More Big Boxes on Prime Business Development Land

By Sean Burak
Published December 11, 2007

(First published on the Hammerboard.)

According to their website, a developer called Trinity Group wants to put a bunch of parking (and a few buildings) on some of Hamilton's prime business development land.

Based on their business description, the land will likely be new-format (read: big box) retail and food:

Founded by John Ruddy, TRINITY DEVELOPMENT GROUP has played a prominent role in the development of new format regional retail centres across the country. The company also continues to construct and lease high quality food-anchored neighbourhood and convenience centres in several Canadian markets.

You can see from their drawing that their proposed plan is about 60-70 percent surface parking:

Red Areas are parking, blue areas are buildings
Red Areas are parking, blue areas are buildings

Meanwhile, the land is currently zoned to allow for research park facilities, in line with what McMaster will be building in a seven phase, 21 year plan on adjacent lands.

Research parks will create high tech, long term, well paying jobs. They are true employment lands, and represent exactly the type of development we should be striving for in order to move our city forward under the stresses of a shrinking manufacturing industry base. Trinity has appealed to the OMB to have these land use restrictions removed.

Let me restate the point to ensure it is obvious and clear: Retail development does not offer long-term financial or social benefits to the city.

Retail, especially in big box form, offers short-term cash in terms of taxes paid to the city. But at the same time, it sucks money from the local shoppers and funnels the meat of the profits to large corporations based in other cities, or in most cases, other countries.

Locally, retail offers little back to the community: taxes and short-term, low-paying jobs with no benefits. It also creates seas of parking which are not only ugly to look at, but put undue stress on our wastewater management systems.

McMaster Innovation Park

While we are talking about this region, let's take a moment to have a look at the proposed plan next door to Trinity's potential retail spot: The McMaster Innovation Park (MIP).

The Innovation Park architects have come up with a beautiful plan that allows for human-scaled streetfronts, car-free areas, self-contained stormwater management and lovely greenspaces instead of parking lots.

Over time, most of the parking will be pushed underground. On top of all this, the MIP will bring in thousands of REAL jobs and boost the surrounding communities and the city's economy.

Take a look at this animation to see how their proposal will pan out.

You can see that the modest surface parking areas are replaced with buildings (and underground parking) at each phase. The final result is a site which is mostly greenspace and structures, with only a small amount of surface parking (rectangles with P denote buildings with underground parking).

Here is another animation which shows what the entire area will look like with the MIP superimposed on Trinity's drawing.

When placed side by side, the MIP and Trinity appear to be coming in from different planets.

What You Can Do

What can be done? Contact Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie and let him know how you feel these lands should be developed:

Be sure to copy the mayor's office:

Finally, attend the Frid St. Extension public meeting for more info and to raise concerns (be aware that the focus of this meeting will not be Trinity's proposal; in fact it may not even be mentioned).

Public meeting about the Frid St. extension
December 18
6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m
Auditorium @ The Spec building, 44 Frid St.

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 highwater (registered) | Posted December 11, 2007 at 16:21:19

I just posted a response to your comment on the 'Best of Both Worlds' blog, but I'll just say again here that nearby residents can also contact their neighbourhood associations, who no doubt will be developing formal responses to this.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 11, 2007 at 19:17:18

Quick update... no need to contact the councillors directly as the city is already fighting against Trinity on this one. If you want to help out, see the following response from the city's lawyers:

Interested individuals/groups should attend the prehearing on January 15, 2008 - 10:00 am - OMB Room - 50 Main Street East (Old Courthouse). Each must decide what role they want to play in the hearing. "A PARTY" is the significant role. Parties participate fully in the hearing - call witnesses, attend everyday, cross examine other parties' witnesses etc. "A PARTICIPANT" plays a less onerous role. Participants usually nominate a spokesperson who reads from a prepared statement outlining their views/positions on the matters before the Board. Participants do not have to attend everyday and do not have a right to cross examine.

It is important to decide the level of desired participation before attending the Prehearing.

After the Prehearing, depending on what status interested individuals/groups obtain and depending on their positions, I will play a role in organizing those interests that align with the City's interests. I can't act as their lawyer. But, I can assist with procedural matters and strategy discussions on how best to present the City's case with the assistance of these additional interests. Again, depending on the results of the Prehearing, I would likely convene a meeting for those wishing to come in order to help with these kinds of procedural/strategic matters.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need any further information.

Nancy L. Smith Senior Solicitor City of Hamilton Legal Services

(905) 546-2424 ext. 4641

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted December 12, 2007 at 14:13:11

Of all the things we rail about on this site, you are looking at the greatest neighbourhood-destroying scheme that west hamilton has seen since the 403 went in without a whiff of consideration to non-car mobility and the consequences of that.

My commitment to this city hinges on MIP repairing some of the livability damage that brainless planners did with the 403. If this proposal goes through, I'm outta here.

This is a ten-steps back proposal, there is just nothing you can do to mitigate it.

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By everywhere (anonymous) | Posted December 27, 2007 at 19:43:27

I'm almost certain "Brian' will agree but I noticed he isn't updated with everything.
I'm talking about Innovation park.
This car parking space noncense is still a Hamilton obvious dominating closed minded ideodic way of thinking. How many bicycle racks are in this "wise thinking?"
And, I'll comment this too; that sure should be more public transit vrs automo'polute' and not every1 can cycle(fit for distance) not being avid cyclists but these two should be the way over automobile dominacy(sp?)

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