Zoned institutional with only light restrictions on the historic building

32 acres — 16 buildings with some flood plain hazard

Article by Valerie MacDonald

Any changes from the existing specified institutional uses on the now-closed, former Brookside Youth Centre would require a rezoning “at the minimum,” says Cobourg’s planning director Glenn McGlashon.

McGlashon’s interview with the News Now Network took place after Cobourg Mayor John Henderson and Northumberland Peterborough-South MPP David Piccini spoke about the Brookside closure on Friday, February 12 at a hastily called virtual media conference. Both men asked people to “imagine” what the future could be for the large site and numerous buildings located on King Street East. 

The existing permitted institutional Zoning By-Law uses include everything from a college and art gallery to a daycare nursery, group home, library, medical clinic, pubic stadium, retirement home, wellness centre or a private club or non-profit organization facility.

Anyone with suggestions for Brookside’s future use can contact the Mayor or the MPP ( and click on “imagine Brookside” at the top of the page.

Piccini explained during the virtual media conference that the annual operating and maintenance cost of the 16-bed secure custody Brookside facility was $10-million and that it has operated at reduced occupancy for many years. When it closed last week only five youth had to be relocated to other institutions. In part, reduction of those young men in custody (8,500 fewer than in 2004/2005) was due to provincially-funded programs to “target at-risk youth,” MPP Piccini said.

Union staff and teachers were informed on the day before and on the day of the closure, the MPP also said.

He said the facility’s footprint was 70 acres with 14 buildings on it.

But Cobourg’s planning director said the grounds are about 32 acres “based on the Cobourg GIS data” with 16 buildings.

Brook Creek bisects the property and “therefore there is an associated floodplain hazard,” Glenn McGlashon also said.

The site is dominated by a large building, Strathmore Estate, “a former Georgian-style summer residence circa 1870s which was re-modelled in or around 1905 in the Beaux Arts style,” McGlashon said.

The Strathmore Estate was first leased to the Ontario Government in 1943 and was later purchased by the Province (Ministry of Government Services) in 1947. Initially, it was used as a training school for girls, but in 1950 it was operated as a training school for boys and became officially known as the “Ontario Training School for Boys, Northumberland County”. The school was renamed the “Brookside School” in 1967. In 1987, it became known as the Brookside Youth Centre. The more modern buildings were developed in the 1970s.” 

The Georgian-style building does not have an official historical designation but is on the town’s register of cultural-heritage value-and-interest property list.

“As such, the property is not formally designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, however being listed on the Heritage Register acknowledges its significance from a cultural heritage resource perspective and provides protection from demolition whereby the owner of the property is required under the legislation to provide the Municipality with 60 days written notice of the intention to demolish or remove a building or structure on the property,” McGlashon said. “At a minimum, a Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA) would be required prior to consideration of the demolition of any buildings on the property.”

Top image: Google Street View: two graphics: supplied

Possible Institutional Uses of the Property

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