Non-profit behind tiny shelters project pushes forward with controversial plan in Hamilton
Published September 18, 2023 at 1:51 pm
A non-profit leading the controversial tiny shelters project for Hamilton’s homeless says the fierce backlash isn’t stopping plans to get the project up and running by December.
Tom Cooper, treasurer of Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS), said the non-profit is aiming to get up to 25 small, heated cabins ready by winter at Strachan Avenue linear park. To avoid delays, HATS is not considering a new site right now despite the aggressive behaviour that prompted the City to cancel the public consultation meeting last week about HATS’ tiny shelters project in the North End neighbourhood, he said.
“We’re continuing to do our due diligence for the month of September examining the infrastructure requirements on the site, looking at our funding and fundraising and ensuring the site can accommodate what will obviously be significant security concerns for potential tiny cabin residents and staff,” said Cooper, in an email to inthehammer.com. “Our plans are to continue working towards a December start-up.”
Cooper said he supports the City’s decision to cancel the public consultation meeting about HATS’ tiny shelters project on Sept. 11 because of “significant safety issues” and “verbal abuse” including two alleged assaults police are investigating. The planned location near residences in the North End had sparked backlash and safety concerns, with residents and critics saying the public was not consulted about the site before it was selected for the pilot.
“While the vast majority of people attending were interested in engaging with their elected officials, asking questions and finding out more about the plans for the tiny home community, a small number of individuals had no interest in civil engagement,” he said. “They used aggressive, bullying (behaviour) to try to throw the session into chaos.”
He said he witnessed “loud, aggressive” behaviour in the gym when somebody starting screaming at an individual he thought was homeless, but actually was not. He said he heard the “violent activity” took place at the entrance of the facility.
Ian Fox, an elementary school teacher from the neighbourhood, said he believes the troublemakers were “mad that they couldn’t get into the gym.”
“Security was pulling the door closed trying to keep them out,” he said in an email to inthehammer.com. “Another gentleman was screaming about his Charter of Rights being violated … They also yelled about not being able to vote on something.”
He said no microphone was on site to tell the crowd it was done. “It was so disrespectful of the city and our elected representatives to ignore the crowd who was peacefully waiting,” he said. “They’re trying to demonize the group based on a very small group.”
In response, the City had released the following statement: “I can tell you that the City will be doing a full review of the meeting and what transpired to better understand what happened, how it happened, and to avoid similar issues in the future. …
The City supports community dialogue that occurs in a way that is safe and respectful and will not tolerate any abusive or (intimidating) behaviour.”insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising