The controversial aerotropolis project is now airborne.
Council voted 13-2 Wednesday night to approve the plan to create more industrial and commercial land on agricultural land around the Hamilton airport.
There was a last minute move by councillors Bob Bratina and Brian McHattie to refer the issue back to the economic development and planning committee and have it dealt with by the new council to be elected Oct. 25, but it was not successful.
“This is the largest urban boundary expansion in our history,” McHattie said. “This is no small decision … I think this is a wrong-headed move in so many ways … It’s a huge gamble and once you make an urban boundary expansion you don’t go back.”
Bratina and McHattie argued council does not have all the information it needs to make a proper decision on what is formally known as the Airport Employment Growth District, but the majority supported the view that the development is needed to attract businesses, create jobs, lower taxes and help rebalance the assessment pie of 70 per cent residential and 30 per cent commercial industrial.
Council first approved the concept of aerotropolis five years ago and had to make a decision on it Wednesday night or face having it start at square one for the new council and hearing from public delegations again. The planning committee recently heard from 30 delegations on the issue over the course of two days.
It was an emotional meeting. Deputy mayor and councillor Scott Duvall threatened to clear the council chamber at one point because audience members kept interrupting Councillor Terry Whitehead with catcalls. Whitehead was in support of the development.