By Kevin Werner, News Staff
A special Aug. 29 council meeting to debate the future of the velodrome has been cancelled by city clerks.
After some politicians, including Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson criticized the need for the council meeting after holding a scheduled government issues committee meeting the same day on the velodrome, the clerks office stated a council decision on the velodrome isn't needed until Sept. 15.
Hamilton has to decide the future of the velodrome so the facility can be included in Infrastructure Ontario's request for proposal deadline. The RFP will also include Ivor Wynne Stadium and the track and field facility in Toronto.
Ferguson had booked a one-week vacation next week, and would not have been at the Aug. 29 meeting, which he considers especially important. He criticized the decision to hold the meeting in an email sent to all politicians and in an interview.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” he said. “It’s a big, big issue. (City officials) have been at it for a year now. The other meetings (for the velodrome) for the end of June and at the beginning of August were cancelled. So why hold this surprise meeting during our summer break?”
He said it seemed city officials were being pressured by the provincial government to encourage Hamilton councillors to make a decision fast.
The special GIC meeting on the velodrome had been set Aug. 18 by the city clerk.
Ferguson said it makes no sense to immediately hold a special council meeting after the GIC meeting. Councillors have usually followed an unwritten rule that they wait a week to finalize a decision in order to “cool off” and weight the issue first.
Ferguson said even the details of the government issues committee are being withheld from councillors. City officials are proposing give politicians a verbal rather than in a written report, which has also frustrated some councillors.
“We haven’t had a report yet,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson said he was “pretty angry” when he fired off his email to Mayor Bob Bratina, and his council colleagues. He was even more irked when he didn’t receive a response.
In his email, Ferguson stated he wanted to “express in the strongest possible terms my objections to this meeting…Why are we jamming this issue through when staff had months to prepare and cancelled the meeting on the Velodrome twice at regularly scheduled meetings of GIC.”
Bratina stated that City Manager Chris Murray “did response to your message.”
Ferguson received some support from Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark, who questioned why city staff was “rushing a council decision to 30 mins (sic) after a GIC mtg?
“Short cutting the process on such items will only breed further cynicism and contempt with our citizens,” he added.
Under council’s governance policy, a special council meeting can be called soon after another committee meeting is held if politicians agree to wave the rules.
City staff has met with Mohawk College officials over the last few months to discuss locating the velodrome at the institution. Gerry Davis, public works general manager, said earlier this month negotiations were continuing with Mohawk, and a report to council would be provided at the end of August. He said the city is under pressure from Infrastructure Ontario complete the talks so the facility can be included in the request for proposals for the other Pan Am Games facilities, Ivor Wynne Stadium and the track and field stadium in Toronto. At the moment, the velodrome is officially being located at the West Harbour.