Comment 29183

By Larry Di Ianni (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2009 at 19:47:36

I see that I have been referenced here by name so let me chime in. My friend Jason said, "read old copies of the Spec and other media sources and you'll hear Larry DiIanni and other boldy proclaim that "this highway is NOT going to bring sprawl. It will be badly needed jobs in manufacturing/industrial plants." etc....."

And he also made this point, " And not a single plant has been built atop Red Hill. Sprawl is subsidized by current taxpayers. The whole point of building that road was to fill the lands above it with well-paying manufcaturing jobs. I remember chatting with LD once and he slammed his fist on his desk and said "there will NOT by homes and suburban sprawl on the lands on top of this roadway".

A number of key concepts have been somewhat confused by Jason. I am not sure which Spec articles he refers to where I make my quotes about sprawl and the road. Here are the facts: the road did not lead to any urban boundary expansion. The expansion preceded the road building before I came on the scene. The urban boundary expansion in Glanbrook was approved by the Glanbrook Council and by the Region. I was on neither elected body. The road did obviously accommodate the planning decisions that were made earlier, but to suggest that the road was responsible for the planning decisions is disingenuous at best. In fact I was on record, if you check the old Spec archives that the urban expansion in Glanbrook was confrontational and ill-advised and I pledged not to get into a situation where staff and Council were on opposite sides of the debate as far as Hamilton's growth was concerned. I was also on record (and I recall one of the city's biggest opponents of development agreeing with me) that the old pre-amalgamation governance structure led to a fractured approach to planning. Each local Council was trying to grow their community without regard for the overall orderly growth of the Region. And Regional Council was powerless to stop it. If you are interested I write a blog essay on Sprawl, its myth and reality and expand on this point.

As for slamming my fist on tables. If Jason remembers this, fine. I am not the table-fist-slapping kind of guy. However, the only time I insisted that housing development would NOT happen was in reference to housing development on Industrially designated lands. I was adamant about that and would challenge anyone to find even one occasion where I didn't follow through on that pledge. In fact, I was chided by the same anti-development invidvidual I reference above that the North Glanbrook Industrial Park was going to for sure go from an Industrial designation to residential. I was visited by owners of lands there who wanted to do the same, even before I became Mayor and resisted this. And as Mayor I told staff not to entertain this notion. Hamilton needs industrial lands for employment. That is what the Airport lands debate was and is all about. Again I explore this topic on my blog. I regret that since I left, some Industrial lands have been designated residential. This was an error in my estimation and I would not have supported it.

As for the whole debate on development and commercial operations, I agree with some of the criticisms regarding the value of jobs. We all want the $100thousand jobs; but we also must recognize that Hamilton's labour market is diverse. We also need the lower and medium skilled jobs for some of our work force. For that reason, under my tenure we also approved the McMaster Innovation Park with its high end jobs; We also saw some good industial jobs go to Flamborough, and I tried to bring in the Maple Leaf plant in North Glanbrook to create employment. I believe that now that the North Glanbrook location is being serviced, you will see good opportunities there. But the commercial areas in upper Stoney Creek are paying their way also contributing to the job market and to the assessment base. None of this would have been possible in the east end mountain location without the road.

Just for the record becasue this piece started out as a comment on the PanAm games, I fully support Hamilton's bid and am thrilled at the location, having identified it in one of my essays more than a year ago. I pray that we get the games. The revitilization of the old Rheems property will do for the West Harbour what the McMaster Innovation Park is doing for the old Camco property. This is great. I do have a concern about the loss of the Future Fund and Hamilton's fiscal situation and Council needs to be mindful of that, as I am sure they will be.

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