Special Report: Aerotropolis

Aerotropolis Costs

The AEGD issue has flown silently under the radar in the mainstream media, but it threatens to have major impacts on our future growth and sustainability.

By Sean Burak
Published October 21, 2010

When Council decided to proceed with their vote on the Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD) - formerly called the "Aerotropolis" - I could not believe that they would be so cavalier in the handling of what may be the most important decision of their term.

To make this decision with minimal public involvement, and on the last possible voting day of their term, was irresponsible. The AEGD proposal passed with only two councillors voting against it: Brian McHattie (Ward 1) and Bob Bratina (Ward 2).

The effects of this decision will be felt across the entire city for years to come.

The AEGD issue has flown silently under the radar in the mainstream media. This is surely due to the fact that the stadium debate has been a very high profile issue leading up to this election, and the AEGD is significantly less exciting to talk about.

This plan must be discussed now, before it truly becomes too late.

Background

The AEGD proposal involves expanding our urban boundary by 4,500 acres, encompassing a swath of land surrounding the airport. The land is not currently serviced by roads or sewers, so the financial cost to the city is already estimated to reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

The motivation for this expansion is to build a business park - in fact, the proposal passed under a guise of providing new jobs. This is a huge risk. The plan will introduce a vast number of problems for Hamilton, the most dire of which I will outline below.

New Website

I wanted to consolidate the valuable research various individuals and groups around the city have been doing on the AEGD. Lots of people have been working on this, but the work hasn't been well coordinated yet - unlike the AEGD supporters in the Chamber of Commerce and Home Builders Association, who clearly stated that they intend to influence Council to support their airport project.

I hope that with a centralized resource and clearinghouse for AEGD news and advocacy, we can do a more coordinated job of advocating for a more progressive economic development model than greenfields and sprawl.

AerotropolisCosts.ca does not represent, nor is it represented by any particular individual or group.

The facts and information on this website are the culmination of the efforts of many citizens who have made it their passion to understand the issues surrounding the AEGD plan.

Many citizens have attended many meetings, read many reports, talked to many people on both sides, and have poured significant portions of their lives into ensuring that this information is accurate and that it reaches as many people as possible.

Costs

The preliminary cost estimate for servicing the AEGD lands is $353 million. This does not include trunk sewer upgrades, which are estimated to cost an additional $125 million.

This alone should have stopped this project dead in its tracks. We are in a position in this city where we can barely afford to maintain our existing infrastructure, let alone build new infrastructure within our current urban boundary.

We cannot afford the stadium that we are eagerly hoping for. We certainly cannot afford to spend almost half a billion dollars on a gamble out at the airport.

Lack of Need

The existing airport business park has been sitting mostly vacant for years, and there is no reason to believe the AEGD will fare better. Developing near an airport presents significant challenges to businesses, who will be limited in what they can build (building height restrictions) as well as what business they can conduct (radio frequency interference restrictions, noise restrictions, etc).

On top of that, the lands themselves will be expensive to build on. The city has estimated that storm water management will cost developers $100,000 per acre, since the land lies at the headwaters of four significant streams.

The airport itself has seen declining passenger use, and stagnant cargo use for the past seven years, so it is unlikely that businesses will be drawn due to proximity to the airport alone.

If none of the businesses ever come, we will have wasted hundreds of millions of our precious tax dollars on nothing more than a gamble.

Inappropriate Size

4,500 acres is a lot of land. It is very hard to visualize. Within the acreage proposed for the AEGD, you could fit the entire Royal Botanical Gardens land, plus the Stelco lands, plus Dofasco, plus McMaster University - and you'd still have room to squeeze Mohawk College in for good measure.

When you step back and see the AEGD in relation to the rest of the city, it is immediately apparent just how huge it is:


View Aerotropolis Hamilton, Ontario in a larger map

Irreversible Boundary Growth

We are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful greenspace and highly productive farmland. Recent provincial laws have gone a long way to protecting these lands from ever encroaching pavement and development.

If we go through with the AEGD urban boundary expansion and development, we will never be able to get these lands back. The expansion required by the AEGD directly violates both the provincially mandated Places to Grow act as well as Hamilton's own Vision 2020.

What Can We Do?

Despite the fact that council has already voted in support of the AEGD, the actual development of the lands is still years away. An immediate and important step that every concerned citizen can take right now, is to vote on October 25 and select your ward councillor and mayoral candidates based on their position on the AEGD.

Of the current council, all candidates who are running for re-election are on record as supportive of the AEGD, except Brian McHattie (running in ward 1) and Bob Bratina (running for mayor). (See also today's RTH article: Incumbents Support AEGD, Candidates Split)

The positions of non-incumbent candidates can be seen in their answers to the question recently posed by the RTH Elections website. AerotropolisCosts.ca has also provided a quick summary of all candidates' positions on the AEGD, based on the RTH Elections data.

After the Election

Even if our citizenry elects new councillors who still support the AEGD, all of us who are opposed can and should continue to monitor the movement on this issue and make our position known to our councillors, our mayor, and our local media.

The AEGD is an enormous project that will only come at an enormous cost - and as such it carries enormous risks. We need to start asking tough questions, and we need to start now.

Sean Burak was born in Hamilton but raised elsewhere in Ontario. He returned to his birth town at the turn of the century and has never looked back. Sean is the owner of Downtown Bike Hounds.

41 Comments

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By Realist (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 09:09:55

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By aeGD (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 09:21:00

The AEGD also comes with a nasty little sister known as Mid-Pen. The AEGD just doesn't make sense without it. Our planning department is a joke and a failure and every time Richard Koroscil in one of his many guises advocates for something it happens.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 09:22:01

FYI, your tax rate is set by the province and is based on property/lot value. You are actually paying a lower rate than someone on Sherman Ave.

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By Wowzer (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 10:05:15

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 10:19:10

Allow me to correct a number of inaccuracies with Sean report.

"To make this decision with minimal public involvement, and on the last possible voting day of their term, was irresponsible."

People have known about AEGD for years and it has been in the media and studied to death. If you don't believe me just do a search on RTH for the earliest AEGD columns. People had years to make their objections known. They lost.

"The preliminary cost estimate for servicing the AEGD lands is $353 million. This does not include trunk sewer upgrades, which are estimated to cost an additional $125 million. This alone should have stopped this project dead in its tracks."

You fail to mention that these costs will be bourne over 20 YEARS. Most of the cost will come from development charges ($194M), developers ($116M) and the tax levy ($42M). You also fail to mention that the AEGD will generate $66M per year in property taxes. Did you not read the report???

I don't know about you, but spending $42M to generate $66M per year in property taxes sounds like a good investment to me.

"...it is unlikely that businesses will be drawn due to proximity to the airport alone."

That never was the objective of AEGD. It is not intended to attract only airport related business (they will be a small minority). Proximity to the airport is an added bonus.

"If none of the businesses ever come, we will have wasted hundreds of millions of our precious tax dollars on nothing more than a gamble."

The AEGD is set up so it will be serviced in phases. Matching with land demand as closely as possible.

"When you step back and see the AEGD in relation to the rest of the city, it is immediately apparent just how huge it is".

Your map is incredibly misleading as it includes the developed Hamilton airport lands. AEGD represents the lands surrounding the airport. You should not be highlighting Hamilton airport lands in your map.

"The AEGD is an enormous project that will only come at an enormous cost - and as such it carries enormous risks. We need to start asking tough questions, and we need to start now."

As I wrote earlier, the AEGD has been on the table for years and has been studied to death. People had their opportunity to make their concerns known. Council voted 13-2 in favour (who says city hall can't agree on anything?) Sean you are a couple of weeks to late.

RTH is an often informative website on Hamilton issues. However, poorly researched articles such as this from people who have no idea what they are talking about really hurts RTH credibility.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 10:19:35

Sean, major props for your work on this issue. The website is truly impressive.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 11:01:03

I would love to see a rebuttal to Capitalist's reply.

This could be a great discussion, and I'm eager to learn more aobut AEGD from both sides of the argument.

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By Wowzer (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 11:01:53

I agree Capitalist! "The AEGD issue has FLOWN UNDER THE RADAR in the mainstream media". This statement is immediately refuted with this, "Many citizens have attended many meetings, read many reports, talked to many people on both sides and have poured significant portions of their lives into ensuring that this info is accurate and that it reaches as many people as possible.". Sounds to me like this whole thing has been VERY available to whoever wished to pursue it. Besides their have been MANY articles in the Spec, on CH TV, Cable 14, Mountain News, etc. They NEVER flew it under any radar, you just want people to believe that ! This fight has gone on long enough...time to end it !

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 11:40:00

The ethics and sense of eliminating farmland and putting our future jobs so far away from the actual city, is debatable and you can argue for or against it. What is not up for debate is the occupancy levels of our existing business parks, at the Airport and Glanbrook. Developer interest has been much lower than expected. Why would we continue to expect these jobs to materialize? By expanding the AEGD, we are creating supply in a market where demand is already low.

One thing we can all agree on is that we need the jobs and we need the commercial and industrial tax revenue. To me, the question is who is going to pay this $66M in property taxes? Who is going to pay this $194M in development charges? Would it be the same companies that we were told would develop and occupy our existing business parks? How do you reconcile the predictions of the reports with the obvious reality that, as Ferguson said, developers are not lining up?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2010 at 11:56:33

The premise of big industrial parks is to "lure" employers with promises of large, contiguous blobs of developed greenfield land. However, all the economic research of the past few decades has clearly demonstrated that big, established companies are net job destroyers and small, start-up companies are net job creators.

Why are we not focusing our economic development plans on fostering the conditions in which small start-up businesses can start and grow? Otherwise, we're at best poaching jobs, not creating them. Canada Bread is a particular case in point - Hamilton's gain is Toronto's loss.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 12:11:54

@ Ryan --- You said,"...all the economic research of the past few decades has clearly demonstrated that big, established companies are net job destroyers and small, start-up companies are net job creators."

Do you have any references or sources for that? I would love to read up on that!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2010 at 12:29:49

Capitalist, I am very short on time as I am running late getting from job#1 to job#2 but I'd like to write a quick note about the development charges and potential tax incomes.

These numbers are based on an assumption of 100% uptake in the AEGD which is basically guaranteed not to happen.

Regarding media coverage, I think we can all agree that despite both decisions happening at about the same time, the largest media sources in the city were covering the stadium debate like a thick blanket while barely even mentioning the AEGD, despite the fact that it will cost us significantly more.

The number of AEGD articles on RTH are a testament to the dedication of the writers on this website to ensure that ALL information on the most important issues affecting our city are brought to the public.

The "many people" that I mention are the ones that have spent a lot of personal time sifting through the tedious documents that spell out this project. While there are many of them (as in, quite a few more than zero), their numbers pale in comparison to the entire city population, many of which I have recently found out cannot even spell aerotropolis let alone tell you what the aerotropolis/aegd actually is. This represents a failure of the city in getting the information out and a failure of our mainstream media.

In the end, some people may be happy funding this project (what will it end up costing... $1000 per taxpayer?) but I certainly am not.

Let's focus on getting our currently serviced lands filled first please.

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-10-21 11:31:00

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By Paul (registered) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 12:34:11

Maybe we should just ask Bob Young to threaten to take away the ticats and aerotropolis will be stopped ! :)

Seriously What business in as deep a debt spends more to aquire more stock when he cannot sell what he has based on optomisitc speculation with no customers in sight? What business buy new property without the means to build upon it while leaving it's existing money making ventures to rot? we cannot service exisiting infrastucture and this will mean maintaining an even larger system all based on guesswork with no real local precedents as we have land sitting ready to be developed both in the city and other like centres such as the one in Glanbrook.

Capitalist all your income numbers are speculation at best yet the cost of Aerotropolis is very real and will be even higher than estimated. How do I know? It is Always higher than estimated. Further there is plenty that will be lost in the lands in question that current economic models refuse to value. The value of biodiversity, the value of clean water and a stable watershed (many waterways will be affected as they run through these lands including provincially significant wetlands), the value of healthy local food production,etc.

Estimates also do not consider incidental damage, repairs etc just look at Red Hill and its flooding or all the watermain breaks.

The Mid-Pen is already rearing tis ugly head again, rising from the grave. Where will the money come from? Hamilton cant afford it. even if other levels of government help, it is still OUR money.

People who support Aerotropolis simply does not value what we have. Instead of being proud of what our city can already offer, we hear how horrible the city is and that we need to beg and plead transport businesses and offer up new land so they can conveniently sit on our city's periphery consuming land and resources for temporary storage space.

We need jobs in Hamilton, desperately but these jobs we need have to be able to feed andhouse families without taking three or four of them to make ends meet. We also need them NOW. not some ficticious future where we spend money putting the jobs as far from the people as possible, do not give them a viable way to reach them and do not even guaruntee they will even materialise.

The logic of this project is twisted and benefits only a small minority (if that) and is based on overly optomistic appraisals with little regard for current needs or the risk of failure.

This project has been kept quiet by media and council and has been fought by people for years but like a zombie rising from the grave (just like the mid-pen and the already risen Red Hill Expressway that consumed a valley and continues to eat away at our infrastructure budget), because of minority interests it will not die.

The current battle now is for awareness as proponents seem more interest in keeping it quiet and sliding it through rather than open discussion and revelation of all details related to this project and proper citizen input.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 13:42:37

@Paul

"We need jobs in Hamilton, desperately but these jobs we need have to be able to feed andhouse families without taking three or four of them to make ends meet. We also need them NOW. not some ficticious future where we spend money putting the jobs as far from the people as possible, do not give them a viable way to reach them and do not even guaruntee they will even materialise."

There are plenty of jobs that will allow people to feed and house families (I have one), you have to have the credentials to obtain them. If you don't have any skills that are required by employers then what do you expect? They don't owe you a living.

If you want jobs to come to hamilton then you have to cater to businesses. That means we need to have serviced industrial land in close proximity to a highway and a competitive cost structure. Hamilton hasn't had this and that is why we lost out on business opportunities to cities like Brantford, GTA etc.

This is the reality. Deal with it or accept the consquences.

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By M. Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 13:57:31

As the individual who has been Co-Chair and representative of HPD since its inception in 2005, I can very confidently state that there has been more media coverage concerning the Pan Am stadium and the Tiger Cats in the past months than has been reported collectively about the aerotropoilis in the past five years.

If the city was truly interested in engaging the community then why were the CLC meetings always held in a remote location that was not accessible via public transit? The Spectator has done a dismal job covering the subject and virtually all City public meetings were very poorly attended.

The total cost to develop the first stage of the AEGD is $352 Million and that is fact. The breakdown provided by Capitalist above is essentially correct in that $42 Million is directly paid via the tax levy but there is a $185 Million shortfall in DC payments that must be covered by the tax levy until such time as the development occurs. Capitalist is also correct in that the city will fund this via a 20 year debenture at about 6% which means that in year 1 the taxpayers must fund another $15 Million. Theoretically, at some point in the future IF sufficient development has occurred we will have crossed a threshold where the DC's and tax revenues exceed the yearly costs and we will have reached the promised land. The huge "carrot" being dangled is the $60 Million in taxes which only occurs at full build out. The fundamental missing part of the equation is that the reports only tell one side of the story and essentially NO risk assessment has been conducted. What happens if the Airport doesn't grow as the WILD projections in the report predict? It hasn't performed up to previous projections and what will happen if Oil rises to $150.00/ barrel again. The reports presented by Dillon REPEATEDLY refer to the success of the aerotropolis being tied directly to the airport. If Capatalist has read the entire report he might have stated that as well.

I agree with Anonymous above - if you have only read the 74 page glossy staff report you have been duped. There are so many negative aspects of this industrial park and they are all conveyed in the reports but who is going to read all 2200 pages.

Here are a number of simple facts;

1) The AEGD lands can't possibly be competative because of the huge cost to service each acre and the added cost of the on-site stormwater containment. The "estimated" costs are $100,000 to $1,000,000 per acre depending on method used.

2) The success of the AEGD is tied to the airport which is predicted in the reports to grow to 5 Million passengers by 2021 which is 10 times more than current levels. This is supposed to happen during a period of uncertain economic conditions and rising oil prices.

3) Almost 70% of the land will be used to create approximately 50% of the projected jobs in warehousing and logistics.
Not exactly the prestige industral, hi-tech jobs promised!

4) The city is desperate and if the AEGD moves forward we can expect a consistent pattern of reduced DC's to attract any type of business to locate in the aerotropolis putting further burden on the taxpayer.

5) Over 300 acres hace been designated "Airport Reserve" and there will be constant pressure, as there has been, from Tradeport for the City to purchase lands outsied of the agreement - more taxpayer burden!

Lastly, the finances of the city are in terrible shape and we simply cannot afford another mega project based upon the premise - Build it and they will come!

M. Desnoyers
Co-Chair
HPD

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2010 at 14:09:57

Capitalist,

How can we convert industrial lands by the QEW to retail, then turn around and say we need to convert all of this land at the airport to industrial land?

The idea that the aerotropolis will "land" the businesses required to pay for the servicing is pure speculation based on fantasy.

The strongest proponents for this boundary expansion are the current landowners and residential home builder groups.

Is there any company that has come forward to say that they would consider operating a business up there? Or even one business who has come out to openly support the aerotropolis as a general concept?

Capitalist, your position is certainly interesting. You recently posted:

By Capitalist (anonymous) Posted September 30, 2010 11:17:54 The Ancaster Business Park is sold out. Purchased by developers. >Your pdf is over two years old!

How is the AEGD reliant on air travel and air freight?

"Purchased by developers" does not mean that it is being utilized. If we used "purchased by developers" as a metric to determine the success of a business park, then all of them would be considered 100% "sold" since SOMEBODY owns the land, and all you have to do to call yourself a developer is own some land and be willing to MAYBE develop it - or sell it to someone who will - if the price is right. By using "sold to developers" we could state that the aerotropolis is already a resounding success, before shovels have touched the earth!

We need to talk about REAL ACTUAL businesses which EMPLOY people in PERMANENT positions.

Regarding your earlier proximity to airport argument, and your repeated claims that proximity to the airport does not matter, then why are we building this way out by the airport where servicing costs are significantly higher?

You claim:

If you want jobs to come to hamilton then you have to cater to businesses. That means we need to have serviced industrial land in close proximity to a highway and a competitive cost structure.

Yet the aerotropolis is not next to a highway, and we have been actively converting industrial lands that are near highways into other uses.

So if proximity to highways matters, but proximity to the airport doesn't, why would we service a business park there and force incoming companies to abide by the airport's height restrictions and other limitations?

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-10-21 13:18:51

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 14:28:01

@M. Desnoyers

"What happens if the Airport doesn't grow as the WILD projections in the report predict?"

All business is a risk. No risk, no reward. I believe that is why the AEGD is being serviced in phases. What makes you think that the projections are "wild"?

"I can very confidently state that there has been more media coverage concerning the Pan Am stadium and the Tiger Cats in the past months than has been reported collectively about the aerotropoilis in the past five years."

This has nothing to do with the stadium. Five years is plenty of time for people to make their voices heard. You are just pissed that you lost the vote (overwhelmingly) and you are now just making excuses.

"The reports presented by Dillon REPEATEDLY refer to the success of the aerotropolis being tied directly to the airport. If Capatalist has read the entire report he might have stated that as well."

I have read the entire Dillon report and that was not my take at all. I will give it another look but I do recall the the airport was more of a bonus addition to the AEGD.

"If the city was truly interested in engaging the community then why were the CLC meetings always held in a remote location that was not accessible via public transit? The Spectator has done a dismal job covering the subject and virtually all City public meetings were very poorly attended."

I didn't realize that the convention centre is in a remote location? http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/F808049A-8E1D-4D80-8D29-97CA0614A323/0/AEGDAdSept30MeetingFinal.pdf

The meeting were poorly attended because people do not object to this development. That is why council voted 13-2 in favour.



I am not aware of a 2200 page report. Could you please forward me the link? I would like to opportunity to read it for myself.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 14:41:15

@seancb

""Purchased by developers" does not mean that it is being utilized"

I am confident that the city sold land in the ancaster industrial park to developers after having reviewed their business plans for the construction of industrial businesses on those lands. I think you are confusing the terms "developer" with "speculator".

"Yet the aerotropolis is not next to a highway, and we have been actively converting industrial lands that are near highways into other uses."

The Dillon report points out that the AEGD proximity to the Hyw6/403 corridor and the UpperJames link to the RHVP make the AEGD a good location for an industrial park.

"We need to talk about REAL ACTUAL businesses which EMPLOY people in PERMANENT positions."

As opposed to FAKE businesses? Just exactly what is a REAL business? I found this to be a confusing statement. And by the way, there is no such thing as a PERMANENT position. Your position is permenant to the extect that someone is willing to pay for your services and that you are compentant in your job (the exception being government employees perhaps).

Regards,

Capitalist



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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 14:42:00

What business is going to locate in an area where the electricity rates are 5 TIMES that of other industrial parks in the city and in the Golden Horseshoe? I have seen AEGD electricity cost posted several times on RTH and in the View CATCH updates, does anyone have any links to confirm this price?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2010 at 14:45:56

I mean real business as opposed to land developers, speculators and other middle men who do not actively employ people, other than for occasional project-based building contracts.

I mean real bricks and mortar businesses who occupy buildings on the land. NOT landowners of vacant properties who hope to one day develop it (maybe, if the price is right).

I think that you are projecting the term developer upon the speculators.

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-10-21 13:47:00

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 14:58:20

Great discussion folks!

I'm learning alot.

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By Wowza (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 15:04:18

So Mr. Desnoyer. Explain how it is that your website, HPD, has stated for years now that they support urban intensification, the curbing of sprawl,reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and the usage of existing industrial lands- all the while NOT observing these policies yourself!!:

1. You live in a rural/suburban setting (and so do the other members of your HPD team). I thought you were FOR urban intensification and AGAINST sprawl?

2. Your company chose to locate in BURLINGTON, not HAMILTON! What's wrong with our various industrial lands that make you too good for them?

3. Your company makes parts for automobiles! Wouldn't that be considered a GREENHOUSE GAS-EMITTER ? S'pose not!

4. Your company outsources alot of it's work to CHINA ! In a day where we need all the high-tech jobs we can get-WHOOSH !! There ya go !

5. Your company USED to even have John C. Munro listed as a convenient shipping option on your company website ! Looks like you figured-out the embarassment that would cause, right?

6. HPD was instrumental in causing Maple Leaf foods to backing-off the opening of a new pork-processing plant in the North Glanbrook industrial lands. Even though you KEEP saying our industrial lands lay fallow, as soon as a company comes along that would have opened-up ALOT of good-paying jobs-BOOM ! You pull the rug from under that one too! Now you go back to saying that our North Glanbrook park remains empty and is indicative of Hamilton's lack of appeal to business ! If that isn't the most TWO-Faced play I EVER saw...

There's plenty more I could spew-off about, but suffice it to say, you've been slidin' a few UNDER THE RADAR YOURSELF !!!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2010 at 15:20:21

Wowza,

It saddens me that you are placing a petty personal vendetta above the good of the entire city.

This is not a suburbs vs city issue, this is about a huge cost to every single taxpayer, for a project that carries enormous risk - more risk than any sane business person would take with their private business.

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By Wowza (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 15:45:31

SEANCB,

I'm sorry if it offends you, but don't you think it looks just a little bad if the co-founders of HPD, what amounts to the CHAMPION of your cause, clearly has a double-standard? Does it not bother you? He clearly has another agenda- a NIMBY agenda, one that I believe has HINDERED this city for FAR too-long ! For goodness sake, this guy, his relative and the other HPD co-founder ALL live on the final approaches to the airport, off BOTH runways ! All he is protecting is an intrusion at his home, the potential loss of property value, from something that has been there before his parents ! I doubt he would give a rat's a$$ about all of this if he had just bought his place in rural Burlington, far away from the airport.

So it begs the question, would any sane person buy their home off the end of a runway of an airport built in 1945? HPD and RTH stand as a stumbling block to ANY progression of ANY sort.

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By M. Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 15:54:29

Wowza,

Your personal attack is characteristic of an individual who is incapable of putting forth an intelligent argument. For the upteenth time let me address your various points which are clearly unrelated to the aerotropolis and the purpose of the lead article;

1. You live in a rural/suburban setting (and so do the other members of your HPD team). I thought you were FOR urban intensification and AGAINST sprawl? Response - I live just outside the city boudary on a street that was established in the mid 50's not a new residential subdivision that required an urban expansion. We are surrounded by farms and we hope it stays that way and YES - HPD is advocating that the City of Hamilton can achieve future growth via further intensification, brownfield redevelopment and by revitalizing the downtown. That doesn't make me "TWO-Faced" it makes me personally realize there is a better way. Eight of the 10 "core" members of the HPD steering committee live in various parts of the city and I don't know where the 300 other supporters and members live so I don't really know where you are getting your facts from.

2. Your company chose to locate in BURLINGTON, not HAMILTON! What's wrong with our various industrial lands that make you too good for them? Response - Etratech has been in Burlington for 22 years and is located here because I literally lost the flip of a coin in November of 1989. My partner lived here and the alternative was the Ancaster Business Park.

3. Your company makes parts for automobiles! Wouldn't that be considered a GREENHOUSE GAS-EMITTER ? S'pose not! Response - Your right we do manufacture parts for Auto's like the Smartcar and various Hybrids as well as Gasoline vehicles. I don't recall mentioning anything about Greenhouse Gas Emitters?? The main concern we have regarding the aerotropolis is the loss of valuable foodlands. Something which will become increasingly more inportant in the future.

4. Your company outsources alot of it's work to CHINA ! In a day where we need all the high-tech jobs we can get-WHOOSH !! Response - Your right - as an electronic manufacturer we source the vast majority of our electronic componentry from ASIA because they CANNOT be sourced here in North America any longer. We also employ 130 people here in Canada and at least half are in engineering, quality, supply chain management and customer servide. There ya go WHOOSH - all the high paying jobs are here not ASIA!

5. Your company USED to even have John C. Munro listed as a convenient shipping option on your company website ! Looks like you figured-out the embarassment that would cause, right? Send me the link because I think you are prepared to say just ANYTHING!

6. HPD was instrumental in causing Maple Leaf foods to backing-off the opening of a new pork-processing plant in the North Glanbrook industrial lands. Even though you KEEP saying our industrial lands lay fallow, as soon as a company comes along that would have opened-up ALOT of good-paying jobs-BOOM ! You pull the rug from under that one too! Now you go back to saying that our North Glanbrook park remains empty and is indicative of Hamilton's lack of appeal to business ! If that isn't the most TWO-Faced play I EVER saw... Response - Get your facts straight! HPD never commented as to whether Maple Leaf was a good choice for Glanbrrok or not. We were VERY outspoken about the approach being used by the city. There was virtually no engagement of the community and residents were involved only after the decisions were made. I am glad to hear that you think HPD was instrumental in something because perhaps we will be instrumental in stopping this insanity!

Let's argue the facts. If you want to take personal slams at me than give me the opportunity to respond in kind. Oopps - that's not possible because I don't even know what a Wowza is. If you are inclined to "spew-off" please carry on.

M. Desnoyers

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2010 at 16:06:37

I don't know the members of HPD personally, but I know that there are more than two members of that particular group and they can't all live "off the end of the runway".

I also know that I don't live anywhere near the aerotropolis, and it is not likely that any of the recent letter writers to the spec (all of whom are angry about the aerotropolis decision by the way) live up there either.

And I know that HPD is not the only group of citizens concerned about the aerotropolis.

This is not about something happening in a few peoples' back yards. This is about expanding the urban boundary by an area bigger than our entire downtown core, at a huge expense with almost no promise of return.

Here's a question: who owns the proposed aerotropolis lands? Some land owners up there have been fighting for a BIGGER aegd because they want their own land to be included so that they can cash out once the taxpayers fund the servicing!

So no, it does not bother me if somebody is opposed to the aerotropolis going into their backyard. In fact it makes sense to me that all residents should oppose the aeroropolis no mater where they live. The only way that I can see anyone wanting to support the aegd expenditures is if they already own land that is going to be serviced on the backs of the citizens.

Wowza and Capitalist: at least I (as the article writer) and Mr. Desnoyers (in his comments) are not hiding our identities. Why don't you come forward and identify yourselves so that we can go digging into where you live and where you work so that we can try to pick apart the ulterior motive to your comments?

This is about Hamilton. This is not about Mr Desnoyers, it is not about me and it is not about you.

You worry about NIMBYism? Well I believe that the shady back-room deals are what has HINDERED this city for FAR too long. If you aren't on the politicians' "friends" list, then Hamilton is "closed for business" for you. If you are on their list, though, then congrats, we are "open for business" (and willing to hand over public money to help). THAT is what has to stop if we are going to attract more businesses to this town.

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By M. Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 16:08:34

Wowza,

While typing my previous reply to your first tirade I missed the newest.

Where or where do you get your facts from???

I am located OUTSIDE the proposed aerotropolis and by my reckoning nearly 6 km. from the end of the runway. I have NO relatives that live near me and Jack Santa Barbara was the other co-founder of HPD and he lived in Dundas, now Australia!

I am but one individual in a large group of individuals who live all over the city. Was our appeal of the land conversions in Hamilton a NIMBY issue?

Sean is absolutely correct in that the aerotropolis will profoundly impact the entire city of Hamilton so this IS a NIMBY issue for the ENTIRE city.

Wowza - you are losing any sense of credibility here so maybe it is time to stop.

M. Desnoyers

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By Realist (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 20:26:36

Wowza, if what you're saying is true, that would make alot of sense. More NIMBYS to deal with.

If you dont want to live near sprawl or in the 21st century for that matter, move to rural Timmins.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 08:34:33

My post seems to have been lost in the mud-slinging. Once again, does anyone have a link or any printed material available that can confirm the 5X higher electricity rates for AEGD? It's not that I don't believe the information, I would just like to find a way confirm it for any doubters out there. I think this is an unsurmountable road block to any industrial growth, no business will knowingly or willingly subject themselves to that kind of increased utility burden.

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By Wowza (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 09:15:58

Would just like to apologize to all for yesterday's tirade, especially to you Mr. Desnoyers. It was completely disrespectful and I sincerely apologize for centering you out like that. I have NO excuse. We will have to agree to disagree on this matter as I see the aerotropolis as something positive and we will NEVER change each others minds on this matter.


-Wowza

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By M. Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 09:54:13

Wowza,

I accept your apology and in turn offer my own if I was offensive in any manor. This is a very complex and can be at times a very emotional issue. I think we can agree on one item and that is that this will have a major profound impact on the City - one way or the other!

@mrjanitor

The Hydro issue first came to light (no pun intended) during a meeting of a committee (not sure which one) but I seem to recall that it was reported by CATCH and the Spec. so you should be able to research either of those sites. I think you will find that the statement is in fact correct and is an obvious issue.

I am happy to continue the exchange and debate the facts.

M.Desnoyers
Co-Chair
HPD

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By Wowza (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 10:00:59

No, what little negativity you threw back my way was completely deserved. Thank you for accepting my apology !


-Wowza

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By M. Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 10:23:31

Let's keep the conversation going!

The city currently has approximately 1500 acres of Greenfield lands available for NEW development throughout the city. Based upon an average uptake of 75 acres/ year there is approximately a 20 year inventory. To be fair, if we use only 1000 of those acres there is still approximately 13 years available.

WHY DO WE NEED TO EXPAND NOW???

The above question was asked at the final council meeing by two separate councilors to Guy Paparella and he did NOT answer it. Surely we can afford to wait 5 years BEFORE we expand the boudary and committ the city to servicing the lands. That's right COMMIT! Once the lands are brought inside the urban boundary they must eventually be serviced - perhaps for residential if the aerotropolis doesn't take off as predicted.

M. Desnoyers
Co-Chair
HPD

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:10:15

Yesterday some clown sent a flier to my house protesting against the AEGD (I heard that he sent them to thousands of houses). I couldn't help but notice that the organization (I can't recall the name) is locate in the Centennial Road and Mud area.

I couldn't believe it! Here these people are ranting against "sprawl" yet they too are located in "sprawl" territory. Classic NIMBY.

And you expect the people of Hamilton to take these anti-AEGD folks seriously?

A total joke.

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:20:21

So what do we think makes industrial parks such as the one in Mississauga just north of Winston Churchill or in Milton just north of 25 so successful? Why do we not believe that this development will have similar type impact (note that both of those locations took 10+ years to fill in, and are actually still being expanded).

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:49:42

I never understand the appeal of exurb office parks or light-industry parks - "Our employees need a massive cash outlay and will spend an hour out of their own lives every day just to come to work! Awesome!"

But the corporate world seems to love them.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:58:02

"So what do we think makes industrial parks such as the one in Mississauga just north of Winston Churchill or in Milton just north of 25 so successful?" Being next to Toronto.

"But the corporate world seems to love them." Cheap land, easy servicing, parking and commuting become Somebody Else's Problem.

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By M. Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 13:23:14

Robbie K;

You make a very good point and I can't comment on what factors existed at the time the Mississauga or Milton parks were developed. What we have to determine is will this development, the aerotropolis, be successful based upon the data and information compiled by the $2 Million of studies conducted by Dillon.

To answer a much earlier question/point made by Capitalist let me quote directly from the Dillon reports " While the focus of our analysis is on the market potential for lands which surround the airport, the current operations, employment activities and expansion potential of the HIA are closely tied to the form and magnitude of employement growth within the AEGD". This is from the Phase 1 report, page 85. Also, "The strength and nature of this relationship is largely dependent on the size and type of direct airport acivities, in terms of the number of passengers and amount and type of cargo". This from the Phase 2 report, page 7 and is in reference to the relationship between employment lands surrounding airports and synergy with airport activities.

It is very clear that there is a direct connection between the success of these employment lands and what happens at the airport and yet no study or analysis to answer the question - What if the airport eventually fails? The airport has missed the projections set out by Tradeport on virtually everything but we are to believe that it will achieve something in the next 10 years that it has not been able to achieve in the last 40!

The very premise that the Dillon reports suggests is that development will occur at the AEGD 5 times faster than is currently being experienced in Hamilton. Is something happening that we are not aware of?

This is why I ask the question earlier WHY DO WE NEED TO EXPAND NOW??? I do hope someone will comment on this.

Here is another question - Why is it that whenever someone demonstrates their passion for something they get labeled as an activist or NIMBY or "clown" just because their opinoin is different then possibly yours?

M. Desnoyers
Co-Chair
HPD

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 20:46:06

Having lived in Milton for the majority of my life, I can honestly say I have never heard a single person complaining about either of those locations. It is not like they are simple just warehouses either, there are some very nice jobs to be had.

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By Sniff Sniff (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2010 at 21:16:01

Reviewing this discussion, why not be more direct? These questions will shed some light on the ethics and dynamics of this project.

1) Why was the airport expansion passed with such urgency?

2) If the aerotropolis is so good for the City of Hamilton, why is the agreement with Ron Foxcroft's Tradeport so secretive? Let it out of the hat, and let's decide for ourselves. A city-wide referendum, perhaps?

3) Who owns the land within the approved area, besides David Braley (isn't this a conflict already since he is now a Senator)? And how much does each person own? This includes options and transferring agent. Perhaps there are some interesting links.

4) Why has the Hamilton Spectator never seriously investigated this huge local issue, especially before the election? We should contact the Globe, CBC, MacLeans and some other 'authorities'. This is crazy!!!

5) Some folks are making millions on the back of the average Hamilton taxpayer here. Who?

6) I heard of a movement to Boycott Hamilton Airport and at the same time, focus a spotlight on the project dynamics. Has this officially started yet?

Something's fishy. This airport thing needs some serious media attention. People have been telling me about it since the council vote. I had no idea. Is there a website I can visit to get up to speed myself, and to forward to my friends?

Sniff Sniff

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted October 30, 2010 at 11:44:56

I object to aerotropolis being sold to the public as a creator of high paying employment.

Portraying the employment prospects there as suitable for their university educated children is disingenuous. When someone has to sell by knowingly making misleading statements there is something wrong.

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