Vol. 21 No. 8 • February 26 - March 4, 2015 In Our 20th Year Serving Greater Hamilton

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by Don McLean
November 26 - December 2, 2009
Secret negotiations between city lawyers and the proponent of a self-storage facility in Dundas were rejected after a lengthy in camera debate of the planning committee. The residents group fighting the development proposal say they were not included in the discussions with the proponent and only found out about the possible deal at the last minute. The five acre facility on environmentally sensitive lands at the corner of King Street and Olympic Drive is being argued for by First Dundas Leasing Ltd. It was debated by the planning committee in February and unanimously turned down in the face of huge public opposition that included a dozen delegations, more than 70 personal letters and over 1500 petition-letters. The company subsequently appealed the council’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The city has been joined in opposing the project at the OMB by a citizen’s group, Protect Our Dundas (POD), and 63 individuals who have registered as participants. But apparently unknown to POD and other opponents of the facility, city lawyer Michael Kovacevic has been working on a settlement agreement between the city and the company. It was discussed by the planning committee and city council in closed sessions on at least four occasions. In all instances, the matter was only listed in the agenda as “Ontario Municipal Board Appeal (LS09014) (Ward 13)” where the LS09014 refers to a city report that is itself secret. The minutes of the first two meetings provide no information that would identify that the agenda items were related to the self-storage facility proposal. POD became aware of the negotiations and contacted the clerk of the planning committee for permission to speak. Julia Kollek explained POD’s position and suggested there is a “communication problem” with the city lawyer. “We were not aware that this item is coming up today until the last minute,” she said at the committee’s November 17 meeting. “It would have been nice to have known about that. We also have no idea what the proposed new plans might be, and we have not been informed about them.” In response, Kovacevic said he was “surprised at the decision to request discussions now” and cited an email from POD’s lawyer about a company offer to move the entrance to the proposed facility. “It says POD has carefully considered the most recent proposals, specifically the realignment of the site toward Olympic Drive, however at this point, POD still has concerns with respect to the principle of the use,” he read. “Consequently, it appears appropriate at this time to continue to prepare for the hearing.” Kollek suggested to councillors it was “very hard to make a decision on just a one-line email” and recommended they consider all the correspondence with Kovacevic. Brad Clark confirmed that POD’s main concern is “you disagree with that land use.” A suggestion from Brian McHattie to defer a decision until after POD had a chance to meet with the city lawyer was rejected by Kovacevic who warned against any delays. “Time is up, a decision is required by council, and witness statements are due at the beginning of December,” the lawyer declared. “The hearing commences January 11th. I can’t delay any further on this. It will severely prejudice the city’s position either way.” The committee discussed the issue for 45 minutes in camera before voting 5 to 3 to order the lawyer to hire witnesses and proceed with the OMB hearing. Voting in favour were Clark and McHattie along with Bob Bratina, Scott Duvall and Rob Pasuta. Councillors Lloyd Ferguson, Maria Pearson and Dave Mitchell opposed the decision. V [DON MCLEAN]
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