August 2, 2010
Mayor Fred Eisenberger
Hamilton City Hall
71 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8N 3J5
Subject: Building Our City Together
Over the course of the past six months, the Hamilton Tiger Cat Football Club has endeavoured to undertake a comprehensive review of all of the potential stadium sites within the City that met our fundamental criteria as it pertains to parking, highway visibility, and ease of access and egress for our fans.
As you know, we have retained a number of experts to assist us with our analysis. We have shared those findings with you, City officials, and your colleagues. I think that you would agree that this has been helpful to everyone in understanding the business dynamics of operating a CFL franchise in our market.
Conversely, it goes without saying that Bob Young and our organization are grateful for the information that we have received from the City, prior to and throughout the facilitation process with Michael Fenn. It has elevated our understanding of the objectives of the city, particularly as it pertains to the essential challenge of revitalizing the North End of Hamilton.
While the aforementioned business issues regarding parking, access, and highway are of vital concern to us, it is gratifying to know that the Province of Ontario will provide for a GO station at LIUNA as well as one at Centennial, regardless of the location of the Pan Am stadium. By every measure, this is a very good thing for the City.
Throughout our research into possible stadium sites in the North End, and specifically, the proposed Rheem site at 128 Barton Street, we have encountered a number of concerns from local residents, planners, as well as local lawyer, Herman Turkstra.
These concerns pertain directly to the advisability of siting a 30,000 person stadium within a residential community. We have taken it upon ourselves to review the relevant planning documents upon which the City would rely to permit the siting of the Pan Am Stadium. We reviewed City planning documents back to 1995, when the notion of a stadium in the North End was specifically rejected after a great deal of public consultation. You, yourself were a member of that Council, as were Councillors Morelli, Jackson and Collins.
The existing City of Hamilton Official plan adopted in June of 2005, and in force today, does not permit the siting of stadiums on subject lands. [emphasis added] Given the unforgiving timelines facing Hostco, and the Pan American Games Committee, and the necessity to be precise in the planning process, the Hamilton Tiger Cats retained Mr. Peter Walker FCIP, RPP of the firm Walker, Nott, Dragicevic Associates Limited to obtain an independent opinion pertaining to land use designations for the 128 Barton Street site (the Rheem site). Mr. Walker enjoys an enviable reputation as one of the pre-eminent planners in Ontario.
I am enclosing a copy of Mr. Walker's interim opinion in its entirety for you and the members of Council. The Report is very clear. To quote Mr. Walker's Conclusion:
"Based upon the foregoing, development of a major sports stadium focused on the subject property, at the very least, would warrant an Official Plan amendment application to amend either the existing or adopted planning documents. Such an application would require extensive supportive rationale (reports/studies) and involve major public consultation under the Planning Act, given the planning process that the city has pursued to-date. Such an application would also be subject to appeals to the OMB by parties who did not agree with such City Actions."
This opinion is consistent with the professional opinion advanced by local lawyer Herman Turkstra who represents area residents within the North End community. The opinion of Mr. Walker also carefully reflects the stated and adopted planning direction expressed in Setting Sail West Harbour Secondary Plan (OPA 198) (Schedule M-2 "Special Policy Area" - Barton Tiffany).
It may well be that your own legal department and expert planners have turned their minds to the prospect of OMB appeals on the Official Plan Amendments, that appear to be vital precursors to the development of a 30,000 person stadium on the Rheem site.
It is not for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to comment about the prospect of success one way or the other at the OMB. The essential point that must be considered with some sense of urgency is the fact that the reality of OMB appeals on the West Harbour site negates its viability for the Pan Am Stadium. Simply put, the planning, public consultation process, OMB hearing and determination process will take a great deal of time and there is no real ability by Council, or the Tiger-Cats, to make any determination of the outcome.
The West Harbour Stadium site purports to support the remediation and re-development of the West Harbour lands in a manner that is frankly not contemplated in the City's Setting Sail planning document.
The Tiger-Cats share your vision about optimizing our Harbour to the benefit of the greater community. That process has been underway for many years. Your colleague, Chad Collins, and others have played a leadership role in making the West Harbour and other "harbour" lands a people place. Your Council wisely approved the Setting Sail document which is in fact a "blueprint" for forward thinking development in that community based upon an intelligent mix of housing, community development, and recreational use. Ironically, those improvements are underway, block by block and neighbourhood by neighbourhood.
The Setting Sail document which the City has submitted to the Province for approval will provide long term, sustainable commercial benefits for small business in the North End, 365 days per year, not simply around Tiger-Cat Games and other occasional use. Surely, this is the form of development contemplated in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan describing the subject lands as "Neighbourhoods".
Fred, I hope you would agree that the proposed compromise Alternative West Harbour Vision tabled by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats would go a long way in making the West Harbour a “people place.”
Working together, we believe that a 3,500 person amphitheatre would create a more sustainable venue for a much longer period of time during the year. It would be our hope that it would not contravene the spirit of your Setting Sail planning document.
The Tiger-Cats are prepared to contribute $1.5 million in capital as well as $100,000 per year in support to make this project a reality.
Fred, the stadium debate has been needlessly divisive. I hope that you would agree with me that it is time for the Tiger-Cats and the City to set aside our differences and begin the necessary work of building a sustainable legacy stadium on the East Mountain.
Of equal importance is the need for all of us to work together to realize the true potential of the West Harbour.
I want to assure you and Council that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will work with you on this vital City Building opportunity.
HAMILTON TIGER-CATS FOOTBALL (2007) CORP.
cc Members of Council
Premier Dalton McGuinty
Hon. Sophia Aggelonitis, MP
Ted McMeekin, MPP
Andrea Horwath, MP
Paul Miller, MP
Senator David Braley
Hon. David Peterson
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