Tag Archives: Province

Changes coming to Gore Park

Call it the end of an era, a new chapter, or a failure. No matter what you call it, change is coming to Gore Park.

As of January 9th, developer Wilson Blanchard was cleared by City Council for the demolition of 18-28 King Street East – a series of four row houses on the south side of Gore Park – to make room for a mixed-use condominium development. However, after community opposition, Blanchard has decided to withdraw his application to demolish all but two of the buildings. But was this a fair compromise?

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These four Victorian-era row houses were erected between 1840 and 1875. Renowned architect William Thomas (famous for St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto) designed the three-storey buildings, 18 and 22 King Street (which Blanchard plans to keep). The buildings facades, with intricately designed cornices and arcade-style windows, are still intact.

All four historical buildings, however, should have been designated as heritage buildings by Heritage Canada, which would prevent them from being demolished.

The City of Hamilton’s Heritage Committee’s track record for preserving buildings is far from flattering. In 2006, the Province had to step in and save the Lister Block after it was slated for demolition. If it weren’t for community outcry, all four buildings – instead of two – would currently be under the wrecking ball.

These row houses, sometimes referred to as “streetwalls”, are integral to the streetscape of Gore Park – the city’s Civic Square.

The rows of these attached structures simulate continuity, essentially enclosing the square, therefore defining the space for the activities Gore Park can host. Like the Gore Park Master Plan – a pedestrian-friendly plaza closed off from traffic.

However, the outcome isn’t all that bad. Artist renderings released by the developer reveal the infill of buildings at a three-storey height beside what would be the two remaining buildings, as well as taller mixed-use buildings superimposed into the adjacent parking lot that sits idle.

Another positive outcome from this compromise is the active role the community played in shaping their city’s future development. This role is an important element in achieving a sustainable city.

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Filed under Architecture, Development, Economy, Heritage, History

Province agrees on funding for the remediation of Randle Reef

The province has finally agreed on its contribution to help clean up Hamilton’s polluted harbour.

The Ministry of the Environment made the announcement on Monday that the province will contribute $46.3 million to the remediation of Randle Reef.

Randle Reef is a part of Hamilton Harbour and one of the most toxic sites in any of the Great Lakes. The area is 12-hectares of shale reef which has been polluted by toxic sediment – coal tar – from the conversion of coal into coke (which is a form of fuel).

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Mixed Use Plan for Randle Reef (Photo Courtesy: Environment Canada)

The province’s contribution to the cleanup tops off the funding needed for the remediation of the site. With its contribution, the $140 million capping plan can move forward.

Along with the province, Hamilton will contribute $14 million over a 10-year period; Burlington and the Halton Region will contribute over $4.3 million; the Hamilton Port Authority will chip in $14 million, and US Steel is investing $12 million in a containment facility, as well as a $2 million contribution.

Mark Johnson, a spokesperson for Environment Canada, says once everything is in place, clean up will begin in 2014.

“A key next step will involve the negotiation of legal project implementation agreements among all funders to confirm the details of contributions, roles and responsibilities in the management of the project, followed by the tendering of the project,” said Johnson.

A clean Randle Reef will not only mean reduced contaminant levels, but also some possible economic returns for the city of Hamilton.

“[The remediation] will also remove current restrictions on navigation and generate economic returns benefits during the construction phase and through the creation of valuable port lands,” said Johnson.

John Hall, co-coordinator of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, says some of the things seen since the remedial action plan started (back in 1985) is the exponential growth of the west end of the harbour in the last 10 years, with new parks and new trails.

“We’re going to see a […] continuation of the various improvements that have been made in the way of public amenities for people to visit the harbor, to recreate in the harbour. That will be the major thing, I think, that people will see,” said Hall.

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