Sports

Ticats Letter: West Harbour Contravenes Official Plan

By RTH Staff
Published August 03, 2010

Here is the text of the letter [PDF link] the Ticats delivered to the City today claiming that the West Harbour stadium contravenes the city's Official Plan (read Mayor Eisenberger's response):

August 2, 2010
By Hand
Mayor Fred Eisenberger
Hamilton City Hall
71 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8N 3J5

Subject: Building Our City Together

Dear Fred,

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.

Sincerely

HAMILTON TIGER-CATS FOOTBALL (2007) CORP.
Scott Mitchell
President
cc Members of Council
Premier Dalton McGuinty
Hon. Sophia Aggelonitis, MP
Ted McMeekin, MPP
Andrea Horwath, MP
Paul Miller, MP
Senator David Braley
Michael Fenn
Ian Troop
Hon. David Peterson
Mark Cohon
Jamie Rilet

22 Comments

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By Ticats suck (anonymous) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 00:14:34

So this is the Ticats business plan? Pave greenfields?

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 01:44:59

What the Ticats don't realize is that the politicians made the rules, they can change them. They do it all the time. Zoning changes and amendments to the official plan happen on a weekly basis.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 03:30:38

Great point. So where's your stadium money coming from? Because you've just convinced us that we need to make the west harbour residential / commercial and everything, and to do that properly will take about all we can spare from the Future Fund. So that's all taken care of, and we are forever indebted to you Tiger Cats for that invaluable insight. But that begs the question, with nothing left in the City's coffers to give back towards the Tiger Cats' long term stability, how is this stadium going to be financed? Our Future Fund is completely milked. We can only hope Tim's ponied up something big.

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By Hamilton (anonymous) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 07:27:11

As the mayor mentioned, they met with the Ticats earlier that day and the cats gave no indication that they were going to launch another media salvo. I have lost all respect for Young and Mitchell, whatever little respect I had left. It is as though *they* are running for office, not Eisenberger or Di Ianni, the dirty tactics they are using.

Mr Young, you are obviouslky not familiar with how city planning works; how fluid the zoning process can be. Please don't ever run for office, because, by the looks of things, it would seem that you would manage the city (whole, or in part) even worse than you have managed the Ticats.

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By Jason (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 07:43:43

Wow. So everyone in the CFL is an urban planning expert now? Considering most of their teams lose money every year, perhaps they should focus on, you know, developing a successful product before telling the rest of the country how to build our cities.

I wonder why all of this urban planning expertise wasn't sent to Montreal when they decided to move from a stadium with parking and closer to expressways to one in the middle of a downtown university campus? Mitchells from TO. Anyone know where Cohon lives? Perhaps we just have an old stereotypical anti-Hamilton bias at work once again.

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By ReadCarefully (anonymous) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 07:55:05

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 08:06:37

Ticats: "Our experts can beat up your experts!"

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 08:15:30

And the sequel....


Statement by Mayor Fred Eisenberger concerning the Pan Am stadium, August 3, 2010:

"Today at 4:30 p.m. I received a hand-delivered letter dated August 2, 2010 from Scott Mitchell, President of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This letter includes an opinion by a Toronto-based planning consultant to the effect that the proposed West harbour site of the Pan Am stadium is in contravention of the city’s Official Plan.

I will in due course review the letter and the attached opinion in detail. However, I can say that this matter has been examined thoroughly by the city’s planning staff and legal division and there is no basis at all to believe that there is a legal impediment to building the stadium at the West Harbour site. Indeed, good planning backed by extensive independent reports including the IBI Group have confirmed that this is the best site for the City of Hamilton.

Be that as it may, city staff acting on council direction will continue to evaluate both the West Harbour and East Mountain sites and city council will make its final decision on August 10.

I agree with Scott Mitchell’s statement that the debate is “needlessly divisive” and the preference of the Tiger-Cats to negotiate through the media is adding to the divisiveness. Mr. Mitchell and his staff attended a meeting at offices in Hamilton City Hall earlier today and did not offer any indication that yet another salvo was about to be delivered later this same day.

The people of the City of Hamilton can be assured that I will continue to do what I have always done and that is to work hard ensure that the public interest is safeguarded."

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 08:36:00

It's nice to see the Mayor talking about it finally! If nothing else, calling the Cat's "caretakers" out for what they are (bullies and amateur city planners) works for me...

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By Sarcasm (anonymous) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 09:03:00

Fred shouldln't be resorting to sarcasm to criticize the TiCats. Heavens knows there is plenty of room to criticize their strategy. But fred mocking them by using Bob Young's title makes him look petty.

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By Planner (anonymous) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 09:06:58

I'm a planning professional myself and I can tell you there is a far stronger case against the East Mountain in terms of it contravening the Ontario Places to Grow Act, Provincial Policy Statement, as well as the mandate to preserve employment lands. It works against a myriad of growth and transportation objectives and can't be justified. Planners have a duty enshrined in their professional code of ethics to protect the public interest and the East Mountain is clearly the private interest trumping the public interest and good planning practice.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 09:20:41

Anyone know where Cohon lives? Perhaps we just have an old stereotypical anti-Hamilton bias at work once again.

Cohon's from Toronto, and yes, they wouldn't pull this crap in any other city.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 09:50:55

"This opinion is consistent with the professional opinion advanced by local lawyer Herman Turkstra who represents area residents within the North End community."

I don't think Turkstra's opinion was rendered as a professional one - he was just sharing his own personal opinion in his Spec articles, and happened to get published. He is no way is any kind of official representative of the North End Community. ACtually, our official representative is Bob Bratina. And we have a neighbourhood association called NEN.

Comment edited by AnneMariePavlov on 2010-08-04 08:51:36

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By George (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 09:57:28

Who has given the Tiger-Cats the authority to run our municipality.?

Enough already!

Mind your own business! How about providing the public and fans something they can be proud of: a winning football team.? That might solve some of your financial problems. It's callled producing a quality product.

Sheesh!

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By enviro (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 10:01:09

If the Tiger-Cats use the word "sustainable" one more time I am going to flip.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 10:05:41

Wow. So two Toronto guys trying to sabotage a major revitalization and cleanup of our waterfront/downtown area. What are they going to suggest next? That we cut down all the trees in Gore Park?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 10:18:43

Good God man, don't give them any ideas.

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 11:27:56

Why are the ticats saying it's ok to have a velodrome/amphitheatre down there but a stadium would be against zoning..If the goverment/private interests have to put up 90% of the money..why in the hell are the ticats getting 100% of the say of what should happen, disgusting.

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 16:57:11

More threats; I guess moving the team, no new franchises and no grey cups didn't do the trick so now the Tiger-Cats are threatening a lengthy Ontario Municipal Board hearing. Just wondering, would this be the same OMB to which any ratepayer could appeal a decision to rezone or amend the official plan so as to permit, just for example, a stadium on, just for example, the east mountain?

Once again, from an earlier post with no response to date, "my challenge to Bob Young, Scott Mitchell and Mark Cohon is simply this; tell us exactly which city it is that has the welcome mat out for you.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 05, 2010 at 13:58:51

Great point. So where's your stadium money coming from? Because you've just convinced us that we need to make the west harbour residential / commercial and everything, and to do that properly will take about all we can spare from the Future Fund. So that's all taken care of, and we are forever indebted to you Tiger Cats for that invaluable insight. But that begs the question, with nothing left in the City's coffers to give back towards the Tiger Cats' long term stability, how is this stadium going to be financed? Our Future Fund is completely milked. We can only hope Tim's ponied up something big.

Future Fund spent wisely and provincial and federal funds granted as a part of the Pan Am games, spent on tearing down Scott Park to open that park area up for more parking (grass parking as we don't need more pavement), seat backs added, wrap some of the stands around to create more of a bowl at Ivor Wynne to give us our 45,000 seats for Grey Cups, soccer for the games is played at Ivor Wynne, and our Harbour is cleaned up and the area surrounding the current stadium is cleaned up. Seems like a lot more bang for our buck.

Ticats threaten to leave anyway but then we take over the team and make it a fan owned team. We have smart people like Ryan who could build a more powerful, user friendly ticats forum and some amazing artists in this city that could handle the entertainment/advertising aspects of the club. Get the whole arts community involved in this team, from visual to musicians that play at half-time, over at the tailgate parties, busking on the streets surrounding the stadium, a map that shows all the parking available from street parking, what business open up their lots to game day parking, and sell the lawn parking because it's not something to complain about. It's unique.

The city *gifts' Ivor Wynne and the Scott Park grounds to us, minus the arena and pool perhaps, and we can work together to make this profitable because we are using local talent to build and prosper and every fan knows where every dime is spent, and has access to every report involving the team, business, and state of the stadium and surrounding lands.

Think what this city could accomplish if we could have our cake and eat it too. A cleaned up Harbour and a fan/community owned team in a neighborhood that deserves our attention just as much as the harbour does.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 05, 2010 at 14:00:15

Wow. So two Toronto guys trying to sabotage a major revitalization and cleanup of our waterfront/downtown area. What are they going to suggest next? That we cut down all the trees in Gore Park?

Or Gage Park and build a highway through it?

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By Valerie (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2010 at 21:26:47

Well, Lawrence, they are cutting down the trees in Gage Park.

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