Taxpayers on hook for Walmart transit
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Feb 02, 2012  |  Vote 0    0

Taxpayers on hook for Walmart transit

Stoney Creek News

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

Hamilton is expected to spend $150,000 in new funding to provide transit service to the recently opened Walmart store at Centennial Parkway and South Service Road.

It will cost about $200,000 this year for the city to provide additional service, including a new bus stop at the shopping centre, at the former Waxman recycling facility. The service is expected to begin this March. The city will spend $150,000 for the pilot program allowing a bus currently travelling from Eastgate Square to Confederation Park, to stop at the shopping centre. Smart Centres, which is the developer of the retail and commercial project, is paying about $50,000 toward the cost.

City staff will review the service in 2013.

The 190,000-square-foot Walmart officially opened Jan. 27. The store is supposed to be part of a planned $100-million development that also includes other retail outlets, a hotel and residential units. Smart Centres has stated the development will create 1,500 jobs and contribute $2.4 million in revenues to the city.

But city staff stated that expected transit revenue is only going to raise about $50,000. The $150,000 will be taken from the city’s tax stabilization fund.

The developer has agreed to provide space in the parking lot on the 36-acre site for a turnaround for buses and a bus stop.

Smart Centres agreed to provide $50,000 annually over the next four years as part of an Ontario Municipal Board agreement reached in 2010 with Environment Hamilton and Hamiltonians for Progressive Development. Both groups took the city’s approval in July 2009 of the zoning proposals for the Walmart project to the OMB.

The two citizens’ groups and Smart Centres agreed to a settlement in a pre-hearing that included the $50,000 annual payment for transit service and construction of a sidewalk on the east side of Centennial Parkway up to the Canadian National bridge. The grassroots organizations argued that low-income residents would be hurt by the lack of pedestrian and transit service to the mall.

In addition to the transit service, the city has been making improvements to the railway grade separation between Barton Street and the shopping mall.

Politicians are scheduled to vote on the recommendation at their Feb. 8 council meeting.

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