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City Hall remains silent on waterfront development questions

The City of Hamilton spent the “bulk” of its time last year working on the waterfront redevelopment project, according to its annual review.

But the City refuses to say whether a resolution approving the lease of waterfront property exists.

Nor has it responded to other questions and allegations that only a select few members have full access to information about the controversial deal.

In the organisation’s newsletter, ‘The citizen’, Mayor Graeme Outerbridge notes in his year in review that “the development of the Hamilton waterfront has taken the bulk of our time” and promises to engage in public consultation after the department of Planning has completed its review of the project.

Mr Outerbridge makes no mention of the Corporation’s refusal to provide key documents to the Government.

But the newsletter states in its waterfront project update: “We will partner with Government on all aspects of this project.”

In April, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy reported that City Hall had yet to deliver “crucial documents” on the waterfront project. It is understood the lease of the property — secretly signed some months ago — is among those documents, but the City has steadfastly refused to comment when asked for an explanation.

Last week a Government spokesman confirmed the documents had still not been received.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs continues to await the delivery of the documentation from the Corporation of Hamilton so that the Government can conduct the required due diligence,” the spokesman said.

City Hall has also refused to explain why one councillor, Keith Davis, was allowed to take the lease document off premises while another, Larry Scott, had his access to the document restricted.

The Royal Gazette also asked the Mayor whether the City’s professional staff and managers were consulted on the waterfront project — and received no response.

There is no mention of any resolutions passed on the waterfront project in publicly available minutes of City Hall meetings, but not all meetings are open to the public.

Ombudsman Arlene Brock has launched an own motion systemic investigation into City Hall operations.

In announcing the investigation in March, Ms Brock said her decision to investigate City Hall came about because of concerns about governance, lack of transparency and lack of public consultation particularly around the waterfront project.

And last month, Sen Fahy launched consultation on reforming the Municipalities Act, which governs the Corporation of Hamilton and St George's, saying he wanted it amended during the summer session of Parliament.

Government’s preferred option for reform is a framework which restores some form of business vote and gives final approval of property purchases or developments worth more than $1 million to the Minister.

Since then councillor Larry Scott has come out in support of the Minister’s reform efforts and revealed that he reported concerns about City Hall to the Ombudsman’s investigation.

In the Corporation of Hamilton newsletter ‘The citizen’, Mayor Graeme Outerbridge says City Hall spent the bulk of last year working on the waterfront redevelopment project.

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Published June 18, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 18, 2013 at 12:04 am)

City Hall remains silent on waterfront development questions

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