The first public meeting on City Council’s exploration of selling the Discovery Centre on Hamilton’s West Harbour waterfront took an unexpected turn as Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr accused residents of having personal issues with him, called a resident his “nemesis”, and to another “some residents are not happy and they will never be” about the Waterfront Trust.
One woman felt the need to say to Farr “play nice, Jason”.
“I don’t mind, I signed up for this”, Farr told the audience. “If you want be beat me down, that’s not a problem, really, throw the rotten tomatoes, I’m cool with that” as people expressed opposition to the idea of selling the Discovery Centre.
Over 50 people packed into the Evergreen Storefront on the evening of Holy Thursday, around a dozen forced to stand due to a lack of seating, and many people having to step out at times to cool down outside as temperatures rose in the space.
Councillor Farr sought to discuss development along Piers 5 to 7 at the start of the meeting. Ward 2 resident Graham Crawford stood up at the beginning and asked for a show of hands from those who were present to discuss the Discovery Centre sale. Crawford called for the Discovery Centre to be discussed first, and crowd agreed.
Under a barrage of questions from the audience, Farr said the Discovery Centre isn’t for sale at the moment, but Council is exploring a possible sale, and a final decision will be made at a Council meeting in June.
Farr said proponents bidding to purchase Pier 8 lands from the City ar invited to separately bid on purchasing the Discovery Centre in a “first right of negotiation” bid. Farr envisions institution use of the Discovery Centre, including the possibility of the building being in private hands with those uses.
The City plans to post submissions from developers bidding on Pier 8 on April 6.
Farr promised more public meetings prior to the June Council meeting; a few people heckled form the crowd that future public meetings should be held a space designed for public meetings; specifically the auditorium of the Discovery Centre.