Downtown Bureau

Making a List? Check it Twice

Whatever happened to the list of companies just waiting for highway access to Glanbrook Park? It's still there, but it doesn't contain the names you expected.

By Jason Leach
Published November 28, 2005

This week's Maple Leaf decision to end discussions with the city of Hamilton has been front page news and even received some of the most un-factual "journalism" (believe me, I use that word very loosely) this city's embarrassing media have ever produced.

And that's saying something.

Lost in the shuffle, however, is a simple but important comment I've heard several times from folks on talk radio, print media and, most recently, on CH Live at 5:30.

Guests Bill Kelly and Sheila Copps were debating the Maple Leaf issue. Kelly used a phrase that I had heard on the radio the day ealier, but didn't quite register until now.

He said, "Hamilton doesn't have some long list of companies that are lined up to come here. We must work with what we have."

A CHML caller added, "Beggars can't be chosers."

Whether that sort of logic is how I want my City Council to decide on approving any given project is a topic for another day. The real issue at hand is the mention of this "list".

Kelly repeated it to make his point to Copps. "There is no list. Show me the companies, Sheila. Show me."

Well, Councillor: here's a question for you.

During the final five years or so of the Red Hill debate, hardly a week went by without Kelly, the mayor, Neil Everson in the city's Economic Development department, or any of several others going on about 'how many calls we've received this week from companies that want to build here, but we don't have the highway-access land that they need.'

In an email conversation that RTH had with the mayor, he said the same thing, and Mr. Everson who also confirmed this in correspondence with me. It seemed the business world was lined up at 71 Main St West, just waiting for the asphalt to dry on our new highway, the saviour of our city.

The darn thing isn't even built yet and already we're hearing these same people yell and scream about the fact that there is "no list".

Hmmm. As James Stewart bellowed out in It's a Wonderful Life, "This is a very interesting situation."

Perhaps all of these companies opposed the flying-squirrel poles being erected alongside the valley expressway, so they've decided to take their business elsewhere.

A friend of mine, now proving to be much wiser than me, said a couple of years ago, "If there really is this huge demand from businesses to build plants here, the city would be giving the company names in the media to really drive home their point to expressway opponents. There is no list. Chill out."

I guess he was right.

Well, sort of. I personally believe that there always was and still is a list, but it didn't contain names like Maple Leaf, Camco, Proctor and Gamble or Westinghouse.

It was the same old list of suburban home builders. That's right: the ones who plastered their favourite election candidates all over town and quite happily over-donated in the hopes that a huge hunk of rural land would finally be opened up for more sprawl.

This should not be a revelation to any of us, but Councillor Kelly's revelation should serve as a wake-up call to any of us who had been lured into believing what we hear from City Hall.

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

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By adrian (registered) | Posted None at

"INTERESTING INDEED!", I bellow. "SOMETHING SMELLS BAD HERE AND I THINK IT JUST MIGHT BE A FLYING SQUIRREL CARCASS." This is definitely something worth pursuing. If you have any quotes from any of the above-mentioned individuals about all the companies who would build in Hamilton if we had the expressway, I would be happy to bellow at them in a letter. I will check back here in a few days for updates, or you can email me (Ryan has my email).

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