City launches review of public safety procedures at public consultation meetings
Hamilton, ON - The City of Hamilton is initiating a review of safety procedures for public consultation meetings following incidents of aggressive and unacceptable behaviour that led to the cancellation of a public open house on September 11, 2023.
The City Manager’s Office will lead the review that will include a specific focus on safety plans and public safety precautions to ensure the safety of meeting participants and attendees.
The public open house on September 11 was held at the Bennetto Community Centre regarding a proposed tiny home pilot project. The first half of the meeting was scheduled to be an open house hosted by the Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS) where members of the public would have the opportunity to learn about the tiny home concept. The second half of the meeting was scheduled to be a Q and A with City officials for members of the public to ask questions about the proposed project and the City's ongoing efforts to address homelessness.
The meeting was canceled by City staff approximately 20 minutes in after verbal abuse against other meeting attendees was witnessed, and a member of the City of Hamilton's security staff was the recipient of physically aggressive behaviour. City staff advised Mayor Horwath and Ward 2 Councillor Kroetsch not to attend the meeting. In addition, City security conducted a security review of a planned Ward 2 community meeting on September 14, which concluded that the meeting should be held virtually due to safety concerns.
The security review for public consultation meetings is anticipated to conclude later this year. Staff will bring forward a report of the review’s findings and any recommendations the City should consider implementing when conducting future public consultations to avoid the risk of any reoccurrence of the unacceptable events that took place at the September 11 meeting.
The City remains committed to engaging the public and making sure people’s voices are heard. This review is necessary to ensure public dialogue on important issues can take place in a safe and respectful environment.Mayor Andrea Horwath