An Open Letter to Hamilton City Council re: School Board Swing Space #HamOnt

Hello Mr. Mayor, Councillors,

I’m writing you to urge you not to approve a swing space for the School Board on Monday.

I find it very unfortunate that the project McMaster is proposing does not make any consideration for saving the current building at 100 Main Street West. The building is structurally sound, and could be feasibly renovated for modern uses for approximately $10 Million dollars or less. I believe council should be asking the Minister of Education to approve a partnership between Mac and the School Board, to sever the property and let McMaster build on the lot to the North, facing King, adapting the building into the development. We have $47 Million in tax dollars that are making this plan possible. In truth, council should be driving this development, and ensuring that the development is an entirely positive one.

You know as well as I do that there are other options. We don’t need to lose two buildings and 9 acres of green space, or to facilitate a plan that would see hundreds of cars and trucks in a residential neighbourhood. I feel that if Council approves the swing space on Monday, it simply gives a bailout to the School Board and the Ministry for their lack of creativity and diligence in this entire process.

I’ll be clear on one point: I want to see McMaster have a presence in our core, and I think their development would be a good addition to the downtown. But that shouldn’t mean we need to settle for less, or to destroy a building that could be feasibly incorporated.

My frustration is shared by many- this plan was developed without full public input, and negotiated behind closed doors. Trustees have been silent, merely responding to concerns with form letters that do not address any of the concerns the public is raising. This simply adds to the feeling that our institutions make decisions in advance of consulting with the public, and when the feedback they receive is counter to what has already been decided, the input is simply ignored. That more than anything is what feeds a public perception that institutions do not properly represent the public.

Please do the right thing and vote down the swing space. Put this ball back in the HWDSB’s court, where it belongs. Do not reward a bad process by enabling a bad plan.

Thank you,

Matt Jelly

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