Hamilton will have to invest almost $40 million in waterfront infrastructure to seed the next stage of bayfront investment.

But the investment will mean a lucrative payback to taxpayers, according to a new report.

Hamilton taxpayers will have to cough up $39.17 million to ready the west harbour for development, $13.3 million of which is for Piers 5 through 8. But once that happens, the development will generate $7.5 million per year in tax dollars on Pier 8 alone, said Chris Phillips, senior adviser for planning and economic development.

'It truly is an investment in the true sense of investment.' - Chris Phillips, senior adviser for planning and economic development

The money would be used for sewers, watermains, roads, sidewalks, street lighting and other measures to ready the harbour front for development.

Once that’s in place, the city expects developers to build 1,600 residential units ranging from $247,000 to $462,000 per unit, Phillips said.

Chris Phillips at the Hamllton harbourfront

Senior advisor Chris Phillips, at Pier 8 last year, says it will cost $39.17 million to prepare Hamilton's waterfront for development. But it will generate millions in new taxes. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

He also expects 13,000 square metres of commercial and institutional space.

“It truly is an investment in the true sense of investment,” Phillips said. “If you up front $13.3 million today or over the course of the next four years, that will lead to revenue generation.”

Phillips anticipates spreading the net cost of nearly $40 million between now and 2018.

The dream of further developing Hamilton’s waterfront became reality last year. The city owns the waterfront lands, but has been leasing them to the Hamilton Port Authority. Last year, the authority agreed to terminate the lease.

On Feb. 19, councillors will vote to officially terminate that lease.

Phillips presented the plans at a general issues committee meeting on Wednesday.

There are some outstanding issues. Sun-Canadian and Imperial Oil both have pipelines going through the waterfront area. The city needs to terminate those agreements, Phillips said.

One lease expired at the end of 2013, he said. The other expires in September 2014. If the city wants the oil companies to relocate the pipelines, the companies have to do it, and foot the bill.

Two companies are responsible for three pipelines running through the area, Phillips said. One of them currently has oil flowing through it.

The city will develop a broader real estate strategy for the area and do environmental assessments for Piers 5 through 8. It will also study transportation in the area.

With 1,600 new residences and large retail development planned, Coun. Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster worried about traffic there too.

“If you get 200,000 square feet of commercial space, that’s a lot of shoppers,” he said.