City hall: It's do or die for a deal to give McMaster downtown land

McMaster University will try to persuade city councillors Thursday to agree to a deal that would see them hand over downtown land for the school.

McMaster University will try to persuade city councillors Thursday to agree to a deal that would see them hand over downtown land for the school.

Patrick Deane, president of McMaster, will appear at the city’s general issues committee meeting Thursday. He’ll ask the city for an agreement that would see it hand over at least 70,000 square feet to house 10,000 students over 20 years.

McMaster needs the agreement by Sept. 26 to apply for provincial support for the expansion — likely the last for a while, he said. City staff initially pitched the agreement to council on Aug. 15, but councillors deferred it, asking for more information.

If councillors vote in favour of the agreement on Thursday, it will leave enough time for city council to ratify it later this month.

McMaster is already building a new health centre on Main Street East. Coun. Jason Farr of Ward 2 argued in August that more McMaster growth downtown would benefit Hamilton’s economy.

“This isn’t about a great big burden to the taxpayers of Hamilton,” he said. “This is about a partnership to bring tremendous growth and vitality to our burgeoning core.”

McMaster wants to add space downtown for 1,000 students in the short term, groing to as many as 10,000 over the next 20 years.

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

  • Councillors will vote on a lobbyist registry, an ongoing issue since 2007. It will likely be the last chance before the municipal election on Oct. 27.
  • A Barton Street-Kenilworth Avenue commercial corridors study designed to grow business and neighbourhoods along a struggling stretch of Barton Street marred by vacancies.
  • Yale Properties will ask the city to add another 50 years to its lease of Jackson Square. The company wants a more long-term lease in light of extensive renovations it’s making to the downtown landmark.
  • David Rennie from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers will tell councillors why his union opposes Canada Post terminating door-to-door service. Council has already voted to oppose the change.

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs will tweet live during the meeting. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC or in the window below.


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