Waterfront Trust reports ‘transformative year’ toward increased transparency in Hamilton


Published November 21, 2023 at 3:09 pm

Hamilton Waterfront Trust
Hamilton Waterfront Trust

The Hamilton Waterfront Trust, an organization meant to make the lakeshore more accessible and enjoyable for residents, has reported a “transformative year” towards increased transparency and viability.

This year the trust gained a new board of five new members from city council including Cameron Kroetsch (Ward 2), who penned an open letter about the changes, Tammy Hwang (Ward 4), Mike Spadafora (Ward 14), Alex Wilson (Ward 13) and Maureen Wilson (Ward 1). They also gained a new Executive Director in Christian Wiley, who joined in May.

Since then, Wiley pushed to make the organization viable and to increase its overall transparency. “Our waterfront belongs to all of us and it’s our mission to make it possible for everyone
to use and enjoy it. As a new board we are prioritizing transparency and financial sustainability to make this happen,” Kroetsch said.

Part of this work involved reorganizing and retraining the Williams Fresh Cafe franchise staff. This put more experienced workers on schedule for busy weekend periods. These changes have saved the trust $50,000 this year so far.

The trust also updated its offices, switched to more modern information systems, upgraded its phones and is in the process of moving to cheaper office spaces. They’ve also announced the closure of the waterfront Grill as “it was not performing well and was providing an overlap” with the Williams Fresh Cafe.

While the trust had operated the Williams Cafe directly, they returned it to the corporate office for them to run directly. “As a result, we will be terminating our lease of the building with the City. This will not see any interruptions to service, as Williams will be taken over by its corporate head office and will find a new franchisee,” Kroetsch wrote.

Another major change Kroetsch noted was the public release of the trust’s finances. In October last year, the trust was deep in the red with a negative balance of $135,000. This grew to $180,000 by the year’s end. However, the new changes have brought the trust back to an expected balanced budget by the end of 2023.

“For an organization that has been mired in financial controversy, balance sheets in the red, and opaque practices, for many years, this is an important moment to highlight and to celebrate,” Kroetsch said.

The trust is set to focus on a few priorities moving forward including;

  • programming waterfront spaces
  • upgrading trolleys to be more efficient and sustainable, and
  • partnering with local organizations and community groups

“It’s likely going to be a difficult time for our staff and will create uncertainty for those who enjoy our programming but we’re committed to continuing to provide an excellent experience for those who love our waterfront,” he concluded.

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