Former Canadian Tire Store Sold In Port Hope

In Community, Editor Choice, Local, Photo Gallery

EXCLUSIVE – After over a decade of being vacant the former Canadian Tire store has been sold.
Port Hope resident Walter Hillman President of Trade Tech Industries which is a 31,000 square foot welding and fabricating factory at 100 Henderson Street purchased the former Robertson Street store nearly two months ago.
Over the last week, the clean-up process has begun on the building.
Although the building doesn’t have a name yet, Hillman said he is open to suggestions.
A successful 54-year-old businessman who employees 46 people said his son went to Trinity College School from grad five to grade 12 before graduating last year and moving on to Dalhousie University.
“So for the first time, I have time on my hands.”
Growing up in the small town of Bracebridge before moving to Sault Ste. Marie, then Newtonville for 14-years, it’s the love of the small town that drew him to Port Hope.
Hillman hopes to help the downtown in anyway.
For the type of business that will go into the building – that is up to the community.
“What I would love to do and what I’ve asked my good friend Tim Haynes who has been in Port Hope for generations is to find people who are deeply rooted in town. Who are passionate in the same way I am about finding what’s right in the community and go forward.”
“What I would like to do is try to put out a public opinion poll and see what the people’s opinion would be and what they want to see. What would make this area have more pizzaz and then build towards it.”
Hillman said he’s been building for 30 years, so as long as it’s what the community wants, he’s for it.
“As long as it’s good for the community.”
The only stipulation on what goes in the building Hillman said, “I will not rent to dollar stores or discount stores. I don’t think the town needs any of that stuff.”
Hillman has a few ideas of his own, like a high end restaurant, or a butcher shop and one of the benefits, lots of parking.
“But they aren’t the people’s thoughts and I’d like to have the people’s input.”
“I’m going to put it out to the community for sure.”
The facade will be changed in keeping with the old style of the main street in Port Hope.
In the short term he’s hoping to rent it to contractors that will be doing the waterfront clean-up because they will need parking and office space.
“That will give me time to get public opinion, get drawings and the engineering done and pass it through council.”
Although the Canadian Fire Fighter’s Museum will not reside at the facility, Hillman has given them permission to store a items at the location for now rent free.
“They actually approached me to see if I would help with construction if they were able to buy the property, but it didn’t work out with the purchase. So that dream died.”
The Canadian Fire Fighter’s Museum previously said one of their concerns was a clause Canadian Tire had stating they could not sell anything that Canadian Tire sold in their stores.
But for Hillman that was not a concern.
“The things that Canadian Tire sold like paint and sporting goods along with stuff like that I’m not interested in.”
“I signed the offer back to them with no conditions. Whatever the soil is the soil is. They’ve given me all the studies, the soil is fine, other than what Port Hope is going to clean up with the radon.”
“The building is sound. Canadian Tire did a great job with cleaning up. They took out the floor in the service bays and cleaned up the rest. They took out all the tiles off the floor which I assume were asbestos and left the building spotless.”
Hillman is a traditional businessman who doesn’t subscribe to any social media and surprisingly doesn’t even own a computer.
But his love of the community where he calls home is clearly where his heart is.
“I’m trying to be community oriented in all the decisions I make in town.”
He’s offered the parking lot of the Robertson Street building as a staging area for shuttling people or whatever else is needed for this year’s Fanny Down The Ganny river race.
“I’ve asked the town to get some students so they can get their student hours and they can man the gates and charge everyone a dollar and then donate all the money back to Greenwood Coalition.”
Hillman is clearly a person who believes and supports small communities.
“Hello Yoga” is a business above his industry on Henderson Street which specializes in men’s yoga, yoga for athletes, yoga for fire and emergency services, along with kid’s yoga. Three times a week, the employees Trade Technologies Inc. have 15-minutes of yoga before starting the day.
“Opportunity knocks everyday,” said Hillman.
“It’s just, do you take the chance or not.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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