Headlines

Don't put Auchmar up for sale after all, Whitehead says

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. Follow this and other debates at council live here.

Follow this debate and all the discussions at city council live here, starting at 5 p.m.

Terry Whitehead will try to convince his fellow councillors on Wednesday to reconsider their decision to put Auchmar up for sale.

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:

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs will tweet live from the meeting. Follow her on @SamCraggsCBC or in the window below.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.