One starts to wonder if this is really about resident engagement, or just a marginally different tick-the-box PIC process so the City can stay can say we were consulted, yet still move ahead with a predetermined plan.
By Graham Crawford
Published February 22, 2016
This coming Thursday evening, February 25, at 294 James Street North, the City of Hamilton will hold another in a series of monthly public meetings to discuss plans for the redevelopment of our West Harbour.
West Harbour overhead view (Image Credit: Google Maps)
The sites under consideration are Piers 6, 7 and 8; the Jamesville Townhouses; Ken Soble Tower on MacNab; and the Barton-Tiffany lands the City assembled for the failed stadium build.
This engagement process began about a year ago.
Much work has been done and hundreds of thousands of dollars has been spent on consultants and City staff on the detailed plans for redevelopment, not including the now decades old Setting Sail Secondary Plan.
It's important to add that much time and energy has been invested by Hamiltonians who have attended public meetings after work, at night, in a storefront meeting space on James Street North.
Senior staff have allotted 15 minutes for this discussion on the agenda. That's right: almost a year into the process, the City of Hamilton has finally agreed that we need a clearly articulated Vision in order to provide direction and context for discussions and to help make important decisions.
Staff are proposing a draft statement that has not yet been vetted by residents. Senior staff seem to think we can nail this one in 15 minutes in a room with 50 or more people in it who have not yet been asked to comment on it.
Is this what they mean when we say The Ambitious City? Certainly, you must admit that's one 'ambitious' agenda.
It's important to note that on February 9, before a special Sub-Committee for the West Harbour Development, comprised of Mayor Eisenberger and Councillors Aidan Johnson (Chair), Jason Farr (Vice Chair), and Chad Collins, staff were instructed to prepare the letters for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for potential developers as soon as possible.
These initial EOI letters relate to the nine blocks of land to be sold on Pier 8, immediately to the west of Sarcoa and Williams. Other EOI letters for the other blocks of City-owned land in the West Harbour will be sent later.
Wait a minute now.
We're pushing to get letters out to developers ASAP so we can sell the land Hamiltonians own before we've finalized our collective Vision for the West Harbour? You bet. Just another example of the backwards management of this critical project.
As the title says, cart before horse. Promises made and not kept. Answers provided and then revised. Delayed communication and follow-up from meetings. Hand scribbled agendas posted at the beginning of meetings. Promises of a robust website made a year ago with still no progress. And the hits just keep on coming.
If you like magic shows, be sure to attend the public meeting that begins at 7:00 PM on Thursday, February 25. Who knows what tricks you'll be witness to that will cause you to scratch your head as to how they were done before your very eyes.
For those who think I'm being too negative, let me tell you I've tried more times than I care to admit to help sharpen the focus of this process. In writing. Face-to-face. In public. Questions. Suggestions. Ideas. Hours and hours of time and effort.
One starts to wonder if this is really about resident engagement, or just a marginally different tick-the-box PIC process so the City can stay can say we were consulted, yet still move ahead with a predetermined plan. I know I'm wondering. And the evidence mounts.
Hope to see you there.
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