1. The Hamiltonian was copied on an email you had sent to, amongst others, Clr. Judi Patridge and Mayor Bob Bratina. In that email, there was a clear expression of frustration and anger over an issue that you have been trying to get resolved, related to your property. Can you describe what the issue is?
I have several ongoing issues with the City and will try my best to break them down separately.
A) My late father purchased an Antique and Flea Market in December 2001 ~ the property size is 64 acres Mixed usage ~residential, agricultural, *CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT-wetlands* and 15 acres of Highway Commercial (site specific for a Flea Market). In 2002 we approached the City to ensure that we could move my father's other business and his Tenants from Clappison's Corners (3+acres at that location are being expropriated). We were told that it would require a simple VARIANCE to include these companies. We had all of the City Departments here in 2002 ~ and received ok's for a business license. Our
most trying time was with the fire department and after spending over $20,000.00 in upgrades, passed with them as well. By 2003 ALL WAS COMPLETE. In 2009 my father died and I had to re-finance. My Lawyer phoned me outraged that I had not told him about outstanding work orders...I did not know what he was talking about. He sent me the copies and they are all from 1995 and earlier! I have met with the City and resolved what I could, others are so dumbfounding and will cost me thousands of dollars. None the less, I am still plugging away where I can...The frustration of the letter below is based on the fact that when the most recent Purchaser went to the City, he was told that on one of the orders, I needed some type of water alarm in my main building; to ensure that the water would be available in case of fire...This was the last straw for this Purchaser and he walked...I have since found out ~ through my own investigations~ that the City is pump accredited (in essence they bring enough water with them). This is the second failed attempt of selling my property...The first purchaser could not accept the new description of my CM...it is now known as Conservation Hazard lands (I just sent you the letter I e-mailed to Mayor Bob et al this morning).
* I will not give up the fight to change the word 'Conservation Hazard' as the incorrect label of untouched
greenspace with a pond, until the word Hazard is removed. This is not simply about my property, it would include thousands of properties and makes the City look ridiculous!!! When I met with the City at my office regarding this word, the 'best' suggestion was that I severe my property and sell (give it) to the abutting farmer. In essence, lose my 'hazard lands', take a huge reduction in money, and then sell the front Highway Commercial...BUT
B) The new Rural Official Plan does not want to recognize my Highway Commercial zoning...It will be changed to Agricultural...The City forgot to exclude my front 15 acres from the Greenbelt (it starts a kilometre away)...So now, moving forward ~ I can continue with my Market legally non-conforming!!! yet not develop my visions...No expansions, no deviations unless it is agriculturally based...the City has killed my dreams for this Market! I do not have the finances to fight this at OMB (I would win)...I am educating myself to take the City to Court. The 1990 appraisal of this Market was $1,650,000.00 ~in 1992 $2,125,000.00 ~ in 1995 a $350,000.00 building was erected...In 2009 the Appraisal was $900,000.00 ***the value has depreciated by over $1,000,000.00
C) Now within all of this is our taxes...in 2002 I submitted a RFR ...SEVEN YEARS of discussions, investigations, back and forth between MPAC AND THE CITY... and finally, I get my assessment dropped to $1,250,000.00 (during this 7 year headache, not once did the City mention outstanding work orders!) My taxes were dropped to $38,000.00 per year (without the fight they would be at $59,000.00 this year). I am open 54 days in the year...I have no amenities...no water, sewers, garbage, lighting ~ even snow removal on the Highway is MTO...
2. What has the city’s response been to this matter and where does it stand now?
I have spoken with three Mayors, City Managers, Staff and Councillors...I have been respectively disagreeing and discussing for almost 11 years with no solutions..."Sorry Danya, it is the Province". (Province disagrees and keeps telling me to work with the City for resolution.) "Sorry Danya, our Staff knows best, they are the Experts"..."Sorry Danya, our hands are tied"...All of these statements are cop outs...I was naive enough in the early 2000's not to have followed up with e-mails to confirm what the City originally said...now, many of my questions go unanswered or the reply is for City Staff to respond (they pick and chose on whether to respond). As one example...JudI Partridge wrote to me saying that it was her understanding that all of Highway 5 was going to be Agricultural and had asked Al Fletcher to please confirm her statement to Judi and I...NO RESPONSE
The City has an "Open for Business" sub committee ~ Russ Powers is the Chair and I am very pleased at his initiative...I have sent letters to them and presented my dilemma in Council Chambers...I will continue to work with our Councillors yet know that I have royally ticked off some of the Staff. (They do not appreciate people pointing out their errors.) Unfortunately, I disagree with Staff and that in turn has the Councillors in the middle...Lloyd Ferguson expressed this at one of our meetings and referred to City Councillors as "the monkeys in the middle".
Moving forward I have to hope that Council Members will see through the wrong doings of Staff and correct them. If not, I will find a way to finance a lawsuit against the City. (Sad yet necessary if I want to ensure a positive, balanced City.)
3. What would you see as a fair and reasonable resolution, and what would be the next steps to achieving such a resolve?
First and foremost change the word Hazard back to Conservation Management or even Conservation Floodplain...as you will note in May 19ths e-mail to the City; "conserve hazard" should never be used as a label, THIS HURTS OUR CITY.
Acknowledge that the Town of Flamborough archives went missing (when I went to the the City, they told me they were still at Flamborough's Town Hall~ Staff there told me they had been transferred to the City~ I went back to the City and when I said that I had been back and forth; I was told that they were in "transit"...I believe that in 2008/09 when a new Staff member came on board that they found the records and began backtracking and enforcing outstanding work orders...IF these orders are against the ORIGINAL OWNERS/RESPONSIBLE PERSON ~ by all means enforce the orders! YET, if it is new owners who had NO CLUE nor way of knowing that these orders exist, work with them FAIRLY! (eg. my office was apparently submitted as a garage in the original drawings to the Town of Flamborough...In the City's wisdom, that means that it must be a garage with an office...I have been told to put in a garage door, take out my heating system and remove my toilets...when I left the meeting~ I followed up with a question via e-mail ~ ("If I do what the 1992 order asks and what you are now insisting I do, won't I be going against the current standards/code which state that there must be toilet facilities in an office? I did not get a response.) THIS IS NOT FAIR TO DO ~nor does it make any logical/common sense. It will cost me thousands of dollars to submit a change of usage, speak with the Committee of Adjustments and pay all the fees to keep what has been in place for over 20 years!
To resolve these issues there needs to be a meeting between Councillors, Staff and all property owners to come up with a reasonable resolution. They cannot force people to conform to something that makes no sense. They cannot expect Taxpayers to pay thousands of dollars to continue doing what has always been done. They cannot simply~ with a drawing on a map change the history or long time use of a business. They cannot just write new by-laws that make companies go from legal to illegal to closing. THE PROBLEM HERE IS MANY OF THE AFFECTED COMPANIES DO NOT WANT TO ROCK THE BOAT...IF THEY COME FORWARD, THEY TOO WILL HAVE TO COMPLY AND HOPE THAT THE CITY STILL ACCEPTS THEM. IF THEY LOSE, THEY ARE AUTOMATICALLY SHUT DOWN. MANY HAVE CHOSEN TO KEEP THEIR MOUTHS SHUT AND HOPE THAT A NEW NEIGHBOR DOES NOT COMPLAIN TO THE CITY...
4. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about this particular matter.
This entire ordeal has taken a huge toll on me...physically, emotionally and financially. I could chose to give up and go bankrupt (no one wants to buy it)~ this is my inheritance...I have devoted 11 years of my life to building back one of Ontario's oldest and largest , authentic Antique and Flea Market...
It is not simply about me by a long shot...It is about what is best and fair for my business and the 6000 other small to medium Ma and Pa Companies that have kept our rural economy going...None of this is just hurting me, it is hurting everyone.
Someone at City Hall has a mandate that is not conducive to smart business growth for the 'rural' population...Even all of the grants/loans that the City offers are not available to the outskirts...
People that know me understand that I am not one to 'pick a fight', I do not want to constantly send rebuttals, negative responses...At times I feel like the Councillors must think I am just some crazy blonde who has nothing better to do...
I do not like that I am the one that is 'complaining' on a regular basis. I want to build a successful, profitable Tourism destination. I want to have the time to devote to other matters, my children, my community(new High School for Dundas, Giant's Rib), Hamilton as a whole.
I want to be one of the many people in Hamilton that our City respects and engages with...for us to work together and build our City to be its' best!
Any suggestions to assist me would be heaven sent!