As many of you know I have been a strong supporter of the West Harbour stadium location for the Pan Am Games (see the web site). The West Harbour site is a city-building location with many benefits, including:
- facilitates redevelopment of a brownfield site that may not otherwise be redeveloped
- provides support to our downtown
- has real social inclusion/poverty reduction benefits for adjacent challenged neighbourhoods and schools
- close to the upcoming full day GO Train service
Today, based on push-back by the Hamilton Tiger Cats who have stated that they will never play at a West Harbour stadium location, City Council moved to have staff investigate the possibility of a stadium at Longwood and Aberdeen (SW corner, where the warehouse is currently located) in the McMaster Innovation Park. Some of you had previously corresponded with me on this site based on media stories. I had replied that I believed the site to be off the table as it had been considered and rejected during earlier discussions with the Tiger Cats, which was facilitated by Michael Fenn. I believed that Council had a strong vision for these lands to work with McMaster University to focus on innovation and high quality jobs. I am sad to say that I was wrong and the site is back on the table.
Today at Council, I voted against consideration of this site and unsuccessfully moved a motion asking that no Future Fund monies be used for a Longwood stadium site.
I believe that the Longwood and Aberdeen site has a number of problems, including:
- there are already plans for a high-tech, research style redevelopment featuring well paying jobs as part of the McMaster Innovation Park vision
- the recent Kirkendall Transportation Plan demonstrated that Aberdeen and Longwood already have significant traffic issues, not to mention capacity issues on the Highway 403 ramps and highway system
- the Innovation Park is already considered small by industry standards and the loss of 20+ acres for a stadium exacerbates this problem
- there has been no public consultation to date on this site
You may remember that I held a community meeting in April to consider the West Harbour location. I am now planning a community meeting on September 14th to share with you what we know about the Longwood and Aberdeen site for a stadium, and to solicit your comments on the subject. A separate email with details on the meeting will be forthcoming.