|by Darrin DeRoches
February 6 - 12, 2014
This week the city of Hamilton announced plans for the piers on the bay. These are plans that will develop the unused lands for commercial and residential uses in the coming years. They are also looking to improve the area in regards to sewage, streets, sidewalks and lighting to the tune of some 35 million or so. The city can justify this spending with the increase of taxes and development fees so everyone is voting ‘yes’ on the issues. There are a lot of things happening down at the bay and it seems like no one is really making a big deal out of it when this can actually be a huge success story or a huge flop. Major developments have come and gone in our city over the past few decades – some with great success and others being called failures or white elephants.
People complained about Copps Coliseum being built with no hockey team to fill it but now we can look back at all of the great events that have entertained us over the years and the income spin off that it brought to our city. In my eyes, it was a great success, not a white elephant.
Jackson Square seems to be regarded as a failure since they demolished heritage buildings and built it to be a fortress rather than an open mall that could have brought downtown together. I believe that the design of the mall was its greatest downfall but we have made the best of it and it has a resurgence happening with new tenants and investment. Overall it may be a failure in design, but winning by default.
The location of the new football stadium is also debated and will be knocked up and down until we realize what we have received with very little of our own money invested. The stadium will again provide our community with years of use and entertainment and end up being a success story.
The new vision for the bay is opening up land for development from the private sector as well as government use. The city has an absolute jewel that will either be developed with great success or squandered into a failure depending on how much of it we allow to be developed. The private sector will usually find the right use and mix for an area by listening to the market and building what they need without any interference from politicians. Hopefully the city will just do their job and develop the infrastructure, zoning etc. and allow the bay to continue to develop into the jewel it is. This will take decades to play out, as will the development around the airport and downtown.
There is a lot of money to be made in real estate in these developments and the city should just keep opening the doors of opportunity and see what comes. The next ten years will continue to shape our city. Invest in the right spot around the bay and you will see great returns – the doors are opening. V