An Aerotrocity in the Making?

By Jason Leach
Published June 08, 2005

CHML news reports that Hamilton's Planning and Economic Development Committee has spent three hours listening to opponents on Hamilton's so-called aerotropolis. Despite concerns of local residents, the majority of Hamilton council is going to press ahead to have roughly 3,000 acres of land serviced and added into the urban area for "industrial" development.

Like many Hamiltonians, I favour bringing new jobs to the city, but council has to excuse us for being a little skeptical. After all, I seem to recall a personal meeting with Mayor DiIanni a couple of years ago in which he said to me, and I quote: "the land at the top of the Red Hill Expressway will be for industry and new tax-generating jobs. Not residential sprawl. You have my word."

I'm sure he meant well, but the fact is that such businesses don't want to come to Hamilton. I'm sure Mr. DiIanni had high hopes of bringing quality jobs to the Red Hill/Linc interchange but I don't think we'll be drawing any commuters away from the GTA to work at some more Tim Horton's or Leon's stores spread all along the Linc and Red Hill highways.

I appreciate council's determination to ensure that the airport lands be used for industry only, but at the end of the day council doesn't determine what will locate there once the city has paid to service the land: the market will.

Hamilton's residents, urban, suburban and rural, see another money pit in the making here and are simply demanding more time and evidence of this hidden desire for industrial land near our small airport.

We aren't interested in comparisons to the oil-rich sunbelt regions in Texas with their booming airports and never-ending industrial growth. If it can happen here, and happen properly then great.

So far the facts point to a different scenario: we service the land, open it up for development only to be shunned once again by industrial firms (they are fleeing the 403, Burlington Street and QEW corridors in Hamilton).

Take a wild guess who will show up to save the day and not allow our $100 million investment to go to waste? That's right. Our homebuilders with their cardboard boxes and pollution-spewing "neighbourhoods". Hamilton would be devastated if this were to happen.

I haven't made a decision one way or the other yet on aerotropolis, simply because I haven't been given a chance to, and I haven't been given any compelling arguments to dispel the above scenario. I do know I that can't support something with such a gigantic if sitting ominously in the background, waiting to put the final nail in our city's coffin.

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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