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Council poised to make decision on Hollingsworth land's future

Details about potential sale of all or a portion of town-owned Hollingsworth land to developer Briarwood discussed in closed session yesterday
20190117 hollingsworth arena google street view
The Hollingsworth Arena at 35 Patterson St., in Newmarket. Google street view photo

The wait to learn the fate of the Hollingsworth Arena will soon be over.

Newmarket council yesterday got a first look in a closed session of the committee of the whole meeting at what selling all or a portion of the Hollingsworth Arena land would entail. Council is expected to discuss and make a decision on the matter at its May 21 committee meeting, and residents are welcome in council chambers on that day to share their view on the subject.

In the meantime, Huron Heights residents in proximity to the 35 Patterson St. facility will be sent notifications by mail that a decision about the potential sale of the town-owned land is imminent.

Any discussion about a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by a municipality is conducted in private, according to the Municipal Act.

“Negotiations and legal discussions are protected to ensure we are negotiating in the best interests of the town and to obtain the best value that we can,” corporate services commissioner Esther Armchuk said.

While council members debate the future of the soon-to-be-decommissioned, 45-year-old arena and the land on which it sits at Patterson Street and Davis Drive, an expression of interest to purchase at least a portion of the property has been made known by developer Briarwood Development Group, which owns two adjacent properties.

A representative of the developer was in attendance at yesterday’s meeting at Newmarket’s municipal offices. Briarwood has not yet put forward a formal development application to the town, but it has shared two concepts for the property with the public at an information session it hosted.

Town staff have recommended that the Hollingsworth land be sold to developer Briarwood, so it can redevelop all three properties together, including its own two parcels at 693 and 713 Davis. A copy of the report and the development proposals are available here.

Councillor Jane Twinney, in whose ward the Hollingsworth land is located, has reached out to area residents on numerous occasions to get their views about the Hollingsworth Arena. Just last week, Twinney hosted a ward meeting to discuss the staff report and the developer’s redevelopment proposals.

“It’s an important decision for us and for the community, and we need to get more information before we can even consider what options we have and where we’re going to go with this,” Twinney said of the potential sale of the Hollingsworth land. “We need to look at the financial part of it because you can’t make a decision unless you know what you’re talking about dollar-wise.”

One resident, who lives on nearby Irwin Crescent, made a deputation before council to express his opposition to the Hollingsworth land being sold for redevelopment.

“It’s going to create traffic chaos,” Steve Rostron said. “I always thought Newmarket was a nice, small town, the kind I grew up in, and now it’s completely changed around.” 

In a written submission to council, resident Wendy Cassells said she supports the redevelopment of Briarwood’s own Davis Drive lands, but is disappointed at the lack of affordable housing units included in the proposals.

“What I am against is the selling of any part of the Hollingsworth Arena property,” Cassells wrote. “I understand the need for growth and development in Newmarket, but not by selling off town-owned land. ...I would ask the town to please refer to their Recreational Playbook for ideas for Hollingsworth. The new Philmore Hamilton rain park will be a wonderful and innovative addition to Newmarket. Given time, which we have, I’m sure that the town, with the help of residents, can come up with something just as great for Hollingsworth and keep the Hollingsworth name.”

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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