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Province opens Hamilton Mountain brow to development of long-term care and residential housing

A zoning order for the former Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital lands, which includes Century Manor, has opened up the area for residential development. Google Maps

A pair of Hamilton councillors are wondering if the city will be involved in the development of part of the Mountain brow which was once earmarked for a Mohawk College expansion and restoration of a former psychiatric hospital.

Ward 8 councillor John-Paul Danko and Ward 14 councillor Terry Whitehead released a joint statement on Thursday night revealing that the province’s minister of municipal affairs and housing issued a zoning order stating that the land will now be opened up for residential developments such as townhouses, semi-detached homes and single-family homes.

Read more: Province scuttles housing agreement involving City of Hamilton, Mohawk College

“We came with a vision that made a lot of sense for the college’s upkeep component because they would become landlocked if they don’t have access to some land that they would badly need for the future,” Whitehead told Global News, “We have a secondary plan in place. It went through consultation and then all of a sudden unilaterally, bang, they changed it.”
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Whitehead was referring to a plan in 2017 where the city began a review of the former psychiatric hospital lands on Juravinski Drive in which Mohawk College identified it as a “critical component” of a Fennell Campus master plan.

Described by the city as a “key” part of an employment node for health care and education, the councillors say residents conveyed strong support for a public space adjacent to the escarpment and a restored Century Manor.

“The city’s current vision for this land would provide new healthcare, education, and institutional jobs, see the restoration of Century Manor and maintain critical areas of greenspace and public access to the Niagara Escarpment,” said Danko. “This is not the right site for intensive residential development.”

In 2018, the Progressive Conservative government nixed a three-party agreement involving the city, the province and Mohawk College that involved Ontario selling 12 hectares of the former psychiatric hospital lands to the college.

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The deal was originally announced by the former Wynne Liberal government, which planned to use $9.5 million in proceeds from the sale to build affordable housing as part of a tower development at a city-owned property on York Boulevard between Queen and Bay streets.

Read more: Land sale means expansion for Mohawk College, new affordable housing downtown

In a release on Thursday night, Mayor Fred Eisenberger welcomed the “sign” that the province is preparing to develop the site and looked forward to working with Queen’s Park on its vision.

“Our vision is for new development that complements the existing institutions of Mohawk College and St. Joseph’s with a district that provides for additional institutional uses, including long-term care housing, and that advances the educational and research sectors in the city,” said Eisenberger.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the ministry of municipal affairs and housing told Global News that the zoning order opens up the property to a potential long-term care facility as well as much needed residential housing.

The ministry also said the move does not remove permission for institutional uses – such as the option proposed by Mohawk College’s expansion.

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

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