A Developing Situation

By Jason Leach
Published October 18, 2006

A recent news story on CHML illustrates the problem that Hamilton has faced in recent decades in attracting and retaining industrial development to our city.

A local homebuilder wants to build 200 homes alongside the QEW, which flies in the face of Hamilton's "plan" calling for highway-access land to be used in attracting jobs to our city.

It wouldn't be the first time, and it won't be the last.

While other communities recognize that highways are ugly and create pollution, they can at least add money to the tax base in the form of big box warehouses, industrial "parks" and other such uses. See the QEW in Halton or the 403 in Brantford.

In Hamilton, check out the 11 km long Linc Parkway and Hwy 403 from the top of the escarpment out to the urban boundary: sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. No jobs, no industry, and no tax base helping pay for these ribbons of asphalt: just local homebuilders getting rich while you and I pay for new highways to nowhere.

Remember all the promises? 'The Red Hill Parkway will be surrounded by industry. No homes. No sprawl. Tax-increasing jobs will be brought to Hamilton when the highway is built.'

In case you haven't heard of Summit Park it is but one of many new "developments" surrounding the Red Hill Parkway. 10,000 homes are being built in that project alone. I don't have exact numbers but it would appear that several thousand more will be built in the other areas along the new highway.

Yes, I know about the Glanbrook Business Park, but can we ever expect to see it filled with industry? The current case in Winona is working exactly as the homebuilders (and I suspect some of the shakers in city hall) want: they build homes in land approved for such development.

Then those same residents freak out when they learn that nearby land is zoned for industry. Heaven forbid people be given a chance to live close to their work.

Once the tens of thousands of new residents are living all along the interchange of the Red Hill Parkway and Linc, I'd hate to be the industrial developer attempting to set up shop in the already zoned industrial park. Remember Maple Leaf?

But have no fear, the local homebuilders can then zoom in and save this already-serviced land from waste by building more (you guessed it) homes and big box retail districts.

So it goes. Our expensive highways add to the city's debt, but instead of paying the bills with employment lands we add further to the debt by footing the bill for more debt-producing sprawl.

Now that's some kind of planning.

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 (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2006 at 08:27:03

The commentary, as usual, is bang on. The lands have been designated for industrial purposes since the mid 1960s. that is how you create the vacant land until the market catches up with employment projects. So now the argument is that there are no developers wanting to develop the lands for employment purposes. Hello? Didn't I just say this has been planned for industry and it has sequentially occurred from west to east and more recently from the QEW frontage southerly.

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