City mulls buying former hospital lands on Mountain
Site designation allows for some residential use
The city is contemplating a multimillion dollar purchase of former Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital land on the west Mountain.
“I think this is our last bastion of premium land on the west Mountain and this is a real opportunity to leave a legacy-type planning process that truly celebrates this location,” said Ward 8 Coun. Terry Whitehead, who represents the area.
He said he supports purchasing the 8.7-hectare property next to St. Joseph Healthcare Hamilton’s West 5th campus, which stretches north from Fennell Avenue West to the Mountain brow.
The land is owned by the province, which has declared it surplus and to be sold off. The sale would not include the ambulance communication centre and public health lab near Fennell Avenue.
Whitehead said by purchasing the land, the city would determine the use of the property and could generate revenue by selling off a portion of the site with the appropriate zoning in place.
He noted the city would also be able to save the Century Manor building, which dates back to 1884 and carries an Ontario Heritage Act designation.
Whitehead agreed the cost would likely be “several” million dollars.
Queen’s Park has indicated it will be giving the city another 2.9 hectares of woodland and green space along the Mountain brow to the north and west of the site. This land is deemed environmentally sensitive.
Christine Newbold, the city’s manager of community planning and geographic information systems, said the property is designated for a number of uses.
“The lands are designated major-institutional in the official plan which allows a variety of institutional uses as well as some low- to medium-(density) residential uses,” she said.
Low-density uses include single and semi-detached homes and townhouses, Newbold said. The city has begun a public consultation process to help it determine whether to purchase the land and what it should be used for.
About 50 people attended a community information meeting at Mohawk College recently. On the matter of land use, Newbold said the public wanted to see as much land as possible preserved as parkland or open space for passive recreation such as walking trails. They also said the city should consider institutional uses for the property but maintain the open space concept.