By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday August 28, 2015
Exile on Ottawa Street: BIA battleground bubbles over
Business owners on Ottawa Street are calling for the resignation of their BIA board members after a heated meeting Wednesday morning dissolved into a yelling match.
The conflict is leading Coun. Matt Green — who owned a business on Ottawa Street before being elected as a city councillor — to call for a sweeping review of the governance structures, hiring practices, and codes of conduct for all business improvement areas across the city.
Business owners and the BIA board met Wednesday to discuss the so-called “exile list,” a document that emerged Monday and listed 11 businesses. A BIA employee reported that they were instructed to avoid contact with businesses on that list, take their calls, promote or include them.
BIA chair Nancy Leo said the list was simply a reminder to staff that incident reports needed be written up about those 11 establishments. She said she initially understood the list to be an “Excel list” — referring to the computer program — that outlined which businesses the board planned to file incident reports on.
“It wasn’t an exile list. I found out about that word ‘exile’ in an email on Sunday afternoon,” Leo said.
Leo refused to discuss what the incidents entailed for legal reasons, despite being given permission from several business owners to discuss exactly what “incidents” led to their names ending up on the list. She did explain that several food trucks were on the list because they didn’t meet their agreement to serve food on Ottawa Street during the Pan Am Games.
The meeting, which saw business owners and BIA board members yelling at each other and hurling accusations back and forth, didn’t satisfy business owners. While Leo was speaking, several meeting attendees shouted at the board to “tell the truth” and “stop spinning stories.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)