Chamber to city: Don't implement a lobbyist registry
The local chamber of commerce says it’s opposed to a city lobbyist registry because it would discourage investment and get in the way of the chamber representing its members.
The chamber is the second local business group to come out against the proposed registry, joining the Hamilton-Halton Homebuilders Assocation.
The proposed registry would mean that Hamilton councillors and senior management would log every time they speak to a lobbyist, and that information would be available the public. The 45-day period for public comment ended Friday. Council will debate this month whether to implement it.
In a letter to city council, Keanin Loomis, president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, said a registry would have “a chilling effect on investment in the city.”
It would also “restrain the ability of the chamber…to represent the interest of its members on an individual or collective basis,” the letter said.
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The Hamilton Halton Home Builders’ Association also wrote the city to oppose a registry.
The chamber spoke to similar associations in Toronto and Ottawa, where registries exist, and found that the registries cooled growth and impeded the chamber in dealing with the city, Loomis said.
“I just think this is going to be more trouble than it’s worth."
The issue of a lobbyist registry has gone on for seven years. The accountability and transparency subcommittee hammered out a draft version and disbanded late last year.
Its implementation — an estimated $50,000 to $100,000 to build it, and $114,000 per year to build it — wasn’t included in the 2014 budget, which means it wouldn’t happen in 2015, he said. Coun. Brian McHattie moved to start the consultation period and debate the registry in June.
Jim Watson, mayor of Ottawa, told CBC Hamilton that his city’s registry has worked “extremely well” so far.
“It’s brought greater accountability to us as politicians, and also to our staff.”
But Loomis calls Hamilton’s version a “vague bylaw” with “unclear and ambiguous regulations,” and he’s not sure how the chamber would fall into it.
As of Thursday, 20 people have given input into a registry.