Paving the way for development

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Development is coming, whether we like it, or not. But we need to act fast to keep it off our tax bills.

That was the message from Ward 15 councillor Margaret McCarthy, at a Public Information Centre last Tuesday. The meeting was held so the city could gauge reaction to three proposed road options, which will connect a widened Mountain Brow Road to Hwy 5.

The road has been a point of contention for years. But further delay could end up costing taxpayers millions, said McCarthy. If the city appears to be dragging its heels, the developers can apply to build the homes without the road. It's a process they've already started, and could end with developers being freed from their financial obligation to foot the road bill.

The road is slated to run through Waterdown South, which is south of Hwy 5, and east of First Street. It will eventually hold 3,500 homes, for a population boom of 10,000 new residents.

The issue is an old one, dating back to the former town of Flamborough. The town was required by law to have 17 years worth of development lands available at any time, and was instructed to formulate a growth plan. Councillors at the time had decided against development along Hwy 5, opting instead to focus new growth north of Parkside, to complement a by-pass, which was expected north of the town.

However, Paletta International, which owns the Hwy. 5 land, applied to the Ontario Municipal Board to have the parcel included in the plan - a plea that the OMB granted.

Despite an appeal from the town, cabinet later ruled in Paletta's favour, putting an end to debate.

"There's no way of appealing a decision by cabinet," noted McCarthy.

One stipulation of the growth was building the road, which would be cost-shared with Burlington, with Hamilton's portion paid in full by Paletta through some cash up front and the remainder raised through development charges and a per-house payment.

"New growth has to pay its own way," said McCarthy.

But Paletta could get off the hook, unless Hamilton finalizes a route in the coming weeks. Developers in the area have already approached the OMB, to plead that they be allowed to build their houses without the road in place. If the OMB feels that Hamilton is stalling, or the situation has become too politically charged and grants their wish, Paletta won't be required to account for the road in planning, or pay any of the costs of the $200-million road.

But either way, the homes are coming, said McCarthy. And the only way for the city to defend its position in court "is to develop a position," said McCarthy. "We can't be seen as dropping the ball on this one."

She sympathizes with residents who are pushing against the road and against development; she feels the same way.

"Do we want it? No. Of course not. But is it coming? Yes, it is," she said. "We all want less growth. I want less growth. It would be easier for me to have no development. But it would be irresponsible of me not to move forward on this.

"There's tremendous pressure, legally, to get going."

Paletta is already "pushing the envelope," by forging ahead with 500 new homes in the area, as early as next year, she said.

Development without the road would be detrimental, said McCarthy. The existing network isn't equipped to deal with an influx of people. It would lead to congestion and accelerate the deterioration of existing roads, she said.

Schools are also a contentious issue. One woman at the meeting expressed concern that her children would be bussed out of town, to make room for new students.

The current plan calls for Paletta to set aside land for four new schools, which local boards are expected to buy.

"But the boards are strapped. What usually happens is they get filled in with houses, because the board can't afford to buy the land," said McCarthy, who is lobbying the city to have those lands given to the boards, and have Paletta help foot the bill for school construction.

Before provincial downloading, boards had the freedom to set their own share of municipal taxes, to account for such expenses. However, the new funding formula places construction costs in the province's lap, but boards can't get new funding until old schools are filled. Currently, it's only inner-city schools that have room to spare.

All of the comments submitted at the Public Information Centre are currently being compiled by city staff. They will be taken into account when the city works department forms a recommendation to council.

That recommendation will be presented to the public works infrastructure and environment committee at its meeting at the Bohemian on February 20, at 9:30 a.m. The public is welcome to attend and comment on the recommendation.

McCarthy plans to support the recommendation, which if passed, will then be forwarded to council for final approval, March 1.

The city is still accepting input from the public. Those who took a form home from last week's meeting can submit their comments by mail or e-mail. Those who didn't attend can still comment, by viewing the three options at www.hamilton.ca/waterdownsouth, and e-mailing any comments or concerns to bkhes@hamilton.ca.

Paving the way for development

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Development is coming, whether we like it, or not. But we need to act fast to keep it off our tax bills.

That was the message from Ward 15 councillor Margaret McCarthy, at a Public Information Centre last Tuesday. The meeting was held so the city could gauge reaction to three proposed road options, which will connect a widened Mountain Brow Road to Hwy 5.

The road has been a point of contention for years. But further delay could end up costing taxpayers millions, said McCarthy. If the city appears to be dragging its heels, the developers can apply to build the homes without the road. It's a process they've already started, and could end with developers being freed from their financial obligation to foot the road bill.

The road is slated to run through Waterdown South, which is south of Hwy 5, and east of First Street. It will eventually hold 3,500 homes, for a population boom of 10,000 new residents.

The issue is an old one, dating back to the former town of Flamborough. The town was required by law to have 17 years worth of development lands available at any time, and was instructed to formulate a growth plan. Councillors at the time had decided against development along Hwy 5, opting instead to focus new growth north of Parkside, to complement a by-pass, which was expected north of the town.

However, Paletta International, which owns the Hwy. 5 land, applied to the Ontario Municipal Board to have the parcel included in the plan - a plea that the OMB granted.

Despite an appeal from the town, cabinet later ruled in Paletta's favour, putting an end to debate.

"There's no way of appealing a decision by cabinet," noted McCarthy.

One stipulation of the growth was building the road, which would be cost-shared with Burlington, with Hamilton's portion paid in full by Paletta through some cash up front and the remainder raised through development charges and a per-house payment.

"New growth has to pay its own way," said McCarthy.

But Paletta could get off the hook, unless Hamilton finalizes a route in the coming weeks. Developers in the area have already approached the OMB, to plead that they be allowed to build their houses without the road in place. If the OMB feels that Hamilton is stalling, or the situation has become too politically charged and grants their wish, Paletta won't be required to account for the road in planning, or pay any of the costs of the $200-million road.

But either way, the homes are coming, said McCarthy. And the only way for the city to defend its position in court "is to develop a position," said McCarthy. "We can't be seen as dropping the ball on this one."

She sympathizes with residents who are pushing against the road and against development; she feels the same way.

"Do we want it? No. Of course not. But is it coming? Yes, it is," she said. "We all want less growth. I want less growth. It would be easier for me to have no development. But it would be irresponsible of me not to move forward on this.

"There's tremendous pressure, legally, to get going."

Paletta is already "pushing the envelope," by forging ahead with 500 new homes in the area, as early as next year, she said.

Development without the road would be detrimental, said McCarthy. The existing network isn't equipped to deal with an influx of people. It would lead to congestion and accelerate the deterioration of existing roads, she said.

Schools are also a contentious issue. One woman at the meeting expressed concern that her children would be bussed out of town, to make room for new students.

The current plan calls for Paletta to set aside land for four new schools, which local boards are expected to buy.

"But the boards are strapped. What usually happens is they get filled in with houses, because the board can't afford to buy the land," said McCarthy, who is lobbying the city to have those lands given to the boards, and have Paletta help foot the bill for school construction.

Before provincial downloading, boards had the freedom to set their own share of municipal taxes, to account for such expenses. However, the new funding formula places construction costs in the province's lap, but boards can't get new funding until old schools are filled. Currently, it's only inner-city schools that have room to spare.

All of the comments submitted at the Public Information Centre are currently being compiled by city staff. They will be taken into account when the city works department forms a recommendation to council.

That recommendation will be presented to the public works infrastructure and environment committee at its meeting at the Bohemian on February 20, at 9:30 a.m. The public is welcome to attend and comment on the recommendation.

McCarthy plans to support the recommendation, which if passed, will then be forwarded to council for final approval, March 1.

The city is still accepting input from the public. Those who took a form home from last week's meeting can submit their comments by mail or e-mail. Those who didn't attend can still comment, by viewing the three options at www.hamilton.ca/waterdownsouth, and e-mailing any comments or concerns to bkhes@hamilton.ca.

Paving the way for development

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Development is coming, whether we like it, or not. But we need to act fast to keep it off our tax bills.

That was the message from Ward 15 councillor Margaret McCarthy, at a Public Information Centre last Tuesday. The meeting was held so the city could gauge reaction to three proposed road options, which will connect a widened Mountain Brow Road to Hwy 5.

The road has been a point of contention for years. But further delay could end up costing taxpayers millions, said McCarthy. If the city appears to be dragging its heels, the developers can apply to build the homes without the road. It's a process they've already started, and could end with developers being freed from their financial obligation to foot the road bill.

The road is slated to run through Waterdown South, which is south of Hwy 5, and east of First Street. It will eventually hold 3,500 homes, for a population boom of 10,000 new residents.

The issue is an old one, dating back to the former town of Flamborough. The town was required by law to have 17 years worth of development lands available at any time, and was instructed to formulate a growth plan. Councillors at the time had decided against development along Hwy 5, opting instead to focus new growth north of Parkside, to complement a by-pass, which was expected north of the town.

However, Paletta International, which owns the Hwy. 5 land, applied to the Ontario Municipal Board to have the parcel included in the plan - a plea that the OMB granted.

Despite an appeal from the town, cabinet later ruled in Paletta's favour, putting an end to debate.

"There's no way of appealing a decision by cabinet," noted McCarthy.

One stipulation of the growth was building the road, which would be cost-shared with Burlington, with Hamilton's portion paid in full by Paletta through some cash up front and the remainder raised through development charges and a per-house payment.

"New growth has to pay its own way," said McCarthy.

But Paletta could get off the hook, unless Hamilton finalizes a route in the coming weeks. Developers in the area have already approached the OMB, to plead that they be allowed to build their houses without the road in place. If the OMB feels that Hamilton is stalling, or the situation has become too politically charged and grants their wish, Paletta won't be required to account for the road in planning, or pay any of the costs of the $200-million road.

But either way, the homes are coming, said McCarthy. And the only way for the city to defend its position in court "is to develop a position," said McCarthy. "We can't be seen as dropping the ball on this one."

She sympathizes with residents who are pushing against the road and against development; she feels the same way.

"Do we want it? No. Of course not. But is it coming? Yes, it is," she said. "We all want less growth. I want less growth. It would be easier for me to have no development. But it would be irresponsible of me not to move forward on this.

"There's tremendous pressure, legally, to get going."

Paletta is already "pushing the envelope," by forging ahead with 500 new homes in the area, as early as next year, she said.

Development without the road would be detrimental, said McCarthy. The existing network isn't equipped to deal with an influx of people. It would lead to congestion and accelerate the deterioration of existing roads, she said.

Schools are also a contentious issue. One woman at the meeting expressed concern that her children would be bussed out of town, to make room for new students.

The current plan calls for Paletta to set aside land for four new schools, which local boards are expected to buy.

"But the boards are strapped. What usually happens is they get filled in with houses, because the board can't afford to buy the land," said McCarthy, who is lobbying the city to have those lands given to the boards, and have Paletta help foot the bill for school construction.

Before provincial downloading, boards had the freedom to set their own share of municipal taxes, to account for such expenses. However, the new funding formula places construction costs in the province's lap, but boards can't get new funding until old schools are filled. Currently, it's only inner-city schools that have room to spare.

All of the comments submitted at the Public Information Centre are currently being compiled by city staff. They will be taken into account when the city works department forms a recommendation to council.

That recommendation will be presented to the public works infrastructure and environment committee at its meeting at the Bohemian on February 20, at 9:30 a.m. The public is welcome to attend and comment on the recommendation.

McCarthy plans to support the recommendation, which if passed, will then be forwarded to council for final approval, March 1.

The city is still accepting input from the public. Those who took a form home from last week's meeting can submit their comments by mail or e-mail. Those who didn't attend can still comment, by viewing the three options at www.hamilton.ca/waterdownsouth, and e-mailing any comments or concerns to bkhes@hamilton.ca.