Brantford city council wants the Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield cleaned up by 2016, though staff can’t yet say how it will be done or how much it will cost.
At Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, councillors had to make a good faith gesture by approving $17.9 million in future debenture financing in order to meet Industry Canada’s deadline to secure $12 million in federal funding for the project.
Add the federal money to Brantford’s commitment and $5 million already in hand from the province and the final price tag to remediate the 52-acre site sits at $34.9 million.
However, that is only the latest estimate, which will change again once environmental assessments are complete and the city has a better sense of what techniques to use to clean the soil, said planning director Matt Reniers.
The lack of specifics are not yet a concern for Coun. Richard Carpenter, who pointed out that council can opt out and return the federal money if the price tag to remediate 66 Mohawk St. and 347 Greenwich St. is too high.
“We won’t make any planning decisions before we know the full cost (expected by the end of 2013),” Carpenter said. “We can decide to abandon this whole project and give the money back.”
That was cold comfort for Coun. Dan McCreary, who was skeptical of the widely divergent quotes council has received for the cost of the cleanup.
“I’m concerned that we’re underestimating the value of what lies ahead,” McCreary said, noting that council may have to interrupt the remediation process once the allotted funds are spent.
“I’m not sure that we’re being completely transparent and honest with the community and with residents who are expecting certain results.”
Regardless of the cost, cleaning the Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield is the right thing to do, Mayor Chris Friel said.
“That property built this city” and council must “own up to the problem” for the sake of Eagle Place residents and the environment, Friel said.
“It doesn’t make sense to give up $12 million,” said Coun. David Neumann. “This is something that has to be done.”
The federal money will be doled out in nine installments, with the bulk – $9.6 million – slated to arrive during the final stage of remediation in 2016.
Demolition of the former Cockshutt and Massey Ferguson buildings will commence as soon as staff reviews 15 requests for proposals and issues the tender.
Community services general manager Greg Dworak said the city can in the future generate income by selling parcels of the brownfield property as it is remediated.
The motion passed unanimously.