The Spectator reports in a breaking news story that the Ontario Government has rejected all six projects that Hamilton submitted to the Ontario Affordable Housing Program Extension to convert into affordable housing - including the controversial Royal Connaught proposal.
The proposal, which Council approved in an in camera session on September 16, 2009 after deferring the decision in light of issues raised by Councillor Bob Bratina, was mired in controversy over: whether converting an iconic downtown landmark into affordable housing supports downtown revitalization; whether city staff had followed the RFP process properly in recommending the Connaught project; questionable procedural advice concerning whether Council was allowed to submit its projects together or piecemeal; last-minute revelations of the developer's significant property tax arrears (and related mini-controversy when the developers promised to pay their outstanding property tax - if Council approved the project); and the questionable economics of the public subsidy itself.
Many local advocates, including Raise the Hammer, recommended petitioning the provincial government to reject the proposal. However, it was widely considered unlikely that the province would interfere with local decision-making in terms of which projects to put forward.
It will be interesting to learn why the province rejected Hamilton's submitted projects. In all, the Ontario government approved 16 projects across the province for $141 million in funding to create 1,200 affordable housing units.
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