January 31 is the end of the calendar year, and the end of the City of Guelph fiscal year, but it will also mark the end of more thing, the end of the memorandum of understanding between the City and other parties for 200 Beverly Street, aka: the former IMICo Site. This big empty brownfield in the middle of the Ward has been the subject of much concern and interest for over 20 years, but there will be progress in 2021.
The non-binding agreement between the City of Guelph, Habitat for Humanity for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and ARQi R&D Inc went into effect on January 1, 2017, and it describes how the three groups will work towards the development of a mix of commercial, residential and affordable housing on the site. It outlined the responsibilities and commitments of each party while advancing planning, environmental and development matters and applications for the property, which are substantial.
The agreement though expires on New Year’s Eve, so what happens on January 4 when City of Guelph staff get back to work after the holiday break?
“Staff continue to work within the parameters as set out in the MOU. An update on 200 Beverley St. site, by way of an information report, will be going to Council early in the new year,” said manager of Economic Development Christine Chapman in a statement to Guelph Politico.
Chapman couldn’t share any further details, and reiterated that a report would be coming to council sometime early in 2021.
“City staff have advised us that they will be bringing a new proposal to City Council in the new year,” said Steve Howard, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. “They have also advised that the commitment for the property to contain a significant affordable housing component will continue, and that Habitat will be asked to continue to steer coordination among various organizations that will have an interest in affordable housing.”
Howard added that the process for what affordable housing on the site might look like began at a pair of symposiums they hosted in. 2019. Work was paused in 2020 because of a matter with the developer ARQi R&D that needed to be resolved, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Habitat for Humanity is ready to proceed when the time comes.
“We will pick this up in 2021 once we have clear direction from City Council,” he added.
The memorandum of understanding was approval by City Council in 2016. The last formal update on the redevelopment of 200 Beverly was back in August 2017 with the announcement that environmental investigation work had begun on the site including sampling of existing wells on the property.
Previous environmental investigations on the property have revealed the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metal(s), chemicals that are typically found in gasoline and paint. In 1999, the City of Guelph removed nearly 10,000 tonnes of contaminated soils, 925 tonnes of contaminated concrete, and 36 tonnes of soil with leachate, meaning dissolved, potentially toxic organic compounds.
The International Malleable Iron Company (IMICo) built a foundry at 200 Beverly Street in 1912, and continued operations there until 1989. The site was sold to the Assembly of the Church of the Universe in 1993, but it was seized by the City of Guelph in 1997 for non-payment of taxes, and for not fulfilling the order of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to undertake environmental remediation of the site.
Before 2016, City Council passed two resolutions to give direction for development of the land in 2004 and 2006, and twice issued requests for proposals that failed to get a tender in 2006 and 2012.