Roban: Corporation ‘had access to’ City plan before release
The Government has refuted a claim that the City of Hamilton was in the dark about a recently released draft of the City of Hamilton Plan.
Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said last night that the City was kept up to date with the process since before pen was put to paper on the draft and was provided “with access” to the plan a week before its public release.
Mr Roban said: “I am incredibly disappointed that the Corporation of Hamilton opted to share grievances publicly instead of picking up the telephone or sending an e-mail, especially as the Department of Planning team went to great lengths to keep them involved in the process.
“Planning communicated consistently and made them aware that they were open to dialogue, to contact them with any questions and that they were happy to meet.”
Mr Roban said the City’s statement was “unfortunate on many levels” and did not appreciate the reach and influence of planning policy.
“To suggest that declining retail sales and pandemic recovery are not ‘planning matters’ is alarming,” he said. “Planning can heavily influence both issues through appropriately shaped planning policy.
"It is curious that the Corporation expressed no desire to participate in the North East Hamilton Plan press conference and had no issues, despite Planning using the same process.
“But now, concerning the city centre, considered by many to be the centre of economic activity, they have expressed their displeasure for not participating in the press conference."
Last Friday, the Ministry released a draft City of Hamilton Plan 2023 for public consultation.
A spokeswoman for the City earlier this week said the City commended the consultative approach taken with the plan, but added: “With previous plans, the City would normally have received the document before going to the public. That did not happen in 2023.
“It is disappointing that no officers of the City were invited to the press conference on Friday.
“The Government felt the need to ‘rent’ Fort Hamilton to make the announcement, when, together, the City and the Government could have delivered it as a show of collaboration. A missed opportunity.”
In response, a Ministry spokesman said that the Department met with the City on November 9, 2021 to discuss the process of creating a new plan for the city and “broad policy concepts” being considered.
“Both parties also expressed the desire to maintain good, effective working relations through the process, building on the success of preparing the North East Hamilton Plan,” the spokesman said.
“To facilitate this effort, the CoH assigned a representative to provide Planning with some of the research data required to write the new plan.
“Over the next six to seven months, Planning maintained regular contact with the CoH's representative. Not only to obtain data but also to consult on several policy topics.
“Planning had a subsequent meeting with the CoH on June 16, 2022, when they presented the key issues addressed within the plan. In this meeting, the CoH was advised that the plan's release was imminent, and, although subsequently delayed, they did not ask to view the plan.”
Further meetings between the City and Department staff took place in November and December 2022, at which time they were told the plan had received Cabinet approval.
The spokesman said on January 11 the Department was provided access to the plan and told it would be released publicly on January 19.
The release delayed by a day to January 20, but the spokesman said the City was also notified of the change.
“On the morning of the release, Planning sent an e-mail requesting a meeting to obtain feedback on the new plan, and the CoH acknowledged receipt,” the spokesman added. “On January 24, the CoH e-mailed to arrange an appointment.
“In liaising with the CoH, the Department followed the same broad process when preparing the North East Hamilton Plan and received no request for a copy of the Plan before its release, no request for involvement in the press conference, and no negative feedback.
“Given the Corporation was aware of the plan's release date on January 11, they had ample time to express their desire to participate in the press conference and would have easily been accommodated.”
The City of Hamilton had not responded to a request for comment as of press time tonight.