Until the city's reaction to new investments is 'how can we help and make this work', Hamilton will continue to lose opportunities to those communities with a more positive engaging approach.
By Roland Dube
Published October 01, 2010
The Pearl Company situation is indicative of the overall attitude that resonates through almost every crevice of the political and bureaucratic process in The City Of Hamilton.
My Anecdotal example in trying to open Rolly Rocket's BBQ is different but equally ridiculous.
We had no zoning issues. We were opening a restaurant/bar in a location that was a restaurant/tavern/hotel/bar for 150 years! We followed the process as laid out by all City officials involved.
We went above and beyond what should have been required by hiring and engaging professionals who were familiar with the process of trying to open a business in Hamilton - two lawyers, an architect, an engineer, a licensing Consultant, and various licensed contractors.
We canvassed the neighbourhood, held open houses, creating a completely transparent application which was not reciprocated by the City.
We kept a completely open dialogue with the City, only to have our project opposed anyway. We only found out about the opposition by an internal source within the licensing agency (all the while we were in constant communication with those who triggered the opposition and yet they gave us NO indication there was an issue).
There was no basis for the opposition. It was simply used as leverage to attempt to have us change our project to suit the personal agendas of those who have no appreciation or comprehension for the sacrifice, effort and commitment that was being made to invest in this project.
We have every confidence the City would have failed completely should their opposition had reached the hearing stage. The city representatives were anticipating the time and added cost would be enough for us to bend to their whims.
It wasn't until City representatives realized the community was backing our project and they had more to lose than gain by upholding their frivolous opposition, finally they lamented - but not until we had incurred significant cost and loses with a delayed opening.
Miraculously, once the realization of the communities position on the matter came to light, enough could not have been done for us to help the process along. The only problem is that the damage was done. Although we appreciated the new change in attitude and new found co-operation, it leaves a very bitter taste that it had to happen the way it did in the first place.
The bottom line is that the City of Hamilton needs to do more than pay lip service and not just "say" they are making changes. They need to actually change the systemic negative "You Can't Do That" attitude and indoctrinate a "How can we" attitude.
The City's initial reaction to every project should be how can we help and make this work. Until this is a reality, we will continue to lose opportunities to those communities with a positive engaging approach.
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