When Hamiltonians learn that their property taxes are going to be raised to subsidize the destruction of our farmland, it is safe to say that they will become rather more interested in the AEGD.
By Michael Desnoyers
Published June 14, 2010
Editor's Note: Michael Desnoyers, co-chair of [Hamiltonians for Progressive Development](http://progressivedevelopment.ca), just sent this letter to Hamilton City Council.
Mayor Eisenberger and Members of Council,
It has come to our attention that the Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD, aka aerotropolis), including its draft secondary plan, will be addressed at Tuesday's meeting of the Planning and Economic Development Committee. Hamiltonians for Progressive Development (HPD) has several serious concerns with the proposal to circulate the draft plan at this time and we urge the committee to refuse to accept the draft plan.
The OMB minutes of settlement assigned a key role to the Community Liaison Committee. The CLC has not met since January, despite a firm written promise that it would do so. Below we have copied the communication to the CLC members from early March that contained those assurances.
You are familiar with the reasons for our longstanding opposition to the "aerotropolis" plan. The secondary planning process, which HPD has monitored closely through the Community Liaison Committee (CLC), has confirmed our worst fears about the plan for this giant industrial park, from the standpoint of financial responsibility, environmental concerns, and sustainable land use planning.
While we have used every opportunity to voice these concerns through the CLC process and otherwise, the draft secondary plan does essentially nothing to address the big-picture problems.
Our immediate concern, and the reason for this letter and our call for your attention to the matter, relates to a failure to properly address the potential financial implications of the draft secondary plan. HPD has been calling for the public release of this information for some time.
It was agreed at the last meeting of the CLC (which took place on January 26) that a further meeting would be convened to address the extremely controversial financial issues; it was also agreed that representatives of the Province would be invited to attend. In the email to the CLC of March 8, 2010, reproduced below, the facilitator specifically advised that:
The Master Plans are being reviewed with City staff and further modifications and adjustments are expected in the next few weeks which could impact the numbers being used for the Financing Plan. The Project Team would like to review the final Financing Plan with you and has undertaken to provide it in advance of a meeting so as to have an informed discussion of it.
The complete and final Financing Plan has never been released to the CLC and there has never been any discussion of it, informed or otherwise. It remains hidden from not only the public but the CLC. While a new CLC meeting date was promised by mid-March, this has never been scheduled, despite follow-up communications from HPD.
It is our expectation that the financing plan for the AEGD will be the source of considerable public concern and can reasonably be expected to galvanize opposition to the industrial park by Hamilton's taxpayers. Proponents of the have thus far avoided scrutiny of the financial implications by focusing on design features of the industrial park, and have succeeded in keeping public interest in the "aerotropolis" at a minimum.
When everyday Hamiltonians learn that their property taxes are going to be raised to subsidize the destruction of our farmland, it is safe to say that they will become rather more interested and we expect that your constituents will be communicating their concerns to you and your colleagues as we move towards the fall election.
In terms of the specific issues before you on Tuesday, we believe that once the financial plan is disclosed and subjected to debate at the CLC, this critical aspect of the draft secondary plan may affect the willingness of the committee and Council to put the proposal forward for broader public consultation, at least in its present form.
Given the information that we have received thus far, we anticipate that the financial plan may call for taxpayer funding at a level which will not be politically acceptable, particularly in light of the scaled-down size of the development and the other concerns which HPD and other groups and individuals have been expressing for years.
In light of this, we ask that at a minimum the current report (and motion for acceptance of the draft report, etc.) be tabled pending the release of the financial plan to the CLC and the completion of the agreed-to further CLC meeting to scrutinize and debate this pivotal aspect of the AEGD plan.
It remains our position that the CLC process - and the discussion of financial implications as part of this process - are legally-binding aspects of the settlement which HPD and the Province secured from the City at the Ontario Municipal Board.
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