By Kathy Renwald
Next Meeting: Thursday July 8 on Zoom
The North End Neighbourhood Association met June 2 via Zoom.
Concern about the future of Sunset Cultural Garden (also called Friendship Garden) at the corner of Bay and Strachan was discussed in light of the redevelopment of the Jamesville Social Housing site. At a June 15 public meeting called Reimagine Jamesville, developers of the site said that the parcel of land containing the garden “is on hold” and that the building of the housing is the priority that will take several years. More on the public meeting later in this article.
A petition with 1,000 signatures to save the park is circulating, and a sign campaign to “Save the Park” was discussed.
Miranda Burton of Green Venture presented to NENA and spoke about ways to manage rain water runoff in the garden with the use of plants and permeable paving. A design workshop is planned for later in the year. More information at www.greenventure.ca.
A reminder that the North Ender of the Year Award nomination form is available on the NENA website at www.northendneighbourhoodassociation.com/ The award will honour individuals and groups who have made a significant contribution to the protection and/or enhancement of the North End.
Report on Reimagine Jamesville public meeting on Zoom
Demolition may start as soon as this fall on the vacant and boarded up Jamesville Social Housing complex. With a homeless encampment growing just a block away, Jamesville has been a stain on the City of Hamilton for years. The 91 city owned units, once home to a diverse population, are covered in plywood and graffiti. Revitalization of the property can’t come soon enough. But developers are asking for understanding.
“I asked for patience,” Anthony Di Santo pleaded to a Zoom meeting June 15th called Reimagine Jamesville. “This is a complex public, private partnership.”
When it’s done the 5.4 acre site north of the CN tracks, and bordering James Street North and Strachan streets will contain 46 units of geared to income housing, 120 units of affordable housing and 287 stacked towns at market rate.
The forward movement on Jamesville has the momentum of sludge for those witnessing a crushing lack of affordable housing in Hamilton. Di Santo, development manager from Fram + Slokker, one of the partners in the redevelopment, outlined some of the reasons why.
First on the list, an environmental clean-up looms large. The property is so contaminated from past industrial uses that 100,000 tones of soil laced with oil, metals, salt and other toxins, has to be removed. The entire site will be excavated to a depth of three metres. The complexity of the environmental clean-up has altered the underground parking capacity, now it will only be located under the market price townhouses.
Before the environmental cleanup the existing buildings need to be demolished. Di Santo predicted that demolition could start this fall.
Next up will be filing for approval of an Official Plan Amendment. Though Di Santo was pressed for an answer on when exactly construction could begin, he was reluctant to commit. We do know as stated at the meeting that construction of the affordable units will be done first. Frank Giannone, president of the Fram Building Group said those units could be completed in two years.
Market rate stacked townhouses will be the last phase of construction. Those units will be on top of an underground parking garage. That garage has also contributed to the slow pace of progress after the discovery of a high water table at the site.
The Jamesville complex, built some 50 years ago, has been much maligned, but at the time it seemed to encompass some desirable features. Units had their own yards, and a central courtyard, was enhanced by the planting of many trees. Those trees, numbering about 100, mature and stately are nearly all being torn out due to the excavation of the site.
The Zoom meeting included North End residents, many supporting the concept, but concerned about the clearing of trees, the inevitable stream of trucks and construction vehicles entering and leaving the area, and increased stress on parking. Some of these concerns will be addressed at a future public meeting. That will happen after all zoning approvals are secured. At that time, the designs of the multi storied buildings will be revealed.
The partnership to redevelop Jamesville includes affordable housing specialist Indwell, City Housing Hamilton, Marz Homes, Desantis Homes, Fram + Slokker, and Melrose Investments. The city sold the valuable piece of land in the West Harbour district in order to raise money for other affordable housing projects. Nena’s Planning and Traffic Committee was thanked for their input.
The Reimagine Jamesville website (reimaginejamesville.ca) has more detail and will have the Zoom meeting recording posted at a later date.
For the newest NENA information go to:https://www.northendneighbourhoodassociation.com/