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Old March 21st, 2008, 07:50 PM   #1
xzmattzx
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St. Catharines Developments

Here is a thread for developments going on in the city of Saint Catharines. The city is fairly large, and as the entire Golden Horseshoe area grows, there will probably be plenty to talk about.


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There is talk of building a bigger, permanent home for the Niagara IceDogs.

Quote:
Council eyes new arena; Report to determine economic benefits of sports and entertainment complex


City council is eyeing the possibility of a new downtown sports and entertainment complex.

Councillors passed a motion Monday for staff to prepare a report on the economic benefits of a new arena. The report, due within a month, will include which businesses would benefit, possible locations, potential cost-sharing arrangements and how much a new complex would cost.

"It won't tell us anything we don't already know," St. Patrick's Coun. Mark Elliott said. "But it will get it moving forward."

Armed with a similar report done for Oshawa, Merritton Coun. Jeff Burch suggested enlisting the help of Hemson Consulting, which is working on the future downtown performing arts centre with Brock University. Judging from the Oshawa report, Burch said $25 million to $35 million is a realistic estimate of what a new complex would cost the city.

But St. Catharines needs to cement its place as Niagara's primary sports tourism destination, he said.

"In addition to being the population centre of Niagara, St. Catharines is also recognized as the sports tourism centre of Niagara," Burch said. "The (west-end) Seymour-Hannah complex is not designed with sports tourism in mind."

The proposed complex would not just be a new home for the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara IceDogs, but a home for soccer, lacrosse, wrestling and other events, he said.

Sarnia built a new complex in 1998 for $16 million, Burch said. Sault Ste. Marie built its complex for $26 million in 2007. Both seat 5,000 people, the size of the proposed arena in St. Catharines. The current home of the IceDogs, the Jack Gatecliff Arena, would have been "torn down" had the major junior hockey team not arrived in Niagara a year ago, he said. With 2,800 seats, the arena "is sending the message that we have no interest in being a sports tourism centre," Burch said.

Elliott supported the report, but said that with an upcoming performing arts centre and other big downtown plans, a new arena is probably not at the top of council's list of priorities.

The downtown report is not the only study staff will compile. St. Andrew's Coun. Joe Kushner made a narrowly successful motion for staff to evaluate the economic impact of the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre.

Fellow St. Andrew's ward councillor Andrew Gill warned that if there is a new arena, another ice surface should close. "We've added four pads to this city and we're ahead four," he said. "We're not closing any. Council should've done the right thing and shown a savings to taxpayers."
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A....aspx?e=947980

Quote:
Gas mogul puts $100K on table for new IceDogs arena


Businessman Bob Gale says his time-sensitive $100,000 offer is only the beginning of what he’ll put on the table, if St. Catharines commits to a new arena within a year.

“I’m willing to work with St. Catharines in any way they want. I just wanted to start something to get it going,” the owner of Niagara Falls-based Gales Gas Bars said.

Gale announced prior to Sunday’s Niagara IceDogs’ game at Jack Gatecliff Arena that he would ante up $100,000 for a fund to help needy kids take part in recreational activities at a new St. Catharines arena.

But Gale included a key proviso in the offer — the money won’t materialize if council can’t commit by March 2, 2009 to building a spectator facility.

“I want to see plans, a location and plans. If not, I’ll back out,” he said Monday.

But if council does guarantee it’s going to help build a new venue for the Niagara IceDogs, Gale said he’ll also put money into the capital campaign for the facility.

“I’m certainly going to donate to an arena. When they have an arena I’ll be one of the first ones to donate to it,” he said.

Gale made similar arrangements with the city of Niagara Falls for a new arena that will bear his name when it opens.

He donated $250,000 to help disadvantaged youths participate in activities and committed $1 million toward the construction tab.

The $35-million arena is slated to open next year.

Gale said he’s hopeful his offer will act as the catalyst to bring together various levels of government and private sector sponsors.

“I want to make sure they know we’ve got to get going on this. We need it and we can’t afford to lose this IceDogs team,” he said.

The IceDogs moved into Jack Gatecliff Arena at the beginning of the season and committed to stay there for at least five years.

But the aging arena is the smallest in the Ontario Hockey League and can only accommodate about 3,100 fans.

The team, which regularly sells out for home games, has its sights set on a 5,000-seat facility.

IceDogs owner Bill Burke acknowledged the process to plan a new arena and put together the capital is time-consuming.

However, he said he’s hopeful Gale’s offer may push the project along more quickly.

“I hope it will push the city and the Region to look at it seriously because they don’t want to lose that $100,000 for kids programs. That’s a huge number,” he said.

Mayor Brian McMullan pointed out the city has already begun going through the due diligence process to determine if a new spectator facility is feasible.

Last month McMullan and two other councillors — Jeff Burch and Andrew Gill — met with Gale and a number of unnamed private investors to discuss what it would take to get an arena off the ground.

Burch has also indicated he will put forward a motion for a staff study on potential economic spinoffs of a new downtown arena.

Councillors will vote on March 17 whether or not to go ahead with the study.

“We want to do our due diligence as quickly as possible, but we also want to do it right,” McMullan said.

Failing to plan properly could result in costly overruns that could easily wipe out the benefit of Gale’s $100,000 offer, the mayor said.

He noted the four-arena Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre built by the previous council wound up exceding original estimates by roughly $5.5 million.

Early estimates suggest a new arena could cost around $35 million to $40 million, he said.

“We wouldn’t want to get into cost overruns,” McMullan said.

“That $100,000 could pale by comparison, if you don’t do it right.”

Burch called Gale’s offer “a great start” to help spur involvement from other partners.

“Hopefully we’ll come up with enough interest to make it viable,” he said.

Gill said he doesn’t know whether it’s feasible for the city go through the due-diligence process quickly enough to make a firm commitment to the project by Gale’s deadline.

“If it takes a year, that’s fine. If it takes longer than a year, I’m prepared to wait longer than a year to make sure we protect the taxpayers,” he said.
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A...1&auth=Peter+D
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Old March 23rd, 2008, 05:58 AM   #2
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One small error xzmattzx, it's St.Catharines, not Saint Catharines. I know it seems like the same thing, but the former is the official one.
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Old March 23rd, 2008, 09:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drafty View Post
One small error xzmattzx, it's St.Catharines, not Saint Catharines. I know it seems like the same thing, but the former is the official one.
Done.

I remember hearing about a condominium proposed for the Port Dalhousie area, right on the waterfront maybe even. What happened to this? Are there any other condo proposals for the city?
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Old March 24th, 2008, 05:47 AM   #4
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You're right. It was a major development that originally included a 30 storey condo/hotel, shops, theater, etc. There was a major uproar in Port Dalhousie (and St.Catharines in general), so it was scaled down to 17 stories, but the whole project was seen by many as too drastic a change for a small, historic village, and city council eventually denied it. When something like this happens on Ontario, the developers can apply to the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) for a hearing, in which both sides present their case, and the Board then rules on whether the city was correct in it's decision, or overrules the city and allows the development to go ahead. The hearing is taking place right now and will continue for several weeks.
The developers proposal is here: http://www.portdalhousie.ca/PDVC-Vision.pdf
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Old April 1st, 2008, 10:29 PM   #5
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Redevelopment of a hospital complex:

Quote:
Life after the hospital is gone; Queenston Street citizens planning for future of their neighbourhood


The eventual closure of St. Catharines General Hospital has potential to breathe new life into the downtown neighbourhood surrounding it, a public forum was told Monday night. "How do we improve the area?" asked Robbie Davidson, chairwoman of the Queenston Street Advisory Committee.

"We want to bring in an entire community with a good mix of people that will hopefully bring the area up."

Davidson was speaking to an audience of about 50 people at Westminster United Church hall who wanted to hear about conceptual plans for the redevelopment of the Queenston Street hospital.

The building will be vacated after the Niagara Health System opens a new health-care complex slated for west St. Catharines.

Davidson's committee - residents from neighbourhoods surrounding the hospital - has been working with the NHS and its planning consultants over the past four years to come up with ways the site can be redeveloped when the hospital is gone.

The committee has come up with two main proposals, both of which combine a mix of residential development and a medical prompt-care centre similar to one operated by the NHS at its Ontario Street site.

One proposal would preserve two sections of the current hospital - the community wing and the Schmon building - and convert them to 108 apartment units. It would also add 57 townhouse units.

The second proposal, which calls for more residential development, would see the complete demolition of all hospital buildings. The plan would allow for construction of 164 apartment units, 42 townhouses and a community centre and day care.

Both ideas would bring a mix of residents - seniors, families, young people - and help spur the economic rejuvenation of the neighbourhood, Davidson said.

"It's going to break our hearts to see (the hospital) gone, but at least we know what's going to go in will be pleasing to the eye and keep revitalizing the area," she said.

Alexsandra Stanko, a St. Catharines native who now lives in Ottawa, liked the committee's redevelopment ideas.

"I think it's very innovative, as opposed to just bulldozing it and leaving nothing there," she said.

Stanko, who had a summer job at the hospital as a teenager, said the Queenston Street area badly needs some form of revitalization.

"I find this area really depressing. There's nothing enticing or appealing. To have this (redevelopment), would be a bonus," she said.

But not everyone in the audience was convinced.

Darrell Spilchuk said he'd like to see more of the aging hospital preserved and reused.

"We've lost so many old buildings in St. Catharines," he said.

"Don't sell it to the first developer that's going to rip it down." NHS planning consultant Don May said the conceptual plans, plus input from the community, will help shape criteria for a request for expressions of interest that will be issued to developers in the fall.

"We have to find people who want to invest ... and want to create the development we are planning for," he said.

May noted members of the public will have more opportunities for input as the planning process continues.

The NHS must apply for amendments to the city's Official Plan and zoning bylaw to permit redevelopment of the cite, which opens the door to additional public consultation.

The NHS plans to build a new hospital complex in west St. Catharines at Fourth Avenue and First Street. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A...Standard+Staff
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Old April 28th, 2008, 02:23 AM   #6
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A NEW downtown arena would do wonders for St. Catharines and the Niagara IceDogs. I mean it's done good for Kingston and Oshawa already.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 12:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Port Place development OMB hearing to wrap up for summer Thursday


The Ontario Municipal Board hearing will wrap up its first round of marathon sessions on the fate of the Port Place development Thursday.

The hearing will resume in early October, confirmed Port Dalhousie Vitalization Corp. lawyer Mark Noskiewicz and PROUD (Port Realizing Our Unique Distinction) lawyer Jane Pepino.

At issue is whether PDVC will be allowed to build a 17-storey condominium building, a theatre, hotel and shopping centre in Port Dalhousie's commercial core.

The OMB hearing began at city hall Feb. 20 and was expected to last 15 weeks. It's estimated an additional five weeks will be needed.

On Monday, Pepino will continue questioning witness Wayne Morgan, a heritage planner hired by PROUD. That will be followed with a cross-examination by Noskiewicz.

Other witnesses on the agenda include PROUD heritage architect Philip Goldsmith and Natalie Bull from the Heritage Canada Foundation, who is travelling from Ottawa.

Depending on time constraints, more witnesses may be called before the hearing wraps up for four months.
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A...aspx?e=1053043



Here are renderings of the project, from PortDalhousie.ca:

Location Plan



Aerial View



View of the Lakeside Hotel from the corner of Canal and Lock Streets



Lakeport Road



View of Hogan's Court



Welland Promenade



The Marina



Beachview



The Jail



Hogan's Court Detailed

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Old June 17th, 2008, 07:51 PM   #8
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This isn't quite development news; it's more of some possible preservation news. This is tied to a possible performing arts cetner, though.

Quote:
Building's demolition uncovers history
As city tears down structure at 134 St. Paul St., signs hidden for nearly 100years become visible on walls on either side


The demolition of one piece of St. Catharines history is revealing another.

Two ghost signs have appeared on the sides of two St. Paul Street buildings, made visible after nearly 100 years by the continuing demolition of a city-owned building at 136 St. Paul St.

On the side of 144 St. Paul, which is vacant, are the faint remnants of a sign advertising "Chas. Young and Son, Bicycles and Sporting Goods, Boots and Shoes."

Across the demolition site, on the building that is home to A Touch of India, is another sign, proclaiming Ecclestones as the store "For Good Dressers. 20th Century Clothing."

The simple block-letter signs are prominent and eye-catching, and by their location they indicate that St. Paul was a two-way street. Because the buildings are on the curve of the street, the bold lettering of the Ecclestones sign was clearly meant to be visible to people travelling in one direction on St. Paul, while Young's sign comes into view for people travelling in the other.

"That's awesome," said St. Catharines Museum curator Arden Phair, when he learned about the appearance of the old signs.

Painting a message directly on the side of a building "was a popular form of advertising, a precursor to modern-day billboards," Phair said.

Old fire insurance records provided by Edith Williams in the Special Collections Room at Brock University indicate the building being demolished was most likely built sometime around 1912 or 1913.

Old city directories in the reference room of the St. Catharines Public Library reveal that in 1874, Charles Young worked as a foreman at Healey's at 39 St. Paul St.

A business listing confirms that Timothy Healey Boots and Shoots was indeed located at 39 St. Paul.

But by the following year, Young appears to have struck out on his own. The 1875 city directory lists Chas. Young of Bond Street as a boot and shoemaker at 58 St. Paul St., a business he operate until at least 1912.

Around 1893, his son, Edward, also of Bond Street, is listed as working at the same place.

The street numbers don't necessarily match, said Dennis Gannon, a historian who writes the weekly Yesterday and Today column for The Standard, because the numbering of the buildings on St. Paul was changed several times over the years.

The city directories around the turn of the century also include intermittent references to Scove Young or Scoval Young, "a finisher" at an unnamed bicycle works, who also lived on Bond Street, multiple listings for Miss Elsie Young, living on Bond Street, and a single reference to Miss Fanny Young, a dressmaker.

Meanwhile, an article published in The Standard on March 19, 1984, documents the closing of Ecclestones. Jack McCann, the then-owner, is quoted as saying the store was opened 90 years earlier by A. M. Ecclestone.

First established in 1894 across St. Paul Street, the men's clothing store moved several times to various downtown locations. The sign appears to correspond to its penultimate location, before it moved around 1968 to 237 St. Paul.

McCann said in 1984 he was shutting down the business at which he started working in 1940, and which he bought from the Ecclestones in 1970, because of rising rent and declining business. McCann said the store always took special pride in the fact that it supplied uniforms to the students of Ridley College.

Today, the building at 136 St. Paul is being demolished to create a new entrance into the lower-level parking lot, currently being considered as a possible location for a proposed performing arts centre and Brock University's school of fine and performing arts.

The ghost signs have been hidden for nearly 100 years, protected from the elements by the walls of the building between them, but their survival is not guaranteed.

If the walls displaying the signs are proven to need some sort of protection, the signs would most likely be covered up, said Anthony Martuccio, design and construction engineer for the City of St. Catharines, who is supervising the $245,000 demolition contract. A decision will be made once the demolition is complete, which is expected by the end of July.
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A...STANDARD+STAFF
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Old July 21st, 2008, 01:34 AM   #9
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Regional committee votes to make section of Ontario Street cyclist-friendly


It only spans a city block, but a Niagara regional council committee and St. Catharines city council are miles apart on how to handle two-way conversion on a small section of Ontario Street.

The Region’s public works committee voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to make Ontario Street between King and St. Paul streets a more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly stretch.

The committee’s recommendation — which goes to regional council next week for a final verdict — means the street could be two lanes from King and widened to three lanes at St. Paul.

The one-way section of road is destined to be changed to two-way traffic, part of a series of conversions in downtown St. Catharines.

The committee’s three-lane proposal will allow curb lanes wide enough for safe cycling and create wider sidewalks to encourage pedestrians.

Meanwhile, St. Catharines city council passed a resolution in May telling the Region it wants four car lanes to battle traffic congestion.

Ultimately, the Region has jurisdiction over Ontario Street.

The city and Region are each responsible for different streets in the core.

On Wednesday, several regional councillors said Niagara has to show leadership and forward thinking by promoting bicycle use and pedestrians.

Thorold Regional Coun. Robert Gabriel said it’s worth taking a gamble on possible traffic headaches in order to make a statement that the Region’s biggest city is a progressive, livable place.

“It’s a piece of the puzzle to make St. Catharines a great urban walkable city,” Gabriel said.
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A...aspx?e=1117320
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 08:53 AM   #10
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Wow, good for regional council on the bike lane decision. I know I would enjoy riding my bike with lanes available.
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Old August 21st, 2008, 05:38 AM   #11
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I would love to see the Welland Canal restored in Downtown St. Catharines. Water is obviously popular around North America, and I'm sure it would bring a lot of people out to stroll around and everything.

Quote:
Heritage designation could revive canal project: Timms


Bruce Timms hopes that a trip to Ottawa next week will boost the chances of restoring a section of one of the old Welland canals.

The St. Catharines regional councillor will head to the capital Aug. 26 with representatives from Niagara's municipalities. The goal will be to convince the director of the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board to approve a heritage designation for the Welland canals.

Once that happens, it will open the door to excavating and re-flooding a section of old canal that once ran behind St. Paul Street in downtown St. Catharines.

"Downtown revitalization is always based around a clean-water feature," Timms said.

Timms explained his vision at a provincial Progressive Conservative fundraiser Tuesday night. Timms is the local candidate of record, having run and lost to MPP Jim Bradley in last year's provincial election. The evening, which drew about 40 people, was a fundraiser to help eliminate the St. Catharines riding association's debt.

Timms told the audience that the city's millennium plan included a restored canal encompassing some of the area, including the large lower-level parking lot located next to the former Canada Hair Cloth building. With city council in the midst of a downtown revitalization effort, the timing is good to pursue the project, he said.

Old canals have been restored and flooded before, he added, citing the example of a canal in Glasgow, Scotland.

Timms sees a heritage designation as Step 1 in the plan. The board will decide on the issue in December.

Tuesday's event was "the first of many" to restore the riding association's financial footing, president Jason Pollock said. He described the debt as "very manageable.

"We came out of the last election in much better shape than the two before it," he said. "We'll work hard and it's building slowly."
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A...aspx?e=1164606
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Old September 26th, 2008, 03:13 AM   #12
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Condos are coming to Downtown St. Catharines.

Quote:
High-end condos coming to historic Yates St.


A sloping, wooded plot of land is set to be the site of the first new condo building in St. Catharines' downtown in at least 18 years.

It's called 77 Yates and will be located on the west side of Yates Street, near Adams Street.

The two-acre site owned by Sally Mc-Garr will have either 31 or 34 suites and appeal to luxury condo buyers, said McGarr, who owns Sally McGarr Realty Corp., based in St. Catharines.

"It's a fine location," she said. "Yates Street is such a high-end and historic street.

"From the interest I've gotten about it, (the condo building) will be a smaller, high-end, exclusive building," Mc-Garr said. "You can walk to downtown, you have restaurants, shops and easy access to the highway."

The condo units will sell for $360,000 to $600,000, based on $300 per square foot, with unit sizes of 1,200 to 2,000 square feet. Three levels will rise above Yates Street. Six floors will terrace toward the Merritt Trail.

The site had been zoned for a 34-unit apartment building since the mid-1980s. In January 2006, the zoning was amended to allow the building to be developed as a condominium.

Noise, soil and other tests have all been done and are satisfactory, said McGarr.

A draft plan of the condominium has been approved by the city. A final condo plan and site plan agreement have to be finalized before the condominium can be registered.

Because the development site is outside the heritage district, it doesn't have to be approved by the St . Catharines Heritage Committee.

McGarr said it is "realistic" that construction and occupancy could take place within two years.

She said a builder hasn't been chosen, but several are being considered. So far, she has deposits from 17 prospective condo buyers.

The downtown core has had new condo townhome developments, infilling residential projects, residential conversions and affordable housing in the past decade.

However, there is "not another (existing site in the core) of this calibre, in this location, that's already properly zoned," McGarr said.

"It's exciting," said city planning director Paul Chapman. "We don't have a lot of sites (downtown) that are vacant and aren't being used for other pur poses," Chapman said.

"This location is obviously very attractive, being in and along a hillside."

The 77 Yates project complements townhomes being built nearby at Ontario Street and Welland Avenue, Chapman said.

"That whole area will undergo a transformation over the next five years or so, with the redevelopment of the rest of the land in the former Hotel Dieu site," he said.

"The private sector will be providing ... a range of housing that hasn't been available in and around the downtown.

"We'll end up with the completion of what we'll call the north end of the Yates Street neighbourhood."
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A...aspx?e=1217456
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Old September 29th, 2008, 02:29 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/A...aspx?e=1053043



Here are renderings of the project, from PortDalhousie.ca:

Location Plan



Aerial View



View of the Lakeside Hotel from the corner of Canal and Lock Streets



Lakeport Road



View of Hogan's Court



Welland Promenade



The Marina



Beachview



The Jail



Hogan's Court Detailed



I spoke at the hearing in favour of this development as acitizen of port dalhousie and I have absolutley nothing against this development at all. What is known as a perfect little beach town has a dull future that is already starting to show. Stores come and go like nothing there and nothing can last through the winter. The vandanlism and beer drinkers are crazy down there and it isnt even safe for familys on a weekend evening or afternoon for that matter. But the cities solution to this is the bring the coppers in. Oh perfect that works just make us pay more taxes than we should for it and not even get adequate service. Doesnt work that way St Kittz. This is the last chance we got to save port before it goes under like crystal beach did. It needs to be a year round place and is adding a skating path, fixing up the historic canal, building more parking room for the already crowded area, preserving the jail house instead of keeping it the bar that its been made into (so much for historic preservation wen the old jailhouse turns into a bar), adding more stores, a hotel, a courtyard (PUBLIC) to host events and have a cafe in it, an improved encasement for the carousel, improving the existant theatre, fixing up the almost dangerous crumbling buildings on lock street really that bad. It isnt this horrible monster tower taking over port, but instead a waterfront monument to help start a new era of historic buildings and improve the overall look and feel of the small bit of waterfront that St. Catharines has to offer. And you said why would they not build this in the core of the city or anywhere else in st. catharines for that matter. This is because Port Dalhousie is the only place in St. Catharines that has the potential to host this development because it is the only public waterfront in st. catharines. Waterfront is what it takes to build up tourism. This is a chance to revive Port and it may be the last before it becomes run down by vandalism, beer drinkers, and crumbling buildings. Port is a ticking time bomb with two ways it can end up, one with an explosion being a revival of both local and international tourism or the other being the end of precious Port Dalhousie becoming a dump and closed off from tourism. Just think, would you rather pay more money on the public works of the city to fix it up in the near future or have the Port Dalhousie Vitalization Corp. do it for us and alot better than the city would for that matter.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 06:50 AM   #14
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Nothing big with this development, but maybe the western neighborhoods like Western Hill and Vansickle will see some investment in the future.

Quote:
Bringing on the old-world charm
Developer is creating a buzz by turning St. Paul Street building into 'a Venetian Village'


A St. Catharines developer is bringing some old-world charm to a corner of the city that has been identified as needing repair.

Francesco Giovannone, owner of Thermosun, a St. Paul Street West remodelling company, is undertaking an ambitious renovation of a basic cinder block building on St. Paul Street West and turning it into what he calls "a Venetian village."

The former Seido Kan Karate School is getting a new gable roof with generous overhangs, fascias and frieze boards, exterior staircases, wrought-iron balconies and salmon-coloured stucco, Giovannone said.

The renovation is attracting attention in an area that has been known for graffiti and rundown buildings.

"A lot of people have been calling, asking questions," Giovannone said. "There seems to be a general feeling of happiness."

The building was built in the 1950s by John Kala and was first home to Kala's hardware store, Giovanonne said, which is why the renovation has revealed the distinctive Home Hardware yellow of the original exterior.

The $600,000 project will result in a boutique store at street level and nine apartments, Giovannone said, most with one bedroom, some with two bedrooms.

There will be no central hallways or staircases, he said. Instead, each apartment will have its own exterior entrance, with the second-and third-floor units having balconies and staircases to street level.

Architect Lou Marcantonio, who is working on the project, said Giovannone came to him with an idea of replicating the type of architecture he remembered from his childhood in Italy.

"They (the apartments) will all have their own peculiar little quirkiness," Marcantonio said. "There will be very narrow little balconies that you can put pots and plants on, just like they do in Italy."

Meanwhile city councillors are poised to eventually inject more cash into west St. Catharines, to aid in the neighbourhood's revitalization.

Dollars probably won't flow to west St. Catharines developers for at least another year, said Judy Pihach, the city's manager of planning services. First councillors must hire a consultant to study the area, and then the city must implement the consultant's official plan and zoning recommendations to establish what would be the city's fifth Community Improvement Plan Area. So far, downtown, Merritton, Queenston-Hartzel and Oakdale-Moffat are CIP areas. Councillors were scheduled to hire the consultant this week, but that was delayed after St. Andrew's Coun. Joe Kushner said he needed more information.

Kushner, who has often criticized developments he doesn't like, said he's impressed with Giovannone's renovation.

"He has spruced it up," Kushner said. "Given the limitations of that building, I don't think anybody could have done a better job."

Giovannone said the project is expected to be completed by Christmas.
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Old October 7th, 2008, 08:07 PM   #15
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More about the Western Hill area.

Quote:
Improvement in works for west St. Catharines


West St. Catharines is finally on its way to becoming the city's fifth Community Improvement Plan (CIP) area.

City councillors agreed Monday to hire a Toronto consultant to study the neighbourhood as a first step towards providing incentives to developers.

Similar studies have been done and financial incentives are in place for downtown, Hartzel-Merritton, Queenston and Oakdale-Moffat neighbourhoods.

West St. Catharines had been recommended for a similar program in 2002, but the city focused on the other areas and ran out of money before it got to the area known as Western Hill.

On Monday, councillors agreed to catch up.

They hired Sorenson Gravely Lowes Planning Associates Inc. of Toronto for $60,000, to study an area from the Burgoyne Bridge along Twelve Mile Creek to Pelham Road, along Louth Street, Rykert Street, Frederick Street, St. Paul West and Ridley Road.

Some councillors complained the city was choosing a Toronto consultant over a slightly cheaper bid from local planners Hynde Paul/Avalon.

But city planner Paul Chapman said the city wanted a company that had specific experience with GO Transit, and the ability to consider the impact of a possible commuter train station.

Sorenson Gravely Lowes had a better proposal, more experience, and promised more public consultation, Chapman said.

In other CIP areas of the city, property owners can get grants up to $15,000 per unit if they add residential development, or up to $10,000 for improvements to building exteriors.

St. Andrew's Coun. Joe Kushner said he is worried that embarking on a CIP study would prompt west St. Catharines property owners to stall on their construction plans in order to wait for incentives.

The study was endorsed by the St. Catharines Thorold Chamber of Commerce.

The CIP's financial incentives have proven to be beneficial to the areas where they are available, "especially the downtown, which has seen significant return on investment," said Kithio Mwanzia, the chamber's policy co-ordinator.

In other CIP news, councillors agreed to give $10,000 to Vahe Kilicoglu for facade improvements to his fire-ravaged Oasis restaurant on St. Paul Street.
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Old October 20th, 2008, 06:16 AM   #16
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Big news for St. Catharines. The remnants of the first Welland Canal, made of wood, were found in Lakeside Park just west of the carousel.

I wonder if this will be unearthed permanently later on as an additional attraction for tourists? The wood would probably rot, though, so I don't know how that would be handled.


Quote:
Canal find 'monumental'
Archeologist thrilled at discovery of remnants of first Welland Canal


On Thursday at 9 a. m., Jon Jouppien's team of diggers set out to uncover the Lake Ontario entrance to the first Welland Canal.

They quickly hit the bull's-eye -- twice -- exposing timber beams and supports of the east and the west walls of the channel.

Jouppien, a heritage consultant and archeologist, was elated.

By late morning, the excavators sported giant smiles, and words like "monumental" and "historic" were being used to describe the discovery.

"My work here proves that the canal is in Lakeside Park," Jouppien said as a backhoe clawed into the Port Dalhousie earth.

"This is a piece of nationally important history," said Jouppien, a Niagara Falls resident. "It is critically important to the military and economic history of the early days of the province.

"We didn't expect it would be in this fabulous state of preservation."

As he spoke, a member of the team shouted excitedly from the east-side dig: "Hey! We've got some lock wall fragments here."

The excavation site is in a grassy area at the northwest corner of Lakeside Park.

Jouppien -- who is conducting the excavation for the provincial Ministry of Culture -- said historical documents show the canal at that location is 13.8 metres wide and 2.25 metres deep.

"What's intriguing is we've measured it and we're getting a span of 53 feet (15.9 metres)," Jouppien said.

"We're testing the historic documents people have always used, but this is the real story," he said.

The canal opened in 1829 after five years of construction. It was filled in as successor canals were built.

"This is a chapter in history," Jouppien said. "We can say that first canal is right here in Port Dalhousie, in Lakeside Park."

Jouppien will report back to the City of St. Catharines "so they can use the data we're finding here ... to do cultural resource management of the park," he said.

That means if there's future work underground, the city will know the exact canal dimensions so the remnants aren't damaged, he said.

"I'm also going to be making recommendations that the city looks at the heritage Today will be spent preparing maps, Jouppien said. A report will be sent to the Culture Ministry "by the new year," and the city will get a copy.

In a few days, the excavation site will be filled in again "for safety reasons and also preservation," Jouppien said.

"Isn't that beautiful?" said St. Catharines Regional Coun. Bruce Timms when told about Thursday's discovery.

Timms is leading an effort to get all four Welland canals declared a heritage corridor. In December, the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board will decide if it will recommend the designation. The final decision rests with the federal environment minister.

"It's great news to find that and have visual evidence that will build our case with the heritage board," Timms said.

"One of the keys to designation is ... is there enough visible evidence to tell the story of the canal?"

In August, another team partially unearthed a lock from the second Welland Canal near the recreational path along Twelve Mile Creek in St. Catharines.

That effort also provided visual evidence to support a potential federal designation.

City of St. Catharines heritage planner Kevin Blozowski said Thursday's news was "wonderful."

"We're going to be looking forward to Jon's report with some anticipation," Blozowski said.

"He'll provide recommendations about how the city can preserve and tell the story of the (first Welland Canal)."

Blozowski said he won't comment on what the city might do until he reads Jouppien's report.

value of this," Jouppien said. "It would be a great, great resource for the city to exploit."

Jon Jouppien, left, surveys the canal dig in Lakeside Park Thursday. Working with Jouppien is Bruce Foster.

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Old October 21st, 2008, 09:49 PM   #17
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Could the newly-discovered first Welland Canal become a tourist attraction in Port Dalhousie? This is a follow-up to the article in the previous post.

Quote:
Protect canal site, councillor urges
Williamson suggests lobbying feds, province for funding to preserve Port Dalhousie gateways


Ateam of archeologists who unearthed the entrance of the first Welland Canal last week may have sunk their trowels into the city's next tourist attraction and national historic site.

That is, if all goes according to St. Catharines Coun. Bruce Williamson's plan.

Monday night, the Port Dalhousie ward councillor gave a brief presentation to his colleagues on the team's find -- timber beams and supports on the east and west walls of the canal -- in Lakeside Park last Thursday.

He suggested lobbying Ottawa and the province to obtain funding to preserve the site.

He added that since it is strongly believed the gateways to the second and third canals are also in the vicinity, the portion of the popular park extending from the lake to just behind the carousel could be designated a national historic site.

"Maybe before the 200th anniversary of the canal, we could have something in place," Williamson said.

After the meeting, Williamson elaborated he would like the channel's ingress restored.

"Most people are totally unaware this was a canal site," he said.

"(It) would be a great tourist attraction, and build on the heritage there."

The first Welland Canal opened in 1829 after five years of construction.

Jon Jouppien, a local archeologist and heritage consultant leading the Lakeside Park dig, is expected to write a report for the city including recommendations on how the city can exploit the heritage value of the find.

Earlier this spring, Jouppien told The Standard he envisioned restoring his soon-to-be-found gateway to an operable state.

Images of the Hamilton and Scourge schooner wrecks, which sank off the shore of the lakeside hub during the War of 1812, beamed into a canal interpretive centre nearby.

Williamson's request would complement St. Catharines Regional Coun. Bruce Timms' efforts to have all four Welland Canals declared a heritage corridor.

The National Historic Sites and Monuments board will decide in December whether it will recommend the designation.
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Old November 10th, 2008, 02:57 AM   #18
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Quote:
$15-million boost for arts
Marilyn Walker's donation a 'huge step forward' for Brock's school of fine arts


A downtown performing arts school is a step closer to reality now that Brock University has a personal pledge of $15 million -- its largest donation yet.

Local artist and philanthropist Marilyn Walker donated to a new school of fine and performing arts Wednesday, a significant boost for the hope of a downtown presence, president Jack Lightstone said.

"It's a huge step forward in us being able to realize our dream of building a school downtown," he said at an event at Sean O'Sullivan Theatre.

Walker said the donation is intended to benefit the region, as well as the school.

"A community is not complete without a vibrant cultural component," she said. "We expect this gift to provide our community with an opportunity to develop a stable and vibrant relationship with the arts."

Brock is partnering with the City of St. Catharines to build a school of performing arts, adjoining the city's centre for the arts. Brock's commitment to the estimated $80-million project is about $30 million. A feasibility study for the project, which proposes locating the school in the former Canada Hair Cloth building, is expected in early December.

Walker's contribution is an endowment, meaning the money will be banked and the interest generated will be used to benefit the school "in perpetuity," Lightstone said. Uses will include paying down the new centre's mortgage and creating eight new Canada research chairs.

The city and the university continue to pursue federal and provincial funding for the new centre, St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan said.

The joint centre is part of a larger downtown revitalization project that could eventually include a 5,000-seat arena and a wine embassy.

Walker's donation brings the plan a step closer to fruition, he said.

"In one word, it's incredible," McMullan said. "Generous doesn't seem to be strong enough a word."

Walker's donation was so big, it was billed as a "transformational announcement" to the crowd of about 500 at the theatre.

The crowd was entertained by a dramatic arts group, a four-piece band and a soprano singer, who serenaded Walker in a rain of falling rose petals. Walker received three standing ovations.

Brock also renamed its arts school after the fibre artist. It is now known as the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

"The first question we asked Marilyn was, 'Would you do us the honour of having our school associated with your name?' " Lightstone said. "It was a big decision for us and it was a big decision for herself and her husband (Norris)."

Marilyn Walker is renowned in the quilting world, proving the skill is more than just a craft.

Walker, a St. Catharines native, struggled for decades to promote quilting as an art form. She is now known as "one of North America's leading fibre artists," Brock University president Jack Lightstone said Wednesday.

A charter president of the Canadian Quilting Association, Walker has lectured throughout North America on the historic and artistic significance of quilting. In 1992, she was awarded the Canadian Historical Association Award of Merit for her book Ontario's Heritage Quilts. Six years later, she curated the Canadian Contemporary Quilt competition, which began at Rodman Hall and toured Canada for two years.

A University of Toronto graduate, Walker has been a longtime volunteer of the St. Catharines chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women. She has also volunteered for the St. Catharines Area Arts Council, Bethlehem Place and Women's Place, as well as the Rodman Hall revitalization effort.

Walker won the Mayor's Patron of the Arts Award from St. Catharines city council in 2007. She also received an honorary degree from Brock University last month.

Walker is married to Norris Walker of Walker Industries.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 09:15 PM   #19
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No word on Port Place yet.

Quote:
Port tower's fate in hands of OMB chair
Hearing wraps up after 71 days


It's over.

But after 71 days of hearings held over the course of 21 weeks, and 296 exhibits submitted as evidence contained in more than 40 boxes of documents, there's no hope the answer on the fate of the Port Place tower will be found under the Christmas tree.

As the snow began to fall outside St. Catharines city hall windows Wednesday afternoon, Ontario Municipal Board hearing chair Susan

Campbell said she would make her decision as quickly as possible. But the soonest her answer will be available is late January.

"I will do my best to get this done as quickly as possible, but let's be realistic here," she said at the hearing.

"Don't be checking your e-mail regularly until the latter part of January."

Port Dalhousie Vitalization Corp. lawyer Mark Noskiewicz, who wrapped up the hearing with his responses to the arguments made by his opponents, thanked Campbell for her patience and good humour.

Campbell laughed.

"I hope I wasn't too hard on anybody, but if I was, whatever," she said with a mischievous grin, flipping her palms up in a gesture of dismissal.

Campbell, who has presided over the hearings with attentiveness and wit, reminded participants and spectators that her decision -- when it comes -- will be all or nothing.

"You heard what I said about me redesigning the project," she said, interrupting Noskiewicz's comments on whether the Port Mansion should be saved. "All of these (alternatives) would require me redesigning the project, and I am not doing that. I think everyone has understood from Day One that you are not going to see some weird thing designed by me."

Earlier in the week, Campbell hinted she doesn't accept that relatively modern buildings -- such as the former Erskine's Pharmacy or the former hydro building (now housing the Rum Jungle) -- are heritage buildings.

While Jane Pepino, lawyer for anti-tower citizens group PROUD (Port Realizing Our Unique Distinction), was trying to argue that buildings constructed after 1950 might still be considered heritage buildings, Campbell interrupted her to say: "Ms. Pepino, just to put it to bed, in my view, they (Erskine's Pharmacy and hydro building) are not, by definition, heritage buildings."

They could be considered part of Port's heritage fabric, she acknowledged, but they are not heritage buildings.

Noskiewicz devoted much of his argument Wednesday refuting Pepino's argument that heritage preservation should trump revitalization.

Noskiewicz said heritage and revitalization are equally balanced.

Besides, PDVC's proposal has always sought to conserve Port Dalhousie's "heritage values, attributes and character," he said, and the development represents "good heritage planning."

He urged Campbell to uphold city council's June 2006 decision to approve the development, saying the city was relying on an "inclusive" public process and the pro-tower advice of Paul Chapman, "the highly experienced and qualified" city planner.

After the hearing wrapped up, PROUD spokesman Carlos Garcia said he hopes the development will be rejected.

"We can't guarantee or predict what the outcome will be, but we feel very confident that we, and Jane Pepino, put forward a very strong case," Garcia said.

Garcia said PROUD expected that fighting the appeal would cost the group $300,000, but despite the generosity of Pepino and the expert witnesses PROUD hired, the case will cost "significantly more."

PDVC partner Dan Raseta, who has attended most of the hearing, said the process has cost PDVC "millions" of dollars.

Raseta said PDVC president Eric Moog, who was seriously injured in a boating crash in August 2007, and who has not attended any of the hearings, is still recovering in Toronto.

PDVC's third partner, Ralph Terrio, who has also not attended any of the hearings, was the only PDVC spokesman to formally comment.

Terrio said he skipped the hearings because they were too nerve-racking.

"My nerves can't take it. It makes me a nervous wreck," Terrio said in a phone interview after the hearing ended.

Several PDVC supporters expressed optimism about the outcome, but Terrio was more cautious.

"I wish I could have the same feeling, but I can't. It's all in one person's hands," he said. "I hear everybody did a good job of presenting the case but there is no way of knowing."

Garcia said whatever the decision is, it will be precedent-setting.

"There are 92 heritage districts in Ontario and all, except one, are low-rise," he said. A tower has never been built in a heritage district before, he said.

Terrio said his first question to Noskiewicz after the hearing ended was "what are our chances?"

"He said, 'You have a chance, but there are no guarantees.' "
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Old December 8th, 2008, 09:58 PM   #20
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Quote:
'Pretty amazing project'
Consultants give proposed $101-million arts centre thumbs-up


They came, they saw, and they said "yes!"

Toronto consultants hired to study the feasibility of a new Niagara Centre for the Arts are giving their wholehearted endorsement to a $101-million project for the lower-level parking lot that they say will "change the very character of downtown St. Catharines."

Tonight's city council meeting will feature a presentation from the consultants, and a recommendation that councillors approve the massive project in principle.

"It looks fantastic, it's very exciting," said St. Patrick's Coun. Heather Foss, whose downtown ward encompasses the proposed site.

"It's a pretty amazing project," fellow St. Patrick's Coun. Mark Elliott said. "It is certainly the centrepiece of the revitalization efforts of the downtown, and they've given it a resounding thumbs-up both in terms of its feasibility and for what it will do for downtown. I am very pleased."

Two companies -- Martin Vinik Planning for the Arts LLC and Levitt Goodman Architects Ltd. -- were hired by Brock Univer sity and the City of St. Catharines in January to investigate the feasibility of relocating Brock's School of Fine and Performing Arts to downtown St. Catharines in concert with the building of a major arts venue. The consultants concluded the project will have "truly enormous economic impacts over time, as the centre changes the very character of downtown St. Catharines, increases property values, stimulates commercial development and fundamentally alters the city's economy."

But it depends on roughly $66 million from the federal and provincial governments -- money that is already available in the Building Canada Program, said a report from St. Catharines economic development director David Oakes.

Councillors should immediately approve an application to the Building Canada Program, Oakes said.

Elliott thinks the timing is perfect for getting the cash, because of the economic uncertainty.

"Both federal and provincial governments have talked about pouring money into the economy, into infrastructure, and we've already got our homework done," Elliott said. "We are sitting here with a project that fits."

The consultants' 415-page report says the construction project will pour $178 million into the economy, and, with an annual operating budget of $4.5 million, it will add an additional $16 million every year once it's open and functioning as the cultural mecca of Niagara.

In order to succeed, the centre must be professionally managed and it must have at least one performance in one of its six main concert or theatre spaces almost every night of the year, the report says.

Merritton Coun. Jeff Burch, who is one of two city councillors on the city's performing arts committee, said one of the challenges facing the project is the number of arts groups that will want to use the rehearsal and performance spaces. "There are a lot of different groups to bring together under one umbrella, but everyone seems determined to do it," he said.

But with as many as six different performance spaces, ranging from small venues with 200 seats to the main concert hall with up to 900 seats, the proposal has something for everyone.

The project represents unprecedented co-operation between a Canadian city and a university, Elliott said.

Rosemary Hale, Brock's dean of arts, said it's so innovative, the co-operation model is the subject of a $4.5-million study being funded by the federal government's Community-University Research Alliances. "I don't think there's another project like it," Hale said. "The flourishing of arts in the community, the town and gown co-operation is just absolutely the best, and the partnership continues after the facility is built."

Hale agrees with Elliott that the project is likely to succeed in its quest for federal and provincial funding because it fits all the criteria for the Building Canada Program.

On a tour of the site last week, provincial officials were "over the moon" with excitement at the project's potential, Hale said. "Everybody who sees it gets excited," she said. "They liked it, they were very positive."

The Brock School of Fine and Performing Arts and one of the smaller performance spaces would be built in and around the former Canada Hair Cloth building in the lower-level parking lot. An architect's drawings show several see-through rectangular additions to the building.

The 800-to 900-seat Niagara Centre for the Arts and three more theatres would be built on St. Paul Street, at the corner of Carlisle Street, on what is currently private land.

If the project gets the go-ahead, "we start negotiating" for the property, Elliott said.

Meanwhile, councillors are scheduled to get an update tonight from city staff on the progress of the expropriation of the Canada Hair Cloth building. Because it's a property and legal matter, the briefing will be held behind closed doors. But Mayor Brian McMullan has said the city is likely to own the property by the end of this year or early next year.

St. Catharines City Councillors Heather Foss and Mark Elliott stand outside the former Canada Hair Cloth building, which will be part of the proposed arts centre in downtown St. Catharines.

Quote:
Features of proposed arts centre

The complex will feature up to 10 different performance and rehearsal halls:

Concert hall-- 800 to 900 seats

Dance performance hall-- 200 to 250 seats Film theatre-- 200 seats Recital hall-- 250 to 300 seats Lobby and cafe performance spaces Dramatic arts theatre-- 250 to 300 seats Four drama rehearsal and performance studios
Quote:
Project details from consultants' report

Construction costs

Total cost:$101 million (excluding land acquisition, financing costs, legal fees and hazardous material removal):

Brock's School of Fine and Performing Arts: $38.6 million

Niagara Centre for the Arts: $58.2 million Recital hall (250 to 300 seats): $4.2 million

Operating costs

$4.5 million per year, with two-thirds coming from operating revenue and the remaining $1.5 million from the city and Brock.

Brock will contribute its current $800,000 annual centre for the arts operating budget, leaving $700,000 to come from the city, fundraising and a proposed endowment. The consultants' report says the annual need for contributed revenue is less than one-tenth of the economic impact the project will generate.

Economic impact

Construction tax benefit to federal government -- $10 million

Construction tax benefit to provincial government -- $5.8 million

Total indirect economic impact of construction -- $178 million

Ongoing direct economic impact -- $7.4 million per year

Ongoing indirect economic impact $10 million per year

Fundamental change to life in downtown St. Catharines-- hundreds of millions of dollars.
Quote:
The timeline

NOVEMBER 2007: City of St. Catharines and Brock University agree to partner to conduct a feasibility study.

JANUARY 2008: Levitt Goodman and Martin Vinik Planning for the Arts LLC hired for $250,000.

JUNE 2008: Memorandum of understanding signed between Brock and the city.

NOVEMBER 2008: Marilyn Walker announces $15-million arts endowment. School is renamed the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

DEC. 1, 2008: Results of consultants' study presented to Brock officials.

DEC. 4, 2008: Brock trustees discuss study recommendations and approve them in principle.

TODAY: Results of study presented to St. Catharines council. Staff recommendation is to approve in principle and apply for federal and provincial funding.

JAN. 29, 2009: Results of study to be presented to Brock's capital projects committee.

FEB. 26, 2009: Brock committee to make recommendation to Brock's board of trustees.

MARCH 2, 2009: City staff to make recommendation to council.

SEPTEMBER 2012: Earliest possible date for grand opening.
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