Hamilton will spend $500K on its Amazon bid, although taxpayers will only fund half

Hamilton city council is poised to spend as much as half a million dollars trying to lure Amazon to the city. Now city council will debate asking the private sector for help.

Follow live reporting from city council starting at 5 p.m. Also on the agenda: Hess Village policing,

It will cost as much as $500,000 to submit a bid for Amazon to come to Hamilton. City council will vote Wednesday to ask the feds and province for help. (Reuters)

Hamilton will spend as much as half a million dollars trying to lure Amazon to the city, but at least half of that will come from private donors.

City council approved spending as much as $500,000 Wednesday on an Amazon HQ2 bid. Cities have until Oct. 19 to submit proposals to the retail giant for its second headquarters, which would bring 50,000 jobs over 10 years

The city will contribute $250,000, says city manager Chris Murray. Another $250,000 will come from private donors. Provincial and federal government money would be nice too, Murray said, although he's not anticipating getting that.

The money is being used to hire private consultants familiar with Amazon and major bids, among other items, Murray said.

Coun. Matthew Green of Ward 3 was squeamish about spending $500,000 on what may be a futile bid, especially when larger cities can spend $2 million on a bid. In Canada alone, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Halifax are also bidding.

"Will a half million dollar bid be competitive," Green said, "or are we throwing good money after bad?"

Murray countered that he thinks Hamilton has a chance.

"I think Canada's in the running for a reason. I really do," he told councillors. "Is it a guarantee? There is no guarantee."

Council voted Wednesday for the bid to include commitments related to housing, investment and other benefits. 

Immediately after the vote, Mayor Fred Eisenberger released a video directed at the company and its employees.

"In the coming days," he said in it, "you're going to be hearing from us in a really big way."

Here's what else happened at city council on Wednesday:

  • Council ratified a decision to ask and work with the Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN) to improve health care for transgender and gender non-conforming Hamiltonians.
  • Council ratified a decision about how to spend $50 million over 10 years to reduce poverty in Hamilton. This includes $1 million per year on Indigenous initiatives. Councillors debated it, though, after Coun. Donna Skelly questioned a new audit report outlining procurement issues with CityHousing Hamilton (CHH). CHH will receive millions through the new plan.
  • Council passed a motion asking police to do more to crack down on marijuana dispensaries. Doug Conley of Ward 9 in upper Stoney Creek moved it after a dispensary appeared in his ward. Councillors discussed it at length, some weighing in on the province's plan to sell marijuana through the LCBO.

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