No plans are in place, but the conversation is ongoing. That’s the upshot of tonight’s special planning meeting in Huntsville to hear a redevelopment plan for Brendale Square. Students from Ryerson University’s Master of Planning program have been working on a plan for the mainly rundown area, which includes identifying ways to remediate flooding issues and create a space for public use.

The students proposed three different phases; the first is to deal with the flooding and soil contamination, the second phase includes upgrading sidewalks in the area and beginning to build mixed-use development, and the third is building long term infrastructure.

No cost for any of these phases were outlined, however the graduate students did list a number of provincial and federal grants the town could apply for to help offset some of the costs.

The end vision for the square includes a public park, a new permeable parking lot that could absorb flood water, and a mix of living, office and retail space.

Photo: A conceptual drawing of the future of Brendale Square.

Mayor Scott Aitchison was on board with the general idea for the redevelopment of Brendale Square, saying the theme is a good one to change the square from its current state to mixed use development. However, he did question during tonight’s meeting what it will take to get the project off the ground. He says it might come from council finding a way to buy some of the land and working with property owners in the area to fuel action. Aitchison also compared Brendale Square to the Empire lot, saying Huntsville has a beautiful downtown core that is bookended with two areas that need work. He says those areas are the two biggest threats to the community.

Councillor Jonathan Wiebe questioned what would happen if Brendale can’t be remediated, and if flooding will always be an issue. He asked what the town would do at that point. However, the Ryerson students says it’s unlikely the flooding and soil contamination issues would be impossible to fix, but the price tag to do so could be a concern.

Photo: A full gallery during Tuesday night’s presentation. Supplied by Taylor Ablett.

This is the first time the Ryerson students tested the waters by presenting their proposal and getting feedback from town officials and the community. The gallery was full during the meeting and many people in the audience spoke about their concerns and ideas for the area.

There’s no word yet on what the next steps will be with the report or when council will take another look. You can read the full report from the graduate students on the town website.

Flooding issues at Brendale Square addressed in Ryerson University re-development plan