Commentary

Pro and Con: Trinity Proposal on MIP Employment Lands

This is a very important issue to which everyone within Southwest, Westdale, and even Dundas should pay attention.

By Betsy Agar
Published January 18, 2008

I went to the meeting at St. Joeseph's Church on January 10 about the proposal to develop a retail centre on old CP lands next to the new McMaster Innovation Park (MIP).

This proposal is being actively opposed by the City of Hamilton, which has temporarily zoned the lands under the West Hamilton Innovation District (WHID) by-law. Previously, the land had been zoned for anything but residential.

Trinity, Canada's second largest retail developer, wants to put what they call an urban version of a big box store. MIP is considered the model WHID development.

This is a very important issue to which everyone within Southwest, Westdale, and even Dundas should pay attention.

Arguments For Trinity's Retail Development

Arguments Against Trinity's Retail Development

Groups Opposed to Plan

Groups In Favour

Groups Abstaining

Betsy Agar, B.Eng., M.A.Sc., P.Eng. is a research engineer and sessional lecturer at McMaster University who has a passion for the environment and concern for socioeconomic inequalities.

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By Jon (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2008 at 14:31:48

I would be very, very skeptical of any claims on Trinity's part of an urban or pedestrian friendly slant to this project. Where are there any newly built retail centres of any such quality in Ontario?

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By w willy (registered) | Posted January 18, 2008 at 14:57:46

Given the size of the anchor stores, the development requires high volumes of customers drawn from a very large catchment area, hence large number of drivers. In and out access to that area would be quite difficult, at least without making the link between Westdale and Kirkendall that much more pedestrian and bike unfriendly. Certainly not safer for the significant Westdale high pedestrian traffic. Also, large parking lots are completely out of keeping with Mac'splans to limit parking lot space on their parcel.

More to the point, where are the Hamilton tenors for "employment lands" now? A key piece of real estate is on the line, with a choice between Trinity (low # of jobs per acre, relatively low wage sector) and MIP (high # of jobs per acre, relatively high wage sector). Terry Cooke et al., we are waiting to hear from you.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2008 at 22:12:04

"More to the point, where are the Hamilton tenors for "employment lands" now? A key piece of real estate is on the line, with a choice between Trinity (low # of jobs per acre, relatively low wage sector) and MIP (high # of jobs per acre, relatively high wage sector). Terry Cooke et al., we are waiting to hear from you."

Excellent point.

Honestly.

I'll tell you one thing, none of them were at the pre-hearing registering to protect these employment lands.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 19, 2008 at 22:32:13

guys, spare yourselves the agony. None of "those guys" care about Hamilton or our planning/economy. Politicians around here care about keeping their jobs. Period.

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By ... (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2008 at 15:14:03

That's becuase they can't build a highway (and and more ugly, stuccoe & alumn siding, cookie cutter houses) to it.

So unless it's going to fatten the wallets of their *cough*DiIanni's*cough* friends, then it's none of their concern... sadly...

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By Dave (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2008 at 18:52:32

Generally as I have thought many times, Hamilton Staff and Politicians will take any type of development and approve it. As opposed to being patient and waiting for the right application to come in. Looks like some more Big Box, in the only real research park in the City. Real smart!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 24, 2008 at 11:49:05

Actually, in this case Dave, the city is fighting Trinity's proposal. However our media and business 'elites' who are always chastising us for our lack of "shovel-ready land" have been notably silent, except to suggest that the only possible objection nearby residents could have to this tragic waste of prime employment land is the increased traffic.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 24, 2008 at 11:52:55

Also, you can add Aberdeen Holdings, the current owners of the land in question, to the list of those who 'favour'.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 24, 2008 at 13:55:55

don't get me started on 'shovel-ready land'. that's the biggest crock ever sold to the public in this city. We've had a TON of shovel ready land opened up in recent years. All along the Linc, QEW, 403 extension and now top of Red Hill. And guess what? Virtually all of it was covered in more subdivisions and big box stores. 3 problems: - City Hall can't plan worth a darn. - Even if they do plan well (such as with MIP), the 'leaders and elites' in town suddenly disappear when another box or subdivision proposal comes along. - Businesses haven't wanted to come here, or else we'd have seen some along the 403, Linc or Red Hill.
Until council realizes that downtown is the face of the entire community they can keep building highways till the cows come home, but NO business is going to willingly relocate their firm or employees here due to all of the 'quality of life' issues. This isn't the 1950's. You don't just slap up a bunch of highways to nowhere and have people build along them just because they're there. So much more is involved these days in locating and re-locating business.
Quality of life, transportation, environment, cleanliness, vibrant urban life etc.... are all huge factors keeping businesses away from here. And based on the lack of vision from city hall, the media and 'elites', those same issues will continue to hamper us for decades to come.

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By Re-Balance (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2008 at 08:46:18

Jason you have so many ideas why don't you run for office? Cause talk is cheap but action more difficult?

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By Alex Patterson (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2008 at 10:33:05

More big box stores. Hooray. Just what Hamilton needs. It isn't as if that sort of development is going on at the old Centre Mall site, or Waterdown, or Clapison's Corners, or around Summit Peak, or Meadowlands....

The big box store is a marvelous invention. It allows a large transnational corporation to build a warehouse as a store, staff it with uniformed, low-wage employees, and drive small businesses out of town, with their multi-acre-free parking lots sucking business from an enormous radius (witness Meadowlands and the downtown). Economies of scale, in terms of space, corporate capital resources and bulk purchasing, and due to their near-universally lack of unions, they simply blow small shop owners out of the water. Because they aren't small businesses, or locally owned, there is no local decision-making-power (and thus no local accountability), and profits sail away just as far.

Why are we encouraging this type of development? Why is the CPP investing in the Centre Mall redevelopment? Why is McMaster (*not*, counter to its own delusions, a for-profit company) financing this? Why, in one of the few parts of the city where small businesses have a chance to flourish (Locke/downtown/Westdale) is this even being considered?

Either we own the businesses in our community, or someone else does. It's that simple.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 25, 2008 at 10:56:13

Re-balance - no thanks on the offer to run for office! Besides, I'm not rich and I don't have any rich friends who could pay for my campaign in order to benefit from me being in office. lol.

and for the record, I don't consider concerned citizens like the ones who chime in on these message boards to be participating in 'cheap talk'. Many ideas you'll read on forums like this are very doable and very simple. In fact, most ideas mentioned on here are being done in cities all over Canada, the US and Europe. How hard is it to build a new highway and reserve large plots of land along it's right-of-way for industrial use?? A quick drive along the QEW and 401 leads me to believe that it's not very hard at all.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 25, 2008 at 10:57:02

Mac isn't financing this per se, but they've made some cozy little deal with the developer whereby they promised they wouldn't fight it either. I'm not sure how it enhances Mac's stature to have such a downmarket development on its doorstep, but then alot of Mac's planning choices are distinctly suburban in character.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2008 at 11:43:08

Re "talk is cheap":

Many of those 'cheap talking' people in the community have educated themselves about this issue, shared what they learned, discussed its merits and problems, and are actively engaged in helping to shape their neighbourhood through the political process:

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/911

It's a shame you would rather conduct implied personal attacks than recognize the groundswell of citizen engagement taking place under your nose.

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By Dave (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2008 at 07:51:26

Hi, Highwater:

Thanks for your comments. You raise some correct points. Does "shovel ready land", refer to industrial type of lands as proposed up by the airport or does it include these lands too?

Do you think it is fair to say if the City was really against this type of proposal, the policies in the new Secondary Plan should have been more "iron tight" to avoid this and not give an "in" for such an application? Secondly to reach the public consultation stage shows some level of consideration at this time. If the City was so confident about this not going ahead, perhaps it should have approached it another way.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 28, 2008 at 13:22:31

Hi Dave,

To the best of my knowledge, 'shovel-ready' refers to a site that is available, fully-serviced, and developable, ie. no outstanding environmental mitigation, utility rights of way, etc., which is why the city is so anxious to expand the urban boundary and service the lands around the airport. The Innovation lands certainly qualify under the first two conditions, and I'm guessing that any environmental mitigation is minimal or Trinity would not be so interested.

As for the city's strategy, I'm afraid I have no special knowledge. I'm just a concerned citizen who is hoping the Innovation Park will contribute to the revitalization of my neighbourhood, and doesn't want to see this once-in-a-generation opportunity pissed away on surface parking and a handful of part-time, minimum wage jobs. Honestly though, I don't know that there is much more that the city could have done. I am not aware of anything that prevents a corporation from challenging zoning bylaws at the OMB. But I wouldn't be surprised if there's someone on this site more erudite than myself who could give you a better answer.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 28, 2008 at 15:58:18

The real problem here is actually the OMB. It's purpose is noble enough - to give people another decision-making body to appeal decisions by cities that are contrary to good planning or already established policies. Sadly, the OMB has become a haven for this type of thing. Groups (who can easily afford never-ending litigation) taking a city for a hearing in order to have a very clear and well-thought out planning process overturned. If the OMB had any character or integrity it would never have allowed itself to become used for such endeavors. They should tell groups like Trinity to take a hike. The OMB does not exist to run cities. It exists to help uphold planning policies in place. If that were truly the case, Trinity would never bother taking this to the OMB since the city's planning and positions are (for once) very sound and very clear. Trinty knows full-well that the OMB does NOT operate according to their original mandate and they in fact do have a shot at winning this case due to past history of insane OMB decisions.

As for the actual process, I have no clue if the OMB members are paid off or 'favoured' etc...but their operating guidelines are sketchy at best.

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By Dave (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2008 at 23:14:30

In the end the City as a whole, either approved by Council or by staff will ensure this development goes ahead in one shape or another. In the cry for more tax dollars. At a time with declining commercial revenues that will be the problem. I am sure with the recent staff increases proposed through negotiations the City will have to find ways to pay for that. Hence looking at approving more development to generate more tax dollars. In the end, the City, can walk the talk, but it will get approved through back room negotiations. As most things in this City are approved that way. Very sad.

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