Duncan to Transport Canada: Stop blocking major housing project in Cornwall

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Local Member of Parliament Eric Duncan (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry) is calling on the Minister of Transport to end the gatekeeping and cut the red tape that is blocking a major residential development from getting underway in Cornwall this year.

“The Liberals promised 8 years ago that they would return Cornwall’s waterfront lands owned by Transport Canada to local ownership and control. Here we are, 8 years later, and they have yet to transfer even a single parcel,” said Duncan. “This has been a perfect example of red tape and bureaucracy. As the process drags on, Transport Canada bureaucrats are now contradicting each other and creating chaos. The Liberals have literally got nothing done on this important file after years of vague ‘consultations’ and no decisions being made.”

A renewed sense of urgency has put the Transport Canada issue in the spotlight with the City finalizing plans and approvals for the 10 Brookdale Avenue development, which would add 506 multi-residential units to a 1.1-hectare (2.8-acre) parcel of land at the southwest corner of Brookdale Avenue and Water Street.

The City requires ‘Parcel 6’ of the Transport Canada lands covering the intersection of Brookdale and Water Street to be transferred to the City of Cornwall, so that the road entrance can be built to the west of the intersection.

While Transport Canada had stated to the City that the entire portfolio of lands must be handled and sold in its entirety, it was later revealed that bureaucrats at Transport Canada and the Federal Bridge Corporation Ltd. (FBCL) were in negotiations about acquiring only ‘Parcel 6’ in a special arrangement.

Once the City became engaged, an agreement was reached locally that would see the City and FBCL split ‘Parcel 6’, which would allow each to have ownership of the required above and below ground infrastructure that each group already owns and operates. This includes the City’s traffic lights at the intersection and the Bridge Corporation’s underground infrastructure and entrance to the bridge toll area. Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict has added his voice and support for the arrangement, which would allow the large and vital residential project to proceed at 10 Brookdale Avenue.

Recently, City of Cornwall Mayor Justin Towndale wrote the Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriguez expressing the City’s frustrations. He stated “I, along with my council are frustrated. We are frustrated both by the length of time the divestiture is taking, as well as the way the divestiture process has been handled by your ministry to date…We do not believe that these actions reflect discussions in good faith and true partnership”.

“Because of the Liberals’ dithering and failure to actually get anything done on Cornwall’s waterfront lands, we are now seeing this important 506-unit development in jeopardy of not moving forward,” said Duncan. “We are in a housing crisis, and yet the lawyers and bureaucrats still can’t figure things out after all these years. It is time for Minister Rodriguez to intervene, show some common sense, and get this parcel transferred so that Cornwall doesn’t lose the chance to build these desperately needed new housing units.”

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