“I am incredibly disappointed that the Corporation of Hamilton (COH) opted to share grievances publicly instead of picking up the telephone or sending an email. Especially as the Department of Planning (Planning) team went to great lengths to keep them involved in the process”, said the Minister of Home Affairs, Walter Roban, in reading today’s Royal Gazette article. “Planning communicated consistently and made them aware that they were open to dialogue, to contact them with any questions and that they were happy to meet.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs (Ministry) can advise that from the outset, before even putting pen to paper, Planning met with the COH executive on 9th November 2021 to inform them that the process of preparing a new city plan was commencing. In this meeting, Planning set out some broad policy concepts being considered for the new Plan. Both parties also expressed the desire to maintain good, effective working relations through the process, building on the success of preparing the North East Hamilton Plan.
To facilitate this effort, the COH assigned a representative to provide Planning with some of the research data required to write the new Plan. Over the next six to seven months, Planning maintained regular contact with the COH’s representative. Not only to obtain data but also to consult on several policy topics. Planning had a subsequent meeting with the COH on 16th June 2022, when they presented the key issues addressed within the Plan. In this meeting, the COH was advised that the Plan’s release was imminent, and, although subsequently delayed, they did not ask to view the Plan.
On 15th November 2022, Planning met with two COH representatives and reviewed critical issues covered in the new Plan. At this time, the City of Hamilton Plan was awaiting Cabinet approval. In this meeting, the COH requested a copy of the Plan and was subsequently advised that they would have it following Cabinet approval.
On 21st December, the COH representative was advised that the Plan had received Cabinet approval. Following a phone conversation with the representative on 11th January, Planning provided access to the Plan and all supporting documentation later that day and advised that the Plan would be released on 19th January.
The release was delayed, but Planning emailed the COH, advising that the City of Hamilton Plan 2023 (Consultative Draft) would be published the following day.
On the morning of the release (20th January), Planning sent an email requesting a meeting to obtain feedback on the new Plan, and the COH acknowledged receipt. Yesterday (24th January), the COH emailed to arrange an appointment.
In liaising with the COH, the Department followed the same broad process when preparing the North East Hamilton Plan and received no request for a copy of the Plan before its release, no request for involvement in the press conference, and no negative feedback.
Given the Corporation was aware of the Plan’s release date on 11th January, they had ample time to express their desire to participate in the press conference and would have easily been accommodated.
Minister Roban continued,” This action by the Corporation is unfortunate on many levels. Not only the decision to send out this public statement but also that it demonstrates a fundamental lack of appreciation of the reach and influence of planning policy. To suggest that declining retail sales and pandemic recovery are not “planning Matters” is alarming. Planning can heavily influence both issues through appropriately shaped planning policy.”
“It is curious that the Corporation expressed no desire to participate in the North East Hamilton Plan press conference and had no issues, despite Planning using the same process. But now, concerning the city centre, considered by many to be the centre of economic activity, they have expressed their displeasure for not participating in the press conference.”
Holding the press conference at Fort Hamilton was confirmed with the Corporation.
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