Hamilton City council has picked a peculiar time to protect city green space. With the premature removal of Confederation Park from the short list of potential sites for a new stadium for the Pan-Am games, it almost looks like they are trying to sabotage the bid. I very much understand and commend the desire to protect Hamilton’s green space, I feel this is a case where the benefits of development can outweigh the sacrifice. We may lose green space to build this thing, but we’re sacrificing one recreational space for another.
With the Red Hill Creek Expressway, and the incoming GO transit station, Confederation Park and surrounding area is now the beneficiary of a perfect convergence of road and rail access. Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins argued that other Hamilton parks aren’t being considered, but it’s fair to point out that none of those other parks have both the size and transportation access that Confederation Park does. Even the sites still on the list are lacking in one or both of those categories, so this decision makes little sense in that regard. Personally, I would selfishly enjoy a stadium downtown, but I know it might not be the best solution for the city as a whole.
The addition of a stadium to Confederation Park would be a boon to area businesses and a new jewel in a crown that has lost some of its lustre in recent years. Every time the TiCats have a home game, we have an opportunity for regional or national media exposure and an influx of out of town visitors. I can think of no better place for that to happen than the east waterfront.
With respect to the sacrifice of green space, I think losing 15-20% of one park is acceptable, and with the Tiger Cats moving, we could demolish their old stadium, plant some grass, put up some goal posts and a sign reading “Welcome to Ivor Wynne Park”.
Lastly, I think the timing of this decision is particularly embarrassing for council. Earlier this week one of the big news stories was Dr. Peter George’s sage advice to Hamilton to “Be Bold”. While I know he was talking about infrastructure spending in particular, his advice applies to this situation and I would like to extend his thought: “Don’t just piss this money away filling potholes”. What does our council do? They piss away a golden opportunity for a few acres of park space.