Monday, December 21, 2009

South Side of Colborne

Time for some confession; I've lived only two years in Brantford and so I don't have the background to understand all that is happening on the south side of Colborne Street here in Brantford. From what I have heard it was a part of the downtown which suffered greatly when the economy of Brantford went down with the closing of the various farm machinery companies. I know that is probably a great exaggeration of what happened, but that's what I picked up. It seems at one point there was a horror movie shot in downtown Brantford, and nothing was necessary to give that run down, post-apocalyptic look to it. Says it all doesn't it.

A year or so ago, it was decided that the property on the south side was viewed as a problem and needed to be torn down. The city moved to expropriate the property and tear it down, with the purpose of building a larger campus for Laurier Brantford and the YMCA. Both are needed for the downtown and will be considered part of the renaissance of the downtown core. All this will need to the revitatization of the downtown core, which is desperately needed. As well, with the downtown core becoming based up higher education, it is important.

It would seem the city is of one voice and all agree it needs to be done. I remember one meeting I was at when the discussion was brought up and when the expropriation was brought up, there was unanimous support.

Or is there.

I brought up the topic in a past blog and I received a comment on twitter about what is going on. A link was given to me about a document that brings forward an alternative view of the south side of Colborne. A month ago the Brantford Heritage Committee produced a document which points to rehabilitation not just bulldozering the south side. The document is called:
"South Side of Colborne: A case for Rehabilitation". It is a fascinating document in that it gives the view that some of the property should be saved. The producers of the document point out that this is one of the largest stretches of
The longest stretch of pre-confederate buildings in the province of Ontario (if not anywhere west of Quebec)

This has inspired the group and people to reconsider this and say that there are buildings that should be saved and restored. They should be the anchor of any development which needs to take place.

The recommendation of the committee is:
While there are many buildings that have played a large part in the history of both Brantford and the country, we acknowledge that in order for the downtown to be revitalized some will likely need to be sacrificed. However, many of these are simply good buildings under tacky veneer, and some have fascinating and important histories.
The Heritage Committee recognizes that saving stand-alone buildings may not always be practical for a number of reasons. Considering that, the Heritage Committee advises that the City keep at least two blocks of buildings on the south side of Colborne Street, and elsewhere save good buildings where possible. This solution would provide plenty of room for complimentary contemporary uses, while still maintaining the uniquely historic character of the downtown core. It would also provide loft type
housing, a varied streetscape and small quirky spaces for individual entrepreneurs.

Certainly there is a lot of good with both sides, one side reminds us the south side is all that went wrong in the past with Brantford and to redevelop the City it will require some sacrifices and bring it to an end. The other sides says the South Side has property which is historically significant and needs to be preserved. These preserved and restored buildings can be part of the selling point since in many places older structures have a higher price and are viewed as viable property.

I have noticed lately in the papers there is now an interest and those who are not accepting the straightforward tear it all down philosophy.

It will be interesting to watch this all happen.

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