Comment 84566

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted December 30, 2012 at 22:33:38

Prior to September 20, 2009, all demolitions in Hamilton were recommended by the Economic Development and Planning Committee to Council for consideration or directions.

Back then, the Director or Acting Director of Building and Licensing / Building Services Department, had to be specifically authorized and directed by council to issue a demolition permit:

See examples of such process: 2004, 2006, 2008

Why was this process not followed by City Staff / Economic Development and Planning Committee, before the demolition permit application for 18-28 King Street East was filed?

Municipal Heritage Committee recommendation to Council, November, 15, 2012:

McHattie/Rosart - "That Council include the following properties in the Municipal Register of Property of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest: ...(v) 18-22 King Street East, Hamilton (vi) 24-28 King Street East, Hamilton" - CARRIED

Municipal Heritage Committee Meeting, December 20, 2012:

"Watch the video. The only surprise here was that staff and the Economic Development and Planning Committee failed to act on the recommendations of the Heritage Committee weeks earlier. It never made it to City Council as Councillor McHattie states on the record." ~ Gary Santucci, Dec 22

Were the City Staff, and Economic Development and Planning Committee acting within their mandates in holding back above recommendation of the Municipal Heritage Committee from City Council?

Does the perceived power from "delegated authority" (as below) have anything to do with this inexplicable behaviour of City Staff?

On August 31, 2009, Tim McCabe, General Mgr, Planning & Economic Development via Report No: PED09258 to Council, proposed the "Repeal and Replacement of Demolition Control By-law + Delegated Authority and Technical and Housekeeping Changes."

On September 20, 2009, above proposal was enacted as BY-LAW NO. 09-208, by then Mayor Fred Eisenberger: "To Enact a Demolition Control Area By-law and to Repeal and Replace By-law No. 08-226 Entitled "Demolition Control"

This report was enacted into a new By-Law within 20 days, and it clearly seems to have been rushed with no serious deliberations within council. Nor does it appear that there were any public inputs sought on this delegation of sensitive authority to City Staff by Council.

In a city which has a long history of mindless destruction of heritage buildings, authority to approve demolition of buildings must be clearly vested with the City Council and not delegated to City Staff under the ruse of streamlining application process.

Any filing of demolition permits one month prior to Councillor holidays in summer or winter, could have easily been assigned a slightly longer wait period by City Staff, if streamlining application process was the intent.

Given the current shenanigans at 18-28 King Street, the rational offered in above Report No: PED09258 by Tim McCabe is simply hilarious:

"ALTERNATIVES FOR CONSIDERATION":

Status Quo – Staff can continue to prepare a report for every residential demolition permit application made, with Committee then Council approving the applications prior to demolition occurring. As discussed above, this can create timing problems, especially during the summer months with a limited schedule of meetings. It also requires substantially more City resources than the “delegated authority” alternative.

Delegated Authority – With the delegation of authority, routine applications can be dealt with in an efficient manner with limited delays in issuing the permit. Further,staff time in preparing reports and Committee Consent agendas will be lessened.

Section 4 of BY-LAW NO. 09-208 states: "Council delegates to the Chief Building Official power with respect to the issuing of demolition permits for routine applications which was given to Council under subsections 33(3) and 33(6) of the Planning Act."

Section 5 of BY-LAW NO. 09-208 states: "For the purposes of section 4, "routine applications" include, but are not limited to, an application to demolish a residential building: ... to facilitate land assembly for future development...

Is not what is occurring at 18-28 King Street the facilitation by our City Staff of land assembly for future development?

If reading the above is extremely upsetting, this will add some much needed humor:

This is the “Triple Bottom Line” evaluation in above report which was seeking Delegated Authority from Council for demolition of buildings in order to streamline application process:

Community Well-Being is enhanced.-- YES Improved customer service with conditions still applicable to ensure neighbourhood stability is protected.

Environmental Well-Being is enhanced. -- YES Replacement of older building stock with new buildings will often improve the environment.

Economic Well-Being is enhanced. -- YES The Delegated Authority will allow for a more efficient approval process to issue Demolition Control permits thus allowing for approved new developments to initiate construction quicker.

Does the option you are recommending create value across all three bottom lines? - YES

Do the options you are recommending make Hamilton a City of choice for high performance public servants? -- NO

Ever wondered why our high performance public servants do not live in Hamilton downtown?

BY-LAW NO. 09-208 does need to be substantially altered immediately by Council on their return. This is imperative to ensure that the 'demolition process' is not tainted in future by any developers seeking preemptive demolition of healthy heritage buildings after becoming aware of impending heritage designation.

On account of the failure of City Staff / Economic Development and Planning Committee, to forward the Municipal Heritage Committee's recommendation to Council in a timely manner, (thanks to the exercise of "Delegated Authority" by our City Staff), enormous stress and trauma has been caused to a large number of residents across our city, during this Holiday Season:

The Council needs to address this reprehensible situation immediately by calling an "Emergency Council Meeting" before Jan 09, 2013 to:

1) Designate 18-28 King Street East, as historically significant under the Municipal Heritage Act.

2) Fix the highly dubious BY-LAW NO: 09-208.

Because, very simply, failure to do so may result in the demolition of our Heritage buildings in Gore Park and many more heritage worthy buildings in our core.

This Council simply cannot continue to talk of Strategic Values such as: Accountability, Cost Consciousness, Equity, Excellence, Honesty, Innovation, Leadership, Respect, and Teamwork with any credibility, while items 1 & 2 above remain unresolved.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-12-30 23:08:24

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