Zoning and Court Update from The Pearl Company

By Barbara Milne
Published August 13, 2013

I am so baffled. It is a good thing that the demands of The Pearl Company and vicinity keep Gary and I so busy. It helps distract our minds from the fact that our zoning issues continue to be unresolved seven years on.

Our case, which came to by-law court last summer, was heard by a justice of the peace, Justice Casey, of the Provincial Court of Ontario. The judgment was very clearly in our favour and can be read in its entirety at the bottom of this RTH article.

Here's the summary:

  1. The Pearl is doing exactly what the city wants arts endeavours to do and in an area in which they want them to do it.

  2. Any citizen buying a building that is taxed commercially has a right to maintain a commercial business in that building.

  3. The New Official Plan (not yet in place, but coming) gives The Pearl the zoning that it requires.

  4. The City presented no evidence to contradict the case that was put forward by The Pearl Co.; in fact, they presented no evidence at all.

Because she would be ruling in an area that would be precedent-setting, Justice Casey preferred to remand her judgment for a year in order to give the city time to fix the situation. We waited, expecting to be approached with a solution. Nothing. A year later, nothing.

Now that the year is up, we return to court this coming Wednesday, August 14. What will Justice Casey do? What must she think about the inaction of an entire city council and its bureaucracy? How is she to resolve it? Does she stand by her ruling? Or might she feel she has to pass it off to another court?

We will be at the Sopinka Courthouse Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 at 1:30 PM. If you are in the area and can't stand the suspense, please come by. A show of support would be lovely.

You will hear me screaming - with joy or with horror - when the gavel falls. After seven years I think my biggest question is: How much has this cost? Cost the taxpayers of Hamilton? Cost me? Cost Gary? How much will it continue to cost?

Maybe we shouldn't go there.

Barbara Milne is co-owner, with Gary Santucci, of The Pearl Company.


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By Today (anonymous) | Posted August 13, 2013 at 20:04:10

Best of luck Barbara, the times myself and my wife have been to the Pearl Company, a real treasure, we have enjoyed ourselves immensely and am grateful that you and Gary took a chance to do this, in a part of Hamilton that many have written off as not worth it, years ago.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2013 at 08:02:34

I feel for your situation, but placing a bet seven years before a New Official Plan is "not yet in place, but coming" does, by the nature of the gambit, introduce an element of the unknown. Some would call it "creative risk".

The City's implementation discipline is famously elastic. You could call it circuitous but even that suggests an orderly design that does not exist.

As well, as longtime Hamiltonians I imagine you are both well aware that bureaucratically, one hand never knows what the other hand is doing -- may not even be aware that there *is* another hand.

In short, I wish this story were more astonishing, but I know this dynamic is commonplace and has been for generations.

Best of luck this afternoon -- and over the next seven years, whatever they bring.

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By Joanna (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2013 at 14:48:31

Good luck to Barbara and Gary. Hoping for closure of this issue and a win for The Pearl Company. I only recently discovered your venue and have felt welcomed and enjoyed my fair share of events. Special thanks for being a family friendly venue where I can take my son to experience cultural exhibits, theatre and music.
What a great place to have in Ward 3. A definate asset within our community. Our family sends our thanks and best wishes.

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By Scout (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2013 at 23:21:04

Keep the faith, The pearl is a pearl in the culture of Hamilton. It is worth the 1 hour drive. When I think of the amount of money I have spent in Hamilton (50-75 dollars per visit) due to the Pearl venue it is hard to understand the delay.

Woodstock, Ont. fan

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