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Email Edition for Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Television City is About Tower Separation, Not Height

Planning policy and implementation are interwoven with each other, and without both being strong; neither can achieve community goals.
The newest final draft version of Downtown Secondary Plan does a better job of balancing community interests than the revised draft released in October; but that statement on its own isn’t saying much because the October draft gave land speculators much and the community little.
The most interesting change – which is the result of community pressure – is proposed strong protections for rental housing and renters who are displaced by development. The policy requires new mid-rise and tall buildings to replace demolished rental units, and to have “an acceptable tenant relocation and assistance plan addressing the right to return to occupy the replacement housing at similar rents, the provision of alternative accommodation at similar rents, and other assistance to lessen the hardship, is provided.”
With the Wellington Arms for sale as a “hi-rise redevelopment site”, these new protections are very likely to encounter their first test as those tenants are displaced. We’ll quickly find out what the City deems to be “acceptable” for tenants in this policy.
Ultimately, the new Secondary Plan is only as good as Council’s willingness to enforce it.
The Secondary Plan references numerous other policies, and cannot be read on its own. The Public Record will have more analysis and in-depth review of the Plan in the coming days as we take time to understand it in the context of these other policies.
Brad Lamb’s Television City will be debated by City Councillors on Planning Committee this morning. The debate online has raged about height; when the issue of planning on the site is about intensity of development resulting from proposing two towers where the City’s tall building guidelines – and development best practices – state there should be one tower built.
“Tower separation” in planning language, is an important part of building a well functioning community of tall buildings. Brad Lamb’s attempt to build two tall buildings on the site is about volume; he’ll get more per-square foot, and more square footage, from two towers than he’ll get with the one tower of 15 to 25 storeys (depending on design) that Hamilton’s tall building guidelines suggest could be built on the site.
Lamb’s statements about his appeal have been consistent, he’s willing to negotiate on height, but not the number of towers. When a person is firm on a matter; that’s a good indication of what the primary issue really is.
City staff were clear in their report they can support a tall building on the site; with the proper design characteristics expected of a tall building on the site in relation to the surrounding neighbourhood and at street level.
Lamb’s declared that he is taking the City to the Ontario Municipal Board for “non-decision”. Other developers have gone for “non-decision” in the hours prior to a Council denying their applications; depending on the OMB member who conducts the hearing, it is possible the Board will conduct the hearing based upon Council’s denial, and not the most advantageous “non-decision” for the developer.
As for betting on the outcome of the OMB hearing; by the time the Board conducts its hearing, the new LPAT will have made rulings, and the Board will be under pressure to be more deferential to local planning policies. Add to the mix the City has Tall Building Guidelines it can support at the Board, and a Design Review Panel of professionals who did not support two towers; the conditions exist for Lamb to lose.
I encourage you to take 30 minutes to watch a talk by renowned planner and urban designer Ken Greenberg in Hamilton last year (Greenberg starts at 6:40) where he discussed planning for high density development. It will help to explain the planning principles involved in the City’s tall building guidelines and height limits.
Thanks for reading,
Joey Coleman

The Public Record is Working On

The following are stories The Public Record is tracking today

  • The City’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Advisory Committee voted against a Councillor Ferguson motion to ban cannabis production as a farming activity, and instead passed a motion asking Council to allow cannabis production as a farming activity, and remove the 2000 sq m restriction on the size of farm buildings. The vote at Rural Affairs was 9-4 with Councillors B. Johnson, Partridge, and Pasuta voting for the motion, Ferguson opposed. This is on the Planning agenda today.
  • Pattison advertising is seeking to build a new digital billboard on the side of the Linc in partnership with the Muslim Association of Hamilton, behind the mosque on Stone Church Road East. The City’s Director of Planning denied the sign applications as it failed to meet the City’s tests for sign, and is too close to the highway. Pattison is appealing the denial to Council.
  • Delegations today include a person asking Council to review its ban on urban chickens, and Bill Johnson of the First Unitarian Church seeking that Council waive all planning and application fees for non-profit affordable housing projects, and other affordable housing projects.
  • An update on the OMB appeal by the owners of 195 Wellington Street South states the developer is seeking 17 storeys with 330 dwelling units. The development is within the Niagara Escarpment Commission control area, and the NEC’s staff wrote a report opposing the development prior to it being appealed to the OMB.

Local Briefs:

  • Hamilton is now a risk area for Lyme disease – City of Hamilton public health staff say Hamilton now has an established population of blacklegged ticks, which can carry Lyme disease. Due to climate change, the ticks are now able to survive winters in the Hamilton area. The City has launched a public information campaign about the ticks and symptoms of Lyme disease.
  • Terry Whitehead is gaining himself media coverage by saying he is thinking of running for Mayor. He does this most election cycles, and then stays in his Ward seat. Maybe he’ll run, maybe it won’t, he’ll let us know. Kevin Werner of HCN interviewed Whitehead.
  • Voting in Ward One’s Participatory Budgeting is now open until April 19. Vote at

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Be Engaged



Next Week

  • March 29, 7pm, 294 James Street North: Future of the Discovery Centre, Ward 2 City Councillor Jason Farr says he’ll be at a community meeting on the West Harbour, and will discuss his plan to sell the Discovery Centre.

Next Month

  • *new* April 10, 6pm, 294 James Street North: Public Info Session on Central Park Redevelopment  details

Newsletter top photo: City of Hamilton map showing areas where children requiring emergency oral day surgery live.