Aerotropolis

HPD Issues Reasons to Oppose Aerotropolis

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.

18 Comments

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 16:52:48

No arguments here, all spot on.

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By Disappointed (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 17:22:16

Fred Eisenburger has succumbed to the development community. He is a hypocrite.

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By F85 (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 17:29:17

Where can I sign this aforementioned petition?

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By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted June 25, 2010 at 10:13:00

Pardon me, but if the airlines are pulling out of the Aerotropolis - shouldnt' we be too? http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/articl...

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 25, 2010 at 11:14:48

Pardon me, but if the airlines are pulling out of the Aerotropolis - shouldnt' we be too? - Jasonaallen

You beat me to it Jason.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-06-25 10:15:13

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 25, 2010 at 15:02:02

Tut, tut, now gentlemen. Just because Westjet has pulled 62% of its flights out of Hamilton, is no reason to lose faith in the power of the people to make lots of money for narrow special interests. After all, according to today's Spec editorial, Aerotropolis isn't just for the failing airline industry, it will also attract "businesses as diverse as auto sales, veterinarian clinics, restaurants, fitness clubs and hotels."

Now who do you suppose will use these commercial amenities seeing as there aren't any residential developments nearby just yet? Hmmm. Thinking...thinking...

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-06-25 14:03:20

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 26, 2010 at 12:07:56

Tut, tut, now gentlemen. Just because Westjet has pulled 62% of its flights out of Hamilton, is no reason to lose faith in the power of the people to make lots of money for narrow special interests. - Highwater

LOL, good one Highwater.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2010 at 07:44:38

Highwater said: "Now who do you suppose will use these commercial amenities seeing as there aren't any residential developments nearby just yet? Hmmm. Thinking...thinking..."

Chicken and egg. This is a city - not a farm. Here's the population growth:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Popula...

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By crhayes (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2010 at 17:40:14

@ Ted Buck

That's not exceptionally high. There was literally no growth between 1980-1990, and then a 'huge spike' in 2001 after the amalgamation.

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By we love doggies (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2010 at 20:26:31

> After all, according to today's Spec editorial, Aerotropolis isn't just for the failing airline industry, it will also attract "businesses as diverse as auto sales, veterinarian clinics, restaurants, fitness clubs and hotels."

Veterinarians??? Seriously? This is supposed to be prime industrial land worth all the investment to open it up and we're hoping to get vets, car lots and more fast food restaurants??

More great planning in the Hammer.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 27, 2010 at 21:02:28

It's only for all those workers to have a place to take their parakeets for checkups after work. There will not be any residential developments on this land. We really mean it this time.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2010 at 11:45:46

Sounds like Upper James, if Upper James were kicking my tax dollars in the gonads.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2010 at 12:47:18

A good list but will it appeal to the FIFA loving masses enough to become an election issue?

Probably it should be reordered to put the money stuff first and the agri-enviro stuff last. Some of the writing is a little crybabyish and should be made tougher/ more financially - security oriented. For instance #4 should de-emphasize our responsibility, true though it is, and emphasize that a hollowed out city breeds crime which costs taxpayers.

they should add to the list a consideration of risk (ie beef up #6). If we build it, will they actually come, especially once peak oil drives up aviation costs? Show how taxpayers take the risk but pay speculators for the opportunity. What if increased taxes doesn't cover initial costs? Where does the money come from anyway? Are we going to be fleeced like this place

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/12697/64833

Let's help this group by adding other ideas and making their initiative bulletproof.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2010 at 16:01:20

@crhayes

I was thinking a little longer term than 10 years. The graph I provided the link to shows exponential growth from zero to 500,000 for the period 1800 - 2000 and I'm not aware of anyone who forecasts a reversal of this trend.

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By Jimmy (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2010 at 23:01:59

You need to realize that this is more about providing employment lands then it is about the airport. HPD leads you to believing this is about the airport. This is about providing space for employment uses. Even if the airport closed we still need employment lands in this City. Why not designate the space around the airport for these uses and leverage the fact that we have an international airport with huge cargo deliveries as opposed to focussing on WestJets passenger numbers.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2010 at 23:16:40

this is more about providing employment lands then it is about the airport.

Then there's no reason for it to be next to the airport. We're already falling over ourselves to rezone existing contiguous industrial greenfields with highway access to residential use, so there's no justification to rezone another 2,000 acre swath of farmland for yet more contiguous industrial greenfields with highway access that will just be rezoned to residential use a few years later when property developers threaten to take the city to the OMB.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-06-28 22:17:29

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By mdesnoyers (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2010 at 08:02:50

Jimmy;

This is not about HPD making you believe the AEGD is connected to the airport. The City has repeatedly stated the Aerotropolis is our #1 economic priority and the economic engine that the airport represents will drive the development. This fact is repeatedly stated throughout city reports and the reports created by Dillon the consultant engaged to study the AEGD. So, as you state, if the airport closes will the AEGD achieve the level of success projected? Making some very basic assumptions the announcement by Westjet potentially results in almost $5 Million in lost revenue to HIA and without significant restructuring loses money. Don't take my word for it-go online and get the numbers from their annual results for 2008 and 2009!

HIA has struggled for 4 decades and if the decline in traffic by Westjet continues what other major carrier is going to enter the market here when the second largest in Canada has stated the economies don't exist? If the AEGD doesn't rely on the airport than why don't we consider stopping the drain on taxpayer resources, close the airport, sell off the 1600 acres for $250 Million, create the employment district there and 10,000 jobs instead of the 1500 created by the airport. No further destruction of valuable foodlands and the resulting contribution to the local GDP will be 3 to 4 times that of the airport!! Further, the taxpayers of Hamilton won't be asked to fund the AEGD development to the tune of several 100 Million dollars and these monies can be directed to desperately needed other infrastructure projects.

Is there any hope that our city planners will stop using 30 year old principles and start taking into consideration the realities that our community will face with energy depletion and climate change?

Michael Desnoyers
HPD

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 29, 2010 at 15:00:47

Is there any hope that our city planners will stop using 30 year old principles and start taking into consideration the realities that our community will face with energy depletion and climate change? - Michael Desnoyers

Maybe in November???

BTW, thanks for your posts here Michael, very informative. I already had a fundamental disagreement with airport development but the factual information you have provided has strengthened that opinion.

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