Clavet Junction may be spared following episode with bank

Friday appeared to be the final day of operation for Clavet Junction, a gas station just southeast of Saskatoon and hub for the area.

But a letter received the night before seems to have changed everything for owner Noreen Taylor.

“A lot of mixed emotions,” she said. “It's still up in the air.”

It was a letter of intent, which follows more than six months of stress, struggle, and sleepless nights, and may have just saved her business.

“I'm very happy because that means we can stay open,” she said.

In the fall of 2020 Taylor says she received a notice from the Royal Bank of Canada, telling her they would be taking back the loan on the business.

Taylor and her close friends and employees were fully prepared to be removing all personal items from the store on Friday, but instead it’s business as usual.

“If we had to do that today I would’ve helped, but I'm much happier to come in and stand behind the till,” said Molly Epp, Taylor’s friend. “Just visiting with customers and selling stuff.”

“I'm absolutely thrilled,” said Clavet’s mayor Michelle King. “The thought of losing the store, the imminent thought of that was pretty distressing.”

“We have a population of about 2,000 in the RM, 410-ish in the last census in the village and the population is growing, and a lot of people come here for everyday essentials.”

Taylor says the store boasts the area’s only diesel pumps, while serving as the post office for the area.

Taylor said the letter she initially received last year calling her loan came as a shock.

“The only explanation that I got from the bank was because your numbers are down,” Taylor said. “I tried to explain to them it's COVID, the government has told everybody not to travel and people here are listening.”

“I continued to make my payments, I continue to never be late, so I didn't think it was an issue. But obviously it is an issue.”

Taylor says the bank told her to get a lawyer, and beyond that there hasn’t been much communication.

In January, she says RBC sent her a notice of forbearance.

“They told me if I sold [the business], then I was safe,” she said.

RBC told CTV News due to privacy and confidentiality concernsit it would not comment.

Taylor says the doors were originally supposed to close on April 9, but she was able to negotiate staying open another couple months with another notice of forbearance that had two conditions.

“I had to come up with a letter of intent for a person to purchase, or a bank that was able to take over the mortgage,” she said. “So [Thursday] night, I received a letter of intent for a person to purchase.”

The letter signifies that someone is willing to purchase the building, Taylor says, either by partnership or purchasing it outright. Because the negotiations are ongoing, she declined to share who sent the letter of intent.

Taylor admits, she’s not sure of what happens next.

“Truthfully, I do not know if the letter of intent supersedes that date [on the second forbearance],” she said. “I truly don't believe that the Royal Bank would not accept this letter of intent, so I feel positive.”

“I would just love to have a good night's sleep. It's been a while.”

Taylor says had the letter of intent not arrived, she might have had to file for personal bankruptcy.

“I think that the events that have transpired here is sort of a message to our community and a wake up call,” said King. “Here in our local community we have a business that requires its citizens and residents to stand up and support that business.”