Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) reports that the city has backed down on at least one aspect of its dispute with the province on the size of the Airport Economic Growth District (AEGD), a planned industrial park around Hamilton International Airport in Mount Hope.
The provincial Places to Grow Act specifies that Hamilton needs to plan for 49,000 new jobs by 2031. However, the city has been using the number of 59,000 new jobs for the purpose of planning the size of the AEGD, arguing that they also need to replace 10,000 existing jobs they project will disappear by then.
The city's Planning and Economic Development Department has been in dispute with the Provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) for more than a year over several factors in how the city is calculating the amount of greenfield land it will need to meet provincial employment growth targets.
Prior to the city's capitulation on the number of jobs the site needs to accommodate, the city's projected area of the AEGD was four times as high as that of the Province.
The city also differs from the province in the following areas:
The Province has made it very clear in recent speeches that municipalities refusing to conform to provincial legislation on planning and growth - like Places to Grow, which limits sprawl and promotes intensification and brownfield redevelopment - will lose out in provincial funding.
Now Tim McCabe, the city's General Manager of Planning and Economic Development, is suggesting that the city and the Province can come to some sort of compromise on the remaining issues. At the November 27, 2008 committee meeting, McCabe said:
I mean I've been talking to the ministers office as well, and as councillor [Brad] Clark has said, they're digging in very tough on the Places to Grow. But their quote last week was they're also going to show goodwill and willingness with respect to some of the other matters that are of issue, that are not in the legislation, that we're having problems with.
At the same committee meeting, Glanbrook Councillor Dave Mitchell expressed concern about the upcoming meeting on the AEGD organized by Hamiltonians for Progressive Development (HPD):
And we heard today that HPD - they're members of course of the community liaison committee out there at the airport, but they're also going through the community and putting on large community meetings. And I know everybody's mail box has been stuffed and so on, and the literature that's going out there is being advertised as one hundred percent accurate.
Well, I can't attend that Mount Hope meeting. I've got another meeting that night. Would it be appropriate to have one of our planners there, or somebody to listen to what they're telling the community? Because what I'm concerned about here is my phone's going to ring off the wall with concerns, and how are we going to get the concerns answered if there's people being led to believe that what they're getting presented there is one hundred percent accurate?
And that's going to create - could create a massive amount of workload out there. So would it pay to have one of our professional planners at that meeting as well?
[inaudible off-mic comment]
Well I don't think misleading people's democracy, but that's all right.
Michell also suggested that it is "kind of a conflict of interest" for HPD Chair Michael Desnoyers to chair a public meeting about the AEGD at the same time that he is a member of the community liaison committee that is guiding public consulatation through the AEGD planning process.