Hamilton mayor ‘extremely disappointed’ committee chose parking lots over housing


Published February 22, 2024 at 10:10 am

Andrea Horwath

Last night, Hamilton’s general issues committee decided it would rather preserve two parking lots in Stoney Creek than build affordable housing on the property. This decision has left Mayor Andrea Horwath and housing advocates “extremely disappointed.”

Two lots at 5 and 13 Lake Ave. S had been marked by city planning staff as a surplus to Hamilton’s parking needs. As such, the city proposed the development of two affordable housing projects on site, which would feature 67 units. A total of six such properties have been flagged, enough for 150 affordable units.

Though the experts working for the city flagged the site as an ideal spot for housing, some in the area were unconvinced. More than 1,300 area residents signed a petition to preserve the “important and well-utilized” lots.

The local Chamber of Commerce defended the opposition to the plan as not a case of NIMBYism but argued the site had been selected in haste without enough consultation from locals. Others claimed the location “made no sense” as vacant land is elsewhere.

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?”

Of the 16-member committee, the following voted against the development: Ted McMeekin, Jeff Beattie, Matt Francis, Esther Pauls, Mike Spadafora, Tom Jackson, Mark Tadeson and Brad Clark. Kroetsch, Nrinder Nann, Maureen Wilson, Alex Wilson, Tammy Hwang, John-Paul Danko, Craig Cassar and Mayor Andrea Horwath voted for the development.

Reactions to the decision were swift, with Horwath putting out a statement following the meeting.

“I am extremely disappointed in Committee’s decision to put parking lots before desperately needed affordable housing,” she wrote.

“To be clear, the use of municipal lands for affordable housing is a key part of our Housing Sustainability Roadmap and we must, as a council, be doing everything we can to get people housed as quickly as possible,” she continued.

Cassar echoed these concerns, saying, “This is a tragic lost opportunity to enable affordable housing on two City parking lots in Stoney Creek. Human lives trump parking convenience.”

Council unanimously declared a housing and homelessness crisis in April and pledged to build more homes in the city. The Ontario Government has also set housing construction goals for Hamilton. As of Ontario’s last report, the city is at 80 percent of that goal, putting them “on track.”

The Lake Ave. decision must still be ratified at the full council meeting next week.

–With files from Glenn Hendry

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