.
“We don’t see the money as a windfall for the town because we’ve fronted $3 million in property taxes over the last 10 years already,” said Faro’s Chief Administrative Officer Ian Dunlop. “But we’re looking forward to having new taxpayers.”
Some of the money from the sales is being set aside, as buyers are eligible to get up to half their money back if they do certain “big ticket items” to the properties — such as roofing, permitting and having the power turned back on — within three years of purchase.
Properties are being sold for the price of their backed taxes, or to the highest bidder. Eight of the 37 properties have not been put up for sale yet. They have subdivision issues which are in the process of being worked out, Dunlop said.
Some of the buyers are locals from Faro, some are from Whitehorse, and some are from Outside, Dunlop said.
“Obviously the purchasers looked at the these units and the potential in them,” Dunlop said.
“We’ll have some new people in the community.”
What exactly the purchasers are planning on doing with the properties — some of which are in advanced states of disrepair — is unknown. Many of the properties are multi-dwelling units, however, and there is a need for rental housing in Faro, he said.
“We have a hard time finding quality rental housing (in Faro) especially in the summer months,” he said. “Whether the intent is to convert to rental housing or for someone to live in the units… what we want is to ensure that these buildings are no longer sitting empty and deteriorating.”
Three properties that got no bids will be moved to over-the-counter sales, Dunlop said. If they are not sold in the next year, the town will probably demolish them, he said.
“The goal as we move forward, for the town, is to sell as many of these properties as possible,” he said.
“What we’re really dealing with here is a remediation issue.”
Contact Lori Garrison at email@example.com