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Balfour House restoration proposal receives backing of Hamilton politicians

City councillors have voted 11-2 to have staff negotiate a lease agreement with Cardus.
City councillors have voted 11-2 to have staff negotiate a lease agreement with Cardus. Don Mitchell / Global News

A faith-based think tank and registered charity’s proposal involving a heritage property on Hamilton’s mountain brow has taken a big step forward.

City councillors have voted 11-2 to have staff negotiate a lease agreement with Cardus.

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President and CEO Michael Van Pelt appeared before Hamilton’s general issues committee on Wednesday and has offered to restore Balfour House to serve as the organization’s head office.

Van Pelt stresses that Cardus will complete the restoration work, estimated at more than $1.5 million, at “no cost to taxpayers.” He also pledges to operate Balfour “consistent in every way with existing heritage and zoning requirements.”

The proposal was met with widespread support during Wednesday’s meeting at city hall.

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Ward 7 Coun. Esther Pauls sees it as a “win, win” for Cardus and the city.

Ward 8 Coun. John Paul Danko says “you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” adding, “this is one of those situations where we do need to move on this and take advantage of what’s being offered.”

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger is also very supportive, saying that, right now, Balfour House is “not accessible to the public in any way, shape or form, and certainly not being used in the spirit of what this site could and should be.”

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The mansion, built in 1836, is owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust but managed by the city under an agreement that expires in 2039.

In hammering out the details of a lease agreement, the city will also seek the trust’s opinion about the proposal.

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Saint John wants to revamp regulations around heritage designations
Saint John wants to revamp regulations around heritage designations