Revitalization

MEC's Burlington Location

By Sean Burak
Published June 27, 2007

(This blog entry was first published on the Skyscraper page)

I had very extensive talks with the MEC spokespeople back when the mecinhamilton thing was just starting. I totally understand where they are coming from financially.

But no matter what, it just makes no sense that they are locating in the middle of a highway/big box/strip mall/suburban nightmare, and they have the gall to claim that it is "centrally located and readily accessible", and "located in an area of the city that's experiencing regrowth".

It is literally surrounded by highway right of ways which will never be developed and low density retail/housing which, let's be honest, is never going to be torn down to make way for mixed use buildings.

Anyone who isn't a hardcore "greenie" is going to drive to this MEC location. Even access to GO is pathetic. To get from the Burlington GO to this location on foot, it will go something like this:

Compare that to anywhere in downtown Hamilton, where you'd be walking distance to the GO, Greyhound AND the downtown HSR "hub" (Gore Park/MacNab "turnaround"), not to mention lots of high density housing - and on this walk, you'd pass lots of retail and amazing architecture instead of parking lots and cloverleaf ramps.

Hell, I don't care what city they move to, as long as they at least try to make their location accessible by alternative transportation.

Have they ever tried to cycle on Brant or Plains? It's a nightmare of automobile-scale development.

Here's a visual comparison:

Walkable area around the new MEC location (1.5 km radius)
Walkable area around the new MEC location (1.5 km radius) - Click to view full size in a new window

Walkable area around the Hamilton Federal Building (1.5 km radius)
Walkable area around the Hamilton Federal Building (1.5 km radius) - Click to view full size in a new window

I admit I have a very heavy bias toward Hamilton, but from the sounds of it, they tried to find land in Burlington/Oakville that was suitable, and they couldn't; so they settled.

I know that they have bills to pay, and I know that their new building is going to be really cool (LEEDS and all), but in the end, all of that is going to go down the tubes when every customer visits them by way of single occupancy vehicle.

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.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2007 at 10:52:56

I've also broken down their Burlington store press release point-by-point here: http://mecinhamilton.neenerneet.net/burl...

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By OLDCOOTE (registered) | Posted June 28, 2007 at 11:26:01

I'm really happy that MEC is building a store in the vicinity, but I totally agree, it would be a natural fit in the downtown Hamilton core.

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By OLDCOOTE (registered) | Posted June 28, 2007 at 11:47:27

I'm really happy that MEC is building a store in the vicinity, but I totally agree, it would be a natural fit in the downtown Hamilton core.

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By hammered (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2007 at 13:34:50

I bet MEC took a look at the departments they would have to work with and figured this city is just too dysfunctional to do business with. EcDev is too busy trying to woo all those "logistics" companies (oooh sounds exciting) to build warehouses on farmland in Mount Hope to try and bring a smart business downtown. Say what you want about Burlington, at least their city management is professional and their council isn't packed with construction company stooges.

Frig it. Sometimes this city sucks.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2007 at 13:49:56

Actually, in this case, EcDev and several councillors actively (and excitedly) approached MEC with a list of fantastic location options. MEC simply did not want to look at Hamilton because the bottom line is that it is catering to the Oakville market with this store.

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By trey (registered) | Posted July 03, 2007 at 10:39:04

that's an interesting comment Hammered. the sad thing is you're probably correct. EcDev needs to justify the RedHill Expressway, so that it's not just being used by a few thousand commuters who need to leave the city a whole 6 minutes faster to where the jobs are. And what brainwave use does EcDev come up with? Logistics and warehouses. A giant warehouse area for the GTA, so transport trucks can use the expressway to cart the consumables to Toronto, and allow Toronto to use it's land more profitable, sustainable and wiser. Let Hamilton schlep the goods to Toronto and breathe in the fumes.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2007 at 14:21:06

A compelling argument for the fed building in hamilton: http://mecinhamilton.neenerneet.net/fedb...

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By jeffzuk (registered) | Posted December 21, 2007 at 12:14:15

the reason they are building in burlington instead of hamilton is probably because of money. Trendy

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 23, 2007 at 21:51:18

The reason is that their top priority is to capture the Oakville market -- so they have chosen a highway-accessible location close to Oakville. They are non-profit, and put on a green face, but this site choice speaks for itself. They are putting dollars above all else in this case.

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By MEC member with Business degree (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2008 at 14:04:33

For each of you who has posted above, why do you think a store would not 'put dollars above all else'? Even though MEC is a NFP co-op, they still need to be able to justify having a store in the first place - i.e. it needs to pay for itself at a minimum, if not turn some profit to justify the time and attention central management will have to spend running the store.

i would guess that the Burlington location will draw in customers from all over Halton and Hamilton, and likely Niagara. Do you think Oakville types are going to drive to Hamilton (and endure the smell) to go to a downtown Hamilton store?? do you think MEC wants to associate their brand image with that of downtown Hamtilton??

Of course MEC is 'putting dollars before all else in this case' and 'catering to the Oakville market'. Guess what, this is how you do business and prevent having to close your store.

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By MEC member with Business degree (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2008 at 14:04:47

For each of you who has posted above, why do you think a store would not 'put dollars above all else'? Even though MEC is a NFP co-op, they still need to be able to justify having a store in the first place - i.e. it needs to pay for itself at a minimum, if not turn some profit to justify the time and attention central management will have to spend running the store.

i would guess that the Burlington location will draw in customers from all over Halton and Hamilton, and likely Niagara. Do you think Oakville types are going to drive to Hamilton (and endure the smell) to go to a downtown Hamilton store?? do you think MEC wants to associate their brand image with that of downtown Hamtilton??

Of course MEC is 'putting dollars before all else in this case' and 'catering to the Oakville market'. Guess what, this is how you do business and prevent having to close your store.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 24, 2008 at 15:09:07

Whatever made us smelly Hamiltonians think that MEC wasn't all about putting dollars above all else?

Maybe it was this?

"We're driven by passion, not profit."

or this,

"Yes, MEC is a healthy business and is profitable. However, like all co-ops, its reason for existence is not to make profit, but to provide benefits to its members."

or this,

"We strive to select store sites that are close to bike routes and transit lines. This makes it easier for staff and members to use sustainable transportation."

I guess some lefty treehugger hacked into the MEC website, eh? Thanks for setting us straight.

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By Realist (anonymous) | Posted August 16, 2008 at 08:01:24

Hi guys.... I'm really glad that MEC is finally opening a location that is easily accessible by car. I've been a member for more than 20 years... joined in the Toronto Front Street location. Getting to the Toronto store for someone like me who lives in the suburbs is a major hassle. I've got to use my car to get to Toronto anyway since the transportation system would take me most of the day with multiple changes and be prohibitively expensive.

For you absolute hard core tree huggers.... ride the waterfront trail from Hamilton to Toronto.... I'll be thinking of you as I pull my 4.7L V8 Jeep into the MEC parking lot in Burlington

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 16, 2008 at 09:40:27

The Toronto store is easily accessible by car without being EXCLUSIVELY accessible by car.

I'm not talking about excluding the car. I am talking about MEC putting their money where their mouths are and choosing a site that prioritizes accessibility by different transportation modes in keeping with their sustainability policies: http://www.mec.ca/Main/content_text.jsp?...

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By MECLover (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2011 at 12:53:43

MEC sits down with City officials to discuss a wide variety of variables before deciding to build. During those discussions with Milton, Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton representatives, Burlington provided a host of outdoor adventure businesses and residents that deemed it to be the best location to build. As well, the community of Burlington has been deemed the 3rd Best City in Canada to live in for 3 staright years by MoneySense!

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By Rightwinger (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:13:57

Being an MEC member for over 20 yrs and hardcore right wing I guess you wouldn't call me a 'tree hugger' or 'greenie'. I do however walk and cycle almost exclusively except for time and financial/business reasons. I don't get Sean's argument. Is a 1.5 km walk from the nearest GO station now impossible? Gimme a break. If I had my way the MEC store would be on my street (I live on Ontario St. in Beamsville) but that would not be feasible for any number of fiscal and accessibility reasons. Plus I for one would have no qualms about getting to the MEC location by bicycle from my home. It certainly is more pleasant and time expeditious than driving or (horrors) public transit to the TO store.
Be practical and realistic people!
I love having the MEC closer to me (just wish they had more stock...).
Get over it and enjoy using the store instead of using it for a political football.

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