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Community rallies to save Freeman Station

Burlington's Freeman StationHistoric Freeman Station is safe from the wrecking ball – for now. Council unanimously supported my staff direction in January to put the demolition on hold to allow councillor Blair Lancaster and myself to form an ad hoc citizen’s committee to find a location, use and funding.

The committee cannot consider any locations previously voted on by council (Spencer Smith Park, Ireland House grounds and behind the Burlington Art Centre), and must find independent funding. The city has previously committed to paying relocation fees, which are about the same as the what the city would have to pay to demolish the station.

Already, many residents have stepped forward to get involved, pledging time, skills and money to the project.

There are several ways you can help. We’re accepting pledges for donations until a bank account is set up. We’re also particularly interested in hearing from residents with expertise in heritage restoration, construction and engineering; grant application writing; fund-raising; incorporating a non-profit organization; administration and bookkeeping; and putting in sweat equity.

My take:The majority of residents I heard from want to save the Freeman Station, as do I. It’s an important heritage resource we need to preserve. However, a number of residents, and some members of council, don’t want tax dollars going to this project. With the formation of the ad hoc citizens committee, we’ve reached a win-win solution that saves the station using primarily community fund-raising, donated goods and services, and grants. I’m confident the community will be able to do what City Hall couldn’t, based on the outpouring of support we’ve already received.

We’re held our first public meeting Thurs. Feb. 10, 7-9pm, Rm 247 at City Hall. You can still be involved, even if you missed it. Find out more by contacting my assistant Georgie Gartside at 905-335-7600, x 7368, or gartsideg@burlington.ca.

Volunteers Needed Sat. Feb. 12

We also have an immediate opportunity for volunteers to take a 1-2 hour shift to staff our Freeman Station booth at the Heritage Fair at Central Public Library, Sat. Feb. 12, between 9-3:30. We will provide materials; we need volunteers. If you can help, please contact Georgie.

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Written by Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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