Details on chaotic tiny shelters forum revealed as Hamilton launches safety review

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Published September 27, 2023 at 5:38 pm

tiny shelters tiny cabins HATS meeting homeless homelessness Hamilton
COURTESY OF JOEY COLEMAN VIA X

The City of Hamilton says it is reviewing its safety procedures for public consultation meetings after “physically aggressive behaviour” towards one of its security staff and “verbal abuse” against some attendees during an open house on tiny shelters earlier this month.

Police had said at the time that it was investigating two alleged assaults during the meeting and have not provided updates.

“The City Manager’s Office will lead the review that will include a specific focus on safety plans and public safety precautions to ensure the safety of meeting participants and attendees,” the City wrote in a recent press release. “This review is necessary to ensure public dialogue on important issues can take place in a safe and respectful environment.”

It said the review is expected to be done by the end of this year.

The City revealed more details on what happened during the Sept. 11 public open house at the Bennetto Community Centre about a controversial tiny home pilot project. Some residents and labour union LiUNA voiced their concerns about the selected site for the project and the lack of public consultation. Council approved the project and its North End location along with the revised encampment protocol on Aug. 18. 

The Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS), which is leading the project, was supposed to host the first half of the meeting to inform the public about the concept of heated tiny cabins at the North End neighbourhood, the City said in a recent press release. For the second half of the meeting, the public would’ve had the chance to ask City officials questions about the project and efforts to address homelessness.

However, about 20 minutes after the meeting got underway, City staff cancelled it because “verbal abuse against other meeting attendees was witnessed, and a member of the City of Hamilton’s security staff was the recipient of physically aggressive behaviour.”

Consequently, City staff advised Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath and Ward 2 Councillor Cameron Kroetsch not to attend the meeting, according to the City.

A planned Ward 2 community meeting on Sept. 14 was changed to a virtual format from in person because the City’s security staff conducted a security review and flagged “safety concerns.”

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