A group of north-end residents will battle the city at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to stop a plan that includes new commercial buildings along the bay front, and a parking garage tucked under a city park.
The North End Neighbours (NEN) say they weren’t consulted when the city adapted a new zoning bylaw for the west harbour. The zoning bylaw includes four businesses — a “power centre,” as the NEN calls it — at the foot of James Street.
The NEN are concerned about the power centre, as well as a plan to put a 400-vehicle car park at Bayview Park, with the park being located on top of the garage. But the group is primarily upset that it wasn’t consulted on any of this, and it’s supposed to be, president PeggyAnne Mansfield said.
“We want for north-end residents to be able to talk about what’s happening here,” she said.
To make the changes, Mansfield said, the city needs to strike a stakeholder advisory committee that includes boating groups and the NEN.
Waterfront development is a big issue for the city of late. In 2012, it adopted a plan called Setting Sail, a guide to development along the waterfront.
Big money involved
In 2013, the city announced that it had negotiated the early termination of a lease with the Hamilton Port Authority, freeing up Piers 7 and 8 for development. The city plans wide-scale commercial and residential development, and about $7.5 million in new taxes generated on Pier 8 alone.
In March, the city passed a new zoning bylaw allowing for a number of changes, including the four commercial buildings and the changes to Bayview Park. While Setting Sail specifies that the NEN should be consulted, it wasn’t, Mansfield said.
The group’s primary concern is the amount of traffic these projects will generate, she said. The parking garage will invite 400 new vehicles on top of what the commercial development will draw.
The north end has 5,600 residents, about one-fifth of whom are children under 15, she said.
“It’s not like this is a big box store somewhere where the only part of the community is a parking lot where everyone parks,” she said. “This is a community made up of a lot of seniors who have to navigate these streets. There are children playing.”
Appeal doesn't sidetrack big waterfront plans
The city won’t comment on cases before the OMB. But the NEN says it’s hopeful the case won’t go the full length of an OMB hearing, and that it can meet with the city to resolve the issue.
Coun. Jason Farr of Ward 2 said that the NEN haven’t approached him to set up a meeting with the city.
If they do, “I have no problem facilitating a meeting,” he said.
The NEN has long advocated for traffic-calming measures, including reducing the speed limit on many of its streets to 30 kilometres per hour.
The OMB appeal doesn’t sidetrack the city’s plans to encourage residential and commercial development on Piers 7 and 8, city staff says. On Wednesday, councillors officially voted to terminate the leases with the port authority.