The Word Is Dumb, Brantford, Very Dumb

City council in Brantford, Ontario just voted 8-3 to demolish 42 heritage buildings, possibly the only pre-confederation cluster remaining in all of Ontario. Hard to believe they don’t see the tremendous potential there and would prefer to just get it out of sight and turn it into a lawn until someone comes up with an idea for the site. This situation is probably the dumbest anti-heritage concept in all of Canada. Just really makes me think that there must be some kind of behind the scenes plan going on because it just doesn’t make any sense. Is somebody’s brother-in-law just waiting for the red tape to clear? This is otherwise just really, really dumb. Look at this street.

Photo Denzel Gordon
A browse of the Brantford Wikipedia page and a few blogs reveals that Alexander Graham Bell had an office in one of those buildings, made the first distance call in Canada from Brantford (are these people crazy?). It is also an election year and it looks like council has decided to vote itself out of office prematurely, assuming of course that the rest of Brantford is sane people.
Most cities today are actively rebuilding and restoring the older areas of town with tremendous success, but Brantford seems to be stuck in some kind of 1950’s style perverted notion of progress that removed it’s streetcars, brought in freeways, encouraged shopping centers on the periphery, and tore down theaters so that folks could eat at some theme place called Crabby Ninja’s Happy Pirate Eatin’ Saloon. Oooooph!
There are many young creative types in Canada who would jump at the opportunity to restore that street while creating jobs and possibly turning Colborne street into one of the coolest urban stretches in the country! No need to think “world class” in this town because the word for your plan is dumb, Brantford, very dumb.
Facebook Group Save the South Side of Colborne Street

SCANDAL: Brantford demolishing entire street of 41 heritage buildings!
The Greenest Brick
Ripping Out Old Bones

P.S. Just saw some video on the Facebook group that shows the demolition began today. Not only are the city council dumb, but they were in a suspiciously quick rush to get this done. Will be interesting to see the election results in the fall. And it is Harper’s government that put up the money to demolish this heritage street!

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10 responses to “The Word Is Dumb, Brantford, Very Dumb

  1. Pingback: Grab Your Hankies!!! « Wakeupcall4liz's Blog·

  2. I sent the email below to Brantford’s City Council. How terribly sad.

    Hi,

    I read about Brantford’s Colborne Street a while back and had hoped that a happy ending was in the offing. However, I now read that you’ve collectively voted 8-3 to demolish a gorgeous long stretch of real urban buildings. That’s highly unfortunate. I’m sure that keeping that building stock must pose some serious challenges, particularly with respect to financing renovations, finding new tenants, etc. But I have to wonder if you’re missing a huge opportunity to retain a real, fine-grained, urban downtown.

    Regardless of the architecture (beautiful!) or the history (Alexander Graham Bell’s office!), that’s an impressive row of urban buildings that are infinitely adaptable, make for a dynamic street with lots of diversity (when occupied, of course), and are part of the bones of any beautiful town or city.

    (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/820483–demolition-of-historic-buildings-begins-in-brantford?bn=1 and http://neath.wordpress.com/2010/06/09/the-word-is-dumb-brantford-very-dumb)

    Many places sell postcards or run pub crawls or just have a solid, ordinary main street with the kind of thing you guys are lucky enough to have on Colborne. Most neighbourhoods in Calgary or Vancouver would kill to have a couple of blocks that beautiful and solid. After the skiing, a street not quite that consistent is Fernie BC’s biggest selling point. Heck, that’s a more beautiful block than most of what you see on Queen East…

    If you can at all reconsider (though I hear that demolition has
    started), I would implore you to do so. Be creative, fling some noodles at the wall and see what sticks; I bet that with the right support and encouragement, some interesting entrepreneurs could turn that into a bustling bit of city in a far more authentic way than any singular redevelopment could hope to. I would imagine that there’re a few economic development professionals who could help you guys find a
    strategy that works for Colborne Street.

    If you’re interested in learning more on the value of historic urban fabric (not just the buildings, but that pattern of small, mixed-age, mixed-use buildings), there’s obviously Jane Jacob’s Death and Life of Great American Cities, but I’d also suggest the following blogs to you:

    The Urbanophile: http://www.urbanophile.com who writes on the economic development challenges facing Midwest cities in the States, with a focus on urban planning and transportation. See hsi recent piece on what amazing assets he considers similar building stock to be in Cincinnati.

    Richard Layman: urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com who writes on the challenges and strategies behind encouraging historic preservation and the links between preservation and sustainability.

    Kaid Benfield http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield who blogs for the Natural Resources Defense Council and also recognizes the links between Smart Growth and historic preservation.

    I feel fairly confident that these three could help you find a
    solution here, or at least hook you up with some of the most
    innovative talent out there so that you can leverage the amazing resource that is Brantford’s Colborne Street.

    Best wishes and may your wisdom serve your community well in the long term,

    -Des

  3. It is heart-wrenching.

    Our city has never owned all of these buildings. Never. Not until 2010.

    In order to demolish these buildings, they expropriated them and then they evicted 120+ residential tenants and about 12 businesses. T

    The driving force behind this mess, and the man whom is using this as his get in free card for the Mayor’s chair (proving he can “get er done”, is the chair of the South Side Task Force, Councillor Littell. He justifies everything with, “they’re not the kind of people we want in our university city/downtown.”

    How the heck is that fair?

    International Hair Salon moved to Etobicoke.

    Harvey Flood Jewellers went into early retirement. A business that has been on South Side Colborne for generations!!!

    My-Thai fought the hardest to stay, and was the final business evicted.

    Kristinjen’s Cafe provided free meals to those who needed it in the area, kicked out.

    John Podiotis, the ONLY person who owned his South Side building, given a plaque by our city in 92 for the condition of his property, had his garden featured in the paper so very often. Used to own the Athena Restaurant on South Side Colborne, used to be a very well respected man, has had his name smeared in dirt over this, but youthful morons who didn’t know him.

    So many people believe those who fought to stay on South Side Colborne Street, were crackheads and prostitutes. Why? Because Mark Littell says those are the people that were on South Side.

    There has been so much bias going on, and misleading reports, and misrepresented people involved. It has been one big agenda since before they expropriated these buildings.

  4. Well if most of the buildings where neglected for over 20 years left to rote and deteriorate they wouldn’t have to been torn down.
    If they still looked like they do in the postcard they wont have to be torn down.
    Come down to Brantford and see what the ones still standing look like.
    Only difference between them now and before the insides where gutted is the windows are gone.
    The rest looks the same and thats why they are coming down.
    They look like crap, have to for long, and not 1 person gave a damn for more than 20 years until the city said they are coming down.

    Our downtown finally has a future.
    Companies are finally interested in developing something there.
    Laurie and the YMCA have a great idea and the artist rendition of what it could look like from the skateboard park is amazing. Lot better than the view you see now, even when the 1st building was still standing.

  5. also NO ONE WAS EVICTED!!

    That is a strong word 1 stupid person keeps on saying all over the place.

    EVERYONE got paid money for their buildings, apartment they lived in.
    EVERYONE was offered HELP to find a new place to live, help to move into that new place, and even compensated for the moving fees to pay someone if they needed to, to help them move.

    That does NOT happen when you get evicted.

  6. I think the main point of the protest, Joe, was that you had something wonderful to work with and blew it. A YMCA is not going to increase tourism in your town, for example. Demolition by neglect usually only seems to happen in big cities, but Brantford has done a good job here. And it doesn’t matter how you try to rationalize it, you allowed your heritage to rot thus paving the way for developers to bring in their schlock! You had a classic Canadian main street with tons of history and you decided that wasn’t interesting, better to have a YMCA and go backwards. Brantford seems destined to be one of those “armpit of Canada” towns and you CHOSE to go that route!

  7. It appears Laurier Brantford is pulling the puppet strings in Butt-ford. SC Johnson also waved a nice crop of carrots last week. This has the City hopping. It’s sickening. These idiots have DENIED my grandchildren from experiencing a long and proud history our ancestors worked hard to achieve in the downtown core. Thank your MP’s and MPP’s for doing nothing – and especially the phantom Minister of Culture and Heritage who is NO WHERE in sight. I guess no one cares about that Grand River Heritage River running through this madness, and what the demolition implications have on this designation.

  8. The rush was to prevent justice,

    a case of tax fraud to limit the damage due to real claims on the lands and properties…

    Collusion and tax fraud, see link

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