“No more delay. Act now.”
That was the slogan on a sign outside the Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield on Saturday morning.
Ward 5 councillors Marguerite Ceschi-Smith and David Neumann rallied 40 Eagle Place residents in an attempt to spur action to demolish and clean up the 52-acre brownfield site.
“Decisions have been made at council these past few weeks that put this whole project at risk and show just how little political will there is on our council to move this forward,” Ceschi-Smith said. “That is why we need you as a community to stand up.”
The residents, some of them living across the street or nearby the blighted brownfield property, agreed to show up on Monday night at city hall with as much strength as they can muster to demand action.
A motion to commit $19 million to the eventual remediation of the soil at Greenwich-Mohawk is on the council table to be deferred for more information and a better costing.
Some members of council did not feel comfortable with committing to such a large sum of money without a firm estimate.
“When I hear the word deferral, I feel like it’s council’s attempt to put this on the back burner,” resident Ross Bennett said. “We have to go to council to tell them the No. 1 priority should be to get these buildings down.”
The $19 million commitment from the city is required to leverage the $12 million in federal government support that has been sitting idle since it was first promised by outgoing Liberal prime minister Paul Martin.
“That money could be in jeopardy if we don’t get an agreement in place,” Neumann said. “The federal government needs an agreement and a commitment from the municipality about how that money would be spent.”
Neumann and Ceschi-Smith would like to see council vote down the deferral and pass the original motion to approve the $19 million.
The $19 million debenture would increase the city’s ongoing operating budget by $1.15 million.
Residents said they are tired of looking at the worn-down facades and the reminders of the brownfield fires.
One woman said she is embarrassed to invite friends over because they would have to drive past the brownfield to get to her home.
“Let’s go one further,” Bennett said. “Let’s get a motion on Monday to have the buildings torn down by the end of the year.”