Ontario throws Hamilton a change-up over brow lands

News Aug 14, 2020 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

In a surprise move that caught Hamilton staff and councillors off-guard, the provincial government has expanded the zoning on the former 12.5-hectare Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital lands to permit residential units.

“There was no warning,” said Ward 8 Coun. John-Paul Danko. “It changes the value of the property. And it excludes Mohawk College from the property.”

Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead who, as the former Ward 8 councillor, was involved for three years in crafting an agreement for the future of the property with the city, province and Mohawk College that would see the education institution purchase the property including Century Manor, said the provincial government’s move was done under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They are taking advantage of COVID to change the vision of the property,” said Whitehead. “My biggest fear is Mohawk College being cut out of the agreement. I am not happy.”

Mohawk College officials stated that the provincial zoning order "comes as a surprise. The property is a key element in our current growth strategy."

Provincial officials, though, say the minister’s order that was issued Aug. 12 is an opportunity to accelerate the development of the property.

“We believe that the development of long-term care and residential housing is an option for the site as part of our government’s commitment to ensure more seniors get the quality care they deserve,” said Conrad Spezowka, spokesperson for the municipal affairs ministry.

He said the site has not been sold and “no final decision has been made on the future use” of the property.

Spezowka said the ministry’s order does not eliminate Mohawk College’s option to purchase the land.

“It simply adds the ability for residential housing to be built, including housing for veterans, seniors and students,” he said.

The minister’s order, which was filed Aug. 12, expands the permitted uses on the property to include single family, semi-detached, townhouses, street townhouses and multiple dwellings.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said in a statement that the city has a “longstanding vision for the best uses for this site development over many years and in consultation with the community.”

But the city’s goal is for “additional institutional uses, including long-term care housing, and that advances the educational and research sectors in the city.”

In 2017, council approved a comprehensive review of the former psychiatric lands, which included extensive discussions with residents and stakeholder groups.

The ultimate decision for the property was to create employment lands for health care and education, while also maintaining public access to the lands, the nearby Niagara Escarpment and saving and repurposing Century Manor, the last remaining part of the former hospital’s building.

Danko said the comprehensive report for the lands included creating a “major employment centre,” installing the A-line transportation route and protecting public access.

For Whitehead, seeing the province’s decision is a bitter pill for him to swallow. He said over the three years of negotiations there were many meetings with stakeholder groups that finally created a “win-win-win” for everyone.

“I hope the government isn’t listening to the development community,” he said.

In 2018, it was announced that Mohawk College was preparing to spend $9.5 million to purchase the coveted 12.5-hectare property beside St. Joseph’s Healthcare Centre, through the City of Hamilton.

The city would then use the funds to create a mixed-use tower that would allocated 20 per cent for affordable housing development at 191 York Blvd. But soon after the Progressive Conservative government backed out of that project in late 2018.

Mohawk president Ron McKerlie at the time said the brow lands gave the college “room to grow.” The lands had been incorporated into the college’s 20-year master plan.

McKerlie did commit to spending up to $9 million to restore Century Manor.

Century Manor has a heritage designation and has been deterioriating over the years. The current owner, Infrastructure Ontario, has banned public access because of safety concerns.

Mohawk College officials stated that they hoped further talks can be held with the province on the property, "before any significant decisions are made about the future of those lands."

Whitehead said the idea was to preserve the exterior of Century Manor while repurposing the interior for people to use.

Danko, Whitehead and Mayor Fred Eisenberger all condemned the province’s decision without even discussing it with the city, Mohawk or residents.

Whitehead and Danko, along with the mayor, have been in contact with ministry officials to discuss the discussion with the province.

“I want to talk to Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark, even Premier Doug Ford, and appeal to him,” said Whitehead. “When you make a decision, you should engage with the stakeholders beforehand.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We found out about the provincial government's plans to expand the zoning on the site to include institutional and residential and we wanted to learn more.

Ontario and Hamilton at crossroads over future of brow lands

News Aug 14, 2020 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

In a surprise move that caught Hamilton staff and councillors off-guard, the provincial government has expanded the zoning on the former 12.5-hectare Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital lands to permit residential units.

“There was no warning,” said Ward 8 Coun. John-Paul Danko. “It changes the value of the property. And it excludes Mohawk College from the property.”

Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead who, as the former Ward 8 councillor, was involved for three years in crafting an agreement for the future of the property with the city, province and Mohawk College that would see the education institution purchase the property including Century Manor, said the provincial government’s move was done under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They are taking advantage of COVID to change the vision of the property,” said Whitehead. “My biggest fear is Mohawk College being cut out of the agreement. I am not happy.”

Mohawk College officials stated that the provincial zoning order "comes as a surprise. The property is a key element in our current growth strategy."

Provincial officials, though, say the minister’s order that was issued Aug. 12 is an opportunity to accelerate the development of the property.

“We believe that the development of long-term care and residential housing is an option for the site as part of our government’s commitment to ensure more seniors get the quality care they deserve,” said Conrad Spezowka, spokesperson for the municipal affairs ministry.

He said the site has not been sold and “no final decision has been made on the future use” of the property.

Spezowka said the ministry’s order does not eliminate Mohawk College’s option to purchase the land.

“It simply adds the ability for residential housing to be built, including housing for veterans, seniors and students,” he said.

The minister’s order, which was filed Aug. 12, expands the permitted uses on the property to include single family, semi-detached, townhouses, street townhouses and multiple dwellings.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said in a statement that the city has a “longstanding vision for the best uses for this site development over many years and in consultation with the community.”

But the city’s goal is for “additional institutional uses, including long-term care housing, and that advances the educational and research sectors in the city.”

In 2017, council approved a comprehensive review of the former psychiatric lands, which included extensive discussions with residents and stakeholder groups.

The ultimate decision for the property was to create employment lands for health care and education, while also maintaining public access to the lands, the nearby Niagara Escarpment and saving and repurposing Century Manor, the last remaining part of the former hospital’s building.

Danko said the comprehensive report for the lands included creating a “major employment centre,” installing the A-line transportation route and protecting public access.

For Whitehead, seeing the province’s decision is a bitter pill for him to swallow. He said over the three years of negotiations there were many meetings with stakeholder groups that finally created a “win-win-win” for everyone.

“I hope the government isn’t listening to the development community,” he said.

In 2018, it was announced that Mohawk College was preparing to spend $9.5 million to purchase the coveted 12.5-hectare property beside St. Joseph’s Healthcare Centre, through the City of Hamilton.

The city would then use the funds to create a mixed-use tower that would allocated 20 per cent for affordable housing development at 191 York Blvd. But soon after the Progressive Conservative government backed out of that project in late 2018.

Mohawk president Ron McKerlie at the time said the brow lands gave the college “room to grow.” The lands had been incorporated into the college’s 20-year master plan.

McKerlie did commit to spending up to $9 million to restore Century Manor.

Century Manor has a heritage designation and has been deterioriating over the years. The current owner, Infrastructure Ontario, has banned public access because of safety concerns.

Mohawk College officials stated that they hoped further talks can be held with the province on the property, "before any significant decisions are made about the future of those lands."

Whitehead said the idea was to preserve the exterior of Century Manor while repurposing the interior for people to use.

Danko, Whitehead and Mayor Fred Eisenberger all condemned the province’s decision without even discussing it with the city, Mohawk or residents.

Whitehead and Danko, along with the mayor, have been in contact with ministry officials to discuss the discussion with the province.

“I want to talk to Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark, even Premier Doug Ford, and appeal to him,” said Whitehead. “When you make a decision, you should engage with the stakeholders beforehand.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We found out about the provincial government's plans to expand the zoning on the site to include institutional and residential and we wanted to learn more.

Ontario and Hamilton at crossroads over future of brow lands

News Aug 14, 2020 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

In a surprise move that caught Hamilton staff and councillors off-guard, the provincial government has expanded the zoning on the former 12.5-hectare Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital lands to permit residential units.

“There was no warning,” said Ward 8 Coun. John-Paul Danko. “It changes the value of the property. And it excludes Mohawk College from the property.”

Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead who, as the former Ward 8 councillor, was involved for three years in crafting an agreement for the future of the property with the city, province and Mohawk College that would see the education institution purchase the property including Century Manor, said the provincial government’s move was done under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They are taking advantage of COVID to change the vision of the property,” said Whitehead. “My biggest fear is Mohawk College being cut out of the agreement. I am not happy.”

Mohawk College officials stated that the provincial zoning order "comes as a surprise. The property is a key element in our current growth strategy."

Provincial officials, though, say the minister’s order that was issued Aug. 12 is an opportunity to accelerate the development of the property.

“We believe that the development of long-term care and residential housing is an option for the site as part of our government’s commitment to ensure more seniors get the quality care they deserve,” said Conrad Spezowka, spokesperson for the municipal affairs ministry.

He said the site has not been sold and “no final decision has been made on the future use” of the property.

Spezowka said the ministry’s order does not eliminate Mohawk College’s option to purchase the land.

“It simply adds the ability for residential housing to be built, including housing for veterans, seniors and students,” he said.

The minister’s order, which was filed Aug. 12, expands the permitted uses on the property to include single family, semi-detached, townhouses, street townhouses and multiple dwellings.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said in a statement that the city has a “longstanding vision for the best uses for this site development over many years and in consultation with the community.”

But the city’s goal is for “additional institutional uses, including long-term care housing, and that advances the educational and research sectors in the city.”

In 2017, council approved a comprehensive review of the former psychiatric lands, which included extensive discussions with residents and stakeholder groups.

The ultimate decision for the property was to create employment lands for health care and education, while also maintaining public access to the lands, the nearby Niagara Escarpment and saving and repurposing Century Manor, the last remaining part of the former hospital’s building.

Danko said the comprehensive report for the lands included creating a “major employment centre,” installing the A-line transportation route and protecting public access.

For Whitehead, seeing the province’s decision is a bitter pill for him to swallow. He said over the three years of negotiations there were many meetings with stakeholder groups that finally created a “win-win-win” for everyone.

“I hope the government isn’t listening to the development community,” he said.

In 2018, it was announced that Mohawk College was preparing to spend $9.5 million to purchase the coveted 12.5-hectare property beside St. Joseph’s Healthcare Centre, through the City of Hamilton.

The city would then use the funds to create a mixed-use tower that would allocated 20 per cent for affordable housing development at 191 York Blvd. But soon after the Progressive Conservative government backed out of that project in late 2018.

Mohawk president Ron McKerlie at the time said the brow lands gave the college “room to grow.” The lands had been incorporated into the college’s 20-year master plan.

McKerlie did commit to spending up to $9 million to restore Century Manor.

Century Manor has a heritage designation and has been deterioriating over the years. The current owner, Infrastructure Ontario, has banned public access because of safety concerns.

Mohawk College officials stated that they hoped further talks can be held with the province on the property, "before any significant decisions are made about the future of those lands."

Whitehead said the idea was to preserve the exterior of Century Manor while repurposing the interior for people to use.

Danko, Whitehead and Mayor Fred Eisenberger all condemned the province’s decision without even discussing it with the city, Mohawk or residents.

Whitehead and Danko, along with the mayor, have been in contact with ministry officials to discuss the discussion with the province.

“I want to talk to Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark, even Premier Doug Ford, and appeal to him,” said Whitehead. “When you make a decision, you should engage with the stakeholders beforehand.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We found out about the provincial government's plans to expand the zoning on the site to include institutional and residential and we wanted to learn more.