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Westfield Village soon to be sold by the city

The city will vote on whether to sell Westfield Heritage Village at a general issues committee meeting Wednesday.

Reporter Samantha Craggs will tweet live from the General Issues Committee meeting

Volunteers check the sap on a recent wintry day at Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton. City councillors will vote Wednesday to sell the village to the Hamilton Conservation Authority, which has wanted it for years. (Lisa Hunter)

Mostly, it’s a technicality — the city owns Westfield Heritage Village, but it’s operated and maintained by Hamilton Conservation Authority. But it’s a detail that lowers the morale of the volunteers who make it run.

On Wednesday, that’s set to change.

Hamilton’s general issues committee will vote to sell the village to the authority. It’s a transfer that’s long overdue, said Coun. Robert Pasuta of Ward 14.

“It’s a gem of a place and I think we’ll get support.”

The city has owned the village for 25 years, but it’s mostly on paper. The authority maintains the property and cares for the more 40 period buildings. The Rockton landmark has 400 volunteers and draws nearly 40,000 visitors per year.

Staff and volunteers need to have a sense of ownership over the land, said Chris Firth-Eaglund, general manager of the conservation authority. And the sale would do that.

“I’m not sure what value is to the community or the volunteers by having two levels of public agencies overseeing it,” he said.

The city will sell the property for a nominal fee, “probably the amount of money I have in loonies and toonies in my desk right now,” Firth-Eaglund said.

Here are some other items on Wednesday’s agenda:

  • The final vote to install bi-directional bicycle lanes on Cannon Street. The pilot project will cost a combined $1.6 million for capital and operating costs over three years.
  • Closing James Street North from King William Street to Barton Street for Art Crawl from 6 to 11 p.m. on the second Friday of each month from May to November. Staff say it would cost as much as $45,000 to close the road for seven Art Crawls.
  • Spending $400,000 to fix the Hamilton Children’s Museum in Gage Park. The 1870s two-storey red brick house that houses the museum has been closed since last year for safety reasons.
  • Spending $86,400 to turn the Balfour Estate into residences and a film location.
  • Coun. Sam Merulla will introduce a motion asking the province to order a moratorium on school closures until school boards can modify their process to put greater emphasis on the character of neighbourhoods, future growth trends and other factors.

The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. Reporter Samantha Craggs will tweet live from the meeting. Follow her at @SamCraggsCBC or read her tweets below. 

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