Hamilton’s Bayfront – A True Multi-Modal Transportation Hub
Strategically located on Hamilton’s Harbour with direct access to rail, major highways and the Port of Hamilton
Hamilton’s Bayfront Industrial Area has played a defining role in the city’s industrial, economic and cultural development for more than a century.
With a total area of around 3,700 acres situated on the waterfront and in close proximity to downtown, the “Bayfront” remains Hamilton’s largest industrial area. It is still home to key players like Stelco, National Steel Car and ArcelorMittal Dofasco, as well as numerous smaller manufacturers.
While the steel industry remains an important part of Hamilton’s fabric, the city is in the process of developing a new vision for the Bayfront – one that will reposition and encourage new investment in the area for generations to come.
The two-phase Bayfront Industrial Area Strategy will provide a roadmap for future development of the city’s industrial waterfront, explains Norm Schleehahn, Manager of Business Development for Hamilton’s Economic Development Office.
Recent changes in the steel industry and manufacturing landscape make the Bayfront one of the most significant City-building opportunities within the broader Hamilton and Greater Toronto Area.
“It has everything that industry is looking for,” Schleehahn says.
The area is strategically located on Hamilton’s Harbour – with direct access to rail, major highways and the Port of Hamilton – the largest Great Lakes port. This makes the Bayfront a true multi-modal transportation hub, offering central access to the Canadian and American markets.
“The industrial infrastructure is already in place, with a very large capacity that could accommodate any user,” Schleehahn adds, “and within an hour’s drive we touch a workforce of more than 2.5 million people.”
In fact, one challenge facing the Bayfront is a lack of available land. Less than 40 hectares, or roughly three per cent of the Bayfront, is currently vacant and available for redevelopment.
That surprising statistic is just one of the key findings that came out of Phase 1 of the larger Bayfront study, completed by Deloitte last year.
“One of the report’s recommendations is that we should encourage a more efficient use of the existing land and building supply,” notes Christine Newbold, manager of Community Planning with the City of Hamilton.
That means working with existing industries to examine their current and future land needs, and may include targeted site acquisition by the city.
The report also noted that Hamilton, and the Bayfront in particular, is well-positioned to benefit from the high costs of Toronto’s real estate and traffic congestion. “We are already seeing companies choosing to locate here because they want to avoid the congestion of the GTA,” says Schleehahn.
The second phase of the Bayfront Industrial Area Strategy is now underway, and should be complete by the end of 2018.
Phase 2 will include broad public consultation as well as a detailed land use and infrastructure review and recommendations for addressing brownfield redevelopment. It will also develop short, medium and long term visions for the Bayfront and establish an action plan to encourage growth and investment.
“The ultimate intent of this project is to develop a strategy that will assist with the transformation of these lands over time to fully realize their potential,” says City of Hamilton planner, Eniber Cabrera.
The final report will make recommendations for improving the area through urban design, improvements to the public realm, building better connections with surrounding neighbourhoods, and heritage preservation.
“We recognize how important the Bayfront has been to the development of Hamilton,” says Newbold. “It is a very interesting area, and we want to make sure that our industrial heritage is recognized as we transform the Bayfront into a modern employment area for the future.”