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Hamilton Economic Development

Ancaster industrial park looks to expand

Photo of Activation Labs president Dr. Eric Hoffman watches a robotic machine analyze iron ore samplesAncaster’s business park is heading into its next chapter.

The 230-hectare park on Wilson Street between Shaver and Trinity roads is all but completely developed. The city owns no more land in the park.

“That park has been an overwhelming success,” said Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson.

A landowner east of the existing park is anxious to develop for more industrial and commercial uses but a farmer in between is not interested in selling, says Ferguson.

So the city has purchased property to the west of the park and will extend Cormorant Drive out to Trinity Road to give another access to the park.

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“That will make a big difference there. There’s a safety issue right now in having only one entrance. The traffic really backs up along Wilson in the morning with employees turning in,” said Ferguson.

Guy Paparella, the city’s director of growth management, says there is always strong demand for space in Ancaster’s park.

“It has a highly strong mix of uses in there. Proximity to the 403 and the link to the airport have been strong factors there.”

Forty-nine of 146 parcels of land are medium industrial uses, according to city data. The next biggest portions are light industrial at 20 and warehousing at 13.

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Eric Hoffman’s Activation Labs was among the first tenants when it took up residence there 25 years ago. Ancaster is now the company’s global headquarters, heading up 30 labs in 13 countries and a total workforce of about 1,000.

The company is now in the process of consolidating its operations from four separate buildings in the park into one 200,000-square-foot building to house more than 200 employees. That’s about 2.5 times bigger than Activation Labs’ current footprint.

The company, which does testing for mineral exploration, metallurgy, environmental analysis, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, was lured to Ancaster from Brantford in its early years because Hoffman and his family live in Dundas.

“It may have made more sense to locate in Mississauga or Oakville but I didn’t want to commute,” said Hoffman. “We’ve found advantages here. It’s a lower cost of living for our employees and it’s easier to get highly skilled employees with Mac being so nearby.”

The cost to buy land is also reasonable, says Hoffman, who bought 3.2 hectares for expansion.

“We are always getting approached by U.S. cities that are willing to give us land and tax concessions but we are staying put.”

Article courtesy of Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator

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