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Authority, city should swap land: Councillor

(Hamilton Spectator)

Hamilton Mountain Councillor Tom Jackson suggests swapping city land for a vacant Dundas site that conservationists say is key to a potential urban eco-park that expands the Cootes Paradise nature sanctuary.

He and five other directors of the Hamilton Conservation Authority voted unanimously Thursday night to oppose rezoning two hectares at King Street East and Olympic Drive for a self-storage warehouse. Their position now goes to city council’s economic development and planning committee, which will consider the rezoning application Feb. 17.

The directors’ action supports a unanimous recommendation by citizens on the authority’s conservation areas advisory board.

Chair Chris Firth-Eagland, who doesn’t often take part in debates, argued passionately against the warehouse proposal, even though authority staff voiced no technical objections.

“As a board, we are not here just to evaluate technical things,” he said. “We are here as a board to provide community perspective.”

He called on other directors to listen to the advisory group, to “take that input to heart,” because the authority’s long-term vision for the Desjardins Canal, the new Veldhuis Conservation Area beside it and other natural land at the eastern gateway to Dundas “is not conducive to rezoning that leads to industrial use.”

Seven of 10 directors attended the meeting. Sergio Manchia refrained from voting because his family has an interest in a storage business.

Brian Duxbury, a lawyer for Ancaster businessman Doug Hammond, who is seeking the rezoning, said he couldn’t comment on Jackson’s land-swap idea.

Hammond bought the land from the former Hamilton-Wentworth region in 1999, and city parks staff say they have no plans to re-acquire it, but Puslinch Councillor Don McKay, authority vice-chair, urged Jackson and other city councillors to encourage staff to reconsider “and to see the benefit of keeping this (as is).”

emcguinness@thespec.com
905-526-4650

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