Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Cleanup of Holmes Foundry land snagged again

Published on

Cathy Dobson  

A stop work order from the Ministry of Labour has abruptly suspended long-awaited demolition work at the former Holmes Foundry site.

“This is beyond frustrating for us,” says Point Edward Mayor Bev Hand. “It’s disheartening. It feels like there’s a black cloud hanging over that property.”

Village council has for decades been hoping for development of the privately owned 16-acre property located on prime real estate along Highway 402.

But legal and environmental problems have created a string of costly delays and an eyesore of overgrowth and derelict buildings.

But shortly after Schoulten Excavating began removing vegetation in March a ministry representative inspected the site.

A stop-work order was issued until additional testing on the surface soil was done, said village CAO Jim Burns. The testing was completed and it showed the soil is clean enough to continue clearing the site of trees and overgrowth.

“It doesn’t mean there is no contamination but it’s safe enough to continue,” Burns said.

However, at question is the status of two buildings once used by the foundry, which closed in 1988. The village wants them removed too.

“We were told there’s an obscure piece of legislation that says any building decommissioned after March 1986 requires a Type 3 demolition if it was used in manufacturing,” said Burns.

The demolition job was bid on as a Type 1 demolition, he said. Treating the property as Type 3 could double or triple the demolition costs.

The village has authorized about $250,000 to remove the buildings and overgrowth to make the property more appealing to potential developers.

In a deal declared a “win, win, win” for all parties last winter, council agreed to cover demolition costs after the property owners said they lacked the cash to do the job themselves. However, the owners are obligated to pay the village back when the land sells.

The village’s position is that paperwork exists that says the buildings were tested, and any parts containing hazardous substances, like lead paint or asbestos, have been removed, said Burns.

“We plan to meet with the MPP and hopefully with the Ministry of Labour to try to get an exemption if necessary,” he said.

Meanwhile, the village is researching the specific uses of the buildings during foundry operations. Burns believes one was a warehouse only and not used for manufacturing. However, he’s looking for information about the second building, and its use could impact the demolition category and cost.

“(The stop work order is) a letdown. We felt we were so close to having the property cleaned up,” said Mayor Hand.

“We are committed to do this, but it’s a burden during a time when we’re losing revenue because of the pandemic.

A few months ago, the property was on the market for $7 million. The asking price is now $4,380,000.

In 1989, Chrysler spent $8.5 million cleaning up the site and removed more than 6,000 yards of soil.


More like this