By Graham Crawford
Published September 01, 2010
I'm still processing all of the information and implications of yesterday's decision by City Councillors to explore a McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) site in the Aberdeen Ave. / Longwood Rd. area for the Pan Am stadium. From my perspective, it stinks. Big time. There aren't too many possible outcomes, though:
I don't support severing the MIP land to accommodate the Cats, but you probably already knew that. My biggest concern is that the deal will end up hinging on McMaster University agreeing to swap land with the City. They give us MIP land for a stadium; and we give them the land we now own in the WH.
The issue is what they will put on the land. Councillor Tom Jackson already hinted at this yesterday in his comments. That could mean building what are essentially warehouses, with scientists inside vs. forklift drivers and racks. They close at 5:00 PM - every day.
If I have to compromise on MIP, I want it to be in isolation. I don't want to swap land with McMaster. At an absolute minimum, we need to make West Harbour remediation to a residential level a condition of the deal - and the Province and the Feds should be paying for the lion's share of the costs.
If we must support compromise, I think we need to continue to remember and to stress the City Building criteria, the same criteria that Mayor Fred Eisenberger has been promoting from the start: residential intensification of our downtown, brownfield remediation, use of public transit, economic spin-offs for established businesses, linkage to existing assets already used by the public (harbour, downtown), protection of the environment.
It's a good and defensible set of criteria. All of the sites need to be passed through this filter. It's one of the key reasons the WH is on Fred's mind - because it ticks all of the boxes.
Good luck doing the same with MIP. But hey, that's what compromise is all about, I guess.
The thing that simply bugs me is what exactly does the MIP site have that WH does not? Visibility? That raises the who gets the revenue from naming rights question, which for me is far from having been answered.
A compromise site and we have to let the Cats keep the naming rights revenue, which could be $3-5-7 million over ten years?
While I'm ranting, the business case from city staff says the WH is not sustainable. Currently, we spend $1.3 million to subsidize IWS/The Cats. Staff say that a WH stadium without the Cats would require an annual subsidy of $2-2.5 million.
I'll take the lower number because it suits, and point out that the difference is $700,000. That amount is spent on the full compensation/administration costs for exactly three Councillors. Given the choice, I say we drop three Councillors and subsidize a stadium in the WH.
OK, not realistic, but made me feel better just to type it.
Here's a quotation from an article that appeared in the Spectator today about Siemens:
Siemens spokesperson D.L. Leslie said an original list of 16 potential locations has been culled to eight between Hamilton and Windsor. A final decision is to be made by the end of the month.
While it ponders that decision, the company is being pressed by a coalition of union members, city staff and provincial and federal NDP politicians to pick Hamilton.
Among their arguments, they contend that since public money is being invested in the wind turbine project the company should be required to locate its new factory where it will do the most good.
We seem to push "most good" for a factory but not for a stadium. Not only that, but we won't be paying for the factory!
Enough. I think I need to take a blood pressure pill. Either that or go back to my home planet.