The status of negotiations between the cities of Hamilton and Burlington over the future of LaSalle Park remains unclear at this time despite recent staff reports to both city councils.
Officially, according to Burlington Director of Communications Kwab Ako-Adjei; “there are currently no negotiations underway”.
Hamilton owns the park but leases it to Burlington for $1 per year. The lease runs out in 2022. Burlington’s ultimate goal is to own the park, but will settle for a lease extension. Hamilton declined a formal offer to purchase in 2017.
Last week, Burlington’s Corporate Services Committee discussed two reports on the future of the park, one public and one confidential. After a two-and-a-half hour closed session, which included the LaSalle report, Aldershot Councillor Kelvin Galbraith said: “Our goal on council is that LaSalle always remain a park. We have concerns that Hamilton may think otherwise. Our main interest is to extend the current (lease) agreement with Hamilton which would keep things status quo for 25 years. Currently negotiations have not started in any serious manner.”
Hamilton however may be positioning itself for whenever the next round of negotiations take place. On October 21st that City’s General Issues Committee received a confidential report “Respecting the LaSalle Park Disposition”. A motion to receive the report’s confidential recommendations was passed 11 to 4 with Mayor Fred Eisenberger voting against.
An opportunity for the two sides to get together for negotiations may come as early as November 30th when the Greater Bay Area Sub-Committee is tentatively scheduled to meet. Councillor Galbraith claims however that LaSalle is not currently on that agenda.
The public report which was discussed by Burlington Councillors last week outlined the history of Burlington’s involvement and stressed the huge financial commitment the City has made to the park over the years.
According to the report: “The City has invested millions in the maintenance and upgrade of facilities for the public’s enjoyment and safety”. It estimates the replacement value of the park at $19.5 million plus another $8.4 million if the related marina and sailing club are added in.
The park was built in 1915 by the Hamilton Parks Board. Construction of the pavilion followed in 1917. Aldershot did not become part of Burlington until 1958. Burlington assumed primary responsibility, but not ownership, of the park in the mid 70s.
“It is a location that connects Hamilton and Burlington through history and our shared interest in the environment and healthy and active lifestyles for all citizens. The value of the park transcends municipal boundaries”, said the Burlington report. By Rick Craven