L3 Wescam will move from their 122,000 sq ft rented space in Burlington to a new facility in Waterdown.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 25th, 2019



Well this isn’t good news.

L3 WESCAM, which currently operates three sites across the Greater Toronto Area, including two in Burlington, will be consolidating into one, 300,000-square-foot facility in Hamilton, in an effort to increase operational efficiency.

L3 Wescam HG Burlington 2019

Space will be available Q1 2021

L3 WESCAM is one of the premier high tech operations in North America – this is a class A operation with a great reputation producing a product that keeps the western world safe.

In a media release Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said: “We are sorry to see them go and wish them well in their new home. We are pleased that jobs are staying local within the region — approximately 800 jobs are currently on site at the Burlington location, which will be moved to Waterdown. As a result, no jobs are expected to be lost from the company.

“L3 WESCAM is also completing an expansion and consolidating its operations that should bring an additional 400 jobs to the region at the site at Highway 6 — this will increase its employee base to 1,200.

Meed Ward H&S profile

Mayor will meet with the L3Wescam president to learn what went wrong.

“I have scheduled a meeting with the L3 WESCAM president in two weeks to understand the rationale for their move, so that it can inform our strategy in business retention and attraction in the city. This move has been in the works for a number of years.

“Burlington will not be losing any tax revenue as the City’s vacant property tax rebate was removed in 2018. L3 WESCAM’s current lease in Burlington expires in 2020 and it is hoping to enter its new space in Q1 2021.

“While the Burlington property is not currently officially on the market, the City and Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) are actively seeking occupants to move in to the 122,000-square-foot facility. The space should be available in Q1 2021 and to lease in its entirety or divisible to fit multiple companies. Once the availability of the space is confirmed and the landlord officially lists it, BEDC and the City will fully promote the property to companies.

“A key focus of the recent Red Tape Red Carpet (RTRC) Task Force I launched this year is to ensure supports are available to retain and attract employers to Burlington. A major obstacle in this is that Burlington currently doesn’t have enough shovel-ready employment land that is unconstrained and available to be developed in an 18-24 month timeframe.

L3 Wescam also rents office space in the former Michael Lee Chin complex on Kerns Road.

The city has known for some time that they needed more space.

Anticipated recommendations from the RTRC Task Force will help ensure that our city does have more of that shovel-ready land and help reduce the timeframes and increase supports for businesses to get in the ground.”

The Gazette wants to know what happened to the land at Bronte Meadows that was being touted as a possible location for the new HQ2 that Amazon was going to set up.

International Harvester got away from us when they found a home in Hamilton.

In a recent Background piece the Gazette told of the successes Welland Ontario has experienced.

Some salesmanship is a tool the city and its economic development people don’t seem to have in their kit.

No word from L3 Wescam on why the move.

Annita Cassidy Hoey retirement

Anita Cassidy, Acting Executive Director of Burlington Economic Development Corporation

Anita Cassidy, Acting Executive Director of Burlington Economic Development Corporation explains that: “BEDC has been working with L3 WESCAM for a number of years through our business retention and growth services. Despite BEDC’s extensive efforts to retain L3 WESCAM, it has come down to a financial and business decision for the company to move outside of Burlington.

“L3 WESCAM’s continued growth nearby will create an opportunity for many Burlington residents to still work for the company while creating an opportunity to attract a new employer to the current 122,000-sq.-ft. site. While we are sad to see them go, BEDC is looking forward to working with the property owners to market the space and create new opportunities for Burlington residents to live and work locally.”

Related news story:

Welland has figured out how to make economic development work.

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4 comments to L3 Wescam will move from their 122,000 sq ft rented space in Burlington to a new facility in Waterdown.

  • Bob

    Forget Harvester, take a ride down Mainway ?

    More condos anyone ? More senior’s bunkers in the sky anyone ? More development of the wrong kind ?

    The mayor is sitting down with WESCAM – pathetic in my book.

    No doubt, most of Burlington, would not have a clue, regarding the product that they make and how successful they are around the world.

    Count your lucky stars that L3, the American parent, and defense contractor, choose not to move them out of the country – happens all the time.

    Also, remember that WESCAM started in a quonset hut on HWY 6, with wooden work benches and not much of anything other than a dream.

  • David

    BEDC imo is great for the mom and pop stores in downtown, other then that it doesn’t have the proper staff and/or resources to deal with big firms. At the same time the previous Council who knew about Wescam needing more space are also equal to blame. I see all these offices popping up at Hwy 5/6 – nothing new being built here. Burlington – it’s not alright here.

  • Stephen White

    “..while creating an opportunity to attract a new employer to the current 122,000-sq.-ft. site”.

    Sure! Like Burlington has had such tremendous success in the past attracting large scale employers to the community. I drove Harvester Road yesterday and counted over twenty “For Sale”, “For Lease” and “For Rent” signs. We’ve lost so many employers over the past ten years it is unbelievable. And all we hear out of BEDC and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce are the same homilies and truisms about an educated workforce, proximity to major transportation routes, available industrial land, blah, blah…. If we have all these natural advantages, where are the employers, and where are all the jobs? Going to Hamilton, Waterdown and Welland it seems.

    Great that the Mayor is sitting down with L3 Wescam to find out what precipitated their relocation decision. However, shouldn’t BEDC be surveying businesses regularly, and why does it always take a crisis before we see any proactive leadership? For a unit focused on business development BEDC must surely have the lowest community profile going. It needs to spend less time fixating on organizing networking meetings for start-ups and more time attracting new industries to relocate here.

    Pepper is right: there doesn’t seem to be much salesmanship and promotion going on here. Next to the Planning Department BEDC sounds like a ripe candidate for a full and long overdue organizational review.

  • Penny Hersh

    Can someone please tell me what the BEDC has actually accomplished? I am sick of these ” Red Carpet Task Force ” initiatives to discuss again ad nauseum the issues of bringing and retaining businesses in Burlington. A little less talk and a little more action might be a much better solution.

    Who sits on the BEDC, and how long they have been in their positions? What is their budget?

    Remember Siemens Canada who chose Oakville over Burlington?