London city council is facing a critical decision about the London Hydro lands with hundreds of jobs and millions in tax dollars at stake.

Almost a year of work has gone into a plan that would transform the space at Horton and Ridout streets into a riverside urban village with stores, condominiums and a boardwalk.

Last June city hall signed a confidentiality agreement with Kilmer Brownfield, the company that would clean up the contaminated property and set the stage for redevelopment.

London Mayor Joe Fontana says "We are moving in tandem, looking at this opportunity. The city has done some work. We've spent some money through a reach study to see what's possible."

But the first public report since then outlines both the possibilities and some of the significant hurdles that could derail the project.

The project could create up to 500 full-time jobs, 400 part-time jobs and result in a $100-million development on a property cleaned of a century of contamination.

And while the hurdles are considerable, they also come with potential solutions:

  • 4.1 hectares of the site fall within the river's floodplain, but the property could be elevated above the floodline by adding soil at a cost of up to $500,000 (the conservation authority would also have to sign off)
  • relocating London Hydro was at first estimated to take five to seven years and cost $40 million, but letting the main building remain drops the cost to $20 million and further study may find other savings
  • development would fail to meet a recommended 300 metre setback from Labbatt Brewery, but a consultant could investigate how other cities have addressed similar challenges

Fontana says "[The] bottom line is it has to be a better value to the citizens of London and taxpayers who own this...We need to go, in my opinion, to the next step. We have someone knocking on our door. We are the city of opportunity. And we need to look at those opportunities very seriously."

Kilmer Brownfield has estimated the project will take three years if if it gets the green light from city hall.

The project's future will be debated by the Investment and Economic Prosperity Committee on Wednesday.