Municipal Election 2010

Incumbents Support AEGD, Candidates Split

Of the 57 respondents, 20 or 35.1% support the Airport Employment Growth District. Another 29 or 50.9% oppose it, and 8 or 14% are undecided or ambivalent.

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 20, 2010

Just before the October 13 Council vote to approve the Airport Employment Growth District - a new 4,500 acre industrial park located around Hamilton International Airport - RTH contacted the candidates for the upcoming municipal election and asked the following question:

Council is poised to vote on the Airport Employment Growth District, a 3,000 acre plan to expand the urban boundary around Hamilton International Airport for employment lands. Do you support this plan? Why or why not?

Of the 83 active candidates, 57 or 68.6% have responded as of this writing. Of the 57 respondents, 20 or 35.1% support the AEGD. Another 29 or 50.9% oppose the AEGD, and 8 or 14% are undecided or ambivalent.

You can read all the responses on the RTH election site.

Mayoral Candidates

Among the 11 mayoral candidates who responded, 6 or 65.5% oppose the AEGD. 3 or 27.3% support the AEGD, and 2 or 18.2% are undecided or ambivalent.

Michael Baldasaro believes Hamilton "cannot afford the infrastructure, sewer and road construction that goes along with it" and warns against "eating up our food lands". He wants to use the land to grow marijuana/hemp "for food, fuel, cloth, and medicine, jobs, jobs, jobs."

Bob Bratina opposes the plan, arguing that the plan does not have "sufficient justification" or adequate risk analysis. As Ward 2 councillor, Bratina voted against the AEGD on October 13.

Mahesh Butani does not believe the AEGD meets either the airport's long term needs or the goal of "achieving sustainable regional growth." He advocates for a concept he calls HamiltonGreenPort that ties the airport into a multi-modal growth model using "innovative building types and alternative forms of development". He believes the AEGD lands should be reserved for educational and eco-recreational use.

Larry Di Ianni supports AEGD but stresses that the development costs "should be funded from the private sector in the form of development charges." He believes, "investments the city makes to develop the airport employment growth district will be recouped over time as a result of assessment growth" and cites the Red Hill Valley Parkway as an example of this.

Fred Eisenberger supports the AEGD but prefers " phased approach to development" that prioritizes brownfield redevelopment over new greenfield development. He wants to develop 50% of the AEGD land first, and then undertake a review before opening additional land. As incument mayor, Eisenberger voted in favour of the AEGD on October 13.

Edward HC Graydon is "100 percent opposed to this development" and favours redeveloping the "toxic sites along Burlington Street". He welcomes the closing of US Steel and wants to invest billions of dollars in their remediation.

Andrew Haines agrees with the AEGD, believing the airport "and the lands around it are crucial for the economic development and prosperity of Hamilton."

Glenn Hamilton supports AEGD because "jobs are crucial to this community and some employers want that type of space to locate here." He also supports remediating existing brownfields.

Ken Leach agrees with the premise that the urban boundary must be expanded to enable future growth, but believes it is "not only irresponsible" but "scandalous" to do this now.

Tone Marrone says the AEGD plan demonstrates "the out-of-touch ineptitude of the current council." He notes the high vacancy of the current airport park and believes the industrial model "has a dubious validity", the cost is too high, and the likely jobs "would be mostly low-paying".

Victor Veri supports AEGD "in principle" but supports filling "existing vacant industrial/commercial lands" before moving to the airport lands.

Incumbents

Only two sitting councillors voted against the AEGD, and the responses of incumbents seeking re-election reflect this.

Brian McHattie, candidate for Ward 1, voted against the AEGD and expresses "disappoint[ment] that Council has decided to vote on this important issue, an urban boundary expansion of approximately 3,000 acres, amidst an election, with other important issues taking Council's time, in the dying days of its mandate, hand-cuffing the incoming Council." He argues that the AEGD has turned from a principled decision based on facts into an "ideological issue".

Bernie Morelli, candidate for Ward 3, supports AEGD but suggests that "recent environmental changes in rainfall, the impact on our sewer infrastructure" indicates a need to assess the challenges of developing the AEGD lands and "may require some rescheduling of implementation plans."

Sam Merulla, candidate for Ward 4, wrote in his response that he is "undecided" and "still in the process of researching the issue in depth." He supports finding "ways to balance greenfield and brownfield developments in an attempt to provide a diverse environment of opportunity i.e employment lands." He says that his focus remains on closing the current hard infrastructure deficit.

Scott Duvall, candidate for Ward 7, says Hamilton needs "available space to attract long term investment by companies wishing to locate in Hamilton close to a highway on suitable land." He believes AEGD will "grow our tax base" while "enhancing job creation initiatives and reducing poverty."

Terry Whitehead, candidate for Ward 8, defends AEGD by arguing, "investors and businesses need choices in acquiring suitable lands for their businesses." He adds that the brownfield remediation is "still important for the appropriate investor."

Brad Clark, candidate for Ward 9, argues, "we have found that most companies looking to site a new factory have no interest in brownfields."

David Mitchell, candidate for Ward 11, says "We need to attract and retain business, Hamilton needs to be open for business, our community needs jobs."

Russ Powers, candidate for Ward 13, calls AEGD " forward-thinking document, but only if the developing circumstances are perfect." He says the price is "too expensive in my opinion!"

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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