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Airport Employment Growth District success creating servicing pinch

The Airport Employment Growth District has been a huge success in the five years since it received OMB approval. So much so, that the city needs to implement some interim water and wastewater measures to allow growth to continue.

A staff report says that over the last two years, the City has witnessed unprecedented demand for industrial zoned property in the Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD) from both end-user clients and the development industry. During this two-year span, over 700 acres , representing more than half of AEGD lands, have been purchased by major industrial development companies that have plans to collectively develop well over 7 million square feet of new industrial product. Employment projections from these developments would be based on the potential end users of these facilities, but a conservative estimate has total employment in the range of 3,500 – 4,500 living wage job opportunities.

Three big projects currently underway include:

• DHL Express is expanding its existing gateway at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport by 200,000 square feet. Total investment $100 million;

DHL’s 200,000 sf facility

• Panattoni Development is currently constructing a $30 million, 264,000 square foot warehouse; and,

• KF Aerospace, Canada’s largest maintenance, repair and overhaul aviation firm, is completing a $30 million 120,000 square foot expansion at the John C. Munro Hamilton Airport

KF Aerospace 120,000 sf expansion

Along with the industrial explosion is a growth in housing developments. As of June 3rd, 2020, there were 26 active development applications within the Airport Employment Growth District yielding 552 single detached dwellings; 5 semi-detached dwellings; 853 townhouse dwellings; 1,327 apartments, as well as 7,203,279 square feet of non-residential development.

The long-term plan for servicing the areas is an 11 km trunk sewer on Dickenson Road, that would work its way from Regional Road 56 to Upper James street at a cost of $100 Million. But that project is not slated for completion until 2025. In the meantime the city is spending about $8 Million on a number of upgrades to its existing wastewater infrastructure in order to provide increased interim capacity.

Staff are recommending a policy be implemented to effectively ration out water and wastewater permits to developers, giving priority to industrial and commercial developments. The policy would  stipulate that prior to receiving planning approval that the development have a wastewater allocation permit in hand to ensure that development does not outstrip the capacity of the water and wastewater system.

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