Construction underway downtown Brantford of new $58.4-million Laurier-YMCA Athletics and Recreation Centre

PhotoSubmitted by @doolittlemedia

BRANTFORD – 5 years after 41 buildings where expropriated, demolished and replaced with a grassy knoll, the construction of the Laurier-YMCA Athletics and Recreation Complex is underway. @DoolittleMedia submitted an areal photograph of the current progress of the construction.

Heritage and Native advocate standing with sign to protest the demolition of a span of 41 buildings, two being located on land of an unresolved lands claim.

Heritage and Native advocate standing with sign to protest the demolition of a span of 41 buildings, two being located on land of an unresolved lands claim.

In 2008, during a $10+ Million expropriation process that seen 41 buildings conveyed to the city of Brantford. Concerned residents formed groups  (facebook: Save the South Side of Colborne) to preserve the historical data that was home to many longtime residents.

More than 1,700 members of the “Save the south side of Colborne Street” Facebook group agreed to preservation, and some even took to the streets in March to vouch for the buildings that have housed such Canadian start-ups as shoe company Agnew-Surpass, one of Ontario’s first grocery stores and a long-time office of inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Native land claims and special interest groups forced delays to the early stages of demolition, but the fate of the buildings was ultimately decided when city council made an abrupt decision to proceed with the demolition.

Brantford city council convened in a special meeting to pass a resolution that would see the city forgo a sought after federal grant and move forward with the demolition process at its own behest.

BTFDNEWS spoke with a Kanienkahaka (Mohawk) Traditionalist who suggested that the city dropped its application for the federal grant to bypass federal scrutiny over the native lands claim and active interests they may hold on the land and anything on top or under it.

While Kanienkahaka (Mohawk) Traditionalist (Name withheld) said that “they are first and real parties in interest and that fact seems to be overlooked by Brantford’s council, [we] where not consulted, nor asked for [our] participation or consent. Brantford displayed that it was a third party to these interests when they began the exportation process.” The demolition crew started the work to tear down the buildings and the displaced residents and rodents alike were forced to find new accommodations elsewhere.

Below is a Diagram of the 41 pre-confederate buildings that the City of Brantford and City Council demolished to make way for the Laurier-YMCA complex. Including the two buildings located on the pending native lands claim. (Dominion House, Whitney Building)



Sanitary sewer work for the centre began on Sept. 29, forcing the closure of portions of Water Street and Colborne over several weeks.

Downtown residents and business owners were given information about planned road closures, detours and altered bus routes at an open house this week at the downtown library.

The organization, which oversees improvement and promotes business in the downtown, plans to revamp its website and use other social media to provide information about the ongoing construction work.

Completion of the complex is expected in 2017

Construction plans

Construction of the Laurier-YMCA Athletics and Recreation Centre will mean temporary road closures and detours:

  • Beginning Sept. 29 for four weeks: Water Street will be closed to all traffic, from Hill Street to Market Street pedestrian bridge to the Market Centre Parkade for sanitary sewer work. The sidewalk on the south side of Water Street will remain open.
  • Beginning Oct. 2 for six weeks: Colborne Street will be closed and all traffic will be detoured from King Street to Market Street for sanitary sewer work. The sidewalk on the north side of Colborne Street will remain open. Access to the section of Colborne Street from Bain Street to Market Street will be closed to all traffic except local deliveries to the businesses on that portion of the street.
  • Brantford Transit will be diverting routes 1 (Eagle Place), 9 (Echo Place) and 14 (Echo Place/East Ward evening and Sundays) during the closure of Colborne Street.

There is no pedestrian access for the following locations until 2017:

  • South side of Colborne Street from King Street to Market Street and the north side of Water Street from Market Street o Hill Street.
  • Art Stanbridge Walkway to the parkade elevator and staircase.
  • Downtown residents and businesses also must contend with dust, noise, possible temporary loss of cable TV and other services, and the possibility of blocked driveways.

The contractor will transport garbage and blue boxes from residences and businesses to either end of the work site, where they will be picked up by the city’s contractors on collection days.

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