Former POW camp in Bowmanville to get matching $500,000 grants from Clarington, Ottawa

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Published June 25, 2024 at 9:11 am

Camp 30 Cafeteria Building
The Cafeteria Building on the Camp 30 Jury Lands in Bowmanville

A multi-year plan to preserve part of a Second World War prisoner of war camp – the site of the 1942 ‘Battle of Bowmanville’ – got a major boost last week when Clarington Council agreed to spend half-a-million dollars to refurbish the Cafeteria Building, the best-preserved of the five remaining buildings at the former Camp 30 and the only one  municipally owned.

The funding is provisional on Ottawa matching the grant through the Canada Legacy Fund, a fund only available for facilities celebrating a one-hundredth anniversary.

Jeremy Freiburger, a consultant with Cobalt Connects who was at Claringon’s General Government Committee providing an update on what is now known as the Jury Lands, said this will be Clarington’s one and only shot at accessing the federal funding.

The money is not in the municipality’s budget but the opportunity to tap into a rare federal funding program and the prospect of the refurbished facility serving as a future home of several community organizations was enough to convince councillors to approve the request from the Jury Lands Foundation.

Work on preserving what’s left of the POW camp, which was reserved mostly for German officers and operated from 1941 until the end of the war in 1945, has been focussed on the Cafeteria Building and the two acres fronting on Lambs Road.

The Cafeteria Building 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.

Prior to its life as a POW Camp, the lands served as the home for the Bowmanville Boys Training School, with a history dating back to 1924.

According to the Municipality, the Camp 30 buildings will eventually be repurposed and refurbished so that the community can “walk in the footsteps of history” and experience this significant area.

Clarington and former owners Kaitlin Homes and Lambs Road Development already spent $100,000 – at no direct cost to the taxpayer – on preservation efforts at the Cafeteria Building in 2022. That money went to structural assessment and building stabilization work on the building.

Council has already approved a plan from the developers for a 1,202-home mixed unit development (along with 700 square metres of retail space) on Lambs Road at Concession Street.

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