Hamilton committee chooses parking lots over affordable housing in Stoney Creek


Published February 21, 2024 at 5:53 pm

Stoney Creek

At stake is two city-owned parking lots comprising just over an acre in Stoney Creek. What to do with them sparked a lengthy and somewhat testy debate at Hamilton’s General Issues Committee Wednesday, with the vote to sell off the lots to make way for affordable housing losing by an 8-8 tie vote.

The two lots at 5 and 13 Lake Ave. S. were on a list compiled by staff as surplus to the City’s needs and recommended for affordable housing projects, with the Stoney Creek parking lots set aside for two housing projects with a total of 67 units.

The community, however, was not in favour of the idea and gathered 1,318 signatures to oppose the plan to convert the “important and well-utilized” parking lots into housing.

The Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce cited the lack of consultation and the community impact the proposal would mean in its opposition to the elimination of the parking spaces.

“We are not opposed to meeting the needs of the housing crisis, nor is this a case of NIMBY,” the Chamber said in a letter to Council. “We are concerned the Stoney Creek sites have been selected in haste.”

“I am all for affordable housing and helping the ones who need help. This site location makes no sense,” added John Vanderbaaren, one of the petition supporters. “There is lots of vacant city land elsewhere.”


Ward 5 Councillor Matt Francis led the ‘no’ vote, saying it was “inappropriate” to put housing on the site and that Council needed to listen to the local residents, a sentiment also shared by several councillors who insisted issues in Stoney Creek are not the same as in central Hamilton.

“It’s unfortunate this conversation has degenerated into this weird plebiscite into our commitment to affordable housing,” said Ward 10 Councillor Jeff Beattie. “We have an excess of parking around the city. But in Stoney Creek we really don’t.”

Ward 2 Councillor Cameron Kroetsch said the debate “isn’t about the actual development” but about the need for affordable housing, adding that surface parking lots are “killing the downtown” because of the need for greater density. “We never declared a parking crisis; we declared a housing crisis.”

“If we can’t do it with the most low-hanging fruit of a surface parking lot, where’s our commitment to affordable housing?”

Ward 15 Councillor Ted McKeekin, who chaired the meeting and voted against declaring the parking lots surplus, said Council should be able to take care of both housing and parking priorities with “a little imagination.”

The vote still needs to be ratified at council next week, but Graham Crawford, a council watchdog and host of the Graham Crawford Show podcast, called it a “sad and troubled day” in Hamilton.

“Keeping free parking in downtown Stoney Creek won over building more affordable housing on City-owned parking lots,” he said. “What an appalling display of civic values. Free parking over affordable housing. Shame on each of you.”

Voting against removal of the parking spaces were McMeekin, Beattie, Francis, Esther Pauls, Mike Spadafora, Tom Jackson, Mark Tadeson and Brad Clark.

In favour were Kroetsch, Nrinder Nann, Maureen Wilson, Alex Wilson, Tammy Hwang, John-Paul Danko, Craig Cassar and Mayor Andrea Horwath.

In all, six properties in Hamilton deemed surplus are on the list to be turned into 150 affordable housing units to help ease the housing crunch.

The other properties are located at 171 Main St. E. and 9 Clarence Street in downtown Hamilton, 70 Hope Avenue in Hamilton East and 1126 Garth Street in West Mountain.

According to the staff report, 5 Lake Avenue could accommodate a three-storey building with a footprint of approximately 4,736 sq. ft., with 24 studio apartments and eight parking spaces, while 13 Lake Avenue could host a five-storey, 6,351 sq. ft. building yielding 43 one-bedroom units and 22 parking spaces.

The vote still needs to be ratified at council next week.


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