Hamilton delays urban boundary review vote by 15 days

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Published October 12, 2021 at 5:45 pm

The contentious city council vote on whether to expand the urban boundary in Hamilton will not happen until at least two weeks later than anticipated.

Initially, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and fellow councillors were slated to vote on the contentious issue — which would involve allowing residential development on arable land during a climate crisis — at a special council meeting on Oct. 25. The City of Hamilton webpage that lists upcoming council meetings now indicates that there are no meetings scheduled for that date.

Instead, a general issues committee meeting is slated for Nov. 9. Twenty-seven delegates are slated to speak in regard to the boundary review, which is officially known as “GRIDS 2, the Municipal Comprehensive Review and Land Needs Assessment.” Mike Collins-Williams, of the West End Homebuilders’ Association, is also slated to make a formal presentation.

The review was triggered in response to requirement the Ford Government was created for municipalities to have a plan to meet population and job growth targets through to the year 2051. The targets were also set by the Ford Government.

Council tried to bring the review to a vote back on March 29. Pressure from climate and social justice activists led them to put a pin in that, and agree to conduct a household survey. That drew a more than 90 per cent negative response to changing the boundary. Opposition by electoral ward ranged from 83 to 97 per cent. Support for the expansion topped 10 per cent in only a handful of wards. A subsequent city report did cite issues with distribution and marketing of the survey.

It’s estimated that a boundary change would remove about 1,300 hectares (3,300 acres) of farmland that is within the official city limits.

Last month, Hamilton Needs Housing (HNH), a coalition of developers, recently sent postage-paid postcards to numerous homes and apartment buildings to drum up support for the expansion. Members of ‘Green Twitter’ in Hamilton responded by encouraging people to write their opposition to the expansion on the mailers, post a picture of it to social media, and send it back to HNH’s representatives.

The 10- by 12-inch full-colour postcards were also five times as large, in square inchage, as a 4×6 campaign flyer that Hamilton Centre NDP member of Parliament Matthew Green sent during his re-election campaign last month.

The 15-day delay of the meeting would, on the surface, not appear to be tied to city council’s choice to appoint a councillor in vacant Ward 5 instead of holding a byelection. A staff report suggested that the earliest that the successful applicant could take their seat would be on Nov. 24.

The seat was vacated after Chad Collins was elected to federal Parliament for the Liberal Party of Canada in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.

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