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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Green, Not Greed- A Chat with the City of Hamilton re: Greenbelt Lands

1. In an interview recently published in The Hamiltonian, a citizen by the name of Rick Breznick has expressed concerns that information coming to council and to the Ontario government concerning greenbelt lands has been misrepresented. His concerns are expressed here: http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2016/01/green-not-greed-chat-with-rick-breznick.html. Can you respond to his specific concerns.

As part of the fall public consultation, staff identified a series of different option for lands to be removed from and added to the Greenbelt Plan. As part of this public consultation process, staff received input on other lands that staff had not identified. Staff reviewed and evaluated all the submissions received during the open houses, through online surveys and additional comments received after the open houses.

Public consultation is a process whereby staff receive input on projects, programs, etc. and ask for comments on what has been presented. In many cases, the public identifies different ideas, concepts and recommendations staff may not have considered initially. The proposed removal of the Waterdown area is one such circumstance. This public input is used as part of staff’s evaluations and recommendations to Planning Committee on a particular process.

For the lands in the eastern end of Waterdown, staff recommended these lands be removed, the details of which are contained on page 14 of the staff report that was presented to the Planning Committee on December 3. The lands south of the future by-pass will be cut off from the remaining rural lands to the north making farming difficult; the lands are surrounded by urban uses on the west.

The public also had the opportunity to make comments to the Planning Committee during their special Committee meeting on the Greenbelt and Niagara Escarpment plan boundary review. Committee amended some of the recommendations. City Council approved the recommendations with some further amendments. Council’s recommendations were sent to the Province for consideration in the Coordinated Provincial Plan review. Ultimately the Province will make a determination as to what or if any changes to the Plans will be made.

With respect to the wetland, provincially significant wetlands are protected by the Province under various Plans – the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan and the Provincial Policy statement. The city has wetlands in the urban area, has wetlands and in the rural area not covered by the Greenbelt Plan. Provincially significant wetlands are protected regardless of what Plan they are part of.

2. From conversations Hamiltonian staff, have observed at the consultations sessions hosted by the Ontario Government, and from many of the comments found on media sites, it is clear that hamiltonians are concerned about the loss of Greenbelt lands to development or other purposes. There are some who suggest that there is a bias in favor of the development community , at the expense of the protection of greenbelt lands. Understanding that the ultimate decision does not rest with the city but at the provincial level, what criteria does the city of Hamilton use to determine whether they will recommend the removal of lands from the Greenbelt. Given the irretrievable nature that such decisions will have on such lands, what possible justification does the city find as compelling enough to recommend their removal.

Please see Appendix C of the December 3 Planning Committee report. The Dillon Consulting report identifies various options and considerations that provide justification.

3. Focussing on the Winona area and the E.D. Smith lands, what is the recommendation the city is making with respect to these greenbelt designated lands, and what is the justification for the recommendation?

Same response as per above. See Dillon Consulting report (Appendix C of December 3 Planning Committee report).

4. Can you respond to the belief of some that PICS and other public engagement sessions mean very little in terms of the impact they have on decisions. Some suggest that decisions are pre-determined prior to consultation.

Several hundred attendees participated in the PICs and other public engagement sessions offering varying opinions and options that staff took back for consideration and Council approval.

5. A longer strategic vision for the treatment of greenbelt protected lands might suggest that the ability to grow our own food locally, or otherwise continue to protect these lands for agricultural or other public interest uses, should be given primacy over all other considerations. How do you respond to this suggestion and how aligned are the recommendations made at the city level to this notion?

From a planning perspective, the City of Hamilton must conform to the Growth Plan and the Greenbelt Plan. They work together. There are a number of different planning objectives the City of Hamilton has to satisfy, one of which is supporting agricultural land.

6. Just before the holiday season Minister McMeekin was quoted as saying that “If you want to take tender fruit lands out of the Greenbelt for development you better have a strong case for that”. Is the City of Hamilton heeding the Minster’s advice and if so, what evidence is there that that is the case?

The City of Hamilton, like other municipalities, makes comments to the province on potential changes to the various provincial plans under review. Ultimately, it is up to the province to make a final decision on what lands will be removed or added to the Greenbelt.

Joanne Hickey-Evans
Manager, Policy Planning and Zoning By-Law Reform
City of Hamilton

20 comments:

  1. This is exactly the reason why Hamilton will never have the trust of its citizens. The city hides behind some consultants report. I’ve been in these circles far too long to know that consultants know the hand that feeds them. This is a bad response to very good questions. Maybe the city should disclose all the lobbying that has happened from the development community.

    “answers” to 4., 5 and 6 are a piece of work.

    City of Hamilton_____come out. Come out wherever you are. You’re not fooling anyone.

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  2. Forgive me for being direct readers, but I for one am sick and tired of the bs from the city. Why don't they ever do what the taxpayers want and not what the developers want? Why do they waste the taxpayers money on consultants to write up reports to say what they want? Why do they waste the time of taxpayers time to attend meaningless public consultation meetings, when they know perfectly well that they are just taking the taxpayers through the motions because they have to. Why aren't our councillors leading and advocating for the people that they are paid to represent? It is all about Greed of the mighty buck. This is why I don't support politians accepting donations from developers. We need our land, especially our tender fruit lands. Is nobody following world economics? Is nobody feeling the pinch in grocery stores? We need our lands to grow and own food. Especially lands like those in Winona, which are in a unique micro-climate (one of two in all of Canada). I almost chocked on my coffee when I read that the city hired a consultant to say that the ED Smith were unfarmable! This bunch of hog wash is far fetched, knowing that these lands have produced some of the best fruit in the Country and abroad for decades. In 2009 the orchards were all ripped out claiming that the land was no longer fertile to grow tender fruits. We all know that the might buck is behind this too. It is common sense that you will have a better chance getting lands removed from the greenbelt if there is no visual of healthy orchards and there is a claim that the lands can't produce fruit. Should the lands be lifted out the protected greenbelt, the lands can then be developed on, thus making the value of these lands skyrocket. Greed over Green. I don't beleive that this was Mr. ED Smith's vision or expectations of his inheritors. Very sad really. Another tactic being used, again an example in Winona at the corner of Barton and Glover Road, was the removed of Woodlots. You see you can't build on a woodlot, because woodlots protect our wildlife. There is no concern for our wildlife when colour green turns from green to greed. They remove them "by accident" and then pay the penality, and then they are free to build. They should be ordered to plant another woodlot. I could go on and on, because I have seen all the games and tricks played in this city for over 50 years. MPP Ted McMeekin seems to care and the province will have the final say. Call his office and express your concerns to protect our greenbelt accross the entire city.

    Donna

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    1. hear hear!!!!!!
      Brave lady for telling it like it is. Hats off to you.
      Source

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    2. E.D. Smith would be disgusted. Councillor from the east should resign.

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  3. "justification" is the loophole which needs to be eradicated. Let us decide what is justified, not a Councilor conflicted by a paid contribution

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    1. I believe that Jim Graham hit the nail on the head. Look at campaign donations made to councillors. Pathetic.

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  4. Does anyone know of an online petition one could sign showing support of keeping lands in the Greenbelt?

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  5. How come the link to Appendix C no longer works? hmmmm

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    1. Hamiltonian AdminJanuary 25, 2016

      We have emailed the city to ask why the link no longer works. Stay tuned. We will post an update once received. For those of who who have emailed us with this concern, please check this thread for an update.,

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  6. Forget petitions. They just ignore them. When someone is hard wired to do something for someone, nothing is going to get in the way. I hope the Ontario Government protects our greenbelt lands in Hamilton and In Winona because the local councillors and the city sure won't. The Ontario Government is our only hope, sadly. And what is our Mayor doing about this? Nothing.

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    1. I was thinking more along the lines of a petition to the Ministry from the citizens of Hamilton. Definitely not to the city for the reasons you mentioned.

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  7. Cut the crap. I didn't elect the Dillon Consulting report. Stop hiding your agenda. Unless Hamiltonians bind together and alert the Ontario Government. our greenbelt lands are screwed.

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  8. Honesty and integrity play a major role in this whole thing. Take the public consultation piece. The public does not know, not doers it have audit ability ordinarily, to check that public comments and feedback has been properly coated and reported on. This is where we rely on the honesty and integrity of the people who work for the city. It is very easy, and I trust it has been done more times that we know, that public input is not properly represented.

    We know that the City of Hamilton has problems with integrity. A survey told us so that a large number of staff feel that they have to compromise they integrity. That is just plain awful and shameful.

    So, to many staff who may be reading this - and I know many who read The Hamiltonian at home, have the courage to start whistle blowing if you see something being done that is underhanded or unfair.

    Robert Star

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  9. Here we have a staff person hiding behind provincial policies which do not support her statements but she hopes that this bureaucratic speak will appease us minions.

    When one looks back, we were supposed to have a new OP and Zoning By-law four years after amalgamation, therefore 2006. Now it is 2016 and we still don't have it.

    Staff says because of appeals from the public. I wonder, if staff listened to the public through meaningful consultation would we still be at this juncture?

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  10. Last night I participated in a telephone town hall discussion featuring David Crombie, to discuss the Greenbelt lands. What was very clear is that there is tons of support to leave the greenbelt lands protected and if anything, to expand the greenbelt. Many people know that the greenbelt is our future and left to developers and municipalities who are driven by politicians who accept campaign contributions from developers (just check the financials), that we will jeopardize that future.

    There were 11,000 people on the call and i am surprised how many callers were from Hamilton, speaking about Hamilton issues, and their concern around how hamilton was handling the issue.

    I hope the Ontario government gets the message loud and clear that the people of Hamilton want to protect our greenbelt lands and do not subscribe to removing lands from the greenbelt.

    I am very thankful that our city does not have the authority to make the final call on these lands and I hope thatMinister McMeekin stands up and protects every inch of our greenbelt.

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    1. This information is so encouraging! thank you for sharing.

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  11. I suggest we all send an email to Minister McMeekin. Just say this:

    Minister McMeekin:

    I live in Hamilton Ontario and I have very big concerns around protecting our greenbelt. I urge you to not release any lands out of the greenbelt.

    Here is the email addresses:
    tmcmeekin.mpp@liberal.ola.org

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    1. Good idea!
      An email from the Lakewood Beach Community Council has been circulated to Ward 10 residents requesting their assistance.
      If anyone would like to be added to the email distribution list, please let us know.

      We've already received copies of emails sent to Mr. McMeekin from various concerned citizens.

      Keep up the great work on this very important issue!
      LakewoodBeachcc@hotmail.com

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  12. I agree that it is a great idea to encourage everyone to send an email to Minister McMeekin telling him clearly that we do not support the city taking lands out of the greenbelt. Nice try with the consultant report trick.

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  13. Environment Hamilton is working hard to organize support for the Greenbelt in Hamilton - they are always looking for concerned local citizens to join their efforts: contactus@environmenthamilton.org

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