Saturday, June 26, 2010

More proof Hamilton just doesn't get it

Wind energy seems to be the way a lot of governments want to go -- and while it is clean there are still quite a lot of questions, such as those raised by my fellow bloggers at Wind Concerns Ontario. But aside from the environmental concerns is that on the business side of the equation as well as on the local level.   Many municipalities have rightly raised about the push towards one kind of generation at the expense of others, while others in their determination to promote production shoot themselves in the foot in not creating the kind of space in which such businesses can flourish.

Take Hamilton which has lost another an "incubator" business, this time to Toronto.   The company, Cleanfield Energy, also makes solar panels and power inverters in addition to turbines.The reason for the move:   Our excessively high commercial property tax rate, high water rates and what is perceived as a generally nasty attitude by city officials.   And there's that other thing:   Hamilton is still seen as Steel City and is sneered at compared to more well known places like The Big Smoke.

Okay, the recognition factor, I get.   But the tax system is something I do not.   Just because provincial rules prevent "bonusing" (that is, companies such as start ups can't get preferential treatment) does not mean that the local rules can't be relaxed for all.   Companies consistently complain about payroll taxes, but property and other levies also act as a hindrance to being able to hire people.   It's little wonder why companies like Consolidated Glass, Otis Elevator and Siemens have quit Hamilton.   Now look at all the little companies that have for the same reason.   It's amazing BMW stays in town, and that's only because of the very popular Mini.

At the rate things are going, we may just have to pave over the brownfields -- with soil, grass and trees.   But then again, that would make Hamilton a lot cooler temperature wise, which would cut down energy costs for everyone -- and reduce the need to have to build all the turbines and solar panels so many are complaining about.    And there's that mistake downtown that should never have been built at all -- Jackson Square.   Imagine if the area bounded by King, Bay, York and James had been an urban park instead.   Jack high rates for parking and the mall closes at 5:30 pm on Monday to Wednesday while all the other malls are open until 9 pm with free parking.   Perhaps the absentee landlords in Montréal don't know the by-law extending early week hours was passed -- twenty-five years ago!!!!!  

No wonder downtown is a ghost town most nights.   Wow.   City Hall never ceases to screw things up.

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