Hamilton lawyer calling for investigation into selection of Committee of Adjustment members

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Published December 12, 2023 at 4:13 pm

Hamilton City Hall
Hamilton City Hall

A Hamilton lawyer is asking the City’s Integrity Commissioner to investigate the makeup of the not-yet named Committee of Adjustment after none of the nine current members were considered for re-appointment.

Douglas Burns of Burns Associates in Jackson Square, who has been practicing law in the city since 1974, said it was “remarkable” that none of the existing members of the committee – which is supposed to be an impartial judge dealing with variances and other alterations to development proposals – were interviewed for the committee.

Burns said he was aware there were calls for changes to the committee after the last election because “somehow new blood might be productive and beneficial” to the process.

Development applications in Hamilton

With 19 would-be committee members submitting filing nominations for the nine spots the cut-off was extended by a month, drawing another five applicants. “Surprisingly,” Burns said in his correspondence to Council, “none of the current committee members, some of whom possessed over 30 years of experience, were included in this applicant pool.”

“It’s quite noteworthy that none of the current Committee of Adjustment members, who possess the requisite qualifications and expertise, were chosen for another term or even considered for the new Committee.”

Burns’ request to have the matter sent to the Integrity Commissioner for an investigation will be considered at Wednesday’s meeting.

“It seems to me that excluding applicants simply on the basis that they had possibly already served and been educated, with respect to decorum, integrity, and ability, simply does not seem reasonable,” Burns said in his letter. “Perhaps a fair solution would be to form a new selection committee, one that is free and un-biased and that will consider and interview qualified past members.”

The Committee of Adjustment’s actions have come into question on occasion. In 2021, on the subject of mandated vaccines, committee member Mark Dudzic, a real estate lawyer, told his colleagues that “if anyone is interested, I’m getting a list of the six top litigators in the province. If you want to consult about refusing to take (a vaccine) when being mandated at the threat of your job, just give me a shout.”

Background information of local boards and committees found at https://www.hamilton.ca/sites/default/files/2023-06/Procedural-Handbook-for-Citizen-Appointees-to-City-of-Hamilton-Local-Boards.pdf note that advisory committee members are recruited based on their “understanding of and expertise around” the advisory committee’s mandate and “willingness to volunteer their time.”

Acting City Clerk Jane Pilon would only say the selection committee is “progressing through the selection process” and will make recommendations for appointments for “Council’s consideration” when that selection process has been completed.

Hamilton Committee of Adjustment

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