Hamilton working with port authority to open piers near the lift bridge for public access

The city is working towards the return of public access to Hamilton’s portion of the shipping canal piers near the lift bridge.

Councillors have voted to have staff negotiate an agreement with the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority, after Transport Canada transferred management of the piers to HOPA following an media conference in June.

A recommended agreement will come back to the new council, following next month’s municipal election.

City Manager Janette Smith says the goal is year-round pier access, except during unsafe circumstances.

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“That’s the premise going in”, said Smith, during Wednesday’s meeting of the general issues committee. “To make them as accessible as possible throughout the year, with a mechanism in place about who makes the call to close the gates when it’s unsafe.”

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger added that the city is “positioning ourselves to do the maintenance, repair and snow clearing, to allow the facilities to be open as much as humanly possible.”

Eisenberger acknowledged there will be times when it is deemed to be unsafe, such as when there’s an abundance of ice during the winter or during summer storms when the waves are topping the pier.

“Beyond that, I would hope that we’d make it as accessible as possible,” added Eisenberger.

Gates were installed last fall by Transport Canada to cut off access, resulting in an outcry from those who use the piers for recreational purposes.

Both Hamilton and Burlington city leaders also had angst with the limited access amid tens of millions in municipal investments around regional waterfronts and piers to proliferate recreation for residents.

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