Adaptive Re-use of the Caledonia Old Mill

A Community Consultation Process

The Caledonia Old Mill Corporation (COMC) was recently awarded a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to produce an adaptive re-use plan for the mill through a comprehensive community consultation process. 

Over the years there have been various ideas that have been discussed for the mill.  This funding will now allow the COMC to go one step forward and involve community residents more directly in the initials steps of determining what the most appropriate and sustainable future uses for the mill might be.

By the end of this year, the goal is to have the community arrive at some consensus for the mill, and to have a strategic plan to move the project forward in 2009.

Laura Dent, of Dent Planning (Stratford, ON), was engaged in late May by the COMC as the project manager to help guide the consultation process over the next six months.  She has formal training in architecture and community planning and a passion for heritage and culturally significant buildings and places.  A steering committee composed of COMC board members, interested residents and community advisors are directing the project along.

Objectives

Objectives for this project are broad and primarily aimed at expanding knowledge about the critical issues of adapting heritage mills, increasing awareness about the importance of the Caledonia Mill and the strengths and challenges in its adaptive re-use, tapping into ideas that the community has for the future of the mill, and helping to ensure a smooth transition to the next phase of the project.

Specific activities that were approved as part of the grant application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation include:

  1. conducting a study to investigate other examples of heritage mill buildings in other communities so that we can learn from their successes and failures;
  2. gaining community input through various methods (interviews, focus group conversations, community events) on what adaptive scenarios residents want to see for the mill that would best serve the community; and,
  3. to establish a strategic plan and identify funding opportunities to move the project forward in the next year.

It is essential that the community planning that is done during this phase of the project helps to shape what happens next in subsequent phases.  Careful documentation is key; including the research and information gathered from people participating in the project, as well as synthesis  and findings.  A series of working briefs will be completed that focus on: a) the mill (history, structure, design), b) the community (profile and initiatives impacting adaption of mill), and c) best practices associated with adaptive re-use of historic mills.  A final Report of Findings will document the community consultation process and includes an action plan for the next phase.

Work Plan                                                       

Workplan chart enlarged

Dent Planning, 2008