LaSalle Park is 23 hectares of prime waterfront real estate, and Burlington has been leasing it from Hamilton for a dollar a year for the past 30 years. Now city council wants to approach its neighbouring municipality about paying a little more for it.
Hamilton council voted Tuesday evening for the Greater Bay Area Subcommittee to initiate discussions about the LaSalle Park agreement. The conversation will centre around establishing a “fair market value for the lease.”
The motion was moved by Coun. Sam Merulla, who said he's been meaning to introduce it for a while.
“I don't think we're in a position to be leasing anything for a dollar a year,” Merulla said.
Fair market value, Merulla said, could be “literally tens of millions of dollars. This is 56 acres of prime lakefront property.”
In 1915, Hamilton Parks Board purchased the park and named it Wabasso Park. The park was renamed in 1926. Since 1983, Burlington has leased the land from Hamilton. Under the agreement, Burlington assumes all maintenance, operational, programming and management of the park.
The park also has two banquet rooms, a marina, walking trails, sports fields and a wading pool.
The property makes nearly $300,000 per year, Merulla said. The current lease is up in 10 years.
The issue, he said, is “one we're going to have to deal with sooner or later.”
“It's not adversarial. We're simply trying to get ahead of the curve.”
Some councillors were hesitant. This is about more than money, Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said.
Hamilton needs a good relationship with its neighbour. And Burlington, he noted, is paying about $2.2 million for its share of the cost to clean up Randle Reef, a large underwater contaminated area off the shore of Hamilton. Halton is kicking in another $2 million.
“A dollar a year does sound unreasonable,” Ferguson said. “On the flipside, a deal is a deal is a deal and I don't like to untangle that. We want to be good neighbours.”
In the end, Burlington may buy the property from the city, Merulla said.
“If we put it on the market, they could very well purchase it now,” he said.