By RTH Staff
Published June 24, 2010
Local advocacy group Hamiltonians for Progressive Development has issued a list of reasons to oppose the city's Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD) plan to expand the urban boundary around Hamilton International Airport.
Local Foodlands Threatened by Aerotropolis
Later this year, city council will be asked to permanently eliminate over 2,000 acres of prime Hamilton farmland to create another large zone dedicated to corporate industrial development near the airport.
It is very foolish to again reduce our local foodlands and thus make Hamiltonians even more dependent on long-distant sources that are becoming less reliable because of rising fuel prices and climatic changes.
It is equally irresponsible to abandon the existing industrial area along the bayfront in the faint hope that the city's economic future will be tied to the airport.
We should oppose the aerotropolis - also called the airport employment growth district - because:
1. The aerotropolis threatens our present and future food security
When oil prices spiked just before the recession, the price of food also jumped - by 77 percent for wheat and over 140 percent for rice. Last year, water shortages in California (where most of our produce comes from) forced half a million acres of farmland out of production, and those shortages are expected to worsen.
2. The aerotropolis lands are not needed for employment
The city already has over 2000 acres of greenfield lands available for industrial use in existing business parks (third highest in Ontario), plus hundreds more acres of under-utilized old industrial properties along the bayfront. The aerotropolis lands are being justified by very inflated growth projections, and by an unbelievable claim that less than two percent of the bayfront industrial area will be available over the next twenty years for redevelopment.
3. Aerotropolis servicing costs are unacceptable
The financial burden on taxpayers to service the 1630-acre aerotropolis has not even been made public. But preliminary estimates of public costs for just the first 385 acres exceed $100 million - some of which the city hopes to get back in development charges - even though this first phase will use existing water and sewer capacity. The post-2021 second phase will require new trunk pipes to connect the aerotropolis to the Woodward Avenue water and sewer treatment plant 25 kilometres away from the airport.
4. It is irresponsible to leave the cleanup of the bayfront to our kids and grandkids
More than anything else, the aerotropolis scheme is about catering to land speculators and corporations who find it more profitable to destroy farmland than to re-develop existing industrial lands. We have a responsibility to clean up our messes, and stop sacrificing more good land.
5. Preserving agricultural land is official city policy
It has been since 1994, but the influence of land developers has kept on converting irreplaceable foodlands into more sprawl. City reports acknowledge agricultural land losses in every year but one up to 2001. In 2002 over 800 acres were converted. Subsequent figures have not been released, but include at least 550 acres consumed in the Stoney Creek urban boundary expansion in 2006.
6. We should stop rewarding speculators
Known land sales in the proposed aerotropolis are exceeding $40,000 an acre - ten times the affordable price for farmland. And the taxpayer subsidy for aerotropolis lands appears certain to exceed a quarter million dollars an acre.
Sign the petition to stop the aerotropolis. Contact your city councillor. Speak to the candidates for this fall's municipal elections.
Make your voice heard.