At Monday’s Council meeting, MPP and Minister for the Environment David Piccini updated Council on a wide range of issues. He spoke about increased funding for the hospital and long term care homes as well as other items but the item of most interest was an update on Brookside. David reported that work on decommissioning Brookside has moved quickly and is now in stage three. That means that all equipment has been removed and both the Federal and Provincial Governments have declared they are not interested in taking over the property. Stage three means that the “municipalities have first right of refusal and can express interest in the property”. The question now is: Who is going to buy it and what should be done with it?
When it was announced that Brookside would be closed as a youth detention centre, Piccini asked for citizen input and received more than 500 emails on the subject. David said that: “although we had a range of great ideas, there were some consistent themes that emerged”.
- Protecting our heritage: Strathmore House.
- Preserving greenspace.
- Mixed-income housing.
- Performing arts & culture.
- Mental Health & Addictions. Job creation.
He noted that “arts and culture” included the film sector.
But although the Province is willing to “work with the Town”, they are not offering money except perhaps to help with remediation (such as asbestos removal) and through grant processes. So it is up to the Town. As David said: “The ball is firmly in Cobourg’s Court”. It’s clear that the Province will not be taking the lead to use the property for any of the purposes suggested – they intend to unload it.
The Province expects to sell the Property at fair market value – there is no talk of a nominal price, only that “we’ll work with the Town”. When Councillor Chorley asked what were the Province’s preferences, David listed the themes above although seemed to emphasize affordable housing.
But affordable housing is a County responsibility and they have already identified projects and allocated their budget.
It’s not clear what the next step is – a time frame of 2 years was mentioned – maybe that’s how long the Town and County have to decide? With an election later this year and the 2022 budget already decided, it seems unlikely that Cobourg Council will decide anything soon and it will likely be an election issue. It brings to mind the fiasco of the Gillbard school which was closed in 2002 then put on the market. Presumably the Town had first choice to buy it but despite interest from an Arts group, procrastination meant that it was sold to a developer.
- Cobourg Cultural Community Lobbies for action on Brookside – 4 May 2021
- Should the Town buy the Brookside Property? – 26 April 2021
- Brookside has Closed – 12 February 2021