Hundreds of people tried to attend a public meeting about the HATS Tiny Homes project planned for Stratchan Street East at James Street North in the North End.
The meeting was cancelled after disruption, including shoving and threats, by a group of four or five individuals at the back of the undersized Bennetto recreation centre gym.
The meeting was poorly organized.
People arriving before the scheduled time had to set up their chairs from a stack, there was no sound system in the gymnasium, and it was never clear who (if anyone) was running the meeting.
The gymnasium reached its capacity around 15 minutes before the scheduled 7:00 p.m. start time.
Hundreds of people were locked out of the building. There was no communication about what was happening.
A group of men pushed their way into the gymnasium, scruffling with security guards.
Security retreated from the gymnasium. The City locked the doors, barring people from entering or leaving the gym.
Inside the gymnasium, the men shared conspiratorial theories.
Later, one of them would yell about a “stolen election.” A person on the other side of the room challenged them to explain what election was stolen.
Attendees posted about the increasing tensions in the gymnasium.
“Meeting about Tiny shelters poorly run and getting scary,” wrote journalist Kathy Renwald.
“This is the tensest community meeting I’ve been to,” wrote Tom Flood.
Shortly before 8 p.m., a City security official came into the room to announce the meeting was cancelled.
The City of Hamilton issued a statement at 9:20 p.m. saying the cancellation was “due to serious health and safety issues at the meeting site.”
Production Details v. 1.0.0 Published: September 12, 2023 Last edited: September 12, 2023 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version