Last update:
2020-04-01

Hamilton Aerotropolis - Airport Employment Growth District, Ontario, Canada

An Aerotropolis (or Airport Employment Growth District) taking up 555 hectares of farmland around Hamilton Airport was approved in spite of local opposition. An appeal highlighting the availability of brownfield land as an alternative was unsuccessful.


Description:

An Aerotropolis, described as a ‘master planned community that develops around an airport’ was identified as the ‘number one strategic priority for economic development in Hamilton’ in the City of Hamilton’s 2005 Economic Development Strategy. The Aerotropolis concept focussed on development of an industrial, commercial and residential community around Hamilton Airport, serving to support the airport’s and the City’s economic development objectives. Air freight activity was emphasized in the Aerotropolis plans, but there was an alternative view that it would be a business park without a strong relationship with the airport. At a June 2005 public meeting about the Aerotropolis concept several attendees raised concerns about how future energy constraints posed by limited oil supplies might affect the project. In response the City Council directed staff to prepare a strategy to deal with the potential fuel crisis and impacts on the Aerotropolis project.[1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Hamilton Aerotropolis - Airport Employment Growth District, Ontario, Canada
Country:Canada
State or province:Ontario
Location of conflict:City of Hamilton
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Other industries
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

An Aerotropolis was identified as the ‘number one strategic priority for economic development in Hamilton’ in the City of Hamilton’s 2005 Economic Development Strategy. Air freight activity was emphasized in the Aerotropolis plans, but there was an alternative view that it would be a business park without a strong relationship with the airport.[1] In September 2010 a report concerning the boundary for the Aerotropolis, re-named the Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD), was released to the public for review. It was estimated that the costs of servicing the project would be over $350 million (USD339.5 million), excluding construction of 25 kilometer water and sewer pipes.[2] On 3rd July 2013 the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruled in favour of the Aerotropolis plan.[7]

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Project area:555
Level of Investment:339,500,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:14/01/2015
Company names or state enterprises:Dillon Consulting from Canada - Preparation of Airport Employment Growth District Transportation Master Plan Implementation Update, 2016
Panattoni from Canada - Broke ground on warehouse in AEGD in October 2019
Relevant government actors:Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)
Hamilton, Ontario City Council
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Hamiltonians for Progressive Development
Hamilton Civic League - http://civicleague.ca/
Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society
Council of Canadians - https://canadians.org/
Environment Hamilton - https://www.environmenthamilton.org/
Hamilton 350 - http://www.hamilton350.org/
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
A ‘garlic bus’ protest: 50 activists travelled by bus to plant garlic on land opposite the airport, marking out a large 3-5-0 in a fallow farm field. Garlic was chosen because it is easy to grow in Southern Ontario.
Hamilton Civic League volunteers conducted a door-to-door survey of 349 households within the Aerotropolis boundary on order to gauge residents’ level of awareness of and support for the plans.
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsAir pollution and noise from road freight traffic
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Since the inception of the Aerotropolis in 2005 opposition to the projected to a reduction on the land area of about 42 per cent by the time the Ontario Municipal Board ruled in favour of it in July 2013.[7]
Development of alternatives:Opponents of the Aerotropolis project, specifically Hamiltonians for Progressive Development and Environment Hamilton, maintained that instead of allocating farmland for industrial development the high vacancy rate in existing industrial sites should be addressed. Furthermore, the case was made that brownfield areas that could be utilized for industrial development should be considered before destroying farmland.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Aerotropolis was approved in spite of local opposition. An appeal against the project was unsuccessful with the judge not accepting Hamiltonians for Progressive Development’s well-founded arguments that the plans were ‘economically risky as well as environmentally unacceptable’.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

City of Hamilton Airport Employment Growth District, Transportation Master Plan Implementation Update, Dillon Consulting, December 2016
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Richard Gilbert, HAMILTON: THE ELECTRIC CITY, 13 April 2006
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] Aerotropolis battle lines hardening, The Hamilton Spectator, 23 May 2012
[click to view]

[1] 20 Reasons to Stop Aerotropolis, RAISE THE HAMMER, 28 September 2010
[click to view]

[2] Opposition to aerotropolis, Hamilton Catch, 10 October 2010
[click to view]

[4] Media Release- Aerotropolis Residents Reject City’s Plan, The Hamiltonian, 9 October 2012
[click to view]

[5] Aerotropolis a $500 Million Pitfall, RAISE THE HAMMER, 29 November 2012
[click to view]

[6] OMB rules in favour of Aerotropolis plan, CBC news, 8 July 2013
[click to view]

[7] Media Release- Hamiltonians for Progressive Development takes fight to Divisional Court, The Hamiltonian, 5 August 2013
[click to view]

[8] Protestors fail to overturn Hamilton aerotropolis ruling, Global Airport Cities, 12 November 2013
[click to view]

[10] Hamilton airport development launches with $30-million warehouse, INVEST IN HAMILTON, 23 October 2019
[click to view]

[8] Media Release- Hamiltonians for Progressive Development takes fight to Divisional Court, The Hamiltonian, 5 August 2013
[click to view]

[9] Protestors fail to overturn Hamilton aerotropolis ruling, Global Airport Cities, 12 November 2013
[click to view]

[9] Battle over Hamilton’s aerotropolis is over, The Hamilton Spectator, 14 January 2015
[click to view]

[10] Battle over Hamilton’s aerotropolis is over, The Hamilton Spectator, 14 January 2015
[click to view]

[11] Hamilton airport development launches with $30-million warehouse, INVEST IN HAMILTON, 23 October 2019
[click to view]

[2] 20 Reasons to Stop Aerotropolis, RAISE THE HAMMER, 28 September 2010
[click to view]

[3] Opposition to aerotropolis, Hamilton Catch, 10 October 2010
[click to view]

[4] Aerotropolis battle lines hardening, The Hamilton Spectator, 23 May 2012
[click to view]

[5] Media Release- Aerotropolis Residents Reject City’s Plan, The Hamiltonian, 9 October 2012
[click to view]

[6] Aerotropolis a $500 Million Pitfall, RAISE THE HAMMER, 29 November 2012
[click to view]

[7] OMB rules in favour of Aerotropolis plan, CBC news, 8 July 2013
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Hamilton's Aerotropolis - Urban Sprawl Project Jan 9 Part 2 of 2, PeterOrmondGreen, 10 January 2013
[click to view]

Hamilton Aerotropolis - Available Developable Lands Map Jan 9 Maps.MTS, PeterOrmondGreen, 10 January 2013
[click to view]

Aerotropolis Costs - Facebook page
[click to view]

Garlic Bus work party 10.10.10, radiofreeschool. 12 October 2010
[click to view]

Hamilton's Aerotropolis - Urban Sprawl Project Jan 9 Part 1 of 2, PeterOrmondGreen, 10 January 2013
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update01/04/2020
Comments
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