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Transforming Hamilton’s West Harbour

Transforming Hamilton’s West Harbour

Transforming Hamilton’s West Harbour
March 03
20:13 2017

Incredible opportunity for the City to provide continuous public spaces along the West Harbour

It’s a project that has been years in the making and is nearing a crescendo as the City of Hamilton prepares to enter the most ambitious phase of its West Harbour Re-Development Plan – significant residential and commercial development on Pier 8. Transforming the former industrial waterfront has been a City priority since the early 1990s, with tens of millions of dollars’ worth of investments made in ecological restoration efforts, extensive parklands, marine recreation facilities, and visitor attractions; and now, after years of consultation and legislative approvals, the City is looking to the private development industry to help bring a permanent population and enhanced year round animation to this unique waterfront property that will soon be home for up to 1,600 families.

“We’re at that critical stage that will really transform the area,” says Chris Phillips, the City’s head of the West Harbour Re-Development. “ It will be the ability to partner with the private sector for their expertise, vision, and innovation that will assist in fulfilling the City’s vision for the area.”

Hamilton’s planned process to sell these lands represents a departure from the traditional practices employed by municipalities and public agencies, in that it is focussed on a “partner-first”, rather than a “transaction-first”, approach, where the City and developer have a vested interest in each other’s success.

The Pier 8 real estate solicitation process, slated to publicly launch in 2017, will engage with the private development industry and proactively solicit development proposals and financial bids to bring an already well defined vision to fruition. Developers will be expected to deliver a mix of residential, commercial, and institutional use buildings in alignment with Council approved policies and other criteria that will promote a diversity of market rate housing options, forward thinking design, and sustainability solutions on Pier 8. The City has significantly improved the site in terms of legislative policy, environmental condition, municipal servicing, and public realm improvements, which reduce the financial investment, marketing, and time risks that a developer typically must take on its own.

Hamilton is making a bold announcement to the private development industry that it is willing to “put its money where its mouth is,” and take a meaningful stake in its own future investment and growth potential. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is available to the right party who can prove their capability, financial capacity, and willingness to work with the City to make the vision a reality over a long, time horizon. Finding a partner with the right combination of desirable attributes and an aligned proposal is the City’s primary objective.

The City won’t be alone in this journey. Guiding the City through the process is Deloitte Canada’s National Real Estate team, who will assist in strategizing and executing the solicitation process. Through their counsel, the City has established a multi-phase solicitation process starting with a pre-qualification stage (RFQ), through to a request for proposals (RFP), and ending with a transaction negotiation phase. The process is designed to zero in on the most qualified candidates first, and then leverage the competitive environment to extract an optimal balance between maximum financial value and community benefits, from the lands.

The city-as-land-developer and leveraging a competitive land sale process to fulfill city-building policy objectives are two innovative strategies that are increasing in popularity with Canadian municipalities and public agencies. Hamilton is excited to see the vision for its waterfront be fulfilled through this process and welcomes the development industry and rest of the country to watch, participate, and be inspired.

For more information contact Chris Phillips, West Harbour Project, City of Hamilton at 905-546-2424 x 5304 or visit

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    Lloyd Stevens has been writing Canadian business news for over 20 years with articles appearing in Perspective which appears in The Globe & Mail and contributing to and

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