Thursday, September 20, 2018

Non roof-top photovoltaic projects discussed at city council

City Hall asked to approve these plans, but the process continues for hopeful hydro providers

Tecumseh Street lands needed to be re-purposed

By Mark Schadenberg
I think the City Of Woodstock should be congratulated for its record in improving brownfields and utilizing or repurposing buildings.
Obviously I realize, it’s just not the City itself but property owners as well, and developers who see true potential in a structure or area.
Too often the City is blamed if an owner does not maintain a vacant building and later it’s leveled, such as the Capitol Theatre.
During the passing of time, schools and churches close, fires occur, factories and hotels are shut down, and even gigantic employers such as the ORC close their doors. 

Former main building at Woodstock's ORC 
I began to think about this new focus on properties when skimming through a city council agenda on Nov. 3 and seeing that parcels of land on Tecumseh Street were projected to become solar panel fields to create hydro. Often former industrial lands have environmental concerns, so assuming there are no pollutants seeping into the neighbouring Thames River watershed, I would agree it’s long overdue to have a rehab to those acres in Woodstock’s west side.
The addresses outlined at council were 255 and 313 Tecumseh Street and the applicant was noted as ERTH Corporation. (Note: The former Thomas Bus factory addresses have been known as 211 and 275 Tecumseh) A picture of their plan is included here.

Of extra note, is that exact same day council received a report from a third applicant – Woodstock General Hospital for a non-rooftop solar photovoltaic installation at 310 Juliana. This project will occur only after scheduled public meetings (with written notice given to those living in the neighbourhood) and other provincial-level (Ontario Energy Board) approvals such as receiving a FIT (Feed-In Tariff) renewable energy permit. There are some FIT notes / links below if you want to read more about the application process.
Renovated Buildings For A New Use
There are many locally. Keep in mind, the vast majority of these projects were accomplished by the private sector.
Paquette sock factory on Dundas is now an apartment building.

Harvey Woods factory on Vansittart is assistive living housing.
Harvey Woods on Wilson Street is an antique market. (Note: As a collector of CD's I've been in this building countless times, so I can attest the amount of actual renovations is very little, but the building provides a great service and is very well utilized)

All Saints Church on Winniett Street is an apartment building  
Princess Street school is medical offices.
Both the Broadway and Chapel street schools are both condominium apartments.
The old building, which is the current home to Aden Footwear and several other businesses at Dundas and Kent, had its top 2 floors removed during its massive renovation a few years ago. Back in the 1860’s it was Richardson Soap Works (See link below from the research of Paul Roberts of Woodstock)

I also think of the Woodstock Badminton Club at the corner of Hunter and Delatre.  It was around 1930 that the original Chalmers church was converted into a remarkable badminton club.
Central United Church on Riddell Street across from Woodstock Collegiate is currently undergoing a renovation to multi-family residential with a geared-to-income component to some units.
Woodstock Or County Owned
Woodstock has a very long tradition of saving buildings such as the former downtown market, which today is the home of Theatre Woodstock. It was built in 1895 and became known as Market Centre Theatre in 1997.
Woodstock’s City Hall at 500 Dundas was once the post office.
The post office on Peel Street has been converted to medical and recreational (Youth dance co-op) uses.
Woodstock’s original City Hall is now the museum at 466 Dundas.
Woodstock’s jail on Buller Street is now the Oxford Board of Health.
 Oxford Board Of Health

The local armoury on Graham Street (across street from cenotaph) is now the home of BDO accountants.
The South Gate Centre on Old Wellington Street was built in 1961, but not as a 50+ centre but as the local headquarters for Bell Canada. The building historically (more than 80 years ago) at that site, however, was a tannery.
Not all schools or churches have been renovated for a new use however. It would appear the former St. Rita’s School on Dundas could soon be leveled and replaced by two 10-storey apartment buildings by London-based Drewlo Holdings. Preliminary drawings indicate that the gymnasium will not be demolished, so it could be transformed (perhaps) into a gymnasium / fitness area for the apartments.

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