Wrap-up: Hamilton General Issues Committee for December 10, 2014

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Contents: Uber in Hamilton,Police Forensics Building,Land Swap with Hamilton Conservation Authority Closed Session, Housekeeping Items (Attendance Report), Consented Items


Council voted to ask Uber to talk with them, asked police to get a further presentation on the proposed new police forensics building, held a closed session of two-and-a-half hours, and – surprisely didn’t debate bus lanes.

Here’s the full wrap-up.

Uber in Hamilton

Sam Merulla’s motion to have City staff reach out to Uber to discuss the City’s taxi licensing regiment passed unanimously.

Merulla told TPR that any discussion of relaxing the City’s taxi license plate regiment – meaning that if Uber is to comply with municipal regulations, they need to purchase taxi plate licenses on the private market for approximately $150,000 each.

As noted last month on TPR, this is the major disruption Uber is created – if Uber is able to take root without purchasing taxi plates, the plates will become worthless and the private investors who lease plates to taxi drivers will see the value of plates evaporate.

Uber’s currently in legal fights with some of the biggest cities in the world: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Toronto just to name a few. While cities have found settlements with other similar services such as Lyft, Uber is holding to its business model and disrupting the established regiment of the taxi market.

Once Uber enters a market, City’s find themselves powerless to respond to the disruption of the regulated economic system currently governing taxis. A hearing last week in Boston highlighted this well – no matter what Boston’s Council does, Uber owns the market. There is no turning back.

(And to make Uber’s eventual entry into Hamilton easier, the City endorsed Transit App is now integrating with Uber’s API)

Last week, Uber raised another $1.2-billion from private investors. The private markets are clearly betting on Uber in its battles against big cities.

All this points to Merulla’s Uber motion as posturing by the City of Hamilton on the chance the City joins Toronto’s legal case against Uber. Ottawa is presently issuing fines against Uber drivers.

Police Forensics Building

Deferred to future meeting. Purchase of Downtown Mosque lands rejected.
The Hamilton Police Services Board asked City Council to approve $5-million in capital funds towards a new investigative services building on the downtown block bound by Rebecca Street, Catherine Street, Wilson Street, and Mary Street.

Hamilton Police are hopeful of receiving the $10-million for the project from the provincial and federal governments for the project, if Council approves the funding.

Councillors decided in closed session to ask police to make a presentation on the project as part of the 2015 Budget Process, and voted to “take no action” on a police request to purchase the Downtown Mosque lands. The mosque lands are the only portion of the block not owned by the police service.

Beasley Neighbourhood Association Delegation

John Neary of the Beasley Neighbourhood Association delegated on the proposed police forensics building. The BNA is asking the new building meet the design standards of the Downtown Secondary Plan and have public spaces that benefit the entire community.

Lloyd Ferguson, Chair of the Hamilton Police Services Board. arrived to the meeting after the delegation’s presentation. Ferguson stated he was on the Bill Kelly Show during the presentation.

He asked the delegate to repeat key points of the presentation.

Members of Council on the Police Services Board asked the BNA to make a delegation to the Police Services Board to offer the PSB an opportunity to incorporate the BNA’s requests into the design of the proposed building.

City planning staff state the proposed building will need to meet the standards of the Secondary Plan during the Site Plan stages of the development process – including a review by the City’s Design Review Panel.

The BNA delegation was received by Council.

Land Swap with Hamilton Conservation Authority

Deferred to future meeting

A map of the property the City plans to swap to the HCA

A map of the property the City plans to swap to the HCA

The City is looking to swap land with the Hamilton Conservation Authority by taking ownership of Griffin House, a National Historic Site in Ancaster, and a surrounding 1.0 acre in exchange for 1.9 acres of land on Highland Road which connects with the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area.

Closed Session

Closed session lasted approximately two-and-a-half hours.

  • Police Forensics Building Space Needs (239 c and g) – Council voted to receive the report, and ask Police to present in closed session during the 2015 budget deliberations.
  • Acquisition of Property for Police Forensics Building – Council voted to take no action
  • Labour Relations / Contract Negotations – Council received information and voted it to remain confidential.
  • Potential Litigation Relating to Contaminated Property in Ward 3 – Council received information and voted it to remain confidential.

Attendance

Present: Mayor Eisenberger, Collins, Conley, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Green, A. Johnson, B. Johnson, Partridge, Pearson, Whitehead.
Notes: Ferguson arrived late, missing the public delegation presentation. He was on Bill Kelly’s show.

Media Present: Matthew Van Dongen, Donna Skelly, Ken Mann, Kevin Werner, Jeff Green, Joey Coleman
Note: Van Dongen and Coleman remained during closed session.

Consented Items

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The following were received or approved unanimously by Councillors:

  • Court Security and Prisoner Transportation Program Agreement (with province) for 2015 – City will receive $5,728,029.21 from the province for these costs in 2015.
  • Janet Pilon is now officially the Deputy City Clerk under the Municipal Act.
  • Public Health Funding and Accountability Agreement with the Province
  • Minutes of the Business Improvement Area Advisory Committee for July, August, and September.
  • Consent to allow HAMILTON Medical AG and HAMILTON Bonaduz AG register their corporate name as a Canadian Trademark. (The City of Hamilton owns the trademark “Hamilton” and must give consent to others entities seeking to use Hamilton as the emphasis in their trademark.)
  • Report of the Web Redevelopment and Service Channel Sub-Committee for September 2014.
  • Report of the Pan-Am Stadium Precinct Sub-Committee for September 2014
  • Report of the Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities for November 2014
  • 2015 Budget Submission for the Arts Advisory Commission
  • 2015 Budgets for the Business Improvement Areas
  • Council Appointments to City Owned Corporations – Hamilton Renewable Power Inc, Horizon Utilities Corporation, CityHousing Hamilton, Hamilton Farmers’ Market Corporation, and the Hamilton Street Railway Corporation

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