Hurray for Hamilton!
Hamilton and Burlington share a common bay, a common lake, a common transportation system, a common regional economy, and a common sense of great community pride. Although two distinct municipalities, the histories of these two communities are well interwoven, and what is good for one, will undoubtedly have good results for the other.
Over the past several years, Hamilton has experienced a great renaissance that is generating positive results for the entire region. Over the past five years, Hamilton has averaged more than $1 billion in building permit values – with a good ratio of residential to non-residential. The community has welcomed two major investments from Maple Leaf Foods (with one now under the ownership of Groupo Bimbo of Mexico) that totaled more than $500 million, 1,000 new jobs, and approximately one million square feet of new industrial space. In the west end of the city, McMaster Innovation Park continues to grow, with a focus on innovation and the commercialization of research coming out of McMaster University. Also this past year, Fraunhofer based in Germany – Europe’s largest application oriented research organization – and McMaster University created the McMaster-Fraunhofer Project Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (BEAM) adding immense prominence to Hamilton-based research on a global scale.
Article courtesy of B City Magazine
Economic results such as these have boosted local employment, and are attracting more positive attention for Hamilton. Hamilton’s economy has been ranked the most diversified in Canada and the fastest growing in Ontario by the Conference Board of Canada, and has been ranked the best place to invest in Canada and Ontario by Site Selection Magazine of Atlanta and the Real Estate Investment Network of Calgary respectively.
Just as Burlington has enjoyed years of positive growth in its downtown core, now Hamilton is starting to experience a revival of its own. In Hamilton’s downtown core, there are more than 2,000 condominium units either under construction or soon to be under construction with much of the market being comprised of young professionals and empty nesters.
Glen Norton, Manager Urban Renewal for Hamilton’s Economic Development Office says, “It certainly is a great time to invest in Hamilton, and, more particularly, any of Hamilton’s community downtowns. There’s a real surge of momentum. From the galleries, to the international and artisanal dining experiences, to the chic cafes popping up, our downtowns are becoming not only about working, but being a great place to live as well.” Vast improvements that have included four new animation studios from the GTA, two new university projects, major hotels being constructed, and a waterfront that is unrivaled in this region in terms of development opportunities. Coupled with this is the major attention for music and culture that keeps crowds coming to the city, events like the Festival of Friends, the Locke Street Festival, the Dundas Cactus Festival and the annual Supercrawl Music and Art Festival.
Hamilton has experienced one of the lowest rates of unemployment in Ontario over the past several years, and with people working in the city, there has been a greater attraction to Hamilton as a place to live as well. Burlington’s average residential sale price in 2014 was $506,217, but various communities in Hamilton fared just as well or even better (Ancaster was $498,397, Flamborough was $529,048, and Glanbrook was $519,192). In short, Hamilton’s housing market is one of the hottest in Canada.
What does a strengthening economy in Hamilton, mean for Burlington? It means a solid regional economy that provides new investment opportunities for Burlington firms in the areas of collaboration and supply chain management, and new employment opportunities for residents of Burlington. As major economies across the globe are competing not as individual municipalities, but rather regional economies, the Hamilton-Burlington economy should be viewed as a loose partnership in order to compete with the world. Our two municipal borders share a talent pool, knowledge base, and industry that can provide a supply chain for investments from across the country and world.
For those in Burlington, what is on the horizon for Hamilton that should be of note is the development of Hamilton’s waterfront. Not many Ontario municipalities have a waterfront, which is so development ready, close to major transportation accesses and a major urban centre. Over the next year, Hamilton will see the James Street North GO terminal open to the public offering more direct Toronto commuting options and increased infrastructure work around the waterfront to better water, wastewater capacity and break walls directly at the waterfront’s shores. All this work is in anticipation of the nearly $500 million in development value and 1,600 new residential units planned for Hamilton’s waterfront.
With so much happening in Hamilton, there are some final points to keep in mind for those in Burlington. “If you haven’t visited in a while, take a look at any of our six community downtowns and 13 BIAs, walk along the waterfront, visit a great restaurant, perhaps find your next real estate investment, but most of all, look past the smoke stacks,” says Norton. “Steel is still a large part of our economic story, but it’s a chapter in a greater narrative. A narrative that focuses on rebirth, new points of interest, new opportunities, and the reclaiming of what we now call the, ‘Ambitious City’.”