If this is the year that the Hamilton Waterfront Trust’s functions are absorbed by city departments, it will be under the watchful guidance of now four councillors with the addition of Councillor Tammy Hwang to the board. She joins Councillors Kroetsch, Spadafora, and Alex Wilson on the board following the sudden resignation of the only citizen member of the board Bernie Mueller. The Bay Observer did not hear back from Councillor Kroetsch when we asked what the new board plans for the organization and whether its function was to wind the organization down.
Last fall, thanks to an inadvertent lapse, there was open public discussion about the likely wind-down of the organization and the retirement of its executive director, Werner Plessl. It turned out all of that had only been discussed in closed meetings of the HWT and as such, was not supposed to be discussed publicly, but it was. Chair Mueller fired off a letter complaining about the breach, noting that it left many seasonal employees wondering if their jobs were in peril. Apologies were given and Mueller declared the matter closed, but now he is gone.
The Hamilton Waterfront Trust was established in 2020 to administer $6 Million of a settlement the city received ending a longstanding litigation between the city and the Hamilton Harbour Commission (now HOPA Ports). In the early years the Trust leveraged its funds to significantly expand the waterfront trail system and added public amenities like the skating rink, Williams Pub and the trolly. The organization also came under fire for opaque operating practices, lack of accountability and for non disclosure. The HWTs role in the Sarcoa lawsuit ended up costing over $600,000. Essentially insolvent, in recent years it was surviving financially by operating as a contract manager for the city on various waterfront construction projects.