Is Mayor Hardaker’s office manipulating the news?

11 Mar 2016
Mar 11 2016

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker is pushing ahead with her idea to develop Ferrybank Park.

My concern with the Ferrybank project is that not only does the area flood but more importantly our forefathers put it into a reserve for its protection. One can only assume the protection was from commercialisation.

Is the Mayor sacrificing our protected reserve on the altar of commercialism? I suspect so.

The Ferrybank Development Plan is intended to transform the riverbank precinct into the city’s premier waterfront destination.

I have no issues with developing this area into a premium park. However, I am not happy with the council brief for redevelopment, which includes cafes, restaurants, offices and retail space on Ferrybank Park.This would clearly commercialise the area.

I am not against spending, nor am I against the right amount of debt for the right reason.

I am opposed to waste and while this project on the surface appears good, I seriously question if it will contribute to Hamilton’s prosperity.

The Ferrybank project will cost tens of millions of dollars. There is no budget in the Council’s 10-Year Plan for this work to begin.

Donny Charitable Trust has pledged $1 million towards the Ferrybank project which appears to give it some credibility but when I, in my official capacity as a City Councillor, ask for the official Council documentation on the terms of this pledge, I get no response. What are the terms of this pledge?

The Donny pledge for $1 million was never presented, discussed or accepted by Council.

It came from the Mayor’s office. By accepting the $1 million pledge for a donation, the Mayor may have locked the Council into a wrong process, we just don’t know. What happens if there are fishhooks in the deal?

How long has the Mayor, the external funding committee or her inner circle been aware of the intention of this money? Most of Council did not know about it, nor were they invited to the event where the money was accepted.

The Mayor’s office only told one media group in advance about the March 2 announcement. Other reporters were not invited to attend.

The exclusive early release of news tips from Mayor Julie Hardaker’s office could come with an unspoken expectation: Will the reporter feel obliged to provide favourable media coverage for the Mayor?

Little wonder I’m concerned and apprehensive.

Andrew King
Hamilton City Councillor