Revitalization

Bizarro World Pan Am Planning in Hamilton

By Jason Leach
Published February 06, 2009

A news article in this week's Hamilton Weeklies reports that Hamilton's Pan Am committee recommends eliminating downtown Hamilton as an option for a new stadium.

Of course, what else would we expect?

While virtually every other city in North America that has built a new stadium in the past decade for pro or minor league sports has located their facility downtown, it comes as no surprise that Hamilton would choose to buck the trend.

I fully expect us to make yet another 1960's style decision and locate this new facility out by the airport where spinoff effects are zero, image-boosting is zero and accessibility to thousands of residents who don't own a car is zero.

Why? Apparently, a downtown location is "more complex".

Believe it or not, it takes leadership, good planning and a genuine desire to do what's best for the city to build a stadium downtown.

Toronto, Memphis, Cleveland, Seattle, Winnipeg and Baltimore are among cities that worked through the complexities of an urban stadium project because it's the right thing to do and results in the biggest payback and spinoff effects.

Of course it's easy to slap up a stadium out in the middle of nowhere. That fact that we're even considering doing so says a lot about the priorities and leadership of our local officials.

If you're a fan of the TV show Seinfeld, you're familiar with 'Bizarro World'. If you reside in Hamilton you have the misfortune of actually living in it.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

42 Comments

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 10:57:35

Maybe they're saying it will be too expensive to build downtown. In that case just don't build at all. A (still expensive) stadium bought with pubic money out in the middle of nowhere is WORSE than useless because it spurs no investment and is an ongoing net drain on public funds.

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By Jonathan (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 12:17:21

The waterfront is the far superior location in my mind because it would leave all those downtown blocks open to future development. I know it would be tempting to fill all those awful parking lots with whatever we possibly can but what belongs there is buildings, residential, retail and office. Megaprojects that cut off streets and leave big blobs in the downtown aren't good in the long run. Regardless, it was pure stupidity to eliminate downtown before eliminating the airport area. This way it comes down to the best and the worst locations as the final choice. We always seem to insist on the absolute worst garbage when it comes to developments in this city so I can't exactly have faith, but here's hoping anyhow.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 12:38:20

Jonathan, you're bang on. How in the world could downtown be eliminated before the airport? In fact, how could anything be eliminated before the airport??

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 13:42:08

Jason, instead of relying on one-offs to jump start the Hamilton economy, why not reduce our taxes? Even if the city just cut the rate for the residents right downtown, this would mean more disposable income in the pockets of individuals to spend at shows, restaurant, retailers, etc. This way we would get investments in real businesses rather than white elephants that politicians love to waste our money on.

We could even abolish taxes for the worst areas in the downtown, if this is what it took to build it back up. After a few years, when we got rid of the vacant and run down buildings, the city could gradually increase the rate.

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By memeologist (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 13:48:16

^Broken record is broken.

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By Hammerhead (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 13:49:56

Good article Jason. I wonder if any thought has been given to some of the brownfield areas in city? It seems to me that these areas (of which there are plenty and soon to be more)would make more sense than the airport.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 06, 2009 at 14:45:51

Hammerhead wrote:

I wonder if any thought has been given to some of the brownfield areas in city?

Yeah, Hemson Consulting studied them last year and discovered that there aren't any. :P

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1034

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By Doug Darling (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 14:46:15

I have to say, as a person living in Winnipeg, having a downtown arena (The MTS Centre) has done nothing but good for Winnipeg. We now get concerts, that's we never got before, it looks great aesthetically, and is the first key-step in revitalizing a decrepit downtown. The MTS Centre just announced that it is the 3rd busiest arena--before sporting events--which beats out Calgary and Vancouver. Winnipeg people! I think the last time Winnipeg beat those two cities at anything, the Panama Canal hadn't been built. The Centre is also the 19th busiest in the world. Not bad.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 14:51:19

Olympics, Pan Am Games ALWAYS leave the hosting city in the hole. If we are looking at a bleaker future for Hamilton with less manufacturing, steel embargos by the U.S. etc., I'm not even sure why we put in a bid at all, & why is Hamilton continuing with it's bid.

Giant venues not only put the City in a finacial mess, they escalate homelessness by making affordable housing more scarce. You never hear of athlete's or press housing being converted into something low income people could have, after The Games. It's either dismantled, or sold as a hotel, or condos etc..

Sports facilities would be better suited to Downtown, & there are abundant places to put them. I don't know what it is about a green field, a forest, or a generally pretty piece of undeveloped land that just makes these guys 'all a twitter'.

"Must Have!! Must Deforest!! Must develope!! Muuuust Pave!!" (spoken in Zombie voice.)

As long as developers of whatever stripe are allowed to ignore Downtown & head off to the hinterland, we will continue to have a vacant city core, & ugly unbridled sprawl in the 'Burbs, & beyond.
What is it about Downtown that repells development?

Or is it, what advantages are being given to those who choose to 'sprawl' & why should this be allowed to continue in light of McGuinty's Green Space promises? Is Hamilton exempt?

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By MattM (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 15:00:36

FYI, the waterfront proposal is a brownfield site.

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By Doug Darling (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 15:07:55

I have to say, as a person living in Winnipeg, having a downtown arena (The MTS Centre) has done nothing but good for Winnipeg. We now get concerts, that's we never got before, it looks great aesthetically, and is the first key-step in revitalizing a decrepit downtown. The MTS Centre just announced that it is the 3rd busiest arena--before sporting events--which beats out Calgary and Vancouver. Winnipeg people! I think the last time Winnipeg beat those two cities at anything, the Panama Canal hadn't been built. The Centre is also the 19th busiest in the world. Not bad.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 15:39:43

For some further context, I didn't post this article in any way to state an opinion for or against hosting the PanAm games...that topic really does deserve to be covered on RTH though. I'm merely stating that if we are going to host this venue for these games, we should at least get the most bang for our buck.

Doug Darling, thanks for that reply from Winnipeg... that arena is exactly what I was referring to when I included the Peg in my short list of cities. Here in Hamilton we've seen our downtown entertainment facilities bring in some impressive acts and post some impressive numbers recently. Hamilton Place was ranked one of the top 50 theatres in the world last year. Roy Thompson Hall was the only other Canadian theatre to make the list. Not surprisingly, our major theatres, convention centre and arena are also downtown. I live downtown and see all the Bulldogs (AHL hockey team) sweaters in local restaurants and pubs before and after games. San Francisco has seen tremendous investment in the neighbourhood around it's new baseball park downtown....and if anyone really wants a shocker, check out the area around the new stadium in downtown San Diego. Yes, San Diego - known for it's beautiful oceanfront and non-stop sprawl, their downtown is absolutely booming to life right now and new sports facilities are part of the boom.

Assuming the PanAm games are coming, I'm merely advocating for some common sense to prevail and for some long-neglected parts of our downtown to benefit from the investment.

If I had to name my top 3 sites off the top of my head, I would say: 1. Sir John A MacDonald school 2. Rebecca/John 3. Bay/Barton

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 16:42:53

A Smith How would reducing tax rates (supposedly property taxes) help reduce vacancy rates? Rates appear to be low enough now that companies can hold large swaths of down town vacant for decades. An escalating property tax for years of vacancy (carrying over to purchasers of the property to avoid shenanigans) would appear to be a much better way to reduce vacancy rates.

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By H Mag (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 18:26:02


I still like the brownfields along Wellington North - I think it was the old Ball Manufacturing Plant.

It is close to the new buildings being built as part of the General. Transit, easy access along Burlington Street and close to waterfront and the downtown - without being right there.

Just think of the spin-offs for Barton Street - bars, restaurants, shops and increased vitality.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 18:39:22

Jon C, >> ? Rates appear to be low enough now that companies can hold large swaths of down town vacant for decades.

First of all, vacant properties are a symptom of the lack of demand for people wanting to live in Hamilton. Secondly, if property owners stopped believing that taxpayers were going to give them sweetheart deals, perhaps they wouldn't buy them in the first place, in which case they would be vacant for other reasons. However, judging by the fiasco that is/was the Lister block, the city is teaching others to do the very same thing, namely hold out long enough and you too will get a great deal at the taxpayers expense.

A better solution is to reduce tax rates across the board. For example, if you own a home $300,000 home in Hamilton, you pay the city almost $5000 in taxes per year. If you own a $300,000 home in Toronto, you only pay $2559 in taxes. Therefore, if you are interested in keeping as much of your income as possible (which most people are), why would you choose a city that takes almost twice as much in taxes? You wouldn't.

If Hamilton reduced its dead weight cost of owning property in Hamilton to Toronto levels, you would increase demand for properties, because you would be increasing the amount of income investors/individuals could keep. However, instead of relying on political games like the Lister block, lower tax rates would serve as an across the board subsidy/incentive for everybody. Over time, this would have the effect of making Hamilton a great place to locate and would increase the demand for residences as a result.

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By Jon C (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 20:08:25

A Smith
You may want to check your numbers as residential rates don't apply to commercial property. While the tax rate in Hamilton is marginally more expensive (all other factors are comparable or cheaper) it is currently more expensive to hold vacant commercial land in Toronto than Hamilton

www.investinhamilton.ca/developmentchargestaxrates.asp
4.57% for land in use but reduced to 3.20% for vacant buildings/excess land

www.toronto.ca/taxes/property_tax/tax_rates.htm
Either 4.11% or 4.06% on the first million of value and 4.11% on the remainder (depending on usage) regardless of use.

So the numbers more or less prove the exact opposite of what you wrote.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 20:58:21

^yet another hijacked thread. just stop responding to his inane comments.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 21:40:39

Jon C, does having a lower tax rate on vacant land promote vacancy? I'm not sure, I never really thought of it that way before. However, seeing that most property owners want to make money on their investment and have fixed costs related to ownership (mortgage payments), I doubt that letting buildings remain vacant is their first choice. I tend to think most would like to have paying tenants. However, if you think that it acts like an incentive in letting buildings remain vacant, I can see where you may have a point, albeit very small. Therefore, if you think the city should drop commercial rates down to the same rate as vacant commercial properties, that would be very helpful.

>> While the tax rate in Hamilton is marginally more expensive (all other factors are comparable or cheaper)

Tax rates on residential properties aren't just marginally more expensive in Hamilton as compared to Toronto, they are almost twice as much. In effect, the city of Hamilton charges people/investors twice as much for the same level of services as does Toronto. Why would anyone fork over an extra .82% x their property value if they didn't have to? This extra cost explains why there are more vacant buildings in Hamilton than Toronto, why less people want to live here and why property values are about half as much.

If the city wants to foster demand for it's product, they should start by matching residential rates with Toronto. This would not have to happen overnight, but could be phased in over a few years. It would require cutting a certain amount of spending, but not as much as most people would think, as the increased demand for homes would push up property values and thus assessments. The recent cut in commercial tax rates up until 2006 has shown what lowering costs for businesses can do, as many new developments have taken place since their reduction.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 21:55:51

Peter, >> yet another hijacked thread. just stop responding to his inane comments.

inane

1 : empty , insubstantial 2 : lacking significance, meaning, or point : silly

Debating how tax policy affects property values is inane, but talking about where the Pan Am stadium get built is serious? I suppose the fact that I grew up in Oakville explains why I don't think like a true Hamiltonian. Only someone who grew up in a culture of relative poverty and with the desire to have government control their economy would think that building a white elephant would do anything to create real wealth.

Leaving more money in people's pockets and letting them spend it on local businesses would do much more to build long term prosperity, than pinning all your hopes on a stadium that will be filled a couple of dozen times a year.

Get a clue Peter.

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By Jon C (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 23:08:18

Comparing residential to commercial rates is a false debate and continuing on the same debate after the numbers proving your point wrong is ridiculous, taking my words out of context aside. Comparing rates heads up is also not accurate as the city of Toronto has implemented numerous taxes that affect users on a usage basis that the city of Hamilton has chosen not to implement. Anyhow, no matter what you say, I will be ignoring your future comments as you don't appear to care to engage in a legitimate debate.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 23:24:43

I agree with Peter...it would be nice to have the odd discussion on RTH not turn into the same stupid thing time and time again. We get it.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 06, 2009 at 23:44:18

A Smith: A question for you, you can go on about tax rates but is not the assessed value of the property which drives the amount one pays? Just asking in light of McQuinty's statement that the MCAP assessments are overvalued but the provincial itself is not going to do anything about that.

I mean think about it, if your home is valued at $300,000, when it is actually only worth $225,000, who is at fault? Is it not the people who keep voting for the same old, same old bureaucracy that keeps jamming it to the people. It is the people that need to stand up and speak out and say " we're not going to take any more".

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 11:19:58

JonC >> Comparing residential to commercial rates is a false debate

I am not comparing commercial rates to residential rates. I am comparing Toronto's residential rates with Hamilton's residential rates. Apples to apples.

>> continuing on the same debate after the numbers proving your point wrong is ridiculous

What numbers? Are you referring to the lower vacancy commercial tax rates? Like I said before, if you want to get rid of the lower rates for vacant buildings that would be fine. However, if your point is that people buy commercial buildings, simply with the goal of having them sit vacant is ridiculous. Investors like generating a positive return on their equity, so having their asset sit empty is the last thing they want. Buildings sit vacant either because the politicians lead investors to believe they will get a bail out and/or there is simply not enough demand coming from the market.

>> Comparing rates heads up is also not accurate as the city of Toronto has implemented numerous taxes that affect users on a usage basis that the city of Hamilton has chosen not to implement

What taxes in particular? Furthermore, do they add up to thousands a year? More details please. If you are referring to the land transfer tax, then you are making my point for me. Sales and home values have dropped in Toronto, relative to surrounding communities, since that tax was brought in.

>> I will be ignoring your future comments as you don't appear to care to engage in a legitimate debate

Tell me where I have distorted the truth. All my numbers are correct, as were yours. Only in my reasoning do you take issue. That's okay, but lets not stop debating just because we don't agree. I have already said your point about reduced rates for vacant buildings was something I hadn't though of before, so we all can learn from each others view on things.

Jason >> I agree with Peter...it would be nice to have the odd discussion on RTH not turn into the same stupid thing time and time again. We get it.

Obviously you don't get it, because if you did, you wouldn't be discussing where to build taxpayer funded white elephants. Haven't you learned anything from Hamilton's love affair with grand projects? Why not look to locales that actually are doing better than we are, such as Halton, Peel, Toronto (less so in recent history), instead of looking to politicians to turn things around?

What Hamilton truly needs is people with disposable income and businesses who want to invest and create jobs. The best way to bring that about is to lower the tax rate on properties, both residential and commercial. By doing this, you would be leaving the residents of Hamilton with more money in their pocket, which they would spend at local establishments, increasing the amount of jobs in the city and decreasing the amount of vacant buildings.

Unfortunately, the method favoured by most on this site is to create big, expensive, yet highly visible projects, that politicians can have their picture taken beside. However, we have all seen this movie before and it never has a happy ending. Why not try something different this time and lower our tax rates to the same level or lower than our richer more prosperous neighbours. If it doesn't produce positive results over a five year time frame, then you will have proof to show to any other free market thinker like myself who claims it will work. As it stands today, all the experiments have been big government solutions and we still are one of the poorest communities in Canada.

If you keep doing the same thing over again (big government, taxpayer funded projects), why do you expect different results.


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By arienc (registered) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 11:25:46

There are too many potential negatives to this whole stadium game.

  1. We are currently at the beginning of what is expected to be a deep recession, potentially a depression. Tax revenues wiill no doubt be declining, Adding to an already massive debt at this time doesn't make sense. In order for the city to grow and improve, tax rates need to be sustainable. They currently are not, and a recession will make the situation much, much worse than it is today. 'Matching tax rates with Toronto' would entail basically shutting down the city. Taxes are destined to go up, way up. A stadium will only add to that increase.

  2. Even if we could afford the capital costs, the operating costs are prohibitive. The Tiger Cats' stadium operating costs for Ivor Wynne are currently subsidized by the city. Operating a second stadium will cost significantly more.

  3. Obaining enough financing from the capital markets for a stadium will be difficult. It may even prevent Hamilton from being able to finance other priorities, such as LRT. Since LRT is far more important to life in the city than a stadium, we need to give that project top priority. It's very likely that saying yes to a stadium means saying no to LRT.

  4. What is to become of Ivor Wynne if a new stadium is built? There is little appetite for development in this part of Hamilton, except for more big box stores. It's very likely that taxpayers will either be paying to maintain an empty stadium, paying to tear it down and maintain another parking lot, or selling the land to developers for another big box plaza.

  5. There is no business plan for how this stadium is used after the Pan Am games are over. Sure we will have 8 regular season Ti-Cats games, so we can count on the stadium being used 9-12 days every year. What will attract 20,000 or more people to the stadium on the other 353 days?

  6. Hamilton's council has shown atrocious judgement with every major development decision it has made...Lister, City Hall, brownfields, Red Hill, Aerotropolis...the list goes on. Whatever decision is made on a Pan Am stadium, it is clear it will be directly against the best interests of the people of Hamilton.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 11:39:50

Grassroots, >> A question for you, you can go on about tax rates but is not the assessed value of the property which drives the amount one pays?

Yes, it is the combination of property values and the tax rate. However, on a dollar for dollar basis, Hamilton taxes property owners almost twice as much as Toronto and much more than most of the GTA. The rationale of course is that it needs to have higher rates, because of Hamilton's lower property values. This of course is ridiculous, because it assumes that property values are static and would not increase if we gave people a better deal on their investment.

If we want to make Hamilton a great place for people to live, cut the property tax rate, allow people to keep and spend more of their money (rather than politicians) and people will flock here.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 12:22:28

A Smith...

A $300K home in Hamilton is a four-bedroom, 2500 square-footer with 50' frontage, and municipal services and infrastructure built to support same.

A $300K home in Toronto is a one-bedroom, 700 sq ft. condo. Much much lower cost of servicing than a Hamilton home on large lot.

Which makes for a very poor comparison. A home in Toronto receiving the same level of municipal services as the Hamilton $300K home would be valued at $600K, and would not have substantially lower tax rates than the same home in Hamilton.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 12:32:05

Arienc, the quality of life in Toronto is much higher than Hamilton, which many more sites of interest, venues and restaurants, etc. Furthermore, what extra services do you get if you live in Hamilton versus Toronto? Does having a bigger house mean the police will arrive at your door faster? Does it mean they will take out more garbage? Does it mean you have better transit? Does it mean you can flush the toilet more, use more electricity, go to the library more?

Please tell me what a homeowner living in a bigger house in Hamilton gets from the city that someone living in a condo in Toronto does not?

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By Jon C (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 15:00:27

hey arienc
I think a more apt comparison is that a condo in downtown Toronto is typically three to four times the price of one in Hamilton, thus the average homeowner in downtown Hamilton pays significantly less property tax on a similarly sized home than the average downtown living Torontonian no matter how some people would attempt to cherry pick and distort facts.

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By Balance (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 15:47:59

We already have a white elephant...........it's called Copps Coliseum.......has anyone taken a close look at the exterior of that structure and all the burnt out lighting.......why build new anywhere when we can't even maintain what we have? I doubt that Copps has the economic spin-offs that it was supposed to have. Most people simply come downtown, park, watch the event and then leave. Very similar to the casino in Brantford. We need to create an environment where people will stay and explore. I've never seen any advertising for other venues, ie restaurants, shopping, bayfront park (just a short walk away) etc at any of the event buildings......Copps, Hamilton Place, Convention Centre. The visitors don't know that anything else exists outside of those walls.

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By Dave (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 16:00:42

I would be happy with the stadium anywhere in the lower city. I would like to see the current Ivor Wynne site explored as an option. It seems that new stadium could work in a North South orientation. Knock down Ivor Wynne, Brian Timmins, and the late Scott Park while you're at it. Maybe the the section of Cannon St. between Melrose and Balsam can be rerouted somehow. Regardless, the stadium should be in a neighbourhood, for reasons mentioned above. If this isn't feasible, I'm sure there are Brownfields in the North End that could work. The question is, where do the Ticats play during construction? I think they should sit out a season just for being the worst team in the Federal League!

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 16:45:06

Jon C, >> I think a more apt comparison is that a condo in downtown Toronto is typically three to four times the price of one in Hamilton, thus the average homeowner in downtown Hamilton pays significantly less property tax on a similarly sized home than the average downtown living Torontonian no matter how some people would attempt to cherry pick and distort facts.

People don't buy homes primarily based on size, they buy into neighborhoods that have good employment opportunities, excellent shopping, dining and cultural establishments and where there is a general sense of prosperity. That is why homes in downtown Hamilton, although they are bigger than many homes in Toronto, sell for much less. If the city reduced the cost associated with owning property in Hamilton, people and businesses would have more disposable income and this would lead to more shops, restaurants and cultural offerings. This in turn would make the area more desirable and would drive up home prices.

Therefore, what people would lose in home size, they would gain in neighborhood experience.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 20:07:08

A Smith: Sometimes you confuse me, in your last post you seem to be advocating for the outsiders to be buying homes. Lowering taxes and so on, that makes it more affordable for outsiders to be here and take the spaces but what about the Hamiltonians?

If the working people cannot afford the prices now, what does the effect of rising home prices do? While people are moving from the greater toronto area, do they work here in Hamilton?

You put the emphasis on the "paper" value and not the true value of what the people can afford, those the working people, those that struggle? How does that move those who struggle closer to the dream of owning assets such as a home, which is road out of poverty?

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By Bill (registered) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 22:16:49

I do not understand what the discussion is all about? I thought that we already went thought a site location exercise when we bid on the Commonwealth games on our own? It was on the waterfront at Bay and Barton area. Why are we wasting time and money on another inept exercise again?

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By arienc (registered) | Posted February 07, 2009 at 22:33:13

A Smith...so what if the quality of life in Toronto is much higher than Hamilton, and they have more restaurants, etc. What does that have to do with taxes?

Does having a bigger house mean the police will arrive at your door faster? Does it mean they will take out more garbage? Does it mean you have better transit? Does it mean you can flush the toilet more, use more electricity, go to the library more?

Certainly the cost of things like road maintenance, sewage treatment, trash collection, connections to services all link more closely to square footage than to market value. Plus, lower density is less efficient to provide services to. And yes, people with larger homes generally do generate more garbage.

I understand your relentless desire for lowering taxes. However you neglect to understand that those tax dollars are used to maintain certain essential services. While these services can often be delivered more efficiently, the fact is we are significantly underspending on the things that matter, like maintaining our civic infrastructure in a state of good repair. If we can't even afford to maintain what we have with the tax rates we have now, imagine what the impact of lowering taxes will be.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 08, 2009 at 01:40:38

Arienc, >> Certainly the cost of things like road maintenance, sewage treatment, trash collection, connections to services all link more closely to square footage than to market value

If that is the case, then why can Oakville (www.oakville.ca/2009taxrates.htm) and Burlington have tax rates much lower than Hamilton? Both of those communities are much less dense (population wise) than Hamilton, as are Ancaster, Dundas and Stoney Creek.

>> However you neglect to understand that those tax dollars are used to maintain certain essential services

Take a look at the 2007 budget and you see that total public works in Hamilton only made up 22.7% of overall expenditures. Social services was the biggest number at 23.8%. Furthermore, just because you need to bring in a certain amount of money to pay for city services, does not mean you need to raise tax rates. If a city right next door (Burlington) can run a more sprawling community than Hamilton, using lower tax rates, so can we.

The thing you fail to appreciate, is how consumer demand for properties would go up in Hamilton, if tax rates fell. In turn, greater demand would push assessments up, thus allowing the city to collect more revenue at a lower tax rate.

Furthermore, by capping the tax rate at no more than 1% of property values, it would force legislators to discipline themselves in their spending proposals. Given the history of elected officials in Hamilton, this would probably be a great idea.

Grassroots, >> A Smith: Sometimes you confuse me, in your last post you seem to be advocating for the outsiders to be buying homes. Lowering taxes and so on, that makes it more affordable for outsiders to be here and take the spaces but what about the Hamiltonians?

Lowering the tax rate on property increases the demand for property and therefore pushes up the value of land. However, this does not necessarily mean that the cost per square foot of a housing unit must go up. If the city reduced restrictions on building heights, this would allow developers to build as high as they wanted and would reduce the land cost associated with new developments. Therefore, you could have increasing land values and lower or stable prices for housing units. The result would be a faster growing city with many more job opportunities.

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By here (anonymous) | Posted February 08, 2009 at 22:09:45

By eliminating downtown, do they mean Barton/Bay? The brownfield just left of there is an excellent location. Although eliminating some of the parking lots behind King St. isn't a bad idea.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 08, 2009 at 22:47:01

A Smith: Are talking about building apartment or condo units? Did not the property taxes rise because of the downloading from the province, plus the fact that they did away with the business tax and put the onus on the property owners to collect these fees? Was it not the agenda of the common sense revolution, that it was them "poor people" that were causing the rise in taxes, yet the poor people have been getting less and less but the taxes kept going up.

Do you have any insight into the breakdown of the 23.8 percentage social services costs? I ask this because the people who are on social assistance do not receive liveable amounts. There are reports of people who have lined up work but then they need a pair of workboots but social services will not give them the money to buy even a pair of slightly used boots, as a single person, they have received their measly $540.00 for the month, trying to maintain shelter,food and transportatition costs to find employment. No workboots, no job. This happens often, more then you think.

I heard an interesting story about government waste yesterday, it did not happen in Hamilton. I guess it goes to the term "budget". Let me put this query in front of you: you have a budget, then jobs cuts come and now one person is doing the job of four but the budget is set for four people. It would make sense that the budget would be lowered to reflect the change right? Anyways the story would make your hair curl, knowing your dislike for the bureaucracy.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted February 08, 2009 at 23:20:59

I've stopped reading the comments on these articles, which is sad, because I enjoy the online interaction with those who actually show up to discuss Hamilton, whether we agree or not. That's the reason I read raisethehammer on a regular basis, and I'm sure I'm not the only one out there. My suggestion to those who want to repeat the exact same thing on every forum, regardless of the topic: Submit a piece to raisethehammer.org (you never know) or start a thread at skyscraperpage.com.

I look forward to the upcoming issue.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2009 at 00:48:06

Grassroots, people earning under 35K a year should not pay any tax period. Furthermore, I would also abolish all costs related to hiring an employee, such as pension contributions, workers comp, EI, and health contributions. This would make hiring workers much cheaper and therefore more likely.

The welfare payments issue is tricky, because if they are too high, you promote unemployment. However, I would rather have government give cash to people, than spend it on more inefficient programs.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted February 09, 2009 at 08:21:38

A Smith has one horse to flog and will flog it til it dies, no matter what the topic of discussion is.

As for Copps with all it's burnt out lights and "poor" economic spinoffs as someone pointed out...the stadium's a mini venue compared to what's being proposed. It can't host major league teams or games.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 10, 2009 at 09:23:01

based on Bob Young's comments yesterday, it appears as thought downtown or the west harbour will be the stadium location. He said it needs good highway access and transit access. Hwy 403 runs just to the west of both downtown and the harbour location. Any transit, and future rapid transit, will be great in this area. The airport has no transit and even if it is put on the end of a future line, it is just that - one line. Also, highway access is very poor. The 403 is quite a distance from the airport. A one-lane miniature highway 6 runs from the 403 to the airport but would not be able to handle any significant volume, especially considering that the number of cars would be much higher going out to the airport as opposed to downtown due to the poor transit access and no access at all for cyclists or pedestrians.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2009 at 10:44:51

A smith, why don't you put together a coherent article backed by facts and submit it to RTH. Then we can all fight about tax rates on that article instead of on EVERY OTHER ARTICLE ON THIS SITE.

I don't know how you manage it, but you derail every single article into a discussion about tax rates despite most of them having nothing to do with it.

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