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Could Aldershot be part of the 2030 Commonwealth Games? It may be a long shot, but it is possible.

Burlington politicians have directed staff to work with the Hamilton committee seeking to host the games to determine the potential for Burlington’s participation.

Aldershot is the focal point, specifically the 49 hectares of empty space owned by Penta Properties south of the 403, north of the railway tracks and east of the GO Station.

During a presentation last week to a Burlington Committee, Louis Frapporti, Chair of the Hamilton Committee, said that one of the objectives of their bid is to “incent” local developers to “partner with municipalities on the delivery of assets to be used during the games at private sector expense”.

Penta Properties is one of the biggest land owners in Burlington. The company has a long history of community service and support, but also an occasionally feisty relationship with City Hall.

Company President Paul Paletta told the committee that his organization is evolving.

“We’ve decided to alter the company’s vision and approach….We resolve to better align our business activity with the needs of the City of Burlington.  One of the ways we’re working to demonstrate the seriousness of our resolve is in supporting this unique Commonwealth effort. ……..I’ve asked (staff) to work with you to ensure that Burlington becomes a focus of the games’ effort……I am proposing that this be done on our lands at King Road”.

Paletta said that while the goal may be to build something for the Commonwealth games, it would not be just for the Commonwealth Games. He said the site must flourish after the games.

“The concept that we’re thinking of doing is something that would be a self-contained community where people can work, live and play…..and subject to what makes the most sense, some type of housing. It would be an overall community where people could stay and enjoy the natural features”.

Frapporti said the Hamilton Bid Committee originally thought of Burlington only for the lawn bowling competition, but now see bigger possibilities.

“We’ve since moved on to explore with you a variety of different opportunities that relate to sports and recreation, infrastructure and facilities”. He hinted that several Canadian national sporting organizations are looking for new homes, which could be in Aldershot, including track and field, tennis and gymnastics. He added that his Committee has already talked with post-secondary institutions and “leading advanced manufacturing innovators” about the Aldershot site.

Antonio Gomez-Palacio, Penta’s Design and Urban Planner, said that although it remains “early days”, conversations have already begun. His team met with community leaders recently and toured the Penta property.

“There’s an opportunity on this site for us to be thinking very carefully around how we create opportunities for employment, for economic development and very keenly for local economic development”.

Frapporti reminded the Committee that it’s not just about the Games.

“The assets that we’re looking to create, although inspired by the games and part of the games bid, aren’t for the most part contingent on the games being awarded. We’re looking to come to an agreement around the creation of infrastructure right now… the cranes can go up and stuff can be built well in advance of the awarding of the games”.

The Burlington Committee was excited about the prospects and asked staff to report back in March.

Community members tour the Penta property south of 403, east of Aldershot GO station

Aldershot City Councillor Kelvin Galbraith reminded those attending that any redevelopment must include a south service road and retail opportunities.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward echoed Galbraith’s enthusiasm but cautioned that any plan to develop the property must follow all the appropriate planning processes.

Some Aldershot residents still recall that a decade ago Meed Ward was less than enthusiastic about the proposal to build the new Pan Am stadium on the same site in Aldershot.

Hamilton’s bid from the Games must be submitted by the fall of 2022. The Commonwealth Games Federation will announce who gets the games in the fall of 2023.

By Rick Craven

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