Tiger-Cats send new letter to Mayor Fred......to talk sense

Will Fred listen to common sense? :roll:

(copy of letter below)

August 2, 2010

By Hand

Mayor Fred Eisenberger
Hamilton City Hall
71 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8N 3J5

Subject: Building Our City Together

Dear Fred,
Over the course of the past six months, the Hamilton Tiger Cat Football Club has endeavoured to undertake a comprehensive review of all of the potential stadium sites within the City that met our fundamental criteria as it pertains to parking, highway visibility, and ease of access and egress for our fans.
As you know, we have retained a number of experts to assist us with our analysis. We have shared those findings with you, City officials, and your colleagues. I think that you would agree that this has been helpful to everyone in understanding the business dynamics of operating a CFL franchise in our market.
Conversely, it goes without saying that Bob Young and our organization are grateful for the information that we have received from the City, prior to and throughout the facilitation process with Michael Fenn. It has elevated our understanding of the objectives of the city, particularly as it pertains to the essential challenge of revitalizing the North End of Hamilton.
While the aforementioned business issues regarding parking, access, and highway are of vital concern to us, it is gratifying to know that the Province of Ontario will provide for a GO station at LIUNA as well as one at Centennial, regardless of the location of the Pan Am stadium. By every measure, this is a very good thing for the City.
Throughout our research into possible stadium sites in the North End, and specifically, the proposed Rheem site at 128 Barton Street, we have encountered a number of concerns from local residents, planners, as well as local lawyer, Herman Turkstra.
These concerns pertain directly to the advisability of siting a 30,000 person stadium within a residential community. We have taken it upon ourselves to review the relevant planning documents upon which the City would rely to permit the siting of the Pan Am Stadium. We reviewed City planning documents back to 1995, when the notion of a stadium in the North End was specifically rejected after a great deal of public consultation. You, yourself were a member of that Council, as were Councillors Morelli, Jackson and Collins.
The existing City of Hamilton Official plan adopted in June of 2005, and in force today, does not permit the siting of stadiums on subject lands.
Given the unforgiving timelines facing Hostco, and the Pan American Games Committee, and the necessity to be precise in the planning process, the Hamilton Tiger Cats retained Mr. Peter Walker FCIP, RPP of the firm Walker, Nott, Dragicevic Associates Limited to obtain an independent opinion pertaining to land use designations for the 128 Barton Street site (the Rheem site). Mr. Walker enjoys an enviable reputation as one of the pre-eminent planners in Ontario.
I am enclosing a copy of Mr. Walker's interim opinion in its entirety for you and the members of Council. The Report is very clear. To quote Mr. Walker's Conclusion:
"Based upon the foregoing, development of a major sports stadium focused on the subject property, at the very least, would warrant an Official Plan amendment application to amend either the existing or adopted planning documents. Such an application would require extensive supportive rationale (reports/studies) and involve major public consultation under the Planning Act, given the planning process that the city has pursued to-date. Such an application would also be subject to appeals to the OMB by parties who did not agree with such City Actions."
This opinion is consistent with the professional opinion advanced by local lawyer Herman Turkstra who represents area residents within the North End community. The opinion of Mr. Walker also carefully reflects the stated and adopted planning direction expressed in Setting Sail West Harbour Secondary Plan (OPA 198) (Schedule M-2 "Special Policy Area" - Barton Tiffany).
It may well be that your own legal department and expert planners have turned their minds to the prospect of OMB appeals on the Official Plan Amendments, that appear to be vital precursors to the development of a 30,000 person stadium on the Rheem site.
It is not for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to comment about the prospect of success one way or the other at the OMB. The essential point that must be considered with some sense of urgency is the fact that the reality of OMB appeals on the West Harbour site negates its viability for the Pan Am Stadium. Simply put, the planning, public consultation process, OMB hearing and determination process will take a great deal of time and there is no real ability by Council, or the Tiger-Cats, to make any determination of the outcome.
The West Harbour Stadium site purports to support the remediation and re-development of the West Harbour lands in a manner that is frankly not contemplated in the City's Setting Sail planning document.
The Tiger-Cats share your vision about optimizing our Harbour to the benefit of the greater community. That process has been underway for many years. Your colleague, Chad Collins, and others have played a leadership role in making the West Harbour and other "harbour" lands a people place. Your Council wisely approved the Setting Sail document which is in fact a "blueprint" for forward thinking development in that community based upon an intelligent mix of housing, community development, and recreational use. Ironically, those improvements are underway, block by block and neighbourhood by neighbourhood.
The Setting Sail document which the City has submitted to the Province for approval will provide long term, sustainable commercial benefits for small business in the North End, 365 days per year, not simply around Tiger-Cat Games and other occasional use. Surely, this is the form of development contemplated in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan describing the subject lands as "Neighbourhoods".
Fred, I hope you would agree that the proposed compromise Alternative West Harbour Vision tabled by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats would go a long way in making the West Harbour a “people place.?
Working together, we believe that a 3,500 person amphitheatre would create a more sustainable venue for a much longer period of time during the year. It would be our hope that it would not contravene the spirit of your Setting Sail planning document.
The Tiger-Cats are prepared to contribute $1.5 million in capital as well as $100,000 per year in support to make this project a reality.
Fred, the stadium debate has been needlessly divisive. I hope that you would agree with me that it is time for the Tiger-Cats and the City to set aside our differences and begin the necessary work of building a sustainable legacy stadium on the East Mountain.
Of equal importance is the need for all of us to work together to realize the true potential of the West Harbour.
I want to assure you and Council that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will work with you on this vital City Building opportunity.

Sincerely
HAMILTON TIGER-CATS FOOTBALL (2007) CORP.
Scott Mitchell
President

cc Members of Council
Premier Dalton McGuinty
Hon. Sophia Aggelonitis, MP
Ted McMeekin, MPP
Andrea Horwath, MP
Paul Miller, MP
Senator David Braley
Michael Fenn
Ian Troop
Hon. David Peterson
Mark Cohon
Jamie Rilet

WOW!
Sounds Great To Me!

At least someone is still making an attempt, way to go Mr. Mitchell!
I partically like the last 2 paragraphs!
Hope we get a good turn out at Carmens on Thrusday night in support of the East Mountain!
Thanks again to Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Young and the Tiger-Cat organization for trying to do what is BEST for the Team and the CITY!!!

Pay close attention to the legal issues discussed in this letter..........the the Law Firm who did the research........very interesting and I hope Fred pays attention before he wastes more of the public's hard earned cash on a pipe-dream

I’ll be there

Something is wrong here.
Why has there been no word from the Chris Murray and the city administration, or even any councillor, about the need for an OMB hearing? Or Michael Fenn?
The immediate worry about the OMB hearing is not that they could support the site or turn thumbs down on it…it’s the time factor. It could take a year and a half to complete an OMB hearing.
OMB hearings go with re-zoning applications or changes to official plans and all it takes is one objection by someone who has been part of the process being appealed.

Phone your councillors and ask them who has been asleep at the wheel!

Of course there could very well be an appeal made to the OMB of any decision to use the EM site !
Drainage problems, hydro right of way, infringement on existing businesses. There could be other issues too.

Good letter, good PR move to point out that there are huge issues not related to the Ticats at Rheem. I doubt it will do anything but rile up the usual suspects but frankly their reaction isn't as important as it is to convince the less engaged that there are 2 sides to the story. Frankly the OMB issue should give everyone pause because the threat isn't coming from the Cats but from Herman Turkstra a local resident and very well respected lawyer

There is already an appeal filed with the OMB, and will be put forward, if the city council were to vote for the WH site. The appeal will use the city's own studies (ie Setting Sail, etc.) to show that the WH is not the ideal site.

Freddy says that his crack legal team is on top of this issue and there is no basis for this appeal. Will you just give up already.

Win or lose Turkstra is going ahead with it and its not likely to be an acceptable risk to HOSTCO

This from someone on RTH, not sure of the accuracy of this or validity:

I'm not sure what part of the Rheem site they think will be a problem, but everything except the recently acquired residential properties on the outskirts is zoned industrial. Hence the brownfields. Additionally, the city is on charge of zoning. The OMB would only be involved if either environmental or heritage issues. They couldn't give two shits about rezoning for the stadium.

Why was this letter made public?? What benefit does that serve?

I agree with that... while the City "publicly" appears to be scrambling to get people to believe in their West Habour vision... When there is this much at stake, being this public and basically showing your hand before the deadline may come back to bite the Ticats... Should be a very interesting 9 days...

With all the leaks at City Hall and the fact it was cc'ed to all City Councillors, does anyone really think this would not have been made public within 24 hours?

The Mitchell/TiCat letter simply spells out what has been floating around for weeks, namely the Turkstra OMB challenge and the reasons behind it.

The Mayor has apparently already claimed the City's crack legal team (cough) has examined and dismissed the mentioned concerns.

No doubt the City figures it can just change the zoning with little problem.

Reports during the week suggest an OMB hearing has never been "rushed" or bypassed so it's unlikely the City would receive special treatment by way of a quick hearing or no hearing due to PanAm deadlines.

We'll have to see how the Mayor and City tap dance around this development.

Holy cow, I had no idea there were so many problems with the proposed downtown stadium site! Lawsuits from the residents who are adamantly opposed to a stadium in the area...the stadium contravening the official community plan...the issues with rezoning...the unknown expense to the taxpayers of cleaning up the toxic waste, etc, etc. Can we really take a chance that all these problems can be resolved in time for the Pan-Am decision this month? The East Mountain seems like a much better site for the new stadium, plus the Ti-Cats are willing to invest $75 million there and run the stadium at no cost to the city. A win/win for all concerned! :thup:

If this letter was signed by Bob Young, it'd be much better received. I just hear a lot of hollow diplomacy out of a smug Scott Mitchell. Perhaps he should have chosen some of these words instead cracking off about 'never playing at the harbour '.

The letter does sound good -- and I do appreciate the sentiments. However, it still evaluates the site entirely based on the Ticats criteria. Again, I'd ask Scotty-boy how the Canadian Open yanks 50,000 per day into Glen Abbey. 4 days in a row (is it 4?) -- or nearly half a CFL season jammed into a weekend.

I just see through some of this as the same ideological stuff that many peg the WH supporters and Raise The Hammer bloggers. Again, I'd be more in support of something closer to downtown. But I just can't buy some of the arguments being made by the team.

Those who would like to view that letter in PDF form can view it here: http://www.900chml.com/Other/August3Letter.pdf

One section of it that I found was interesting was this one:

We have taken it upon ourselves to review the relevant planning documents upon which the City would rely to permit the siting of the Pan Am Stadium. We reviewed City planning documents back to 1995, when the notion of a stadium in the North End was specifically rejected after a great deal of public consultation. [b]You, yourself were a member of that Council[/b], as were Councillors Morelli, Jackson and Collins.
And I also agree with what Mitchell said here:
Fred, the stadium debate has been needlessly divisive. I hope that you would agree with me that it is time for the Tiger-Cats and the City to set aside our differences and begin the necessary work of building a sustainable legacy stadium on the East Mountain.

Of equal importance is the need for all of us to work together to realize the true potential of the West Harbour.

I want to assure you and Council that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will work with you on this vital City Building opportunity.


But here is another recent quote from Mitchell:
"What's frustrating is that even though we've offered up more than ten possible sites, agreed to the city's choice of a facilitator, accepted his compromise site – despite all of this, we still see no compromise whatsoever from the mayor's office,? he said. “It's continually about trying to force us to the west harbour, even though every piece of evidence suggests that it's a terrible place for stadium that doesn't work for the city or for us.
[url=http://scratchingpost.thespec.com/2010/08/morning-ticats-reading-with-a-little-cfl-too.html]http://scratchingpost.thespec.com/2010/ ... l-too.html[/url]

Well, I'm not sure how much more will need to be done by one side to convince the other to go with the location they said was a bad one.

The Canadian Open has done exactly what to re mediate Rheem ? I don't think the Canadian Open does any more or less than the Grey Cup does. It gets about the same numbers. The game may only be one day as opposed to 4 days but its the same number of visits to our area

IMHO the TigerCats did the right thing in the name of openness and transparency having this letter public with little time left. They hide this and pull it out at the last minute, that would look sleazy I think and underhanded. The last few days before the vote, I hope the TigerCats don't pull something like this out and neither should the city actually if they have knowledge of something at this time, now is the time but just under the gun I say.

kwikkyd: I am aware of the pending Turkstra appeal to the OMB re the WH site.
But I was suggesting there could also be an appeal re the East Mountain site if it is chosen. In other words, OMB hearings could be necessary no matter which site is chosen.