Don't put Auchmar up for sale after all, Whitehead says
Follow this debate and all the discussions at city council live here, starting at 5 p.m.
Auchmar Mansion is already headed for the real estate market. Now, Terry Whitehead will try to convince his fellow councillors to delay that for a while.
Councillors voted just four weeks ago to put the mansion, which Whitehead calls "the Dundurn of the Mountain," up for sale.
But Whitehead, who represents Ward 8 on the Mountain, says he's put together a roundtable of people who want to see Auchmar remain in public hands. So he wants to put the sale on hold.
"This really is about all those people who really care about the facility feeling part of that process of keeping it in the public domain," Whitehead told CBC Hamilton last week.
This is just another messy step in a public process that is the poster child for failure and miscommunication.- Jeremy Freiburger in a letter to councillors
At least one person is encouraging councillors to leave the plan as is. Jeremy Freiburger of Cobalt Connects is part of a collective that wants to buy Auchmar and keep the space open to the public. Its detailed plans for the property include a restaurant and artist space.
In a letter to councillors, Freiburger said his group had a "clear, concise" meeting with city staff about buying the property.
Whitehead's roundtable, meanwhile, is a brainstorming effort where the best ideas will be included in a staff report to present to council.
"This is just another messy step in a public process that is the poster child for failure and miscommunication," Freiburger wrote.
The Auchmar bid began last year, when the city issued an RFP for groups interested in operating the facility.
Cobalt Connects submitted a bid. Friends of Auchmar submitted a bit, albeit an hour late. City staff evaluated both and deemed them inadequate.
Meanwhile, the city has been in secret talks with Cardus, a Hamilton-based religious think tank, since last year about buying the property.
About 30 people attended Whitehead's first roundtable session last Tuesday, including members of the Friends of Auchmar and some local heritage advocates.
Diane Dent, president of the Friends of Auchmar, left the meeting feeling "hopeful."
Freiburger didn't feel the same way. His group gave its detailed plans to the city when it submitted an RFP last year, he said. He's not interested in a roundtable where they could be offered up for someone else to implement them.
"We would love to engage in a professional collaborative effort where the currency of our ideas is valued," he wrote. "This has yet to be presented as an option."
Whitehead will present his Auchmar motion at a city council meeting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Two-thirds of council will have to agree to reopen the issue.
Here's what else is on the agenda:
- Council will ratify the decision to appeal the court decision involving Canada Post. The city wants the corporation to abide by a bylaw saying where Canada Post can put community mailboxes on municipal land. A judge ruled in favour of Canada Post this month.
- Approving the details of a proposed Slide the City event that would see a giant 300-metre slip and slide stretch along a city street.
- A plan to boost membership at Hamilton's publicly owned golf courses by looking at a marketing strategy and public-private partnerships.
- Boosting the city's response to rat complaints in Hamilton homes.