Controversy on the waterfront?

Hamilton’s City Council now wants to discuss the possibility that Burlington pay more rent for LaSalle Park.

La Salle Park is a 56-acre piece of waterfront property on Burlington’s lakeshore that is operated and maintained by the City of Burlington, but owned by the City of Hamilton.

The Park consists of two banquet halls, a marina, waterfront trail, and sports fields.

Geraldo’s Banquet and Conference Facility at LaSalle Park

The City of Hamilton is receiving one dollar a year from the City of Burlington under the current agreement that was signed in 1983. The deal is set to expire in 10 years time.

Hamilton’s council voted Tuesday for the Greater Bay Area Subcommittee – a committee consisting of members from both Hamilton and Burlington’s City Council – to begin discussions on the LaSalle Park agreement and to establish a “fair market value” lease.

Ward 4 Hamilton Councilor Sam Merulla moved the motion on Tuesday.

“You have your banquet centre there, as well as your marina. If you were to fully exploit the marina’s potential and look at the nearly 300,000 dollars they’re making from the banquet centre, the one dollar per year is not a fair market value for the land” Merulla said.

However, not everyone agrees with the motion. Ward 1 Burlington councilor Rick Craven (a member of the Greater Bay Area Subcommittee) says that changes to the lease are not on the agenda.

“The subject on the agenda right now […] is the long term expectation that ownership of the park will transfer to the City of Burlington. Under what conditions and for what in return is going to be a very lengthy agenda. That is on the agenda,” said Craven, “increasing the lease or the rent in the short run is not on the agenda.”

Councilor Merulla said that if an agreement isn’t reached before the lease is up Hamilton could possibly keep the land for waterfront development. However, Councilor Craven said that development can’t and won’t happen because under Burlington by-law the parkland is not zoned for that purpose.

“He’s wrong,” said Craven. “His comments have not been helpful.”

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