HPD’s Wal-Mart objections filled with ‘red herrings,’ says councillor

Community Aug 21, 2009 Ancaster News

A Hamilton councillor says the community group opposing the $100-million Wal-Mart development on Centennial Parkway North is really trying to scuttle the creation of the airport employment lands.

Veteran Ward 5 politician Chad Collins says Hamiltonians for Progressive Development, which has been fighting against the creation of the airport lands since it was introduced by former Mayor Larry Di Ianni, said its main goal in the Wal-Mart Ontario Municipal Development appeal is to halt the development of the airport employment lands.

“They are linking the two issues,” he said. “That’s their real goal.”

HPD filed an appeal last week to the OMB against council’s decision in June to allow a retail and hotel complex on 14.7 hectares of land on the former Waxman scrap yard property at the corner of Centennial Parkway and the South Service Road.

HPD scored a major OMB win after it challenged council’s 2005 decision to create the airport employment lands around the Hamilton International Airport. The city is attempting to establish a special policy area for development that will eventually see the creation of 49,000 jobs. Prior to an OMB hearing, the city agreed to create the community liaison committee for the airport, and change some language in the plan that will protect prime agricultural lands.

Michael Desnoyers, co-chair of the HPD, said the Wal-Mart development violates a number of city and provincial planning policies, including transportation, accessibility, and conversion of employment lands for retail and commercial development.

Mr. Collins says the issues over transportation and lack of sidewalks are “red herrings” in HPD’s claims.

He pointed out part of the development includes improving the city’s public transit in the area. In addition, sidewalks will be constructed on both sides of Centennial Parkway. Money has already been set aside for the project, he said.

As for the conversion of the property from employment to retail and commercial use, which councillors approved last year, the city’s consultants Hemson Consulting identified in a report to the city that part of the property be converted for commercial uses, said Mr. Collins.

He also said the proposed development will be located beside a Home Depot store, which is a similar commercial development that Smart Centres, which owns the land, is proposing for its Wal-Mart project.

In the 13-page appeal, HPD stated the proposal “does not promote economic development and competitiveness through providing an appropriate mix of employment to meet long-term needs…”

It also stated that the decision by council to convert the lands to nonemployment uses was done without a municipal comprehensive review demonstrating a need for conversion.

The proposed development is expected to create 1,500 jobs and earn about $2.4 million in tax revenue for the city, say Smart Centres officials.

Mr. Desnoyers said those initial economic jolts for the city are short lived.

“We are like junkies,” he said. “It’s like an assessment fix. The development charges and assessments are high, initially, but they are not doable in the long term.”

Mr. Collins says the appeal could delay the construction of the project, while also adding costs for taxpayers to bear because the city has to defend itself before an OMB hearing.

“Everyday the shovel is not going into the ground, we lose taxes and employment,” he said.

HPD’s Wal-Mart objections filled with ‘red herrings,’ says councillor

Community Aug 21, 2009 Ancaster News

A Hamilton councillor says the community group opposing the $100-million Wal-Mart development on Centennial Parkway North is really trying to scuttle the creation of the airport employment lands.

Veteran Ward 5 politician Chad Collins says Hamiltonians for Progressive Development, which has been fighting against the creation of the airport lands since it was introduced by former Mayor Larry Di Ianni, said its main goal in the Wal-Mart Ontario Municipal Development appeal is to halt the development of the airport employment lands.

“They are linking the two issues,” he said. “That’s their real goal.”

HPD filed an appeal last week to the OMB against council’s decision in June to allow a retail and hotel complex on 14.7 hectares of land on the former Waxman scrap yard property at the corner of Centennial Parkway and the South Service Road.

HPD scored a major OMB win after it challenged council’s 2005 decision to create the airport employment lands around the Hamilton International Airport. The city is attempting to establish a special policy area for development that will eventually see the creation of 49,000 jobs. Prior to an OMB hearing, the city agreed to create the community liaison committee for the airport, and change some language in the plan that will protect prime agricultural lands.

Michael Desnoyers, co-chair of the HPD, said the Wal-Mart development violates a number of city and provincial planning policies, including transportation, accessibility, and conversion of employment lands for retail and commercial development.

Mr. Collins says the issues over transportation and lack of sidewalks are “red herrings” in HPD’s claims.

He pointed out part of the development includes improving the city’s public transit in the area. In addition, sidewalks will be constructed on both sides of Centennial Parkway. Money has already been set aside for the project, he said.

As for the conversion of the property from employment to retail and commercial use, which councillors approved last year, the city’s consultants Hemson Consulting identified in a report to the city that part of the property be converted for commercial uses, said Mr. Collins.

He also said the proposed development will be located beside a Home Depot store, which is a similar commercial development that Smart Centres, which owns the land, is proposing for its Wal-Mart project.

In the 13-page appeal, HPD stated the proposal “does not promote economic development and competitiveness through providing an appropriate mix of employment to meet long-term needs…”

It also stated that the decision by council to convert the lands to nonemployment uses was done without a municipal comprehensive review demonstrating a need for conversion.

The proposed development is expected to create 1,500 jobs and earn about $2.4 million in tax revenue for the city, say Smart Centres officials.

Mr. Desnoyers said those initial economic jolts for the city are short lived.

“We are like junkies,” he said. “It’s like an assessment fix. The development charges and assessments are high, initially, but they are not doable in the long term.”

Mr. Collins says the appeal could delay the construction of the project, while also adding costs for taxpayers to bear because the city has to defend itself before an OMB hearing.

“Everyday the shovel is not going into the ground, we lose taxes and employment,” he said.

HPD’s Wal-Mart objections filled with ‘red herrings,’ says councillor

Community Aug 21, 2009 Ancaster News

A Hamilton councillor says the community group opposing the $100-million Wal-Mart development on Centennial Parkway North is really trying to scuttle the creation of the airport employment lands.

Veteran Ward 5 politician Chad Collins says Hamiltonians for Progressive Development, which has been fighting against the creation of the airport lands since it was introduced by former Mayor Larry Di Ianni, said its main goal in the Wal-Mart Ontario Municipal Development appeal is to halt the development of the airport employment lands.

“They are linking the two issues,” he said. “That’s their real goal.”

HPD filed an appeal last week to the OMB against council’s decision in June to allow a retail and hotel complex on 14.7 hectares of land on the former Waxman scrap yard property at the corner of Centennial Parkway and the South Service Road.

HPD scored a major OMB win after it challenged council’s 2005 decision to create the airport employment lands around the Hamilton International Airport. The city is attempting to establish a special policy area for development that will eventually see the creation of 49,000 jobs. Prior to an OMB hearing, the city agreed to create the community liaison committee for the airport, and change some language in the plan that will protect prime agricultural lands.

Michael Desnoyers, co-chair of the HPD, said the Wal-Mart development violates a number of city and provincial planning policies, including transportation, accessibility, and conversion of employment lands for retail and commercial development.

Mr. Collins says the issues over transportation and lack of sidewalks are “red herrings” in HPD’s claims.

He pointed out part of the development includes improving the city’s public transit in the area. In addition, sidewalks will be constructed on both sides of Centennial Parkway. Money has already been set aside for the project, he said.

As for the conversion of the property from employment to retail and commercial use, which councillors approved last year, the city’s consultants Hemson Consulting identified in a report to the city that part of the property be converted for commercial uses, said Mr. Collins.

He also said the proposed development will be located beside a Home Depot store, which is a similar commercial development that Smart Centres, which owns the land, is proposing for its Wal-Mart project.

In the 13-page appeal, HPD stated the proposal “does not promote economic development and competitiveness through providing an appropriate mix of employment to meet long-term needs…”

It also stated that the decision by council to convert the lands to nonemployment uses was done without a municipal comprehensive review demonstrating a need for conversion.

The proposed development is expected to create 1,500 jobs and earn about $2.4 million in tax revenue for the city, say Smart Centres officials.

Mr. Desnoyers said those initial economic jolts for the city are short lived.

“We are like junkies,” he said. “It’s like an assessment fix. The development charges and assessments are high, initially, but they are not doable in the long term.”

Mr. Collins says the appeal could delay the construction of the project, while also adding costs for taxpayers to bear because the city has to defend itself before an OMB hearing.

“Everyday the shovel is not going into the ground, we lose taxes and employment,” he said.