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Being confused is expected

You may be forgiven if you are confused about the current public consultations on whether or not to pave over more farmland.

You may be forgiven if you are confused about the current public consultations on whether or not to pave over more farmland. There are at least four separate sources of possible confusion.
At the first level, you may not know what the acronyms mean. There are so many that planning staff included an appendix of the short forms when they explained this consultation plan to councillors in late October. They listed 15 of them — from MCR and GRIDS2 to LNA, PPS, RI, DGA and P2G.
And once you convert these to actual words, you may still be confused as to what they might mean. MCR, GRIDS2 and DGA are particularly key ones in this process. They respectively stand for Municipal Comprehensive Review, Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy Update (from GRIDS1), and Designated Greenfield Area.
But even with the acronyms spelled out, you may be forgiven if you don’t understand what they actually mean. Try comprehending “municipal comprehensive review” for example. Would you even dream that it refers to a provincially required study that municipalities must do if they want to expand their urban area to accommodate forecast population growth (in locations such as Elfrida where it is proposed to put 80,000 new residents)? That study requirement is set out in the PPS (Provincial Policy Statement), in case you want to know. Some of that growth could occur by RI (residential intensification) or on the DGA (designated greenfield area) which refers to vacant lands already in the urban area but not yet built upon.
To add to the confusion, planning staff got permission from council less than a week before the consultations began to add an entirely new element to the “consultation” process. So part of what you can now comment about is how you feel about whether more than 40 separate properties scattered across the city should be converted (or not) from industrial zoning to something else.
You can get up to speed on this added piece by reviewing the 159 page report that details the city’s “employment land review”. This might be connected to where Hamilton’s population growth could be located or it might not, but since the planners have to “consult” on this, they have added it to the other stuff already on the table along with another set of display boards.
The remaining “consultations” run Monday December 9 at the former Dundas town hall from 2–4 pm and 6–8 pm; and Wednesday December 11 at St. Naum of Ohrid Macedonian Orthodox Church, 1150 Stone Church Rd E. Earlier sessions have taken place at Battlefield House in Stoney Creek and the Braley Centre in downtown Hamilton.
But none of the sessions offers any actual opportunities for public discussion. There are no power point or verbal presentations, and no public forums where ideas might be heard or exchanged. You’re just invited to drop in, look at many display boards, and maybe leave your comments. At an earlier MCR–GRIDS2 session you got a write–in ballot on the weighty question of whether you prefer houses to be built with garages at the front or at the back. At these ones there are also some broad questions you can use tokens to “vote” on.
That’s even more participation than the October council meeting which was designated as a “workshop” so no citizen delegations were permitted.
And just in case there were still some dedicated folks out there who really want to have a say on how the city should grow and whether or not that means less farmland, more condo towers, or something in between (not currently offered as an option), there is one more option they might try: Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 4168 or email: grids2-mcr@hamilton.ca. V

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