Jason Farr

Hello, Breezes readers. By now many of you have heard about the West Harbour Development Plans. We have been discussing the future developments for more than a decade and especially in the last few years since the work to create some 1500 new residential units on Pier 8, some with commercial ground floors, have begun and is still on track to be shovel ready in 2018.

In addition, we recently finished transforming the shoreline along your Discovery Drive; just a sample of things to come in the people-place transformation of Piers 5, 6 and 7. In all of the more formal discussions at our monthly West Harbour Engagement meetings, we have heard much about creating and maintaining  opportunities for affordable housing as well.
Opportunities in the North End and in the greater West Harbour boundary (Cannon/the bay/York Bridge/Wellington). For the most part, you will welcome approximately 4,000 new neighbours on Pier 8 when it is complete. Most of them will have the means to be purchasing some very coveted real estate. Of course, we know that not everyone in North End has the means to move down block to such a spot. We have some friends andneighbours who may have challenges financially, medically or with mental health. These are people you know and who you care about.

What about creating and maintaining housing for those North End Neighbours? Well, City Housing Hamilton has now officially announced that we will be fully restoring 500 MacNab. The old tower has seen much better days. It needs a 6 million dollar make-over and the board has committed to making that happen. Most units have been vacant for some time now and once the reno is through, we intend to refill 500 MacNab back up. We have even started looking into a seniors focus for the tower, but nothing official yet.

And Jamesville has also seen some movement. The City Housing town homes on the entire block beginning at Strachan and MacNab is worn and without a full complement of community. It has also been decided that it is time to convert these 5 acres into a medium density mixed income community. We are exploring options and partners as we speak. As I have shared with the tenants of both properties, they are our first priority. We have engaged a great deal over the last few years and we have heard what most, but not all, of them have said from day one – they want to stay put in your great neighbourhood and return to their respective
restored rentals. I committed to that and intend to honour that commitment.

But that’s us. That’s the City side of the commitment to preserve and maintain affordable housing opportunities in the North End. What about others interested in doing the same? There is one very notable (and now noticeable) example of North Enders helping North Enders playing out as we speak. Hughson Street Baptist Church has plans to make their own mark as they partner with the celebrated Housing provider Indwell in creating approximately 40 units of Housing with Supports for your friends and neighbours. At 500 James, they are currently pitching a four storey transformation that meets our Setting Sail Secondary Plan zoning, but more importantly, answers a growing call to create new opportunities and options for North Enders who need them.

They are heading to Planning Committee with this project that features an extremely environmentally sustainable build that is mostly over that often vacant surface asphalt lot. Once complete, the project would also feature on-site support workers. This is a proven care and independent housing model that has six ward 2 sites and has never impacted their neighbourhoods in a negative way. Ever.

With that, and completely understandably, I have heard from some in the area that they are concerned. So, I have, with assistance of City Staff, Reverend Dwayne Cline (Hughson Baptist) and Graham Cubbit (Indwell), responded to every concern. There was one resident’s correspondence that I believe would be most helpful in better understanding the project and the reasons for it. Please go to my web-site and review this correspondence (the name and address is not included). It is easy to follow and located right there on my home page. It features real questions from one resident and answers to each. I hope you will not only find this nformative, but that you will keep an open mind and kind heart and also appreciate that while we strive to transform the Piers and greater West Harbour area, we should also welcome, where applicable, affordable housing for our current friends and neighbours in need.

Until next time Breezes readers,