After the cancellation of a community meeting on the building of tiny homes for those experiencing homelessness in central Hamilton, Ont,. city staff say they’ll be initiating a review of safety procedures for future public consultations.
The city manager’s office is set to lead the review and insists there’s a need for it after the Sept. 11 event at the Bennetto Community Centre was deemed unsafe for city staff amid a verbal argument and the shoving of a security guard.
The meeting was to begin as an open house hosted by the Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS) where members of the public would have the opportunity to learn about the tiny homes concept.
It was then to be followed by a Q and A with city officials.
Mayor Andrea Horwath and Ward 2 Coun. Cameron Kroetsch were among the city politicians set to attend but backed out as per the recommendations from city staff.
The meeting did draw hundreds, with many complaining about an alleged lack of consultation before council’s green-lighting of the construction of up to 25 small cabins with social supports on Strachan Street West, between James and Hughson Street North.
Tom Cooper of Hamilton’s Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, an agency spearheading the HATS project in Ward 2, said doors opened as scheduled on the night in question despite a lot of “angry people” with “underlying issues” causing early disruptions.
“There was a lot of anger and certainly it wasn’t everybody, but it wasn’t conducive to having the type of respectful, calm atmosphere that we needed to be able to engage people and get important feedback on this project,” Cooper explained.
The city’s manager is expected to bring forward a final report of the findings late in 2023 and offer recommendations to councillors
No make-up date has been scheduled for the cancelled meeting, but Horwath says the city remains “committed to engaging the public.”
“This review is necessary to ensure public dialogue on important issues can take place in a safe and respectful environment,” she said.