By Larry Pattison
Published September 15, 2011
Redcliff Reality Inc. through John D. Rogers & Associates Inc (Tyler Grinyer) Owner of Kenilworth Avenue Investment Inc., is seeking an amendment to the current allowable lease terms for properties within the Centre on Barton grounds. Most notably, is 1085 Barton Street east which Redcliff would like to lease to Walmart Canada.
On Monday, I stumbled across a variance request for 1085 & 1149 Barton Street East in Hamilton that will be before the Committee of Adjustment this afternoon.
I did a Google search of the addresses, and one popped up at the City Furniture & Mattress building on the north/west corner of Barton and Ottawa Streets - I later confirmed that the address is actually for land adjacent to the former Canadian Tire location, and the second address pointed to The Centre on Barton plaza, which was later confirmed to be the address of the liquor store.
Immediately, the recent talk of Walmart moving into The Centre property came to mind, so I posted on the Ward 3 Residents Association page to see if anyone knew what this was in regards to.
After chatting briefly online with Paul Tetley, past Ward 3 candidate and Ward 3 Residents Association lead, to get his thoughts and playing phone tag (caused by my own busy schedule) with Nick Westoll, assistant to Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli, I was finally able talk with a real live person to address the details of this matter.
I had the opportunity to chat with Scott Baldry, Licensing Facilitator at the City of Hamilton, this afternoon and he stated that the variance is to extend the lease terms allowed on both the lands adjacent to the old Canadian Tire (1085 Barton St E), and The Beer Store (1149 Barton St E).
The longest lease that is allowed to be entered into without an amendment being sought such is the case currently with 1085 and 1149, is 21 years less a day. Opposing the amendment would not stop either The Beer Store or Walmart from entering into agreements of 20 years so the variance won't keep Walmart out, but Walmart's preference is for lease agreements of upwards of 50 years.
In short, the property owners are applying for a variance to offer a 50 year lease so they can lease the land to Walmart.
I also asked Mr. Baldry what the requirements were for public notice, and he stated that all that is required is an 11x17 sign that may possibly be on The Beer Store or somewhere along the fence currently surrounding the 1085 Barton St E property.
As well, if I was to not show up at the public meeting tomorrow or I were not to send Scott an email, I would not be entitled to any further correspondence regarding this matter, including whether or not the amendment had been granted.
Before I had the opportunity to confirm details of the amendment being sought, and with Thursday's date closing in, I had sent an email to council and local neighbourhood association heads, to voice my concerns.
With regards to the variance request for 1085 & 1149 Barton Street E in Hamilton that will be before the Committee of Adjustment this coming Thursday, is it possible for council to suggest to the Committee that we deny these variances?
As a resident of the Crown Point neighborhood, I would personally prefer that nothing larger than the Canadian Tire that originally resided on The Centre lands near Ottawa and Barton is erected, in the name of the recently appointed 2nd Best Street in Canada as voted on by the Canadian Institute of Planners.
I ask you how would it look if, when the CIP comes to Hamilton on September 28th to present a plaque to the Ottawa Street BIA through our Mayor to honor the designation of one of Hamilton's streets, the planners find a large 'Future Home of Walmart' sign on the corner of Ottawa and Barton?
I also ask you: in the future, who would ever vote for a street to be classified as one of the greatest in Canada again, that begins with a Walmart for those coming in from out of town via Burlington Street? Or any large Big Box retail store for that matter.
Forget what Walmart stands for. This is about what Ottawa Street stands for because whatever goes up on that corner of The Centre grounds, will be on Ottawa Street regardless of whether its address is Barton Street East or CN OAK Mile 40.00. A large Big Box outlet on that corner will change the dynamics of that end of the street.
The Ottawa Street district has come a long way in recent years and I fear that the arrival of not only Walmart, but any big block of windowless concrete, will take away from that progress.
Please, if there is something we can legally do to limit what can be built in the north/east corner of The Centre on Barton lands, let's stand up for not just Ottawa Street, but for the downtown community as a whole. Big Box truly has no place in our downtown from Dundas to I am not sure how far east that statement should go but the further the better - especially east of Kenilworth.
As it stands now, The Centre on Barton is more small to mid-sized box stores. Costco's, Home Depot's or Walmart's have yet to find a home on those grounds. I'd like to keep it that way if at all possible.
Our streets are already congested enough. Walmart will certainly not fix the congestion problems. Getting off my residential street onto Barton many days is a nightmare - especially on weekends. If nothing else, this variance needs to go through council and perhaps the affects of added traffic studied, and not simply passed through some arms-length committee.
We are talking Walmart here. Not Bob's 5 and dime. At least let the residents of this neighborhood should have a proper say in future development, instead of cases like this where a document in a very round-about way, found its way onto my computer screen. If not for asking around a bit, I would have had no idea what this was about and the very thing I wanted to personally fight back against, would have slipped through unnoticed.
We have two neighbourhood associations that cover this area in the Ward 3 Residents Association and The Crown Jewel. It's also no secret as to my personal stand on the Walmart proposal as I emailed all of you very recently pleading for something to be done to stand in the way of Walmart moving into our neighborhood. The Hamiltonian also published the letter I submitted to members of council, parliament, and local media.
Issues like this need to be more public. People move in and out of neighborhoods based on decisions like the one pending for this Thursday. Let's work together to ensure that going forward, we find ways to ensure that all matters of our wards and more specifically, drilled down to neighbourhoods, are shared with association leaders who are trying to ensure the members of the communities they lead, are aware of all matters that affect their everyday lives - and that includes everything from zoning variances, to new stop signs. Every decision affects someone.
Last night, I went to bed wondering if there might be some loophole to keep Walmart out of my neighbourhood. I even felt a little optimistic, yet I wasn't keeping my hopes up.
This morning when I woke up, I stumbled upon this article in the Spectator discussing how Target had signed a deal with Walmart Canada, for them to assume leases of up to 39 sites currently operated by Zellers Inc.
I would imagine that at this time, the Centre location isn't one of the 39 locations Walmart is looking at leasing, but if this minor variance at 1085 doesn't go through, my guess would be that Walmart may look at a lease at the Zellers location and make their presence known in some way, shape, or form.
If you would like to speak up regarding this matter or any other item on the agenda, you are either welcome to attend the Committee meeting at City Hall (details below) and state your name, address, and your stance on this issue, or send an email stating the same, to Scott Baldry.
Committee of Adjustment
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