A busy day at City Hall today at Council’s July meeting. Key items on the agenda: approving committee motions including the Vranich loan/grant, industrial businesses operating without a certificate of approval from the Ministry of Environment, and a series of new motions from Councillors.
Vranich loans and grants
Again, Council moved quickly and without discussion to approve the Vranich loan and grant packages. Doug Farraway wrote about the irony of councillor’s silence on the matter on Monday.
Ministry of Environment failing to ensure industry operates with permits
Council discussed the problem of industrial businesses operating with permits from the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry’s lack of action.
Councillor Merulla demanded to know if the City can shut down industrial sites operating without Ministry oversight and asked why the Ministry allows for these sites to operate.
The discussion stems from a planning committee discovery that savage company Posner Processing Ltd. at 610 Beach Road has been operating for years without a Ministry certificate of approval. The discovery was accidential during the company’s rezoning application. Kevin Warner of HCN covered the story Tuesday.
The memory of Plastimet
The timing is ironic, Monday marked the 15th anniversary of the infamous Plastimet fire. In the aftermath of the fire, the Ministry promised to be vigilant and ensure industrial sites were complying with the law and receiving certificates. Plastimet was allowed to exist despite not renewing their certificate.
Criminal checks for developers seeking city loans and grants?
Councillor Brad Clark , chair of the planning committee, introduced a motion asking city staff to research the legality of requiring developers seeking city grants or loans to submit to a criminal background check and if the city can deny their applications if they have convictions on their record. The motion is scheduled for a vote at the August council meeting.
The motion follows the City giving convicted sex offender Denis Vranich $1.2-mil of grants and loans in April for his development at 275 King St W. The Woman Abuse Working Group (WAWG), a coalition of 24 agencies, wrote to Clark: “WAWG is deeply concerned about the message that PEDC’s decision may send to our community when public funds are being granted to a company that is headed by a convicted sex offender.”
There was a public outcry about the matter and it gained much traction in The Spectator* *and AM900CHML.
Dissolving Tourism Hamilton Inc. and creating an advisory committee
The Board of Directors of Tourism Hamilton voted to dissolve the corporation and ask city council to approve the creation of a tourism advisory sub-committee. Today, Council agreed and the separate Tourism Hamilton corporation is being dissolved.
There will not be any changes at Tourism Hamilton. The staff there are already City employees, are paid by city funds, and the director of Tourism Hamilton decided by the City.
In fact, this will have the positive of making the agency more transparent. The sub-committee will fall under the Municipal Act and meetings advertised to the public.
Collins hopes to buy part of lands at the former Bishop Ryan high school
Councillor Collins moved a motion for the city to express interest in parts of the former Bishop Ryan high school at Quigley and Alright in the east end. A new BR high school is opening in Upper Stoney Creek and the Catholic School Board is looking to sell the old property.
The city is facing a fiscal challenge acquiring green space and parks owned by the school boards beside closing/closed schools. Many communities face the possibilities of losing their parks along with the schools.
To further complicate the situation at Bishop Ryan, parts of the closed high school are essential to the operation of the connected Sir Wilfrid Laurier Recreation Centre. The high school gymnasium is used by the recreation centre. The recreation centres utilities were shared with the high school. The boiler room and other essential plant are in the high school building.
If the entire high school building sold to a private developer, the city will need to remodel the recreation centre with a gymnasium and utilities. The cost could be prohibitive, meaning a high-density community risks losing it’s recreation centre as well.
Hill Park recreation centre faces the same challenges – it’s connected to Hill Park high school, a public school scheduled to close.
Today’s Council meeting was sparsely attended. With summer meetings occurring at 9:30am, during business hours, members of the public are few in the gallery.
Only Kevin Warner of HCN, Doug Farraway of Cable 14, and myself covered today’s meeting. I’ll link to their content when posted.
Hamilton City Council meet this morning. Being the first meeting of the summer vacation season, Twitter was a little more quiet than usual. The Council meeting offered plenty to discuss.