Notes from Tonight’s City of Hamilton Pier 8 Tall Building Public Consultation

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Bruce Kuwabara/KPMB Architects

A conceptual design for a 45-storey tall building at Hamilton's Pier 8 redevelopment designed by Bruce Kuwabara and shown to a meeting of the North End Neighbourhood Association on May 20, 2020

The City of Hamilton held an online public consultation tonight on the proposal for a tall building on Pier 8’s “Block 16”.

The proposal, a 45-storey tower announced in May, was dead on arrival.In May, Ward 2 City Councillor Jason Farr stated he had no idea that City staff had agreed to a LPAT settlement which facilitated the concept of a tall building. Mayor Fred Eisenberger similarly stated he was not briefed.

There was little public excitement, and vocal opposition.

Tonight’s public meeting was hosted on the Cisco WebEx platform. City staff taking answers from the public included two City planning staff members responsible for the file, City waterfront development czar Chris Phillips, and Calvin Brook of Brook McIlroy who is the urban design consultant.

The format was a quick staff presentation, followed by a moderator reading questions people wrote into a “Q&A” box in WebEx. Many of the questions were critical of the proposal, city staff, the process, and many questions about parking.

A few questions related to how a tall building would block the view of the water, or overpower the area.

Parking is a significant concern for residents of Hamilton’s North End neighbourhood were Pier 8 is located. Questions regarding if there will be enough parking, where it will be, and if it will be paid.

The City says it believes it is building enough parking between all the west harbour developments to meet demand.

Will there be good transit service to Pier 8? City staff state the HSR will review service as people move into the new developments.

There were many comments stating frustration or concern that the City spent years planning Pier 8, there had been a lengthy series of public consultations, and the tall building suddenly changed this. These comments drew a strong response from Chris Phillips who forcefully stated the LPAT settlement was between the resident group Harbour West Neighbours and developer Waterfront Shores.

There were a couple of comments positive of how City staff are handling the waterfront development file.

It was clarified numerous times that City staff are only required, by the terms of the settlement, to complete a report with a draft zoning by-law amendment for a possible tall building. City Council can reject the report.  [The settlement predated the significant changes to the real estate market resulting from COVID]

Notes Regarding Online Engagement

Tonight’s online meeting flowed very well. There is no indication that any questions were not asked.

There were a few questions which could not be answered tonight, due to the online format, the City has email addresses to follow-up. This follow-up could be a benefit from online meetings compared to the traditional in-person format.

Many public meetings are taking off comment by posturing or conflict. That cannot happen during online meetings. (This is not to say we should no return to in person meetings, they have many benefits for people to connect, organize, and ask questions after the formal event)

Overall, this engagement was useful for most involved.

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First published: November 5, 2020
Last edited: November 5, 2020
Author: Joey Coleman

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