Aerotropolis

Chamber Buries Airport Lands Poll

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 30, 2010

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce website regularly features a web-based poll on a question related to the Chamber's policy. As at this writing, the question is: "Do you feel that Light Rail Transit service would help attract jobs and prosperity growth to the City, particularly the downtown core?"

But earlier today, the question was different:

Some people feel that the City of Hamilton has a shortage of lands available to develop for employment growth. Do you feel the City should move ahead quickly to develop property surrounding the airport to create jobs?"

Around 3:30 PM today, I clicked through to the poll results page and was amused to note that the overwhelming majority of respondents had voted "No" to the question. Apparently the Chamber wasn't amused, however, because the poll results page for the airport lands question has been pulled offline. Now the URL returns an "HTTP 403 - Forbidden: Access is Denied" error.

In fairness, web-based polls are basically useless as a means of gauging public opinion. They are subject to a double-whammy selection bias, since they capture the opinions of only those people who visit the website, and of that group only those who care enough about the issue to vote.

Web polls' only real use is in reinforcing a given perception of public opinion among the self-selected group of people who frequent a given website. It seems the Chamber didn't like the perception that most of the people who visit their site oppose one of their principal policy planks, and a major goal of their current Chair, who is also the President and CEO of the Airport.

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 highwater (registered) | Posted July 01, 2010 at 10:25:15

Didn't see this post before I posted this comment on the other thread.

I think it's pretty clear that the aerotropolis stands to benefit such a small minority of special interests, that even many business interests in this city can't justify the cost.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 01, 2010 at 14:58:28

Judging by the percentages returned for the Chamber's questions, it would appear that very few actually participate in these poll questions. The only poll result with hard numbers of respondants available was a question about the management of the HSR, which had a whopping 7 respondants. The percentage results of 57% in favour of the status quo vs 43% in favour of an independant body leaves the impression that the vote was decidedly in favour of the status quo, when in reality the vote tally was 4-3.

Frankly, I don't understand why people pay any attention to these types of polls under any circumstance. Their wording, their pedestrian nature and the inevitable periodic vote manipulation by social media zombies brings their usefulness to political discourse down to the same level as chicken entrails for fortune telling, or lucky troll dolls for the bingo hall.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 01, 2010 at 15:14:50

Frankly, I don't understand why people pay any attention to these types of polls under any circumstance. Their wording, their pedestrian nature and the inevitable periodic vote manipulation by social media zombies brings their usefulness to political discourse down to the same level as chicken entrails for fortune telling, or lucky troll dolls for the bingo hall. - realitycheck

I just like clicking the button and hoping for a nice pie chart... I'm not as big a fan of the bar graphs : )

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By mdesnoyers (anonymous) | Posted July 02, 2010 at 07:56:48

It doesn't surprise me in the least that the poll was pulled and any record of it has been removed from the Chamber site. I am aware of now 5 polls that have been conducted in the past 4 years directly referencing the lands around HIA. Three of these polls were conducted by the Chamber, one by Mayor Eisenburger during his campaigning for the previous election and most recently by the Spectator.

The Eisenburger poll showed that over 60% of the respondents did not feel that the AEGD should be our #1 economic priority, the spectator poll indictaed 2/3 of respondents did not want to develop the lands surrounding HIA and the latest chamber poll, before it was yanked, had respondents indicating 60 to 10 against (as of 4:45 p.m.)development. The other two polls were almost identically in favor but to be more specific, the wording and questioning of the first "independant" poll by the Chamber was so inappropriate it did not stand up to scrutiny by a McMaster professor.

What do the people of this city really want? This issue should become a MAJOR election issue and taxpayers of this city should use the one vote that should REALLY count!

M. Desnoyers

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 04, 2010 at 09:22:18

And these are the guys who want us to trust the results of their polling.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 05, 2010 at 12:13:32

Here's a dangerously democratic idea, how about NOT DOING THINGS which obviously have no popular support?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 05, 2010 at 12:41:32

^Because that would be dangerously democratic. Duh.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 05, 2010 at 15:09:08

Judging by the percentages returned for the Chamber's questions, it would appear that very few actually participate in these poll questions.

Just to clarify, the last time I saw the poll still active, it had around 60 responses.

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By mdesnoyers (anonymous) | Posted July 05, 2010 at 15:47:37

Just prior to being pulled the poll had 84 against and 11 in favor. It is obvious the poll was pulled because the chamber didn't like the direction the results were going. "highwater" had posted the existence of the poll on another string so the Chamber undoubtedly felt only one side was being heard. Contrast that to their polls which have such obscure wording and questions that when the results go in their favour they refer to oponents as voicing "sour grapes". If the poll was flooded by supporters who voted do you think they would have pulled it from the site - NOT!!!

The spectator had a similar poll and 1500 people responded 1038-NO and 516-YES.

The light begins to fade as the wool is continually pulled over our eyes!

M. Desnoyers

Comment edited by mdesnoyers on 2010-07-05 14:48:17

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By Highwater (registered) | Posted July 05, 2010 at 17:18:25

Just to clarify, the poll was already 60 against and 10 in favour when I posted about it.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted July 05, 2010 at 18:14:11

This is why nobody wants this.

We're all going to pay to turn precious farmland into more sprawl with the vast expanses of subdivisions that are likely to follow. Yay.

But don't worry the gas station will have a bike rack.

The dark purple circles are "employment supportive centres", in which walking, cycling and transit are to be given priority over driving and no parking, drive-thrus or stacking lanes are to be permitted between the sidewalks and the buildings.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2010-07-05 17:18:31

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