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Hamilton councillors look for funding to transform historic Auchmar Estate

The future of Auchmar Estate remains unclear, but city politicians say it will remain in public hands.
The future of Auchmar Estate remains unclear, but city politicians say it will remain in public hands. CHML

City staff are being asked to assess the viability of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry’s proposal to restore Auchmar Estate.

The assessment will include looking at alternative funding options that could help the non-profit organization achieve its vision of restoring and transforming the historic mansion on Hamilton’s west mountain.

The 13th Battalion Auchmar Heritage Trust’s $20-million business plan, presented to the General Issues Committee on Wednesday, doesn’t have a funding source but many councillors have stressed that they want it to work.

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Ward 8 Coun. Terry Whitehead says, “We need to explore every opportunity to land this plane.” Ward 7’s Donna Skelly adds, “Let’s deal with this first and exhaust it” before moving on to consider other options.

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Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson stresses that he’s excited by the possibility and “doesn’t see any better fit in this community, short of a philanthropist coming forward with millions of dollars and a cheque.”

The trust’s vision for Auchmar involves transforming the crumbling estate into a venue for weddings and events, complete with a restaurant and tea house.

The plan also calls for a regimental chapel and centre dedicated to helping former soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The proposal envisions a capital repair cost of about $20 million over five years and first-year operating expenses of about $283,000.