Caledonia mill’s demo, rebuild going to OMB
Residents still opposed to office complex plan for 1853 historic landmark
Local residents are taking action against the proposed demolition and rebuild of the old flour mill in Haldimand County.
An appeal was filed with the Ontario Municipal Board last month after county councillors unanimously backed the necessary zoning amendments for the project to move ahead in December.
The move follows residents presenting a petition with about 200 names to council late last year.
Some concerns raised by those opposed to the redevelopment of the old Caledonia mill — which has sat on the banks of the Grand River since 1853 — include putting a commercial office complex in a residential area and converting a portion of green space to parking spots.
“You’re losing a piece of history, and that’s a shame if it happens,” said George Naylor, who moved into a home across the street from the old mill last March. “But if it’s absolutely unavoidable, then what’s the next best alternative?”
For him, it’s finding a way to keep access to the river public instead of building office space.
“They can’t make more riverfront,” he added.
Craig Manley, Haldimand’s general manager of planning and economic development, told The Spectator last month that the county will continue to back the recommendation made by staff and approved by council.
“We will support that position at the tribunal with our county solicitor and put our best case forward,” Manley said.
Next steps will likely be a prehearing where both parties are brought together to address the issues, and if that is unsuccessful, the matter will move forward to a full hearing, he said.
Until the case works its way through the board, the county can’t issue formal approvals or permits, he added.
The plan is for the new mill building to be built on the same footprint as the old mill at 149 Forfar St. W., with an exterior that matches its wood-panelled façade. Designs for inside include more than 10,000 square feet of office space, plus areas commemorating the Caledonia Old Mill’s heritage.
Construction is expected to start this summer, with doors scheduled to open by March 2018.
That’s what Henry Schilthuis, of Riverside Properties, which bought the Grand River mill from the Caledonia Old Mill Corporation for $2 last March, previously told The Spectator.
Efforts to restore the last waterpowered mill on the Grand River began in 1981, but have consistently been curbed, mainly because of the funding issues.
The mill stopped grinding flour and feed in 1966. In the 19th century, it put out more than one thousand 300-pound barrels of flour a week and shipped to Europe, Quebec and Western Canada. It operated as a feed store until 1975.
Garett Eggink — a partner with Riverside Properties — previously told The Spectator the cost to completely restore the 15,000-squarefoot mill is pegged at between $8 million and $9 million, with the planned demolition and rebuild expected to ring in at about $3.5 million.
You’re losing a piece of history, and that’s a shame if it happens.” GEORGE NAYLOR NEIGHBOUR
The old mill is in deep disrepair, including a crumbling foundation.