UPDATE: Keep an eye on Domtar lands to avoid debacle similar to waterfront, says Clement

UPDATE: Keep an eye on Domtar lands to avoid debacle similar to waterfront, says Clement
The Domtar Papers property as it looked prior to the demolition and removal of equipment and infrastructure.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Coun. Bernadette Clement said Monday night the city needs to keep an eye on the former Domtar lands in Cornwall to ensure we don’t end up with another waterfront-type debacle.

City councillors heard Monday night it could be years before parts of the former Domtar lands will be ready for development.

A report, authored by the city’s planning department, suggests the scope of the work that needs to be done at the site, coupled with the modest size of the company completing the work, means “comprehensive” development projects are still a distant dream.

Clement suggested that despite the fact the land is held by a private firm, public monitoring is required.

“We as a community, as council, also have to show interest,” she said. “We have to show interest in what happens there because if we don’t we get tanks on the waterfront because we aren’t paying attention.”

Clement is referring to controversial chemical tanks recently built adjacent to the Cornwall Harbour.

Council learned that the land is zoned as an industrial property, and while it is possible the landowners could sell it to another manufacturing-type of firm, that is unlikely.

“It could be sold and we could have industrial use,” said city planner Ken Bedford. “(But the owners) are trying to co-ordinate discissions with other entities to develop the property in a comprehensive manner.”

Council has passed a motion requesting regular updates on the status of the lands.

Paris Holdings, the company that purchased the mill property and is slowly demolishing buildings and clearing land that once housed one of Cornwall’s largest employers, has kept much of its planning private. As such, the city cannot say with specificity just when more development will take place.

“The landowner has not accessed the city’s Brownfields CIP funding and, as such, the majority of the environmental work…is not public,” Bedford wrote in a report to council. “It would be expected that given other similar cases in Cornwall, a timeline of at least two to three years is needed to prepare a large enough mass of the main mill site to accommodate comprehensive projects.”

In September city council tasked administrators with getting to the bottom of the redevelopment plans of what is a huge tract of land in the city centre.

The Domtar lands have sat largely idle since the bulk of the buildings and equipment at the property have been demolished and removed.

The iconic smokestacks still remain at the property that is now owned by Paris Holdings. There is also an administrative building that remains.

Domtar’s closure sent hundreds of people to the unemployment line.

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