This little piggy...

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

It looks like the pig manure will hit the fan when Hamilton politicians hold a special Committee of the Whole meeting within two weeks to debate the proposed sale of 50 acres of North Glanbrook Industrial Park prime property to Maple Leaf Foods.

Over the last week or so, there has been some trepidation among city staff and politicians over how to approach what has become a volatile issue. Where should it be debated? At a planning committee meeting, chaired by Hamilton Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead, or the Committee of the Whole, where all councillors will have the opportunity to slop around in the political muck? And how to include the public in the debate? Hamilton Mountain and Glanbrook residents have demanded their voices be heard.

Even though politicians will be debating a land sale deal behind closed doors at the COW meeting, city staff and councillors understand if they wall off the public from what is happening, they will be roasted alive. Politicians and staff have learned - thanks to the aerotropolis experience - what not to do when confronted with angry residents.

This time, politicians believe allowing residents the unique opportunity to speak at a COW meeting will protect their behinds, even if it creates more sound and fury.

One of the problems for residents will be what they have to say about Maple Leaf Foods coming to Hamilton. They have little influence on any land deal the city makes. The real planning decision that residents should be aware of is when politicians consider when (or if, according to Maple Leaf Foods officials) the company applies to have the property rezoned to allow for the operation of a slaughterhouse.

Whitehead suggests holding three public meetings on the issue. One would be at city hall, another in Glanbrook, and still another at Michelangelo's Banquet Hall. Whitehead further suggests, a "cooling-off period" after the public meetings are finished so councillors can "absorb" what people have told them.

Even though Whitehead has stated he welcomes Maple Leaf Foods to the community, he wants to make sure the city is receiving value when it sells the land to the company. "The land deal will only be conditional," he promises. Actually, some councillors are suggesting the land deal and any rezoning amendment agreed to by the city will have so many conditions attached, it will be like the Donald Trump's pre-nuptial agreement. And in a unique situation for Hamilton, it has the clout to do it.

Even though Mayor Larry Di Ianni refused to link this week's announcement to spend $35 million to service the North Glanbrook Industrial Park with the Maple Leaf Foods proposal, the funding and promises of infrastructure have now backed Maple Leaf Foods into a corner. Despite officials' claims they have not decided to locate to the industrial park, the company's options are extremely limited in what it can receive from the city.

The whole scenario has Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson grinning like a Cheshire Cat. The announcement has validated his decision not to support Maple Leaf Foods at the Mountain location. Why, he says, support a land sale to a food processing company, when other, possibly "better" companies will be beating down Hamilton's door to locate in Glanbrook? "It just proves my point," he says.

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757 ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com

This little piggy...

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

It looks like the pig manure will hit the fan when Hamilton politicians hold a special Committee of the Whole meeting within two weeks to debate the proposed sale of 50 acres of North Glanbrook Industrial Park prime property to Maple Leaf Foods.

Over the last week or so, there has been some trepidation among city staff and politicians over how to approach what has become a volatile issue. Where should it be debated? At a planning committee meeting, chaired by Hamilton Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead, or the Committee of the Whole, where all councillors will have the opportunity to slop around in the political muck? And how to include the public in the debate? Hamilton Mountain and Glanbrook residents have demanded their voices be heard.

Even though politicians will be debating a land sale deal behind closed doors at the COW meeting, city staff and councillors understand if they wall off the public from what is happening, they will be roasted alive. Politicians and staff have learned - thanks to the aerotropolis experience - what not to do when confronted with angry residents.

This time, politicians believe allowing residents the unique opportunity to speak at a COW meeting will protect their behinds, even if it creates more sound and fury.

One of the problems for residents will be what they have to say about Maple Leaf Foods coming to Hamilton. They have little influence on any land deal the city makes. The real planning decision that residents should be aware of is when politicians consider when (or if, according to Maple Leaf Foods officials) the company applies to have the property rezoned to allow for the operation of a slaughterhouse.

Whitehead suggests holding three public meetings on the issue. One would be at city hall, another in Glanbrook, and still another at Michelangelo's Banquet Hall. Whitehead further suggests, a "cooling-off period" after the public meetings are finished so councillors can "absorb" what people have told them.

Even though Whitehead has stated he welcomes Maple Leaf Foods to the community, he wants to make sure the city is receiving value when it sells the land to the company. "The land deal will only be conditional," he promises. Actually, some councillors are suggesting the land deal and any rezoning amendment agreed to by the city will have so many conditions attached, it will be like the Donald Trump's pre-nuptial agreement. And in a unique situation for Hamilton, it has the clout to do it.

Even though Mayor Larry Di Ianni refused to link this week's announcement to spend $35 million to service the North Glanbrook Industrial Park with the Maple Leaf Foods proposal, the funding and promises of infrastructure have now backed Maple Leaf Foods into a corner. Despite officials' claims they have not decided to locate to the industrial park, the company's options are extremely limited in what it can receive from the city.

The whole scenario has Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson grinning like a Cheshire Cat. The announcement has validated his decision not to support Maple Leaf Foods at the Mountain location. Why, he says, support a land sale to a food processing company, when other, possibly "better" companies will be beating down Hamilton's door to locate in Glanbrook? "It just proves my point," he says.

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757 ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com

This little piggy...

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

It looks like the pig manure will hit the fan when Hamilton politicians hold a special Committee of the Whole meeting within two weeks to debate the proposed sale of 50 acres of North Glanbrook Industrial Park prime property to Maple Leaf Foods.

Over the last week or so, there has been some trepidation among city staff and politicians over how to approach what has become a volatile issue. Where should it be debated? At a planning committee meeting, chaired by Hamilton Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead, or the Committee of the Whole, where all councillors will have the opportunity to slop around in the political muck? And how to include the public in the debate? Hamilton Mountain and Glanbrook residents have demanded their voices be heard.

Even though politicians will be debating a land sale deal behind closed doors at the COW meeting, city staff and councillors understand if they wall off the public from what is happening, they will be roasted alive. Politicians and staff have learned - thanks to the aerotropolis experience - what not to do when confronted with angry residents.

This time, politicians believe allowing residents the unique opportunity to speak at a COW meeting will protect their behinds, even if it creates more sound and fury.

One of the problems for residents will be what they have to say about Maple Leaf Foods coming to Hamilton. They have little influence on any land deal the city makes. The real planning decision that residents should be aware of is when politicians consider when (or if, according to Maple Leaf Foods officials) the company applies to have the property rezoned to allow for the operation of a slaughterhouse.

Whitehead suggests holding three public meetings on the issue. One would be at city hall, another in Glanbrook, and still another at Michelangelo's Banquet Hall. Whitehead further suggests, a "cooling-off period" after the public meetings are finished so councillors can "absorb" what people have told them.

Even though Whitehead has stated he welcomes Maple Leaf Foods to the community, he wants to make sure the city is receiving value when it sells the land to the company. "The land deal will only be conditional," he promises. Actually, some councillors are suggesting the land deal and any rezoning amendment agreed to by the city will have so many conditions attached, it will be like the Donald Trump's pre-nuptial agreement. And in a unique situation for Hamilton, it has the clout to do it.

Even though Mayor Larry Di Ianni refused to link this week's announcement to spend $35 million to service the North Glanbrook Industrial Park with the Maple Leaf Foods proposal, the funding and promises of infrastructure have now backed Maple Leaf Foods into a corner. Despite officials' claims they have not decided to locate to the industrial park, the company's options are extremely limited in what it can receive from the city.

The whole scenario has Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson grinning like a Cheshire Cat. The announcement has validated his decision not to support Maple Leaf Foods at the Mountain location. Why, he says, support a land sale to a food processing company, when other, possibly "better" companies will be beating down Hamilton's door to locate in Glanbrook? "It just proves my point," he says.

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757 ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com