Committee of Adjustment Meeting Today over Walmart at Centre on Barton

By Larry Pattison
Published September 15, 2011

Redcliff Reality Inc. through John D. Rogers & Associates Inc (Tyler Grinyer) Owner of Kenilworth Avenue Investment Inc., is seeking an amendment to the current allowable lease terms for properties within the Centre on Barton grounds. Most notably, is 1085 Barton Street east which Redcliff would like to lease to Walmart Canada.

On Monday, I stumbled across a variance request for 1085 & 1149 Barton Street East in Hamilton that will be before the Committee of Adjustment this afternoon.

I did a Google search of the addresses, and one popped up at the City Furniture & Mattress building on the north/west corner of Barton and Ottawa Streets - I later confirmed that the address is actually for land adjacent to the former Canadian Tire location, and the second address pointed to The Centre on Barton plaza, which was later confirmed to be the address of the liquor store.

Immediately, the recent talk of Walmart moving into The Centre property came to mind, so I posted on the Ward 3 Residents Association page to see if anyone knew what this was in regards to.

After chatting briefly online with Paul Tetley, past Ward 3 candidate and Ward 3 Residents Association lead, to get his thoughts and playing phone tag (caused by my own busy schedule) with Nick Westoll, assistant to Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli, I was finally able talk with a real live person to address the details of this matter.

I had the opportunity to chat with Scott Baldry, Licensing Facilitator at the City of Hamilton, this afternoon and he stated that the variance is to extend the lease terms allowed on both the lands adjacent to the old Canadian Tire (1085 Barton St E), and The Beer Store (1149 Barton St E).

The longest lease that is allowed to be entered into without an amendment being sought such is the case currently with 1085 and 1149, is 21 years less a day. Opposing the amendment would not stop either The Beer Store or Walmart from entering into agreements of 20 years so the variance won't keep Walmart out, but Walmart's preference is for lease agreements of upwards of 50 years.

In short, the property owners are applying for a variance to offer a 50 year lease so they can lease the land to Walmart.

I also asked Mr. Baldry what the requirements were for public notice, and he stated that all that is required is an 11x17 sign that may possibly be on The Beer Store or somewhere along the fence currently surrounding the 1085 Barton St E property.

As well, if I was to not show up at the public meeting tomorrow or I were not to send Scott an email, I would not be entitled to any further correspondence regarding this matter, including whether or not the amendment had been granted.

Before I had the opportunity to confirm details of the amendment being sought, and with Thursday's date closing in, I had sent an email to council and local neighbourhood association heads, to voice my concerns.

With regards to the variance request for 1085 & 1149 Barton Street E in Hamilton that will be before the Committee of Adjustment this coming Thursday, is it possible for council to suggest to the Committee that we deny these variances?

As a resident of the Crown Point neighborhood, I would personally prefer that nothing larger than the Canadian Tire that originally resided on The Centre lands near Ottawa and Barton is erected, in the name of the recently appointed 2nd Best Street in Canada as voted on by the Canadian Institute of Planners.

I ask you how would it look if, when the CIP comes to Hamilton on September 28th to present a plaque to the Ottawa Street BIA through our Mayor to honor the designation of one of Hamilton's streets, the planners find a large 'Future Home of Walmart' sign on the corner of Ottawa and Barton?

I also ask you: in the future, who would ever vote for a street to be classified as one of the greatest in Canada again, that begins with a Walmart for those coming in from out of town via Burlington Street? Or any large Big Box retail store for that matter.

Forget what Walmart stands for. This is about what Ottawa Street stands for because whatever goes up on that corner of The Centre grounds, will be on Ottawa Street regardless of whether its address is Barton Street East or CN OAK Mile 40.00. A large Big Box outlet on that corner will change the dynamics of that end of the street.

The Ottawa Street district has come a long way in recent years and I fear that the arrival of not only Walmart, but any big block of windowless concrete, will take away from that progress.

Please, if there is something we can legally do to limit what can be built in the north/east corner of The Centre on Barton lands, let's stand up for not just Ottawa Street, but for the downtown community as a whole. Big Box truly has no place in our downtown from Dundas to I am not sure how far east that statement should go but the further the better - especially east of Kenilworth.

As it stands now, The Centre on Barton is more small to mid-sized box stores. Costco's, Home Depot's or Walmart's have yet to find a home on those grounds. I'd like to keep it that way if at all possible.

Our streets are already congested enough. Walmart will certainly not fix the congestion problems. Getting off my residential street onto Barton many days is a nightmare - especially on weekends. If nothing else, this variance needs to go through council and perhaps the affects of added traffic studied, and not simply passed through some arms-length committee.

We are talking Walmart here. Not Bob's 5 and dime. At least let the residents of this neighborhood should have a proper say in future development, instead of cases like this where a document in a very round-about way, found its way onto my computer screen. If not for asking around a bit, I would have had no idea what this was about and the very thing I wanted to personally fight back against, would have slipped through unnoticed.

We have two neighbourhood associations that cover this area in the Ward 3 Residents Association and The Crown Jewel. It's also no secret as to my personal stand on the Walmart proposal as I emailed all of you very recently pleading for something to be done to stand in the way of Walmart moving into our neighborhood. The Hamiltonian also published the letter I submitted to members of council, parliament, and local media.

Issues like this need to be more public. People move in and out of neighborhoods based on decisions like the one pending for this Thursday. Let's work together to ensure that going forward, we find ways to ensure that all matters of our wards and more specifically, drilled down to neighbourhoods, are shared with association leaders who are trying to ensure the members of the communities they lead, are aware of all matters that affect their everyday lives - and that includes everything from zoning variances, to new stop signs.   Every decision affects someone.

Last night, I went to bed wondering if there might be some loophole to keep Walmart out of my neighbourhood. I even felt a little optimistic, yet I wasn't keeping my hopes up.

This morning when I woke up, I stumbled upon this article in the Spectator discussing how Target had signed a deal with Walmart Canada, for them to assume leases of up to 39 sites currently operated by Zellers Inc.

I would imagine that at this time, the Centre location isn't one of the 39 locations Walmart is looking at leasing, but if this minor variance at 1085 doesn't go through, my guess would be that Walmart may look at a lease at the Zellers location and make their presence known in some way, shape, or form.

If you would like to speak up regarding this matter or any other item on the agenda, you are either welcome to attend the Committee meeting at City Hall (details below) and state your name, address, and your stance on this issue, or send an email stating the same, to Scott Baldry.

Committee of Adjustment

Larry Pattison is a local blogger, life-long resident of Hamilton, and father to two amazing girls. Larry is a former HWDSB Trustees for Ward 3.


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 12:14:34

On the plus side, we should be happy to hear that Wal*Mart seems to think the lower city is worth investing in... they keep trying to cherry-pick sites on the edges of these important parts of town.

Now if only we could get businesses we liked to do that.

Now, I'm not a die-hard - I wouldn't mind a Wal*Mart somewhere in the lower city. But places like the West Harbour/Rheem lands and Ottawa street? No thanks.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2011-09-15 12:14:55

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By Mysay (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2011 at 09:20:44 in reply to Comment 69668

Have you ever thought about all of he seniors, in the area of Centre Mall, who find it difficult to get around in that new facility never mind find affordable
places to shop? Walmart would be a one stop shopping spot for them.
Also, in case you haven't noticed, business in not exactly booming for the merchants who are now paying higher rents. If Walmart came, it would attract a
much bigger crowd of people who are now travelling all the way to the east end.
As for Ottawa has stood on its own for all these years. Why would you think that Walmart is going to make a difference to them other than to possibly create more business?

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 12:17:32

50-year lease? Egad! That's half a Jackson Square!

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 13:08:15

I just realized that the Walmart logo has now been officially placed within the cleared land at 1085 Barton St E. on the Redcliff Realty Inc. site.

There are () in the link so it doesn't seem to work right in the traditional coding manner? Ryan? For now, I used to change the URL. :)

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-09-15 14:27:25

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:23:27 in reply to Comment 69671

Looking at all that friggin parking...

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By Downtown Downer (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 17:31:17

Well gee. This guy Scott Baldry should be known to everyone and I've never heard of him. Business and Licensing Facilitator? That sounds like the most important job a city hall.

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By shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 07:41:45

Just a quick note - Scott Baldry hasn't been a Licensing Facilitator for quite a while. The new guy's name is Ilya.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:07:54 in reply to Comment 69716

Thanks for the heads up. I looked up his title after I talked to Scott. I'll be calling him today to follow up on this matter to see the timeline and ask a few more questions about the process in general.

I found his title from this article. search engine wasn't all that helpful when docs from 2007 top the search list.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 18:03:56 in reply to Comment 69728

The city's website is a joke, it's one of the least user-friendly sites I've ever seen. Tonnes of information, most of it outdated, and as you noted, a terrible search engine.

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By jameswardlaw (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:56:38

Thanks for the article!
It makes sense to me that Bernie Morelli and his staff would be involved in all these discussions, but isn't this proposed development actually in Ward 4?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 13:29:28 in reply to Comment 69753

Thanks James.

It is but the agenda stated Ward 3 which got my attention. It's across the street from Ward 3 so I would think anything within so many metres, is still Ward 3's business and in fact, part of Ottawa Street is in Ward 3 so this business would/will affect my ward. It also falls into the Crown Point boundaries albeit Crown Point East but the Neighbhorhood Association is called The Crown Jewel and covers all of Crown Point.

As for Bernie or Sam ... I don't want to ponit fingers. I can't imagine how any one councillor or their office of one or two staff, could possibly manage all this data. This committee alone meets three times a month. How do you keep up with all the amendments and emails and phone calls and, and, and.

A database is needed to track all incoming correspondances and the status of those items. We also need to change the internal City Hall processes. A 11x17 sign (of which I seen nowhere although I didn't walk around the entire property to look for one), could not be found. There should be a point of contact within the community whether it's the Neighbourhood Association lead or a tab on Bernie's website managed by the Office of the Committee of Adjustment or any committee, that fills the neighbourhoods on items related to them. 1085 and 1149 are flagged and emails should auto-send to those who would share this with the public so proper public notice is given. Not some quietly placed sign. Someone could propose a strip joint back on Barton and if I wasn't lucky enough to stumble upon the request, I and my fellow neighbours would be sol.

I don't want to blame council anymore. Let's come up with these ideas ourselves like others - including guys like Joey Coleman, are doing. There is a lot we can do without their consent and then other things we will need to push like opening up certain data. But what is alredy public, we can change how it makes it's way to the public and show them that now that it's built, if your staff update the data how we have formatted it, it will make their job much easier and it will change the dynamics of how our cities run substancially.

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By just say no (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 17:08:40

No more Walmarts, period!

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 15:48:35 in reply to Comment 69770

Why not?

They seem to be busy all the time. Someone must like them.

Just because a few of you think your too good to shop there, doesn't mean the vast majority of the population who do should be deprived of the opportunity.

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By Consumer freedom is bad (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 22:03:40 in reply to Comment 69770

You tell 'em Fidel!

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By TnT (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 00:40:27

Check this out, it sums it up pretty well I think:

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By Downtown Downer (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2011 at 22:07:44 in reply to Comment 69782

Well said, TnT, very funny. "My dreams of a retirement have gone up in a blaze, now I'll be scrubbing toilets till they put me in my grave!"

A sad analogy for my uncle and his brethen on the US Steel picket lines.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 17, 2011 at 02:30:29

What a perfect setting for a Walmart. Perhaps we can build a patio on their extensive rooftop so that shoppers can see the ruined husks of our local industries.

If Walmart wants to argue "free market competition", then it can stop producing it's goods in Communist China.

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By shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 06:51:28

If I were you guys, I'd start talking with Councillor Brenda Johnson about what it's like to fight Walmart. She's actually pretty approachable. Although I guess in the end, Walmart was the ultimate victor so your mileage may vary.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 13:24:44 in reply to Comment 69785

What's happening with that Walmart anyway?

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By shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted September 20, 2011 at 07:13:01 in reply to Comment 69797

An appeal went to the OMB, but the appellants didn't have enough money for a long drawn out battle, so it was withdrawn. I do not know if the developers have broken ground yet - but I don't think so.

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By kendall (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 15:41:37

"FYI, Target has already said it will be converting the Zellers at Centre Mall into one of its stores."

Correct, right next to the Metro Grocery Store, the Walmart lot is between the Brewers retail and the LCBO and the Tim Horton's is going on the other side near the food court and Boston Pizza. I'm not a fan of of the big box revolution but I don't have a phobia about it either. I noticed there is still a few small lots empty around the front next to Bell and the food court, still ripe for the small niche store or restaurant. Personally, I would love to see a UPS store, a Petsmart, and a Pam's Coffee franchise along with antstore that can offer good quality made Canadian goods at a fare price.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 17:33:26

(Slips on his Mr. Contrarian hat...)

I'm re-reading 'A Consumers' Republic' by Lizbeth Cohen. ) This book alone would make for a great RTH salon series. It explains how we got here. ('consumerism' isn't something that's been around forever in the form we know it today)

But even putting that aside, I'm very curious whether those who see Wal-Mart (and their like; it's not as if they're alone out there in doing what they do) in the light they do would be willing to take a good look at the general path to this state got this way, and moreover, how willing most would be to have the kind of society that not having the Wal-Marts, et al would mean.

In other words, we've all been complicit in this from the start...even if we're talking about your parents, your grand-parents...and your great-grand-parents.

(By the way, I'm not dissin' Lawrence; he's on the Town Halls Hamilton steering committee and we need his passion and dedication. So I offer what I offer advisedly.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-09-18 17:34:03

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 21:43:44 in reply to Comment 69824

Consumerism is a logical product of industrialism. Mass production makes set-up very expensive, but individuals very cheap once that's done. This means that in order to be efficient, these systems must produce a LOT of identical units. At some point, though, these kinds of systems hit a wall - what happens when there's no more demand for the products? They can't just go back to producing small numbers of units to replace those that wear out - that wouldn't spread the cost of the assembly line thinly enough to break even. They could return to simpler production methods - but then what advantage do they have over the competition? At the end of the day, cultural engineering to drive up demand was the only way for these industries to survive.

Was consumerism a product of "choices people made"? To a degree, though most of those choices were made by a very small number of people. Fundamentally, though, consumerism is a part of our economic system, and can't just be halted without far broader changes. Pretending otherwise would be like saying "I'm going to stop breathing out, but I'm going to keep breathing in".

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 19, 2011 at 06:51:28 in reply to Comment 69832

Consumerism is a logical product of industrialism.

Absolutely. But I can't help but believing that a society that's based on 'consuming' is doomed.

What's fascinating to me is that the subtext of most non-dystopian science fiction (at least what I've been exposed to) is the notion that society has moved on from materialism, that the world has managed a migration to an experiential model.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2011 at 10:19:36 in reply to Comment 69837

Agree entirely, a consumerist model is great as long as people are struggling to make ends meet, or aspiring to obtain luxuries, but when most people are living so oppulently, and even the poorest among us seem to have cellphone and tvs and computers which couldn't be dreamed of 100 years ago, you have to wonder how much more society can consume? How much more can we buy? What other luxuries are available to us?

I think in part this feeds into our current economic difficulty, people simply don't need anything more, so they aren't buying.

Imagine if all that labour and effort focussed on consuming (and advertising to induce demand) was instead focussed on something useful?

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By Downtown Downer (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2011 at 22:12:58

That is a very depressing view, @Undustrial. It is a terrible reality for people, especially people living in the poorest wards of the city. I bet many of them would have had trouble affording Zellers, but Walmart is markedly cheaper. I'll hazard a guess that the vast majority of people living in that Code Red Zone would actually cheer the Walmart coming there. Maybe if it is called Welfare Mart cynically, but those people on assistance aren't concerned about hurting the 70+ dollar an hour factory worker by shopping at Walmart. I imagine that the welfare crowd in those areas would greatly benefit by the hiring spree of minimum wage jobs and they place would actually see a short term improvement.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 19, 2011 at 09:57:07 in reply to Comment 69834

Is Wal Mart really all that cheap? Sure, compared to middle-class mall shops or Westdale boutiques, they're cheaper. But most people I know on welfare have a few dozen dollars of spending money a month at best, which still won't fill up a Wamart shopping cart or handbasket. Dollar stores and thrift shops? Sure, maybe even Giant Tiger, but I've always seen Wal Mart as more of a venue for cheap, tasteless middle-class people.

"Everyday low prices" aren't going to help people on welfare if they continue and accelerate the trends which are destroying Hamilton's job market. And as we've witnessed in too many states, working at Walmart isn't exactly an alternative to welfare. Several state governments have had to sue them for encouraging workers to go on welfare for the significantly better health benefits.

Wal Marts have a nasty habit of eating three jobs for every two they create. Hamilton can not afford such a loss - not in our retail or industrial sectors, and surely not at Barton and Ottawa.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 22:52:41

A Canadian documentary shared on the Ward 3 Residents Association page: Wal*Town

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-09-18 22:53:20

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:17:26

Heads up, downtown!

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2011 at 17:16:49 in reply to Comment 69923

Ouch. That's what happens when "journalists" copy and paste corporate press releases instead of researching their stories.

How can somebody write about Wal Mart's supply chains without mentioning China and keep a straight face? Or their packaging policies, environmental policies in general, or "tough times for consumers", without mentioning a flip-side to those issues?

And they wonder why I won't pay for their "news".

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:55:23 in reply to Comment 69923

Just about to post the same.

I have young children. I want them to have a great life. The environment is going to affect them. And I’m lucky enough to be in a job where I can do something about that.

Maybe stop producing things in China while you're at it so your kids have jobs to go to when they get older. Are you in a position to do something about that?

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By Manichean (anonymous) | Posted November 07, 2011 at 09:57:59

Agreement clears path for Fifty Road commercial (Winona Wal-mart) and transit developments

Hamilton, ON – November 7, 2011 – An agreement that implements the City’s vision for the development of commercial lands in Winona has been reached and is expected to benefit both the City of Hamilton and local development partnership, Penady. The agreement, approved by City Council, will allow for a commercial complex to be built on the site and will allow for the City to proceed with planning for the proposed transit hub that could accommodate future HSR and GO transit service. The City and Penady have completed discussions, looking at ways to work together on the development of property on the southwest corner at Fifty Road and South Service Road.

The proposed 443,000 square-foot commercial development can go ahead. The City will receive one acre of land, at no cost, for the proposed transportation hub. As well, Penady will withdraw a lawsuit against the City of Hamilton and Councillor Brenda Johnson, amend a severance application before the Ontario Municipal Board in accordance with the agreement with the City and, has already withdrawn a “bump-up” request on the GO Niagara Environmental Assessment.

Penady is pleased with this resolution which will result in a much needed development and transit hub proceeding and would like to acknowledge the integrity of Councillor Johnson and the City in reaching this resolution.

“At this time, we would like to thank Councillor Johnson and City staff for their vigilance in moving this resolution forward in the best interests of the community”, said Leger Xavier, Vice President, Development and Leasing, PenEquity Realty Corporation.

The City is expected to receive approximately $7 million in development charges for the property, in addition to annual tax revenues. The City’s contribution for infrastructure improvements to the South Service Road will be approximately $100,000.

At the recommendation of Councillor Johnson, Penady have donated $2,000 to the soon to be Winona Recreation Centre.

“The agreement helps meet Council’s vision of the area. This settlement allows the development to move forward in a way that meets the needs of the community which includes the transportation hub as originally planned”, said Councillor Brenda Johnson.

“Staff can now proceed with a fiscally responsible transit strategy that meets the short-term and long-term goals of the City”, added City Manager, Chris Murray. “City ownership of property at the site will allow GO to develop a business case for service to Fifty Road, in addition to stops at Centennial Parkway and James Street North.”

Councillor Johnson stated, “I look forward to continuing to work with the Community Liaison Committee and Penady representatives to maintain a continued consultation with residents as the development proceeds.”

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