Monday, August 4, 2003


Publicly Oppose the Plans to Cut Valley Trees

Rally, Monday August 4, 1:00 - Greenhill

Friends of Red Hill Valley and other organizations invite you to a "Rally for the Valley" on civic holiday, Monday, August 4 at 1 pm. The City is pushing ahead with construction despite not having numerous approvals and permits. It is crucial that people call them to account. Please bring your friends, neighbours, relatives.
The City has announced plans to begin construction of the Greenhill Avenue interchange in the first week of August.
We expect they will try to start this work on August 5.
The $3.3 million contract has been awarded to Dufferin Construction. It includes extending Greenhill Avenue westward from Mt. Albion Road down an unopened right-of-way bordering about 50 homes, erecting noise walls, and building a bridge to allow the planned expressway to pass under the road. Slightly more than half a hectare of valley lands are scheduled to be cleared as part of this work. While this is less than one percent of the planned destruction associated with the expressway, it is the first significant damage.
The August 4 event will include the planting of a garden of hope (please bring trees or other plants, soil, etc.) as well as the Rally. The location is the dead end of Greenhill Avenue, one block west of Mt. Albion Road at Harrisford Drive. Parking in this area is limited, so please try to car pool, bike or use the Parkdale bus if possible.

Campout Coverage

Hamilton Indymedia has posted extensive coverage of the July 4-6 campout in the valley by the Showstoppers Union, including photos of "tree huggers" and a portion of the speech by mayoralty candidate Dave Christopherson.

Expressway Argument Dealt Another Blow

The economic reasons given for building a north-south expressway have suffered another major setback. Over the past few months, the main economic argument of expressway supporters has been the necessity to increase industrial development in Hamilton. The north-south road is supposed to help by improving access to the East Mountain Business Park and the North Glanbrook Business Park that lies immediately south of it. While both of these areas are serviced by the Linc, the valley road allegedly will make them more attractive for new industrial development, especially the North Glanbrook site where most of the land is vacant (most of the East Mountain area is already occupied).

There are a number of flaws in this argument and some have been identified by the City and its hired consultants. For example, they admit that (1) the North Glanbrook lands are not serviced and it is unprofitable for their private owners to provide the services to attract new industry; (2) it will cost the City nearly $50 million to provide the necessary services; (3) there is no current market interest in purchasing these lands for industrial development; (4) the owners of the lands are actively demanding that their lands be rezoned to much more profitable residential uses; (5) residential development in greenfield areas doesn't pay for itself so more of it will simply make the City's financial position worse; (6) even if the City refuses to rezone these lands to residential, the owners would likely overcome this through an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
In light of these facts, the Economic Development department at the City has proposed a fairly desperate gamble:build the expressway AND provide enough subsidies to the private owners to make it sufficiently profitable for them to accept industrial development on these lands. The advocates of this position candidly admit that it has two major problems -- the City can't afford to subsidize the landowners, and such subsidies are currently illegal under Ontario law (in order to prevent cities from getting caught in an increasingly expensive bidding war for new development). In fact, the scheme is even riskier since it rests on a unproven prediction that these steps will convince companies to want to move to Hamilton.

In the last few days, a provincial government decision has unravelled the argument. The City has been attempting to expand its urban boundary out to Fifty Road in Winona. This step was supposed to add enough land for residential development to create a 20-year supply. Then the City could argue that any attempt to convert North Glanbrook to residential was unreasonable or premature. Council eagerly approved the expansion into Winona, despite the fact that these are prime agricultural lands, and much of them are irreplacable tenderfruit lands found no where else in Ontario. Like so much done in Hamilton, this move broke the rules. This time it was so blatant that even the Eves government couldn't stomach it. They have objected to the expansion and forced the City to back down.

This leaves the North Glanbrook landowners in a much stronger position to argue that their lands should be rezoned to residential, and pretty much ensures that if the expressway is built, it will simply generate (and subsidize) more unsustainable and very expensive sprawl. Will it convince the gamblers to back down? The only guarantee is the November 10 elections for City Council.

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