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Brampton city council votes to demolish heritage block downtown

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on February 22, 2024 with No Comments

‘No project downtown’ could be completed before demolition, says Mayor Patrick Brown.Brampton city council voted Wednesday to demolish a heritage block as early as this fall, part of a plan to change the face of the city’s downtown.

City council passed a motion to use $6 million from its 2024 budget to tear down theblock of Main Street — once a cultural hub that included the Heritage Theatre, built over 100 years ago.

The properties sit on abandoned underground tunnels the city of 700,000 relies on for flood protection from the Etobicoke Creek. The city plans to use the cleared land for Brampton’s 2040 vision to densify downtown. Hazel McCallion LRT, Riverwalk, and the Centre for Innovation are all planned around the city’s Main Street.

“No project downtown we were able to complete without dealing with this. And so we’ve now dealt with it,” Mayor Patrick Brown told after the vote.

“We dealt with a headache, if anything.”

The council-endorsed plan includes the purchase of some private properties, and then, according to a city staff report prepared for council, the demolition of the entire north block: 22-28, 30-46, 48, 54-60, 63-71 Main St.

Brampton’s general manager of building design and construction says that will be cheaper than the “prohibitive cost” of structural repairs to the neglected properties.

The mostly vacant buildings, located north of city hall, were declared structurally unsound in 2018 and are “in poor condition and do not comply with Ontario Building Code requirements due in part to long-term deterioration,” the city report said, recommending they be demolished as early as this fall.
Even though the report lists four private properties the city still needs to purchase before they can be demolished, Brown said only “two small properties are left.”

“My goal is that the final pieces of this puzzle we put into place this year, so that we’ll be able to start on the construction,” he said.

Brown says residents can expect construction downtown for the next five years.
Wednesday’s vote came as a surprise to Peeyush Gupta, who owns Wee Smoke Shop, a 174-year-old business that’s always operated out of its Main Street location.

He says he’s frustrated the city is not factoring in the impact on local businesses and residents, who want the city to find them new locations within downtown before they’re asked to leave.

“We were shocked. My wife is crying. Why such a big back stab? None of us had the idea,” said Gupta, who is also the Downtown Brampton BIA’s secretary.

“You are uprooting us from our roots.”

Brown said he’s aware of the challenges businesses have gone through, but “you don’t stop progress because of a temporary inconvenience.”

“It would be misleading to say there’s not going to be disruptions and challenges for businesses and we’ll do what we can to support them,” he said.
Owner of downtown coffee shop Segovia, Horacio Herrera, says he welcomes the plan to redevelop, even though construction will be a “pain.”

“I would like to see the city more modernized,” Herrera said. “I believe that the image of having like a little town north of Toronto is kind of old fashioned now.”
Environmental assessments are still underway before the demolition can take place.

Community planning advocate Sylvia Menezes Robert says the big question on her mind is how much longer will it take for the city to complete the demolition and move ahead with its 2040 vision to bring investments and developments downtown as was promised to business owners in 2018.
Roberts says the demolition could also save the city time with LRT tunnel construction, for which the city will have to do sequential mining.

“The dirt needs to come out somewhere,” she said. “If you tear down that block and use it as an open pit to start pulling out dirt where you’re building the station, it would actually potentially save a year or more.”

Mayor Brown agrees, saying that moving quickly will help the city to potentially open up space for billions in investments.

“In five years, people are gonna be envious of our downtown,” he said.

 

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