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Humbug and the Aerotropolis

By Peter Ormond

Each Christmas season, billions of human beings celebrate the birth of Jesus. Crowds amass to hear excerpts from the Bible, sip eggnog at family gatherings, and exchange gifts. At Easter, the fact that Jesus was crucified for speaking his truth is lamented.

Many also watch the traditional Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol”. In this story, Ebenezer Scrooge is given a candid perspective on his ruthless habits. Realizing the appalling injustices caused by his self-absorption and addiction to greed, Scrooge ultimately weeps with shame, regretting his ways, and opens his heart. When faced with the truth, Scrooge changed.

As 2011 draws to a close, the world is mired in chaos. Fukushima has sunk Japan. Libya and Egypt have overthrown their villain dictators. The global financial system is on the brink of collapse with the world’s model alliance – the European Union – tumbling first. While trillions of dollars finance militaries – planet’s largest business, millions starve in Africa. It is time that the world faces truth once again.

As predicted, the flawed system is failing. After all, continuous growth is not sustainable. It’s mortal, like us!

The global Occupy Movement echoes the dire reality that: “It’s time to change the system”. The rising disparity between the rich (the 1%) and the poor (the other 99%) isn’t just. Instead of examining the situation, the Occupy Movement has been largely ridiculed by media, protestors are condemned and the system marches blindly forward. The longer we prop up this flawed economic model, the more painful the transition to a sustainable model will be.

How does this relate to Hamilton?

In 1885, the last spike marked the completion of Canada’s coast to coast railway. Yet, in 2011, Hamilton is not even connected to the main rail system anymore. Why? Like most communities around the globe, we’re handcuffed by a system that doesn’t have the interests of the average citizen – the 99% – in mind.

Hamilton is currently facing a critical moment of truth in our own context. Right now, paving farmland around Hamilton’s Airport is our Colonel Gaddafi.

Hamilton’s aerotropolis expansion is channeling monies away from serious investment in Hamilton’s crumbling infrastructure, including the LRT. In fact, a billion dollars or so – the annual budget for Hamilton – is on the table to purchase, expand, and service Hamilton’s aerotropolis. Plus, the planned network of interconnecting highways to build a massive transport hub would also be covered by our tax dollars.

Do you realize that Hamilton Airport is one of only a few airports in Canada that allow for flights around the clock, 24 hours per day? I personally don’t appreciate being awakened each night by planes that shouldn’t be flying over the populated city.

If the aerotropolis project is such a clear winner, then why is the City’s 40-year lease agreement with Tradeport International, the private airport operator, a secret deal? Who’s involved? What are their interests?

Businessman Ron Foxcroft is the Chairman of the Board of Tradeport International, the company that manages Hamilton’s Airport, and has interests in numerous ventures. He’s also the owner of Fluke Transport, a trucking company. Mr. Foxcroft lives in Burlington.

Businessman David Braley owns the Airport Business Park adjacent to the airport, a business park that has been 90% vacant for decades. A developer, Mr. Braley is also a Conservative Senator in Ottawa. Senator Braley lives in Burlington.

Richard Koroscil is the President and CEO of Tradeport International, and last year was President of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Koroscil is also Hamilton’s representative on the Board of Directors for Metrolinx – the regional transit agency. Isn’t that a conflict of interest right there?

Hamilton needs a thorough review of all aspects of Hamilton Airport and its related projects – especially the aerotropolis. Aside from the secret lease that we, the citizens of Hamilton should have access to, this includes an historical review of all board members, land transactions, projects, property owners and affiliated organizations. Especially when a private entity is being subsidized by the public purse.

In order to change the way things are being done in Hamilton, we need to change the system. A review of the intricacies of Hamilton’s Airport is that first step.

Learn more about Hamilton’s Airport and decide yourself. Should we invest in air travel, the most inefficient mode of transportation, or should we invest in community-building projects instead? Until this project is stopped, we’ll continue to make the wealthy even wealthier on the backs of the community.

Hamilton has a lot to gain, including an LRT system. We need to realize the truth of what the aerotropolis would mean for Hamilton, and we need to realize a sustainable alternative.

Scrooge saw the light, but not everyone does. Merry Christmas.

Learn more at: civicleague.ca

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