Laurentian gets court approval to sell Art Gallery of Sudbury

Sudbury’s Laurentian University will be free to sell Bell Mansion, home of the Art Gallery of Sudbury, and its art collection, according to new court documents.

But the Sudbury university has not yet confirmed whether or not it will sell the property and the art inside.

In an endorsement of the court, published on June 17 by Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz, Laurentian was granted permission to sell the property by May 30, 2025, or 90 days after the proposed Junction East Center in Sudbury is completed.

The Junction East Center, which is expected to be completed by 2024, according to the city, would be the gallery’s new home.

It would also host the city’s new central library and could partner with the Sudbury Theater Center and Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association.

In a claim filed on July 30, 2021, the Art Gallery of Sudbury estimated the value of the Bell Mansion and surrounding land at $ 1.3 million, and the value of its art collection at more than $ 4.8 million.

“Nothing in the settlement agreement will constitute the explicit or implicit acknowledgment by AGS (Art Gallery of Sudbury) that LU (Laurentian University) owns the art,” Morawetz wrote in the endorsement.

But Morwawetz added that as part of its settlement with Laurentian, the Art Gallery of Sudbury will agree that it does not own the art.

In the endorsement Morawetz said Laurentian cannot take any steps to sell the art before it creates a plan with its creditors through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) process.

Laurentian would also need to give the gallery 90 days notice if it intends to sell any of the artwork.

In May, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities offered to purchase $ 53.5 million worth of Laurentian-owned land or buildings. But the province did not specify what property it would purchase. (Erik White / CBC)

Paying creditors

In February 2021, Laurentian filed for insolvency and started a restructuring process under the CCAA. In April 2021 the university cut 69 programs and fired almost 200 staff and faculty members to cut costs.

If the university sells the art collection, and the building, the money would help pay its creditors.

In May, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities offered to purchase $ 53.5 million worth of Laurentian-owned land or buildings. But the province did not specify what property it would purchase.

In an email to CBC News, Demetra Christakos, the director of the Art Gallery of Sudbury, said they still have at least one legal document to submit and cannot comment on the case until that is done.

“The gallery is finalizing a public statement and will make it available within the next few days,” she said.

Laurentian said it will release a statement about the court’s endorsement on Wednesday.

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