Demolition of most buildings at Brantford's Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield site can commence following city council's approval of a bid from ProGreen Demolition Ltd. to clear the 52-acre site for approximately $1.53 million.
The Canadian Military Heritage Museum and an outbuilding will be all that remains at 347 Greenwich St. after demolition, while the Cockshutt timekeepers' building and adjacent portico will stand at 66 Mohawk St.
ProGreen determined that it would cost $16,000 less to leave the portico where it is, rather than taking it apart and labelling each piece so it could be reconstructed at a future date.
After some debate, council voted to preserve the portico on site. The stone and brick structure will be encased in a steel frame that the city's manager of purchasing, Tina Iacoe, said should provide protection from vandals.
Several councillors complained that leaving the portico standing would be a slight against area residents who for decades have looked at what Coun. John Utley called an “eyesore.”
Coun. Larry Kings worried that the city did not know the cost of storing and reassembling the portico.
The portico would complicate remediation, said manager of policy planning Paul Moore.
“Any buildings that are on the site during the remediation present an obstacle,” Moore said.
Coun. Dan McCreary was unconvinced. He argued that if remediation can take place around the much larger timekeepers' building, the portico should not pose a problem. He also made the point that the portico will never find a more appropriate home than where it has stood for a century.
“There's really no reason not to keep (the portico) on site,” McCreary said. “In fact, (by doing so) we save money for heritage, which is a miracle in this community.”
Should the portico be taken down, “it will never be reassembled in our lifetime” because of a lack of political will, McCreary said. He said the group interested in opening a Cockshutt museum at the site has asked “on bended knee” to keep the portico intact.
As the city is already paying for security to guard the timekeepers' building, there will be no addition cost to keep an eye on the portico, McCreary said.
“Why do we have to strip away the heritage that was there?” asked Mayor Chris Friel, who was in favour of keeping the portico.
The majority of council agreed with McCreary's argument, with Coun. Dave Wrobel and Coun. Jan Vanderstelt opposing.
ProGreen was chosen from five qualified bids. Cole Engineering will manage the project on behalf of the city.
Now that council has given final approval to the demolition plan, work can begin “immediately,” Iacoe said.