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Feds turn over Burlington Canal piers to Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority for future pedestrian use

The Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, the Member of Parliament for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, Chad Collins, and the President and CEO of the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority, Ian Hamilton, at an announcement on the future of the Burlington Canal Piers. Global News

Transport Canada has officially handed over operation of the Burlington Canal Piers to Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA).

In a media event on Tuesday, Minister Omar Alghabra told onlookers that the federal government’s decision to relinquish control was driven by discussions with local stakeholders advocating to keep the piers open to local communities.

“They are incredibly meaningful for local communities for all kinds of purposes, including I think, wedding photos,” said Alghabra. “So it’s a significant utility for local communities.”

Read more: Ownership transfer clears way for restoration of Beach Canal Lighthouse

The transfer comes after access for residents was limited in 2021 with the installation of lockable swing gates amid concerns from Transport Canada over pedestrian safety.

Last year, a Transport Canada spokesperson told Global News the agency was aware of local residents using the piers for recreational purposes but insisted that was “not the intended purpose” of the commercial site.

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Federal Liberal MP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and former Hamilton councillor Chad Collins characterized access to the piers as “one of those nagging issues” that couldn’t be resolved.

The root of angst among local politicians surrounded tens of millions in municipal investments around the waterfront and piers by both Burlington and Hamilton proliferating recreational access for the public along the harbour and lakeshore.

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“Today’s announcement goes a long way in a long line of investments that have allowed people to visit our waterfront areas and enjoy, in this instance, the pier as pedestrians, cyclists and urban anglers,” Collins said.

Ian Hamilton, president and CEO of the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority, referred to the piers as a “jewel in the crown” of redevelopment which includes the recent federal transfer of the defunct lighthouse and nearby keeper’s cottage from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to HOPA.

Hamilton says the significance of the transfer means HOPA can negotiate with the nearby municipalities for recreational use of the properties.

“We’ve already begun talking to the cities of Hamilton and Burlington and the region of Halton, and we believe we all want the same thing,” remarked Hamilton.

Read more: Federal government invests almost $18 million in Hamilton port lands

“We’ve asked the people to be a little patient. There’s work to be done on safety elements in the near term, and that’s the role of HOPA.”

Both Hamilton and Burlington have expressed interest in leasing the piers for $1 as part of the recreational infrastructure that connects the piers with the waterfront trail and beachfront park.

“It will take some time to get there,” Hamilton said. “We want to manage expectations about that, but this is the first step. When they’re improved, these pairs will be a wonderful complement to the Fisherman’s Pier development.”

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