Special Report: Education

Say No to Swing Space

We don't need to lose two buildings and 9 acres of green space, or to facilitate a plan that would see hundreds of cars and trucks in a residential neighbourhood.

By Matt Jelly
Published February 24, 2012

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

I'm writing you to urge you not to approve a swing space for the School Board on Monday.

I find it very unfortunate that the project McMaster is proposing does not make any consideration for saving the current building at 100 Main Street West. The building is structurally sound and could be feasibly renovated for modern uses for approximately $10 million or less.

I believe council should be asking the Minister of Education to approve a partnership between Mac and the School Board, to sever the property and let McMaster build on the lot to the North, facing King, adapting the building into the development.

We have $47 million in tax dollars that are making this plan possible. In truth, council should be driving this development, and ensuring that the development is an entirely positive one.

You know as well as I do that there are other options. We don't need to lose two buildings and 9 acres of green space, or to facilitate a plan that would see hundreds of cars and trucks in a residential neighbourhood.

I feel that if Council approves the swing space on Monday, it simply gives a bailout to the School Board and the Ministry for their lack of creativity and diligence in this entire process.

I'll be clear on one point: I want to see McMaster have a presence in our core, and I think their development would be a good addition to the downtown. But that shouldn't mean we need to settle for less, or to destroy a building that could be feasibly incorporated.

My frustration is shared by many - this plan was developed without full public input, and negotiated behind closed doors. Trustees have been silent, merely responding to concerns with form letters that do not address any of the concerns the public is raising.

This simply adds to the feeling that our institutions make decisions in advance of consulting with the public, and when the feedback they receive is counter to what has already been decided, the input is simply ignored.

That, more than anything, is what feeds a public perception that institutions do not properly represent the public.

Please do the right thing and vote down the swing space.

Put this ball back in the HWDSB's court, where it belongs. Do not reward a bad process by enabling a bad plan.

Jelly is a local artist, graphic designer and map maker living in Downtown Hamilton, Ontario in the Central Neighbourhood. Matt is an advocate for built heritage, toxic waste eradication and the revitalization of downtown Hamilton. www.mattjelly.com

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 07:20:08

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By Sorry for your trouble (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:25:10 in reply to Comment 74725

We're getting screwed on this deal a dozen times over, paying through the nose, and it has been perpetrated in secret by unelected staff who just want free parking and an easy drive in from Burlington and Caledonia. So yeah, you're going to get more articles about this.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 21:07:50 in reply to Comment 74730

Not sure that we are getting screwed 12 times over, but whatever.

I agree it's disappointing for the BoE to want to move from the core, but I find their current building not pleasing to the eye. I'd love to see something which is a more efficient use on that site, or to see them in the 2nd tower at City Hall, or better yet, in the Stelco tower. But, all the emphasis on saving the building seems to be wasted. The BoE won't stay in it. Mac wants something that can be used efficiently.

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By your money (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2012 at 16:28:59 in reply to Comment 74737

If YOU want to fund this yourself, then get out your chequebook. Most of the rest of us can't afford this.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 25, 2012 at 17:09:02 in reply to Comment 74744

I don't want to fund this myself, nor should I have to. If you want to cry and complain it's too expensive, I suggest you run for elected office next election and then you can do your part.

Or get out there and get the community involved, rather than regurgitating the same thing over and over on this message board. Go hold a demonstration, go to Council, speak to your elected representatives.

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By hmm (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 08:09:56 in reply to Comment 74725

Well I do believe this site accepts submissions, why don't you do something about it?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 21:05:08 in reply to Comment 74727

I can write an article on how many articles are written about the same thing, but it would just get downvoted. But if you'd like I can put together something.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 28, 2012 at 09:36:40 in reply to Comment 74736

I think I'd prefer an article about something else...how about you do a review of your favourite downtown restaurant?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 28, 2012 at 21:38:22 in reply to Comment 74818

Would love to, but don't have enough disposable income at present for frills like eating out. Maybe once I can find a job in-town or get a raise.

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By Maltin (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:15:38

... but say yes to Swing Shift, Jonathan Demme's guileless WWII comedy that was the beginning of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn's enduring relationship (and which also features capable cameos from Christine Lahti, Ed Harris, Fred Ward and Charles Napier).

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:41:43 in reply to Comment 74729

Let me be very clear on one point: I have always been a strong supporter of Goldie Hawn.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:41:59

Maybe we shouldn't have voted out Sofia, then perhaps QP would give a damn what we have to say. Why isn't the opposition all over this? Wasn't this Horwath's Ward even?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 21:08:52 in reply to Comment 74732

Yes, it is. But then again, I don't see any opposition parties doing anything for our fair city, yet the electorate continues to vote them in.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 24, 2012 at 13:38:03 in reply to Comment 74732

Yeah. She really went to bat for us on the stadium file.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 25, 2012 at 09:50:44

The cost of swing space and the upfront outlay of $31.6 Million to build a new headquarters could have been avoided altogether had the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board done its due diligence on the option of a direct move into the Jackson Square/Stelco Tower site which ranked a close second to the Crestwood site in its recently released 2010 report.

It is disappointing that Hamilton city council has not asked the school board about the Jackson Square/Stelco Tower option and will apparently rubber stamp its approval of the swing space lease at the Robert Thompson Building at its meeting on Monday.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted February 25, 2012 at 10:49:26

The HWDSB has released the agenda for the Committee of the Whole meeting that will take place at 5:45, immediately before their regular board meeting at 6:30. It appears there are some pretty significant challenges to the 2nd-tower at City Hall concept, including zoning, heritage and parking considerations, as well as the City Hall site not being able to accommodate a consolidated board, meaning they'd still need to build a second facility somewhere else, likely for facilities maintenance staff.

http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/aboutus/meetings/...

As the report points out, the costs and timelines for this idea are entirely unclear at this point. It's not likely the board will support it. If council approves the swing space on Monday, it's nearly certain that the board will be moving to the Crestwood location- and council could do nothing to stop it.

I feel the swing space issue is pretty crucial- if the City wants to negotiate with the Board on this, it's the only point of leverage they've got.

Some trustees do favour an option that would sever the land, sell the north lot to McMaster, and retain the current building, finding a second site to house any operations that can't be accommodated at 100 Main. It's unclear at this point how many Trustees would support this option however.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 25, 2012 at 15:01:33 in reply to Comment 74740

I wouldn't put too much stock into those 'challenges' at the city hall site. Heritage? What, we can't bulldoze part of the parking lot behind city hall to attach the already-planned second tower? There's tons of parking downtown...they could even add a floor or two underground if they really want it that bad. As for 'consolidating' the board - this would be for work trucks, maintenance etc.... I'm guessing that most cities have a separate facility for this sort of use and not in a downtown office tower.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 25, 2012 at 11:33:22 in reply to Comment 74740

The "Monday, February 27, 2014" date at the top of the Executive Committee Report by John Molloy to the HWDSB School Board says it all. Freudian slip. Wishful thinking. Window dressing. Done deal.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-02-25 11:37:52

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 25, 2012 at 18:33:30 in reply to Comment 74741

Update to my earlier post. Someone at the HWDSB, presumably Mr. Molloy, has subsequently corrected the date at the top of Mr. Molloy's Executive Committee Report from "Monday, February 27, 2014" to "Monday, February 27, 2012".

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted February 26, 2012 at 20:06:17

On the swing space:

SUBJECT/REPORT NO -- Public Health Services Accommodation – McMaster Health Campus (PED11134(c) / FCS11063(c) / BOH11026(c) / CM11008(c)) (Ward 2)

COMMITTEE DATE: February 27, 2012

SUBJECT: Public Health Services Accommodation – McMaster Health Campus (PED11134(c) / FS11063(c) / BOH11026(c) / CM11008(c)) (Ward 2) --- Page 19 of 23, 20 of 23 and 21 of 23

5.2 What is the City’s Role in Determining the HWDSB’s “swing-space”?

The City of Hamilton is not involved in any way with the agreement of purchase and sale between McMaster and the HWDSB for the 100 Main St. W. property. As part of their negotiations, both parties have a tentative agreement pertaining to these interim “swing-space” costs, which also satisfies any Ministry of Education requirements. As well, the City of Hamilton was never responsible for locating, negotiating or acquiring, temporary “swing-space” for the HWDSB.

Recognizing that McMaster University is responsible for the overall cost of the HWDSB’s “swing-space”, as it adds to McMaster’s overall purchase price for the 100 Main Street West property, City staff actively facilitated discussions with all parties, to assist in meeting the timelines, space requirements, and budget constraints for the required “swing space”.

During the City’s lease negotiations, City staff recognized that the office-space requirements and needs of the City’s PHS were similar in nature to those of the HWDSB. Therefore, City staff started to focus on ways in which the HWDSB could temporarily locate its operations to the exact same location as the anticipated PHS

To be clear though, City staff have consistently expressed to both McMaster University and the HWDSB, that the City of Hamilton has no responsibility for locating, negotiating or acquiring, temporary “swing-space” for the HWDSB.

Further, both the HWDSB and McMaster University understand that even if the lease for the RTB and/or the “sub-lease” to the HWDSB are not approved, the HWDSB could still acquire suitable space on its own, and that this decision does not impact the GIC/Council approval of August 2011 regarding the MHC."

5.3 Sub-Lease to the HWDSB for “swing-space” – Who Pays for What?

Throughout the duration of this “sub-lease”, any and all rental payments, operating costs, and customized capital “Fit-Up” costs, attributed for the entire 52,300 square feet of office space, will be the sole responsibility of the HWDSB. Therefore, throughout the term of the sub-lease, the HWDSB would be responsible for a total cost of $20.35 per square foot, calculated as ($7.00 Base Rent + $13.35 Operating Costs), for a total of $2,128,610 over the two-year period.

As a tenant in a commercial lease arrangement, the HWDSB will also be responsible to pay their full proportionate share of property taxes accruing to the premises, which is already calculated and included as part of the $13.35 in Operating Costs.

From a City perspective, this means that there is no subsidy from Hamilton taxpayers for any or all of the direct costs of the HWDSB’s “swing-space” requirements.

As mentioned in the January 9, 2012 Report, the City’s new long term lease for the RTB will trigger the identified $1,419,901 in one-time “Fit-Up” costs for the purposes of consolidating and accommodating the City’s PHS staff into the 52,300 square feet of space for RTB. This “Fit-Up” design and implementation is led by the City’s PHS, with support from Facility staff, and is focussed solely on the City’s PHS needs.

These one-time “Fit-Up” costs were budgeted for within the 2012 Capital Budget, and were always anticipated to be spent in the first year of occupancy. Staff’s recommendation to “sub-lease” this space to the HWDSB would only mean that the “Fit- Up” costs are incurred prior to the City’s PHS occupying the space.

The HWDSB would be solely responsible for any and all additional “capital customization” costs of this space, beyond what the needs of PHS would be. Further,the HWDSB would also be responsible for any and all costs of returning the space back to its original state as designed and required by PHS.

Lastly, staff’s recommendation is clear that the “sub-lease” has both a fixed commencement, but also a fixed termination date (April 1, 2012-March 31, 2014), meaning the HWDSB is fully responsible to ensure the property is vacated on time.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-02-26 20:14:54

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2012 at 12:05:11 in reply to Comment 74753

Mahesh, correct me if I'm wrong, so this says that PHS will be moving in after the HWDSB moves out, correct?

Was the plan not to house the PHS in the new McMaster building?

This also seems to imply that $20.35 psf is the market rate at this building, so the city is not subsidizing the move? Is that correct?

Do we know the rate the city is paying now on a psf basis for PHS? I think they're in the right house, aren't they? Are they paying more or less than $20.35 psf? (i.e. is their new office space in the RTB going to be cheaper or more expensive on a psf basis than their current location?)

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By The Truth (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2012 at 12:32:28 in reply to Comment 74771

There isn't now room in the McMaster development for all of Public Health, so for our $47 million we're actually getting LESS than when this deal was cooked up.

Just another way we're getting screwed on this deal.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted February 26, 2012 at 23:27:42

From the: EXECUTIVE REPORT TO COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE, HWDSB, Monday, January 30, 2012

RE: Education Centre Project - Development Update

3 - Board approves the tentative agreement of purchase and sale regarding the disposition of the 100 Main Street West Hamilton property to McMaster University subject to conditions.

(v). Swing Space accommodation of HWDSB staff on an interim basis.

~ A tentative agreement on interim swing space costs has been reached, which satisfies the Ministry of Education’s condition on HWDSB’s interim relocation.

(vi). HWDSB shall apply for a demolition permit for 100 Main St. west

~ Pending final agreement, HWDSB has agreed to apply for a permit to demolish the existing Board facilities; this permit will be assigned to McMaster University upon final sale of the property.

4 - That the Board direct administration to seek the necessary approvals from the Ministry of Education in order to take the Education Centre Project to tender and obtain authorization for the demolition of the Crestwood building.

Note: Viz the "BoEd Tower" option on lands at rear of City Hall, the -- City Accommodation Strategy Report CM11008(a) / PED11134 / FCSl1063 / BQH11026 of the July 4, 2011 GIC, highlighted a May 9, 2005 Committee of the Whole approval of a short to mid-term accommodation strategy incorporating the following directions and principles:

(this is attached to the "Public Health Services Accommodation–McMaster Health Campus" report which is linked in the above comment).

(a) That consolidation of office space for all Departments be focused in the Downtown Core Area in as few building locations as practical and economically viable.

(f) That a long-term accommodation strategy be approved, in principle, providing for the construction of a second office tower of approximately 250,000 square feet, integrated with the existing renovated City Hall and including a new parking structure; this new facility to be targeted to start construction in 2018 and all subject to an acceptable capital financing plan.

(In essence, the lands behind the city hall are strategic to future consolidation goals of city offices - and which will allow the completion of the original design intent of the structure while retaining its architectural integrity).

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-02-26 23:41:51

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 27, 2012 at 17:57:19

Hamilton city council has deferred a decision on the swing lease proposal until a GIC meeting on March 6, 2012: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-02-27 17:58:04

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2012 at 21:10:59 in reply to Comment 74789

McMaster sets deadline for downtown health campus deal ~ Emma Reilly - 22 minutes ago at the Spec.com

"McMaster University says it’s giving the school board and the city until the end of next week to make a decision about a new downtown health campus."

“We said from the very earliest stages of this that we have a timeline that we have to meet,” said Andrea Farquhar, McMaster’s assistant vice-president of public and government relations. “When we don’t get a clear decision, it means it’s hard to know where we’re going. We need certainty in this. And we really need that by next week.”

Aside: Comments at Tweet of the Moment ~ The Hamiltonian

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-02-28 21:27:19

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By DBG (anonymous) | Posted February 28, 2012 at 06:27:47


I love history, and I really enjoy stories of historical properties.. Everything tells a tale
in a city's growth and development.
I would be up in arms if a developer was coming along to tear down Dundurn castle to put
up a bunch of town homes on the Dundurn site. That's worth a fight!

A bigger fight right now.. We need an LRT, I'd even throw in getting rid of the height restriction of future buildings lifted!!!

When it comes to the BOE property, I'm sorry.....
I would rather see the Mac medical campus take it's place..

We saved City Hall if you consider that saving.. We saved the Lister block..
We cannot have our cake and eat it too..

Hamilton has so many beautiful historic properties, and I feel we are standing in the way of
progress on something that looks terrible in my eyes especially in the location that it
stands.
An urban feild full of dandy lions in the summer, on grounds that would look remarkable
being filled in with a street wall..
How can a city change if everyone is up in arms about any development?
What makes this building so special?
Yes.. It's unique..
Yes.. the inside is beautiful..

To state the obvious, it's stale, and too many open areas especially with the unimaginative
redeveloped grounds of City Hall across the street. It truly is a dead zone, and there was no
thought put in to this project back in the 60's especially on the land it sits on..

Terrible waste of space..

I bet if and when this Mac thing comes to into being, Main and Bay.. King and Bay will have more people presence
in its place..
We're all entitled to our opinions, and I really don't mind my tax monies going into a project such as this, where
many people of Hamilton, as well as future medical staff will benefit or make a differance in this area where nothing
is thriving right now..
I feel if there is something worth saving.. Then save the pieces that should be saved or re-incorporated into new
contruction or space of the BOE's new home.. Wood.. decorative features etc.. Keep the past in it's changing growth
towards the future!

I would be opposed if it were coming down for a parking lot, but its need is no more..
Its one time beauty had it's use, and if not now will come down when we are all long gone!

I truly hope to see this new development come to pass, as it will fit into Hamilton's future as a service, and growing industry
of healthcare, our new steel!
I'm sure this new project will have many more spin-offs then the non-functional property that currently stands..

Let's save our energy on keeping the BOE downtown then the shell they want to leave....
I'm sure Manhattan Island looked very different long ago..


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By Allen (registered) | Posted March 12, 2012 at 01:54:24

People these days dont know the importance of growing plants ,the destroy of plants will kill the humans

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