There was some head scratching in Hamilton yesterday when it was announced Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark had imposed a ministerial order on the former Hamilton Sanitorium lands allowing for the possibility of residential uses. When he was councillor for Ward 8 Terry Whitehead had brokered a deal to have the property sold to Mohawk college with the proceeds going to public housing at another location in the lower city.
The Bay Observer reached out to Clark’s office asking what was the impetus for the Minister’s rezoning move. In her reply, spokesperson Julie O’Driscoll wrote, “This Minister’s Zoning order is part of our government’s plan to get shovels in the ground faster on critical projects and ensure more seniors get the quality care they deserve. These lands are currently owned by the Province of Ontario, and are not considered municipal lands.”
“We believe that the development of long-term care and residential housing is a option for this site. The site has not been sold and no final decision has been made on the future use of the site. However, the change to the zoning of this site does not remove the permission of institutional uses for the site – such as the option proposed by Mohawk College. It simply adds the ability for residential housing to be built, including housing for veterans, seniors and students.”
She went on to detail roughly $64 Million in COVID relief funding the Ford government has extended to the city. What is not clear is whether the province has its own plans for building a long-term care facility on the site or whether that would involve going out for proposals. The ministry response suggests the possibility of parcelling the land, maintaining a portion for institutional use and selling the rest. The site occupies about 12 hectares and is home to the crumbling Century Manor-the former Asylum. Part of the Whitehead plan would have seen the Victorian structure restored.