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Not all Hamilton councillors sold on progress for film studio

Not all Hamilton councillors sold on progress for film studio

There were a few uncomfortable moments as Hamilton’s General Issues Committee received an update from Aeon studios on their plan to develop a film and television precinct on the Barton-Tiffany lands west of Bay street adjacent to the CNR yards. AEON co-founder Jeff Anders told councillors that the purpose-built film studio that was a key element of the project might have to wait up to five years, because of the complexity of the industrial contamination that exists on the site. In the meantime Aeon has purchased a former industrial building at Queen and Stuart Streets and have begun filming activities there.

Aeon established studios in the former factory at Queen and Stuart Streets

Aeon has also purchased two other buildings in the area which will support film activity. He acknowledged to council that AEON’s environmental investigation into the lands had revealed significant industrial contamination, in particular on the site that was designated for the new studio. In the meantime, he said, Aeon proposed to proceed with some residential development, which also forms part of the overall master plan for the area.

This is not sit well with Councillor Brad Clark.

Clark then asked staff to refresh his memory as to how Aeon became the successful proponent for the redevelopment scheme.

The Aeon project was introduced to Council by the former Director of Economic Development, Glen Norton. Clark said other communities will be vying for film studios while Hamilton is dealing with an up to five-year delay.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger defended the pace of progress noting that after 20 years, only now are the Pier 8 lands about to host private development. He said the fact that Aeon had started film production, albeit in a repurposed building was an indicator that the project was viable.

The property in question was originally assembled with a view to becoming a stadium site, triggering a divisive debate ten years ago, and ultimately ending up with the construction of Tim Horton Field on the existing site of the old Ivor Wynne Stadium. At that time, opponents of the West Harbour site warned about the unknown pollution costs, but proponents insisted the clean up costs would be in the single-digit millions of dollars. But as Aeon’s Anders told councillors yesterday “The site is loud, it is wet, it is contaminated.” He said his group at this point does not have financing in place to start the cleanup which would lead to construction.

Further Reading: Lights, Camera, where’s the action?

The plan now is for Aeon to be back in front of council in the new year with more details on how they plan to move forward.

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