Clarington mulling over Camp 30 development proposal but history preservation not yet guaranteed

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Published December 7, 2021 at 1:01 pm

A mixed-density housing development proposal for the Camp 30 lands in Bowmanville may be the proper next step for a valuable parcel of land that has been virtually abandoned since the Second World War, but the uncertainty of the historic buildings on site is still an area of concern.

Clarington’s Development Services Committee approved the revised plan submitted by Bousfields Inc. (on behalf of Lambs Road Development) for 1,202 homes (along with 700 square metres of retail space) on Lambs Road at Concession Street on Monday.

The proposal, which was first submitted in May of 2020, has undergone a few revisions but the version committee saw Monday includes a mix of medium, low and high density housing, two new municipal roads, a 4.6 hectare municipal park and the “conveyance of five existing buildings within the boundaries of the historic ring road.”

Those five buildings are what’s left of the Camp 30 Prisoner of War Camp, which operated on the site from late 1941 until the end of the war in 1945. The camp, reserved mostly for German officers, was the site of the Battle of Bowmanville, a two-day affair fought with hockey sticks and whatever else was at hand in 1942, and numerous escape attempts, including an elaborate attempt to break out four submarine commanders in 1943 called Operation Kiebitz.

Camp 30 was declared a National Historic Site in 2013 but since then the site has been left to decay while new battles are being fought, this time over ownership, and the municipality recently took some measures to keep vandals from tearing up the land and defacing the buildings more than they already have.

 

The development proposal currently on the table appears to save the historic buildings but Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster stopped short of guaranteeing their survival, saying there was an element of the deal that is still confidential.

“It’ll be public in due course,” Foster said, adding that the future of the buildings could be revealed “immediately after” next Monday’s Council meeting. “I can’t breach the confidentiality, so I can’t say more.”

The Mayor did hint that there could be a happy ending for the buildings, currently covered with graffiti and in varying states of disrepair. “I think most people will be happy when that clarity comes out.”

If the project is approved it likely be a couple of years before Camp 30 – also known as the Jury Lands – sees any shovels in the ground, he added, with Kaitlin Homes signed on as the builder.

“Part of it is market-driven, but the site also needs servicing, so it’ll be 2023 at least.”

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