Bring Residential not Commercial to Hamilton's West Harbour Barton-Tiffany Area

We must act before the potential for this prime piece of real estate in Hamilton is squandered.  Let's build a vibrant neighbourhood, bringing people close to the water's edge and downtown instead of building low-quality commercial buildings!

Dear Councillor Jason Farr

As a group of engaged citizens across the City of Hamilton, we are concerned that Council intends to proceed with an urban design study for the Barton-Tiffany Special Policy Area in the West Harbour while that area is designated largely for commercial use.

Commercial is not the best and highest use of these lands. The Setting Sail Secondary Plan study has determined the correct use for these lands, which should be the site of a mixed use, medium density residential neighbourhood between the downtown and the water’s edge.

At present, their use is constrained by two factors: the presumed contamination of the soils, and the noise emitted by the CNR marshalling yard, which limits the area available for residential development.

We recognize that CN will not currently accept residential development nearer than 150 metres from the yard.

In view of the fact that the City acknowledges at paragraph A. and following of Setting Sail that the Stuart Street Rail Yard is a Class III Industrial Facility as set out in Provincial Guidelines, and that a Class III facility is permitted to have “frequent outputs of major annoyance and there is a high probability of fugitive emissions” (A., we believe that Council, having given due consideration to the current economic function of the yard,  must seek to have the rail yard relocated. It is the right long term strategy for continued development of the West Harbour waterfront.

We recognize that this relocation may require lengthy negotiation.

Accordingly, we ask you to prepare a notice of motion to Council in which you indicate that you will propose that Council direct staff to do the following:

                • Prioritize the residential development at Piers 7 and 8 as an extension of the existing North End neighborhood, as envisaged in the Setting Sail Secondary Plan; and re-allocate the bulk of the funds dedicated to the Barton-Tiffany design study to the Piers 7 and 8 area.

                • Take steps to amend the secondary plan to re-zone that portion of Barton-Tiffany now designated Commercial to Holding, for purposes of holding this land in reserve for residential development on the departure of the marshalling yard, and to publicize this preferred use on the site and elsewhere by postings and interpretive signage.

                • Take steps in accordance with the ERASE Municipal Acquisition and Partnership Program (MAPP), or by any equivalent means, to acquire the lands bounded by Hess, Queen, Barton and Stuart streets, which have become a serious impediment to the improvement of the Barton-Tiffany area.

                • Take immediate steps to assess and publish the condition of the soils in the entire Barton-Tiffany area, so as to clarify the costs of remediation.

                • Immediately canvas the community for green uses for the former Rheem property on the block bounded  by  Caroline, Tiffany, Barton and Stuart streets, for example raised-bed community gardens or the like, and implement the generally preferred use.

                • Take steps as prescribed in the Setting Sail plan to assess the potential for adaptive re-use of the facilities on the City owned land to the southeast of Caroline and Barton streets, with a view to incorporating these lands in an enlarged Central Park and improving the linkage between the downtown and the West Harbour shoreline.

And finally, since Setting Sail planning  was conducted as a Class Environmental Assessment  and  was the product of the combination of expert opinion with public consultation obtained by way of a Community Liaison Committee, that staff be directed to

                • Immediately invite participation in a Community Liaison Committee or similarly representative group, to review the modifications to Setting Sail that we are proposing, and to monitor the implementation of all parts of the Setting Sail Secondary Plan as we go forward.

We the undersigned urge Council to immediately cease working towards an area of predominantly commercial use in the Barton-Tiffany area  and, instead, to move forward with the aforementioned steps in creating a mixed-use, medium-density, residential neighbourhood in the Barton-Tiffany area linking downtown Hamilton with the water’s edge.

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