The Mohawk/Greenwich brownfield discussion has been going on in Eagle Place over the past two decades. There has been much talk and to date no final decision on utilization. In the era of Mayor Hancock’s Council, the land was accumulated under the control of the municipality, studies were done, and consultation included potential developers, remediation experts all levels of government and the neighbourhood. The request for proposals seemed to bring an interested developer into the mix who promised the world but at the last moment lacked the capacity to live up to the promises. However, there was close to $17 million from the province and feds that launched a cleanup project. And so, it began. There have been over 600 direct neighbour meetings, BBQs and presentations to service clubs, meetings with stakeholders and continued discussion with environment officials. Staff explained this has been the most extensively consulted project in the history of the municipality.
In the past 10 years the vision, despite incremental municipal attention, the vision seemed to hang on insufficient will to progress beyond further consultation.
Well the results are in. The committee is back in the saddle and the willing advocates are filled with hope and fervor to make the final steps to re-purposing the land.
Mayor Davis is a firm driver of this project and Councillor Carpenter, as the committee Chair, with Councillor Utley as Vice Chair had a productive meeting with substantial staff support and enthusiastic community interest.
Friday May 4th, this Mohawk Lake District Working Group spent more than two hours determining possible applications, partnerships and timelines to bring success.
Councillor VanderStelt pointed out, the negative, false and misleading rumours in the community need to be corrected:
The land meets government regulation for standards for construction on former brownfields. That technical study already meeting government expectations will be complete this summer. The plan includes: understandable and cautious long-term monitoring; the use of concrete pad caps as foundations under new structures; a mix of residential, institutional and commercial applications; recreational space, trail and green space uses; outdoor exhibits to reflect on the industrial heritage of this land; the Canadian Military Heritage Museum; a promenade connection to the Mohawk Lake project in the future; new roads/infrastructure and parking access for the development; safe control of rail access and existing industrial neighbours.
To be clear, there are three aspects included in this project that are no longer under debate. First, there can be no single-family residential housing on this land. Second, the land does NOT fall under the GRCA flood plain legislation because of its position relevant to the river. And third, any landscaping cannot be such as to rely on deep digging into the soil or extended root structure.
Who has legitimately confirmed interest in becoming a partner in this project?
Lansdowne Children’s Centre is under considerable stress due to insufficient space for the growing needs of over 2600 children being treated in our community, let alone the 1500 on a waiting list. They see the location as being a fresh new build as the current location on Mount Pleasant is both landlocked and cost prohibited from tearing down and rebuilding on a small footprint even with adding multiple floors in elevation. Anyone driving on Mount Pleasant can see the heavy street parking utilization beyond the full parking spaces. The MLD (Mohawk Lake District) is close to many clients, accessible through public transit. The halls have become client areas: the more than 110 staff are packed in with little or no control over privacy and discrete treatment locations; and the new government legislation for autism funding, as just one example, is going to exacerbate the demand on use of space. Satellite services from many locations is not a feasible alternative given many of the children with complex needs move between occupation, physio and speech therapy all offered under one roof.
Brantford Police Services has also outgrown it’s detachment at Gretzky and Elgin Street. With new technology, demands on increased safety due to violence, drugs and crime they require more specialized forces beyond current staff of over 170, and the space to grow to meet the anticipated residential growth within the community. The capital needed and the limited footprint renovation would also be cost prohibitive compared to a new build on city owned land.
Children’s Safety Village is on borrowed time in their current location behind the RISE Centre. Their lease expires in the next three years.
Six Nations Polytechnic, also on Elgin Street as a tenant in the former Mohawk College space is growing it’s post-secondary programming for indigenous students in both College and University studies. They have a created a successful niche that is growing far ahead of available space needs in the near future. Should they find a new location, the MLD offers direct proximity to other Six Nations features in the area including the Woodland Cultural Centre and Her Majesty’s Chapel of the Mohawks, directly attached.
Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre has the time-keeper’s office and gate, left during the demolition of other buildings on the property as features they want to include in walking displays of outdoor pieces to celebrate the original nature of the neighbourhood.
De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre currently located in the downtown core on King Street is under stress for space in treatment of indigenous clients. Designed to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous Individuals, families and communities through holistic approaches that harmonize Indigenous, traditional and western health care which respects people with a distinctive cultural identity, values, and beliefs. This also would benefit from the cultural opportunities connected to the afore-mentioned Six Nations neighbouring property.
Although the Brantford Parks and Recreation Department is laying a marker down for future development on the MLD, that still has not been clarified, approved by council or allocated any resources to date. Given the $50 million already approved for sports and recreational development in the Shellard Lane West Brant, it could be a number of years before this is considered.
Although there are over 200 acres in the considered district, about 60 acres are under consideration for development. The community is onside for the recommended applications and the partners are keen to get moving on their projects. Municipal Planning Staff have made recommendations and suggestions for Council’s consideration as to the division of the property according to usage. The MLD committee already began with alterations as to divided percentages to reflect the number of interested parties and their specific needs.
Bottom line. The staff will prepare the background information and options to the City Council Committee of the whole at the June meeting in line with the results of the technical study. By early 2020, the ultimate detailed decisions and final report will be approved by Council. From then, the MLD will evolve into a vibrant mix of clean, attractive and practical applications with proper infrastructure and support throughout the community.