The position of NEN on a possible West Harbour Stadium (see below), was arrived at through long, hard debate and careful discussion.
But the story actually begins around September 2002 when the City issued a "notice of study commencement and Public Consultation" on the West Harbour called Setting Sail. This became a lengthy process.
In order to keep order during this study period, the City passed an interum control bylaw in March 2003, which effectively "froze" development in the Barton/Tiffany area. This may be why the notion exists even today that no one wants to build there.
However, at the time the owner of the former auto wrecking yard on the top of the bluff was proposing that the committee of adjustment amend the zoning to allow "four story multiple dwellings" as is still posted on a sign on the site today.
The City stopped this and everything else, and is still doing so. However, new residential development went ahead on the perimeter of the area, with houses going in at Hess and Barton on Hess, and more houses at Crooks and Barton on Crooks. All sold quickly, and their owners are paying taxes.
The planning process for the rest of the West Harbour, including North End and parts of Beasley and Central neighbourhoods, continued with public participation, and a Citizens' Advisory Group (CAG) and PIC's which ended in March of 2005 with a list of planning "principles" which are somewhat ironic in light of the stadium debate today!
The document begins with "Ensure new development respects and enhances the character of the neighbourhoods" and ends with "Generally avoid expropriation of residential and commercial properties."
North End residents participated fully in this process as this plan encompassed the whole neighbourhood plus some.
So, where is a stadium in all this?
In 1995, six sites in the area had been looked at for a stadium site (4 in the study area, and 2 just beyond). The study concluded there were no suitable sites. But Hamilton hoped to host the Commonwealth Games and in July 2003, the Commonwealth Game Federation executive came in town to review the proposed venues. They visited Bayfront Park to see the site of a proposed Commonwealth Stadium (but nothing had actually changed on the ground since 1995 re:a suitable site.)
Publicity shows a computerized rendering of a stadium on the Barton/Tiffany site with an oval track to the West between Queen and the stadium. THIS bid package is the source of the endlessly reproduced image of a computer-assisted drawing of a stadium that we see today! There are actually 2 versions, a smaller 15,000 seat version and a larger 25 - 30,000 seat version. The one we are being sold is the smaller one, although the larger one is the one that is needed, with the Tiger Cats as a legacy tenant.
This much reproduced rendering of an "imaginary version" of the proposed Commonwealth Stadium has been included in the Pan Am Bid book. (It is often credited in the Spectator as a "file photo", or "special to the Spectator".)
(In actuality, there is no architect and no design and no actual feasibility "study" to put a stadium on the site!)
By December of 2003, the PIC included a stadium option as well as 2 housing options, even though we had lost the bid to the Commonwealth Games. However, by March 2004, housing became the preferred option.
In March 2005, Setting Sail was approved by the City.
In June 2009, Hamilton approved the new Urban Official Plan and Setting Sail is incorporated as a Secondary Plan.