Comment 54173

By Tartan Triton (anonymous) | Posted December 31, 2010 at 16:30:30

wentworthst: "IMHO, We need the jobs that will train people and then pay a living wage in this region. You advise passing a $100-million job-offer for 1000's in favor of something only imagined in this economy. It frustrates me when people agree we need 'more jobs & less poverty', but then want to be picky about what kind (seemingly based on what they would they think they would like, if it was them.)"

You are reading rather a lot into my statement. I was envisioning the trade-off that might have been envisioned by the decisionmakers in Burlington (and you only need four onside to wipe this possibility off the board). Councillor Craven was the one who held up the "9,000 high-paying jobs".

What I see, to revisit things, is $100 million of public money being poured into a job window that is growing ever more compact. This is not a project that really not likely to provide much gainful employment for anyone but the project developer and his or her underemployed trades workers, who'll reap the greatest win from this $100m windfall. That typically means unionized workers, which suggests that they've already acquired a particular set of job skills. (And even after they're completed, stadia tend to operate largely under union control.) A stadium precinct is not especially advantaged in regard to up-training and job skills enhancement, certainly not much beyond what I would imagine you might find you can find in existing city-run rec centres and privately run power centres, which at least operate with a more life-sustaining frequency.

Beyond the old argument of "teaching a man to fish" versus "teaching a man to ask if you'd like fries with that Filet-O-Fish", the fact is that this is a portion of land that Aldershot (and, more broadly, Burlington and Halton Region) have as a tactical chip in their bid to remain atop the rankings for most desirable communities in Canada.

That land represents around a quarter of all developable land in Aldershot, and just under a tenth of all developable land in urban Burlington. The King Road site isn’t serviced, but the land is attractive to developers because of the concentration of infrastructure nearby. The Burlington Economic Development Corporation has described this area of Aldershot as “The Golden Mile Within the Golden Horseshoe”, though the area above the rails tends to be given to industrial tenants.

Once you get past the NEC/MNR//ROPA 38 considerations, Burlington is not beholden to anyone but itself when it comes to deciding land use. It could be anything (which is why I bracketed my aside about the possible value of the jobs – what you or I decree to be "high-value" may not jibe with the way Mayor Goldring or Councillor Meed Ward see things). But once you assign 10 or 100 acres to stadium, you're taking that possibility off the table. You might've had a privately run jobs training academy, you might've had a high-tech hub, you might've even just ended up with a higher density of the same kind of jobs that a stadium would've brought. That's ultimately Burlington's call to make, and history suggests they will be eager to go over the Cats’ business proposals with a lice comb.

As far as the projected employment numbers, I regret that I am unable to lay hands on hard employment numbers for IWS (or, more properly, projections for the Aldershot stadium), but I have sifted out some sense around Craven’s "9,000 high-paying jobs". According to 2006’s West Burlington Revitalization Study, potential development projects in the Aldershot area would yield approximately 5,200 new jobs, and housing for some 1,100 new residents. That’s the upshot of a "mid-range scenario, which represents 75% of development capacity over the 15 year study period. Based on this scenario, the study area would support a net addition of 596 residential units, 971,000 square feet of industrial space and 1,657,000 square feet of office space and retail space over the next 15 years. These include greenfield sites, redevelopment opportunities and potential intensification projects." One would hope that the workforce would include a range of jobs that will train people for gainful living-wage jobs, and not simply the half-measure of reduced unemployment numbers.

It's not simply a philosophical exercise, either – growth-related services and infrastructure are predominantly paid for by development, so capital infrastructure investments such as the pencilled-in South Service Road are premised on an expectation of employment and tax returns, and if things don't go to plan, public investment may be curtailed.

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