Aerotropolis

HPD Appeals Big Box Rezoning to OMB

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 15, 2009

Hamiltonians for Progressive Development has just launched an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) appeal against the City of Hamilton over the recent Council decision to rezone a parcel of employment land in Winona to allow "big box" commercial development.

This follows an OMB appeal in August over another industrial employment land conversion to big box retail near Centennial Parkway and the QEW Highway.

According to HPD, these developments "contradict Ontario's Smart Growth initiatives, the principles of Vision 2020, and the recently-approved first Official Plan of the City of Hamilton."

The citizens action group gained notoriety in 2006 when their OMB appeal over the city's planned Airport Employment Growth District. The OMB concluded that the city had not conducted the necessary development studies before rezoning 1,254 hectares of rural land around Hamilton International Airport.

As a result, the city converted the employment lands to a "Study Area", increased its size, and launched a public consultation that has been dogged by controversy.

The city has used a method to calculate the land requirement for the employment lands around the airport that are far in excess of the size calculated by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The city has acknowledged the discrepancy, but its insistence that Hamilton needs more employment lands around the airport flies in the face of its two decisions this year to rezone existing employment lands for low-density commercial use.

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

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 17:07:20

People in Winona want it... urbanists do not...

Who do you think the OMB will side with? My bet goes to the same people they also rule with; the big box 'developers'.

On that Note; I just visited The Centre On Barton gag... Sorry, almost vomited saying that; WHAT A DISGRACE!

Sam Merulla, is this your legacy as Ward 4 Councilor? It sure reflects your style! Annoying and IN YO' FACE!

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 17:13:44

OMB will rule in the City's favour. I will be profoundly shocked if they do not.

One side of me is grateful for HPD bringing this appeal, but at the same time I feel they are wasting scarce resources chasing a lost cause.

Someone had to take a stand though ...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 19:22:54

People in Winona want it

Actually, from everything I heard, Winona is divided. Many people feel this development will destroy Winona's rural character. I imagine it's Winona's newer residents who want this. Big surprise.

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 22:30:37

When does the conversation shift to HPD being against poor people for not wanting MORE big box stores in our community?

(TONGUE FIRMLY PLANTED IN CHEEK)

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 01:34:57

Those small businesses in Winona will be the losers, especially if Walmart gets in there. Many small communties across the US have died, good jobs gone, communities turned into waste lands.

Walmart always seems to get subsidies, yet when those small business owners try to get the same, the door closes.

This small community should be afraid, very afraid.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 08:17:19

Highwater>> "Actually, from everything I heard, Winona is divided. Many people feel this development will destroy Winona's rural character. I imagine it's Winona's newer residents who want this. Big surprise."

I'm pretty sure Winona lost it's 'rural charm' once (most of) it's Fair Grounds were sold off for development, and ugly cookie cutter homes took over.

I guarantee 100% that it's ONLY those residents who want that Wal Mart.

Hamilton: Closed for Business; Unless You Own a Walmart!

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By M. Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 23:21:56

The issue here is not Big Box or no Big Box or whether Wal Mart is appropriate for this site. The appeal is based upon the fact that this is a utilization of scarce and key employment grade lands that are being converted and how this conversion violates the many principles of the PPS and P2G. In addition, it violates so many of the basic principles that the City has established and adopted or is about to adopt. This area like the Centennial conversion is a gateway with access to a major highway. All the ingredients for employment lands. We are desperate and need a developments fix hence - another big box!

M. Desnoyers
Co-Chair
HPD

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 16:41:42

M Desnoyers: It begs to ask many questions that the city can by pass rules and regulations.

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By M. Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 21:15:16

Grassroots:

I personally don't believe there is such a thing as a perfect set of rules/ policies/ procedures etc. that can accomodate every circumstance. There has to be enough flexibility that allows some variance as long as the changes follow the overall original intent for the creation of the "rules". The administration of the "rules" is somewhat dependent on the integrity of the individuals who adopted the "rules" in the first place to faithfully administer them for the intended purpose. I can imagine there are many who will say therein lies the problem.

With respect to the planned conversion of the Centennial and Winona lands there are numerous violations of the PPS and P2G which are both provincially mandated policies. I think on that basis alone one could argue that this council did not create those "rules" so why should we be forced to follow them? For starters - the word chaos comes to mind. Equally significant is the fact that the conversions violate or circumvent numerous principles of Vision 2020, GRIDS, the old Hamilton Official Plan and yes, believe it or not, the just recently adopted NEW Official Plan. The ink is not dry and developers are already finding ways to essentially break the "rules".

The Centennial issue is particularly nasty because there are NO sidewalks and is only transit supported during the summer months. If you choose to attempt to ride a bicycle to this area you are essentially risking serious injury due to the drastic narrowing of Centennial to go under the rail tracks. The list goes on for nearly 11 pages in the OMB submission.

Whether it is these two instances or the planned Aerotropolis, HPD will continue to ask the questions publicly that most of council does not want to address but as residents and taxpayers we should be demanding answers to.

M. Desnoyers
Chair
HPD

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 19, 2009 at 10:31:50

M Desnoyers: There are a couple of points that you have mentioned that I have discussed with family members such as no sidewalks, no bus service, so there you go. Many people who live down in that area are low income and do not have a car and have young children.

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By Nobody (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2009 at 14:03:22

Hey Dave K- to follow up your digression, at what point in the revitalization of James St. N. did the focus shift from accommodating artists, many of whom might be defined as the "working poor," to the exclusive accommodation of a wealthier, middle-class clientelle? It can't have been with the arrival of more poor (as in "less than wealthy") Toronto artists who were attracted by Hamilton's cheaper real-estate prices.

I am pleased by your, and the street's success. Actually seeing James N. sidewalks crowded with visiting arts crawlers a couple weeks back was a real treat, but I wouldn't recommend you undervalue the money of local artists anytime soon. Be patient. Those who can't keep up with the area's nascent gentrification will be pushed aside soon enough. Meanwhile, they help provide the street with that "risky," "edgy" ambiance so attractive to the really "cool" wealthy.

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