Wednesday February 29, 2012
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Wednesday February 29, 2012
Health campus hits yet another snag
Negotiations over a new downtown health campus turned sour Monday as accusations, threats and claims of manipulation flew around City Hall.
Councillors say they feel hoodwinked by city staff’s recommendation to lease so-called “swing space” in the Robert Thompson building on King Street West and sublet it to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
Leasing the space to the school board as an interim measure — after it vacates its present home and while its new one is being built — is a key part of the three-way deal between the board, the city and McMaster University.
And while city manager Chris Murray assured councillors that rejecting the Thomson swing-space proposal was not a “deal breaker,” moments later, Roger Couldrey, McMaster’s vice-president (administration), told councillors that walking away from it could put the entire McMaster downtown health campus at risk.
Couldrey says if the school board is forced to start its plans from scratch, it would be significantly more expensive.
“That will cause us to have significant second thoughts about the amount of money we want to put on the table,” he said.
The complicated, winding debate Monday ultimately resulted in councillors voting to again delay a swing-space decision until March 6 (the issue was already delayed after councillors raised concerns about the swing space).
But Councillor Sam Merulla says Monday’s negotiations have given him cause to pull his support for the deal entirely. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)