Special Report: Light Rail

What Does Hamilton Want to Be When it Grows Up?

Light Rail Transit would surely fuel the fires of rapid change in this city, but it would be a welcome change.

By Larry Pattison
Published July 22, 2011

My grandfather is 96 years young. No one has seen this city evolve like these long-standing members of our community. He was eight when his family immigrated to Canada from Denmark in 1923, but outside of a tour of duty in Europe during World War II, Hamilton is the only home he has otherwise known.

Both my parents were born, raised, and still reside in Hamilton. Although they are 30+ years younger than my grandfather, they have seen this city change quite drastically over their lifetime, including the fall of our once vibrant downtown core.

To be reminded of the way in which our downtown once pulsated with lights and people, electric cars and automobiles cruising down King Street, one need only flip through the pages of a book published for the 125th anniversary of Hamilton, entitled Pardon My Lunch Bucket.

Although our urban centre is changing for the better (and I see that change first hand almost daily as someone who is in the core in the morning and in the evening as I commute in and out of Hamilton), but there is still much to do to bring that area of our city back to a place our fathers once enjoyed hanging out in when they were younger. Hamilton has a long way to go to alter the image so many carry, of a core they haven't stepped foot amongst in a very long time, but it's on the right path.

When we were younger, we stated how we would never say the things our parents did like 'when I was your age'. Well I am 38 years old now and 'when I was a kid', I remember playing kissing tag in the high-grassed fields that once quietly grew where Limeridge Mall now stands. All of that land west of Upper Sherman where I grew up, and north of Berko, was mostly undeveloped at that time.

My grandfather talks of picking cherries on the farm that once occupied the land underneath the high-rise he has lived in since it was built over 30 years ago. My parents and grandparents talk of shops and hotels (we call them bars now), they used to frequent as we travel through town.

Rapid Change

I now have many of my own 'when I was your age' stories to tell my children, some as recent as the demise of the long-neglected Centre Mall, one of the first shopping malls in all of North America.

Things are changing quite rapidly in Hamilton in general - faster than we can fight to preserve what we love and don't want to lose within our city. In many ways, the future of Hamilton is being planned for us by big business and out-of-town investors who see dollar signs instead of a city wrapped with trees, draped with waterfalls, surrounded by multiple bodies of water and blanketed by vast farmland, forests, and green space.

If there is a dollar to be made, none of these features listed above, which so many of us find to be endearing qualities of our city, will halt development if nobody attempts to stand in their way.

If we can't sell them as a city, why they should invest within the city boundaries instead of expanding into areas of our municipal boundaries that we should be looking to protect and for which we should be looking to set urban boundaries.

A City Without a Business Plan

Hamilton is a city without a true overall business plan or as one of my former instructors once asked of our class, Hamilton hasn't answered the question as to 'what it wants to be when it grows up'. Our city needs to better visualize its long-term goals because if we don't do this soon, our future will continue to be designed for us by those willing to see our city become little brother to Toronto with sprawl stretching to Caledonia, Smithville, Grimsby and Guelph, with very little green in between; all in the name of progress.

I have been sold on so many levels as to the benefits of Light Rail for some time, especially with regards to how it might figure into the planning of the proposed stadium district. But it wasn't until a recent article on Raise the Hammer that I truly realized how it could greatly impact two projects dear to my heart: the aforementioned stadium district, and that LRT might encourage the powers to be in this city to look at defining some hard-set boundaries for urban sprawl.

RTH editor Ryan McGreal wrote:

Portland had a much lower population density when it decided, in the 1970s, to impose a firm urban boundary and to use federal highway funding to build its first LRT line.

The high density that [Mayor Bob] Bratina says is the reason for Portland's LRT success is actually a product of that city's success at directing traffic into high quality urban intensification instead of endless sprawl."

LRT is something many of our children are going to want to see and if we act now, it will be a well developed system by the time my own girls are young teenagers wanting to explore the whole of Hamilton's surface. Will they travel within on Light Rail, or leave on paths drawn by GO or paved by endless highways leading them out of dodge?

A Place to Raise a (Grand)Child

I believe many parents dream of their children living within close proximity when they grow up, and of being able to play an active part in their grandchildren's lives. For this to happen, there is much to do to prepare their city as a place that they will want to raise a child themselves; economically, environmentally, and overall liveability.

I don't want Hamilton to be like every other largely populated metropolitan centre. I want it to be Hamilton; a city that can hold its own. A diverse city of many communities surrounded by and filled with, substantial plots of green space and farmland. Once that green is gone, we can't get it back.

LRT would surely fuel the fires of rapid change in this city, but it would be a welcome change. We are losing heritage buildings, schools, valuable land, and valleys, faster than we can vocalize our attachment to these features that make up what we love about our city, like being able to drive 20 minutes from our cities core and suddenly finding yourself driving quiet country roads with the smells of cows and the sounds of natures breathing in through your open car window.

It's what Light Rail could help us save and what it could help us revitalize amongst the downtown wards of our city that truly sell it as the next step Hamilton needs to take.

We can't be afraid of moving forward. Believe me when I say that I have spent way too much time in my life fearing the unknown images of change. I have allowed that fear within to paint its own portrait of how change might look instead of embracing the future and allowing it to formulate its own image of how change could open up doors that I couldn't have imagined would ever be possible.

A Solid Platform

I think we should take a step back as a city. Work together as a community; politicians, local businesses, school boards, post secondary education institutions, and citizens alike, to create a business model for all four corners of this city. I will challenge however, that many in Hamilton already see LRT as something that will stand front and centre in the final plan.

LRT is a solid platform on which to build our business plan, and something we should move forward with, while we step back to look at the broader picture of Hamilton's future.

Where GO Transit is concerned, I used to often wonder myself why a city as large as Hamilton never had any parking for commuters. Perhaps that is Hamilton's 'thing'? No parking at our major train and bus hubs, and little parking around major sports stadiums. Many have never seen these aspects of our city as something that we were lacking. Maybe in a roundabout way, these 'limitations' have unintentionally set us up for a future that is much less dependent on cars?

By adding more parking around Ivor Wynne or extensive paved lots at the planned James North or Centennial Parkway stations, are we actually taking an undesirable step back?

I am not sure about those last statements myself, but perhaps it's something to ponder as we look at the long-term vision of our city as we plan LRT, GO stations, and Stadium Districts.

If Hamilton continues or furthers its path of not adhering to the car culture, do we lose a lot of residents and detract visitors - or do we attract many more people looking for a city more focused on public transit, bike lanes, and walkability?

You have a vision for your city. I have a vision for my city but the problem is, money also has its own vision for our cities. What is the balance that will enable us all to thrive amongst this community?

What does Hamilton want to be when it grows up? How will it show leadership? Why will it be the Best Place to Raise a Child?

Larry Pattison is a local blogger, life-long resident of Hamilton, and father to two amazing girls. Larry is also an elected member of the HWDSB Board of Trustees for Ward 3.

106 Comments

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 13:26:49

Again, nice job, Larry. Here, here!

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 13:31:59

Thanks Slodrive. Always appreciated man.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:41:55 in reply to Comment 66799

Amazing that this post got down-voted.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:53:01 in reply to Comment 66817

patting yourselves on the back does not add to the discussion. Do it behind closed doors.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 15:17:51

I am very much in favour of LRT but may I pose a question? Why are we only talking about an east/west route? Why not north/south from Upper James and Mohawk to the core? I am guessing here but I would say there are more people living in that north/south corridor (the Mountain) than there are from Eastgate. Or am I setting myself up for a Mountain vs East end battle?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 15:32:00 in reply to Comment 66809

The City and Metrolinx studied east-west LRT along the B-Line and north-south LRT along the A-Line, and both concluded that the B-Line has the density and ridership right now to justify building LRT on that line first.

The city has been engaging in public consultation as an early stage of its A-Line rapid transit planning, which is scheduled under Metrolinx plan The Big Move to be built in the medium term after the B-Line.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 15:36:26 in reply to Comment 66811

Thank you for that Ryan. I was not aware of the two studies for both routes.

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By Chris L (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:50:50 in reply to Comment 66812

And the original plan called for a total of 5 light rail lines.

Along with the B and A lines, the S line would run from Eastgate, up centennial and across Rymal, the T line would connect Centre Mall, Limeridge Mall and the Meadowlands while running mostly along Mohawk, and the L line would connect Waterdown to the downtown of Hamilton.

http://www.hamiltonrapidtransit.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/BLAST-MAP2.jpg

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 15:49:16

Since we are not going to use any common sense,why stop there? Let's do it in style. The B line from Eastgate to University Plaza followed by the A line from the Airport to the waterfront and then we can run one along the mountain brow maybe along Concession and Mountain Brow out to Mohawk Sports Park. With so much of our population further south we could run a couple more along Rymal and Mohawk, maybe they could be connected at the East and West ends to make a big loop that would certainly be convenient for all the riders. Sounds like a grand plan to me. 18 Km for the B line, 25 Km for the A line, 10 Km for the brow and anther 25 Km for Rymal and Mohawk loop for a total of 78 Km but since we are doing it all we can get a bit of a break so lets call it 75 Km. That should not be more than 4 or 5 billion. As soon as someone figures out how to pay for it we should do it. LRT is not bad, it is good, but damn it is expensive. Maybe the Gates foundation will come and pay for it, have you asked?

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:20:52 in reply to Comment 66813

Hudak's going to build a highway from Hamilton airport to his own riding of Welland. It will probably cost in the neighbourhood of the 5 billion you're talking about, and there will be fewer riders than there would be in your fictional transit system. Yet one of these is very likely going to happen. So I'd gladly trade your absurd scenario for the one we're going to get, by the guy I bet you're voting for.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2011 at 19:45:29 in reply to Comment 66816

If that highway gets built I wonder what the traffic numbers would be compared to the LRT. The mid pen highway would be about 50 Km long and would cost a lot less than 4 or 5 billion. The Linc was built 15 years ago and cost less than 30 million. The Redhill was finally finished 5 years ago and for 7 Km of some of the toughest highway to build cost 100 million. That was not only building a lot of bridges but also rehabbing miles of valley making it a lot nicer after the highway than it ever was before. Not to mention all the legal battles against misguided parties. There is still a huge action before the courts that may take years still to resolve. If not for the idiocy of senior governments and truly misguided activists the cost could have been and would have been a lot less.

Toronto has a huge LRT/subway system, about 70 Km of track, in a city much bigger and much more of a destination city for miles around. The LRT/subway carries about 1,000,000 people per day on its 4 lines through one of the densest and most highly developed cities in North America. The 401 one of the busiest highways in North America is used by about 500,000 vehicles per day. It is truly a car-centric culture we live in, is it not. You may wish more people to use transit but that sure is not reality.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 24, 2011 at 21:12:44 in reply to Comment 66844

It is truly a car-centric culture we live in, is it not. You may wish more people to use transit but that sure is not reality.

Of course it isn't a reality. Right now.

And it has nothing to do with how suburbs were planned. It has nothing to do with the fact that transit as a whole is pretty lousy. It has nothing to do with acres of parking being available almost everywhere you need to go.

I know a number of people in Toronto who don't have a car due to the fact that it simply isn't necessary due to the transit options combined with zip car services. When I have a meeting in Toronto I always check to see how accessible it is to transit prior to driving. Can you honestly say you'd prefer to own a car if you had similar transit options available to you?

It is always surprising to me when people say "that's just the way it is" without any consideration as to how or why it became that way.

Comment edited by Brandon on 2011-07-24 21:13:32

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By R2D2 (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2011 at 15:17:43 in reply to Comment 66844

Written by you 'The Redhill was finally finished 5 years ago and for 7 Km of some of the toughest highway to build cost 100 million.' You can't count or can't read [even the Spec] or were dead or not born in 2003-2005. I guess you are jesus style resurrected out of thin air.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2011 at 19:49:45 in reply to Comment 66844

If he gets elected that will be one of the major reasons why. I know that you and many others on this site do not want to hear it since you live in a different reality but the vast majority of people, not only in Hamilton but in most of the peninsula, have a car as their primary mode of transport. Cars and highways are the dominant force. Why do you think the mayor you guys all love to hate, Ford, won. He is all about what most of the population is about. I wonder if we can get him for a couple of terms after he is done with Toronto.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 17:43:06 in reply to Comment 66845

I wonder if Hamilton's expenses are 80% labour too?

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By if who? (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 15:06:11 in reply to Comment 66845

If who gets elected? The Linc + Red Hill exprsway cost nearly half a billion altogether. Red Hill for $100 million was something even Di Ianni didn't say? $$matter, espclly 100% or more errors.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 25, 2011 at 08:37:29 in reply to Comment 66845

Ironically, Torontonians are starting to wake up to the reality that Rob Ford doesn't get to make up his own reality.

Ford said an awful lot of things during his mayoral campaign that were obviously, demonstrably wrong. Ford claimed that 80% of Toronto spending is on staff. It's actually closer to 40%. He also claimed that there is a huge amount of waste that can be cut without cutting service. Actually, according to a KPMG study just released, there are no buckets of gravy and the only way to cut spending significantly is to cut services significantly.

Ford also promised to improve "customer service" for city residents, but apparently his idea of improving customer service is closing libraries, cutting crossing guards, gutting public health programs and scaling back transit.

Here's some reality for you: if the number of people who pass through Union Station every day were to drive instead, Toronto would need another four Gardiner Expressways and another four Don Valley Parkways.

It is physically impossible for more than a small fraction of Toronto commuters to drive - yet we focus on the cost of public transit without considering the benefit, while at the same time focusing on the benefit of road infrastructure without considering the cost.

That is magical thinking, and it is the main reason why Toronto's finances are in such bad shape.

The cars-and-highways land use arrangement you so esteem is precisely what is bankrupting Canadian cities. That realization is why Waterloo Region recently voted to invest in LRT and extract more productivity out of their existing infrastructure - because it was cheaper than continuing to build out their road network.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-25 08:38:27

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2011 at 02:15:51 in reply to Comment 66870

Quoting Ryan: "Here's some reality for you: if the number of people who pass through Union Station every day were to drive instead, Toronto would need another four Gardiner Expressways and another four Don Valley Parkways.

It is physically impossible for more than a small fraction of Toronto commuters to drive - yet we focus on the cost of public transit without considering the benefit, while at the same time focusing on the benefit of road infrastructure without considering the cost."
*******
Thank you for pointing that out!

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 17:21:45 in reply to Comment 66816

Well said, Bob. It will be a very sad, sad day in this region, if that highway happens. There are two people I have a hard time listening to and that is Stephen Harper and Tim Hudak. I really hope he is seriously damaging his chances at being elected, by having that issue front and centre in his campaign.

I never have a problem using highway 20 and it's actually a nice fairly quiet country drive from Hamilton to Niagara via Smithville, Fonthill, etc.

Hamilton doesn't need ANOTHER expressway filled with tractor trailers. Throw those trailers on trains and have someone pick them up at the other end.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-07-22 17:37:16

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:01:01 in reply to Comment 66813

I just figured that we are paying for a stadium that I'm seldom going to use, why not focus on something that I would use?

Comment edited by RightSaidFred on 2011-07-22 16:08:58

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 17:16:41 in reply to Comment 66815

RSF, this isn't a dig. This is an honest, sincere question: What would it take to get someone like yourself into IWS? What kind of event (big or small)? Seeing as though at this point, the Cats are the primary tennant, is there anything 'they' could do that would get you to attend say even one game a year?

Is it about ownership/bad taste from stadium debate? Not a fan and never went before the debate? Don't like the area? Not enough parking? Hate sports in general?

What one or two things drive you away?

I try to write about different ways to enjoy a game on the A Beautiful Night For Football site, including talking about games I attend and end up chatting with old friends I haven't seen in eons over a drink or two and sometimes, I don't even catch any of the game. A real expensive cover charge for an evenening social I guess but if you love being around a lot of people and the roar of a crowd, it's fun just being in the vacinity of that energy.

With the stadium debate over the past however month taking up most of my writing time, I didn't write much on the ABNFF site, but comments like yours (and once again this is by no means a dig), made me remember why I started that site - trying to think of Ivor Wynne and the franchise of the Tiger-Cats itself (not ownerhsip or even the game of football itself), as an important part of Hamilton's fabric; a valued part of our east-end commmunity.

I'll admit once again, that $35 avg to get in, plus $6 drinks and over-priced food, is a hard pill to swallow when you think of family or even just singilar entertainment options - or an expensive option for a sociable night out.

So money is surely tops on a lot of peoples lists but there are 500,000+ people in this city which means for a lot of folks, money isn't the issue. That stadium should be sustainable from within when you figure it only holds 30,000 people every other week during the summer and fall months. (maximum 11 games a year)

When I interviewed Ivor Wynne's son Bob last year, he stated how IWS (Civic Stadium of course when his father was alive), was once the place to be. Where doctors and lawyers and the like, all hung out. I know there is a lot more to do these days, but is there a way to bring that nieche back?

How do we attract not just the sports community, but the arts, business folks, the young, and the old?

For all those that have never played team sports, they surely don't understand the attraction the game. Or you have the hockey fans or the NFL fans or soccer fans. What's missing for this latter community in this game or that venue, to make you want to be amongst that energy every other weekend?

Last game Hamilton won their home game by the largest margin of any other game that weekend, yet had the lowest attendance in the league at just over 22,000 I believe it was and it was a beautiful (albeit very hot), Saturday afternoon/evening. Why wasn't that place packed?

I myself enjoy sitting on the north side and gawking out into the Hamilton afternoon at the tree-lined escarpment or the lights of downtown later in the evening. It's a nice place to sit and have a drink and take a break from life. The bench seats aren't the best I guess but I especially don't mind them now knowing that that will all be addressed in the next few years.

Why don't you (broader audience being addressed with this question), go to the games? What would get you in the stadium if not for the first time, for the first time in some time?

And I just noticed you said seldom RSF. Sorry, then why seldom?

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:06:58 in reply to Comment 66820

In terms of reclaiming the golden era of Ivor Wynne Stadium/Civic Stadium, you'd be asking an awful lot. Back then there were precious few social environments or large-scale community events – Hamilton Place didn't open until 1973, for example, and Festival of Friends didn't launch until 1975. Entertainment options were greatly reduced, as was stay-at-home entertainment: this was an era of a handful of TV stations, and the largest movie theatres (The Palace, The Capitol) were closed/ demolished by 1971. That and the pro sports universe was considerably less complex: unless you crossed the border, there was only the NHL and the CFL. That and the home team was a legendary powerhouse – habitual division leaders that managed regular Grey Cup appearances and wins – that even managed to topple the Bills. Season averages were above 30K a game. That's obviously not anywhere close to the reality of the modern era, and it's probably the most fundamental reason the appeal of IWS has changed. Concerts and special events extend the appeal, but the core reason for coming to IWS will always be the Cats and if the on-field product is poor, it doesn't matter what sort of amenity-rejuvenation program you're running. And the standard of excellence that was commonplace on the Civic Stadium gridiron has been elusive for almost 40 years. IMO, fielding humble champions matters infinitely more than clever branding.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:32:44 in reply to Comment 66873

Back then there were precious few social environments or large-scale community events...

Excellent, poignant summary. Tons of truths in there. It's hard for many who weren't there to truly understand how much the landscape has changed, because to do so requires a concerted effort to imagine differences that boggle the mind. I remember the Garney Henley, Angelo Mosca years. I remember the Capitol and the Palace. I remember Downtown Hamilton. And it really was a different world.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 09:50:24 in reply to Comment 66820

Seeing as though at this point, the Cats are the primary tennant, is there anything 'they' could do that would get you to attend say even one game a year?

Get a new owner.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:57:19

No parking at our major train and bus hubs,

Let's go back a little ways. The old train station used to be where Liuna is; plenty of parking.

The old bus terminal at John and Rebecca always had plenty of parking lots in the vicinity.

But Hamilton was traditionally a 'we do it here' city. You know, the industrial strip and other self-contained portions of the city that featured manufacturing? While there have always been 'commuters', the idea of Hamilton being a feeder-zone for 'places elsewhere' really only began to become a factor over the past 40-45 years. Its history in this regard is so different from 'bedroom communities' such as Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga.

I guess you either have to be old enough to remember, or take the time to do some research to really appreciate Hamilton's waxing and waning personality in respect to Toronto, an inferiority complex that has manifest itself in numerous ways.

I believe that while Hamilton has had some visionary thinking going on over the past century (and here's where we could have a fascinating mud-wrestling match), the truth is that 'progress' got away from the-powers-that-be, the focus eventually became peripheral development (despite what was developed in the downtown from '65-'85), politicians and developers fell in love with 'starting from scratch' (utilization of greenfields)...and all this was exacerbated by the city's industrial identity being castrated, a traumatic process that has undoubtedly sustained this 'legacy-malaise' of ours. (If things were so bad at the conclusion of the millennium that it was felt to be necessary to 'salvage' Hamilton by forcing an amalgamation with financially better-off, smaller communities, then surely to God this is proof of how badly the city's best interests had been both hijacked and neglected.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-22 16:58:07

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 19:21:06

Throw those trailers on trains and have someone pick them up at the other end.

Some people don't know that before the petroleum/automobile/rubber industrial complex got hold of North America, this is very much where we were headed. A rail-centric culture. (If I had the resources, I'd pay a futurist/novelist to properly show what this world would now look like.)

Unfortunately, on this timeline, we ended up where we are. Short of the cataclysmic changes associated with peak oil, it's here to stay. At least in one form or another...in our lifetimes...

"Learn to choose your battles well; you can't fight every fight and hope to survive." A man much smarter than me

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By Chris L (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:59:51 in reply to Comment 66823

It would probably look something like Germany.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2011 at 08:23:18 in reply to Comment 66823

Short of the cataclysmic changes associated with peak oil, it's here to stay. At least in one form or another...in our lifetimes...

In our lifetimes cataclysmic changes are bound to occur mystoneycreek. How do we make plans for our city's survival by not accepting this fact?

With what is surely to come, Hamilton is in a great position. We have plenty of water, we are close to hydro-generated electricity, we have rail and a harbour. Our city is very defensible as well and there is another matter: our region at one time had some of the best soil on the planet.

As long as we can maintain our existing fruit and vegetable production, protect our water resources and encourage and support our region's horse breeders, we'll be riding high in the saddle when peak oil fails to unseat us.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2011 at 11:34:59 in reply to Comment 66827

I used to be a little more sceptical about the "end of the auto era". In the last few years nearly every major auto-maker has hit serious trouble, Gas prices are at record highs (again), cars are shedding resale value like a cheap prom dress (bikes are gaining it), and the Middle East has found entirely new ways of being unstable.

I would suspect we're going to see big changes a lot sooner than most expect. These issues are compounding, not just building.

Next to their home, cars are the most expensive thing in most people's lives. For many, ditching their car would gain them as much cash as taking a second job. As rising oil prices push up the cost of living, that's going to become a more tempting option to anyone who doesn't NEED that car immediately.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2011 at 13:07:42 in reply to Comment 66834

(again), cars are shedding resale value like a cheap prom dress (bikes are gaining it)...I would suspect we're going to see big changes a lot sooner than most expect. These issues are compounding, not just building.

This is great mybrother, you drag me back to my youth like no other.

Cheers to home-brewed laughter for now and eve-rafter!

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-23 13:17:37

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 24, 2011 at 20:58:27 in reply to Comment 66838

And likewise.

Whenever I hear people talking about how "cars are here to stay" a little voice in the back of my head pipes up (in a Victorian accent), "sure they're swift, but those horseless carriages will never catch on".

Change is the only constant we've ever had. It always sounds ridiculous ahead of time. After the fact, it always seems so obvious.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2011 at 08:36:09

In our lifetimes cataclysmic changes are bound to occur mystoneycreek. How do we make plans for our city's survival by not accepting this fact?

Just as Mark Chamberlain took the time to ask some different questions in today's Spec article ( http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a... ) I think the real question here is 'How many Hamiltonians have taken the time to consider the possibility that such changes are bound to occur?'

Contrary to the regular proof here on this site that an often-sizeable number of brain cells are being used in this task, my response would be 'Not many.'

So in a way, while your point is well-taken, and deserves a considered response, given the context of the past year, what with the Pan Am Games Stadium Selection Process Débacle and 2011's now-unfolding version, I'd say the notion of both accepting and addressing such a dilemma is well beyond our general ken...rendering 'planning' a moot discussion.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-23 08:37:32

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By Flett (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2011 at 19:52:44 in reply to Comment 66829

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:22:14

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 24, 2011 at 05:48:10 in reply to Comment 66846

Mark Chamberlain lives in Burlington. As such, I don't give a f--k what Mark Chamberlain says.

Because, or couse, nobody from outside a family could possibly understand their travails...or have any objectivity to suggest informed solutions. Riiiight...

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2011 at 12:02:56 in reply to Comment 66829

Perhaps this would have been a better reply to you my dear mystoneycreek. Here is my favourite part of theSpec link full of Mark Chamberlain's most artful smart-think:

Public transportation in concert with walkable and cycle-able solutions will be required and is desired by most young and old alike, in a higher density, higher revenue community. LRT moves more people through a bustling, vibrant downtown more quickly, reliably and safely than cars.

I also like what Mark Chamberlain had to say about the possibility of B-Line BRT leading to LRT. Even when I scrape his four points of ad hominem I can see this guy still has great vernacular rhythm:

"inspires intensification ... drives confidence ... draws new ... instead ... who do invest ... and ultimately, motivates city residents"

I think Hamilton needs to hear more from him but maybe I'm being a bit selfish, Champion rhymes well with Chamberlain and a good fit-wit mybad English relish.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-23 12:33:53

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2011 at 10:21:23 in reply to Comment 66829

rendering 'planning' a moot discussion.

Okay, I'll pass and congrats mystoneycreek. You have reached new heights as a user here this week. Mystoneycreek is #75 at 65% with about 310 comments in total, well spent.

Cheers!

BTW - That was meant as a compliment having risen from 64%. Personally I have fallen even further from grace as I race with SpaceMonkey straight for the basement:

85 30 0 WRCU2
86 29 1 SpaceMonkey

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-23 11:31:01

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By readers (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2011 at 14:51:22 in reply to Comment 66831

I think we're very lucky, R2D2, that for most RTH readers, your website won't open, pheww.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2011 at 15:13:15 in reply to Comment 66841

That's no surprise to me dear readers, I have very anal access control rules on my server. If you even see my page at all consider yourself blessed by the IT gods for possessing an uncorrupted browser and IP address or do not behave like mine-data monsters prying the depths of mylocked-nest. (which is only of karmic interest?)

Oh and I almost forgot to mention, readers does not yet appear anywhere on Raise The Hammer's Top number of anything list. But you should keep trying, of that I must insist.

Psst - You might try to send me an email readers, but there's no guarantee IT'll get through myspam filters.

PS - And as far as I'm concerned, that should GO for everyone who passionately desires LRT in this city;-)

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-23 16:39:15

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 01:01:46 in reply to Comment 66842

Don't get why the constant down votes for you. Seems like you are provoking some kind of weird reaction as an experiment or something.

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By George Alan (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:13:54 in reply to Comment 66867

Dunno about everyone else (and I'm not able to downvote) but the whole rhyming couplet thing does my head in...) Perhaps that could explain the downvotes?

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By just me (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 07:18:32

not sure why it matters, but mark chamberlain lives in hamilton(dundas).

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By JP (registered) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:50:14

Its quite clear, as you move about Hamilton, that it IS indeed missing 'something'. But to be honest, I'm not sure what that something is. And I'm definitely not convinced that building the LRT is going to be the answer. We don't even know what the problem is. We can see the symptoms (the horrible urban planning, the maze of one way streets, the crumbling infrastructure, the over-representation of individuals requiring social assistance of one form or another, the crappy downtown, vacant buildings) but we as a community can't come to a consensus about what the underlying cause of all of that is. And if we can't figure out what's causing the symptoms how can we honestly debate about whether or not the LRT is going to 'fix' anything.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:18:27 in reply to Comment 66875

At the risk of being glib, I would argue that the problem is a long sequence of civic leaders (in both government and business) who don't understand how cities work and stubbornly refuse to learn.

Every city in North America made the same mistakes that Hamilton made in the 1950s, 1960, and 1970s: converting streets to one-way; implementing mandatory parking requirements; imposing suburban single-use zoning rules on urban developments; selling transit systems to bus companies that proceeded to rip up the streetcar tracks; demolishing functioning downtown neighbourhoods to make room for inhospitable mega-structures; investing heavily in highways, roads and other infrastructure to allow massive suburban expansion with deeply discounted (read: subsidized) development charges; etc.

There's a very strong correlation between the speed at which a given municipality figured out that this is destructive behaviour and the vitality of that municipality today.

Cities that figured it out first are thriving; cities that figured it out later are recovering; and cities that didn't figure it out are still failing or at best floundering.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-25 12:20:45

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted July 25, 2011 at 21:20:10 in reply to Comment 66878

I would be inclined to say that Hamilton's challenges are far more unique than most cities.

Hamilton's growth problems in most parts arose from similar missteps as most mid-size cities in North America have made thru the 70's. Some learned, and many continue to struggle even after learning from missteps of their own and others.

However, what exacerbates Hamilton's growth and frustrates its urban form, is its unique topography and more sadly, its burgeoning sub-culture.

I fear the young-boys cartel more than the old-boys cartel. For they choose to do what they do presently in spite of knowing better not to claim total knowledge. The old-boys did what they did from what we now clearly recognize as lack of knowledge in their firmly held beliefs. Planning is a wicked problem that calls for curiosity, discovery and tacit knowledge not firm beliefs.

Our urban-suburban divide is more acute than most cities with suburban sprawls surrounding its core – primarily because our downtown core & lower city is physically divided by a hill – which Hamiltonian's over generations have come to perceive as a mountain.

If you take the old city of Stoney Creek with its downtown core, and its present day configuration which straddles the hill – it's now BIA or its old core continues to suffer economically in spite of having an attractive built form.

Stoney Creek's old core suffers from lack of sustained patronage from its local population which is spread out across its old suburbs hugging the core and outwards to it’s new stick-built suburbs to the east and up on the hill.

Comparatively, Dundas BIA or its old core, does not suffer this same experience as Stoney Creek - on account of its old suburbs and its new stick-built versions which spread out far westwards (and some on the escarpment) - as a large portion of Dundas is more or less on the same undulating physical plane - giving it a sense of geographic and cultural continuity with its core. The Dundas core never experienced a catastrophic loss of sustained patronage on account of it’s topography. Its memory managed to remain intact.

However, in terms of their proximity to new big box stores, their level of affluence, real estate values of homes, including the extent of new suburbs beyond its older suburbs - both these examples are fairly comparable, yet they experience different economies in their core.

Our old city downtown core in 2011 – also suffers from lack of sustained patronage from its newer suburbs on the hill, but more importantly, it suffers from the lack of patronage from its downtown neighbors to the far east and west of the core – areas on the same plane, which once were our city's older suburbs, but now experience a urban/suburban duality with catastrophic social outcomes.

The fact remains that the older suburbs on the core's west which are much more wealthier than those towards the core's north, south and east combined – still have not managed to carry the moral burden of economic patronage which is required of it in order to sustain new street-front enterprises in our city core. They are happy with the mini-boulevards of dreams they have created for themselves, and choose to live within the confines of these bubbles.

Sure there was massive amounts of smashing of history in our core thru the 70' - and some new ugly stuff was build, and much uglier stuff said on both sides. And sure we have been straddled with a systemic malaise unique to our city with regards to the myopic iron-fist grip of an older generation which has impacted our city's political and cultural life, much to their own financial detriment.

But in spite of all this and many more misgivings concerning the atrocious inter & cross-generational communication which we never seem to transcend as Hamiltonians, scores of old buildings have been fixed in the core and many new young & old people have already moved in.

Unfortunately the retail environment in our core – from which springs our cores continuing perception and its reality, suffers greatly on account of the lack of sustained patronage from its own lower city urbanites. Most of whom have unconsciously adopted the preferences of the new suburbanites on the hill, by virtue of living a detached single family / backyard barbecue lifestyle in what is essentially an urban setting. As a result of the preference of this life style, nearly seventy-five percent of the livable lower city is a self-absorbed, and aloof suburbia from a different era, that does not actively seek out an urban life style, but yet manages a claim to the virtues of urbanity. Hence on most evenings the streets of our main core appear frighteningly empty. Our empty parking lots are just the icing to embellish the script.

If the main core were to also count on the patronage of suburbanites from over the hill and the valley – by somehow overcoming the topographical divide which has lead to an emotional disconnect – the critical mass of affluence/disposable income that we already have in our city, is more than sufficient to sustain a culturally vibrant and economically thriving street-front texture which is representative of a mid-size city core that we all seem to agree on and sorely miss.

For every new store, restaurant or cafe that opens up in the core, two suffer greatly, and one dies from lack of patronage even in 2011. Our confusion comes from this. Our arguments and recurring fights on mostly valid but often unsubstantiated planning issues with people who don't and will never understand, comes from this.

We fail to acknowledge that it is not just our stick-build suburbanites who abandon our core after 5pm. It is even our lower-city suburbanites who mimic the same behavior.

So how does one really translate the "build-it and they will come" in Hamilton, when even our 'we' fails to show up, if not for economic patronage, just to even cheer when much is already built and continues to be built?

Overcoming the inter-lowercity divide between its affluent western suburb and our retail challenged main core along with its immediate eastern suburb is comparatively easier to achieve.

We just have to snap out of the funk that the previous generation has handed down to us - and release our antiquated notions of class and creed, and we could be well on our way to seeing a sustainable vibrant core.

It can get real cool and comforting way before any mega-hotel and shiny condo projects are announced on the many vacant lots, because we already have more than the necessary ingredients required to overcome our hand-me-down fears of an imaginary core that is supposed to bite you after dark.

Overcoming the topographical divide between the hill and the core may be a bit more complex, as the physical disconnect has festered deeply segregated and different life patterns over decades, and changing them may need more than savvy marketing and slogans. It would require genuine efforts at befriending them first, and that essentially require us urbane, lower city residents from the east end to the west end, to stop dissing them so much – even those that look down at the core with a chronic disdain.

But for that to happen, first we have to accept that those living in the suburbs are not our enemies, but in fact that they are our immediate and long-term guests and customers whose preferences and choices vary and may not always agree with ours.

To develop a thriving street life in our core, we don't have to chase mega-projects that promise to bring us a critical mass from an ‘outside’ – which we still fear and continue to be inhospitable towards. We already have the critical mass inside within us, let us recognize its presence and cultivate it.

Sure there are much more complex issues at play here then this – in order to make an economy come alive. Like the heat, oceans, oil or even an utopia called Ancaster that we all love to deride. But for now this is just my simple read on urbanism in our times, in which smaller steps of befriending neighbors to reestablish a broken community and its economy is a far more financially elegant approach, than aspiring to rapidly create a hundred million dollars in new assessment revenues from the lower city. For this brings forth its corresponding image of fifty million square feet of new built construction at an average tax-rate of two dollars a foot.

And fifty million square feet – if it does arrive by dogged tenacity or brute force, could be a hell of a lot more physical real estate and subsidies, than one imagined it to be during the 'exuberance phase' of revitalization.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-07-25 21:39:15

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2011 at 02:50:46 in reply to Comment 66885

I agree completely with Mahesh's comment,
"I fear the young-boys cartel more than the old-boys cartel. For they choose to do what they do presently in spite of knowing better not to claim total knowledge. The old-boys did what they did from what we now clearly recognize as lack of knowledge in their firmly held beliefs. Planning is a wicked problem that calls for curiosity, discovery and tacit knowledge not firm beliefs."
*************
How can anyone have faith in a place that seems determined to shoot it's self & All it's taxpayers in the foot on a regular basis? It's like hitching a ride with a Kamikazi pilot & expecting to actually Arrive.
Some people may profit from the current practices of outward expansion. Some may profit GREATLY, others may just have a poorly paid job, but at least a job out in the Burbs.
All rest of us are saddled either paying for derelict areas of the City, & all the social harm that hopelessness can do, or we pay for endless roads, expressways, & infrastructure to service The Frontier edges of the City. I suspect the latter will cost much more, in every possible way.

If the Burbs want to stop whining about paying taxes for/to Downtown, then allow for growth Downtown & stop taking things away from Downtown!

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2011 at 07:10:46 in reply to Comment 66885

First off, I pissed myself at the current 'score' Mahesh's comment had received: two negative votes. I immediately went back to his comment :

I fear the young-boys cartel more than the old-boys cartel. For they choose to do what they do presently in spite of knowing better not to claim total knowledge.

This is a brilliant introduction to the topic. I don't think Mahesh intended it to be 'exhaustive', but for what it addresses, it's salient and powerful. (No matter how 'voters' don't want to face up to its cogency.)

What I would point out (as someone who has spent decades in customer service, mostly retail) is that people abandon shopping/patronage habits according to what is offered. I'm old enough to be able to recall Downtown Hamilton in the '60s. I remember Jackson Square opening. I worked there through two decades. I lived downtown for 15 of these. So I was witness to 'what happened' there...as well as having chronicled what went on retail-wise in the Hamilton-Stoney Creek-Burlington-Oakville environs. I may not be able to comment from authority from vantage points that Mahesh or Ryan or others on this site may easily do so from, but from a commerce point of view, I have definitely observed a few truths fist-hand, and had my life greatly affected by many of these.

Oh, and Mahesh's take on both Stoney Creek and Dundas in relation to Hamilton is dead-on; massive chunks of my past have been in Stoney Creek, and I'm currently absorbing Dundas, so I can confirm what he opines. Sometimes the simple truths are the most potent, and what is provided here as an explanation regarding 'Why?' is one of the most brilliant pieces of observation I've come across on this site.

Some of you may have problems with the way Mahesh relates things, but seriously: listen to this man: he was head and shoulders above all other Mayoral candidates during the last election (he put forth more substantive 'platform planks' than 'The Big Three' combined), and even now, I strongly suggest you visit his still-extant site: http://www.butaniformayor.com/solutions....

As much as it may gall some, Mahesh is Hamilton's Christopher Hume. A veritable treasure-trove of insight, knowledge, wisdom and innovative approaches to our 'legacy-malaise'. Hamilton-at-large deserves his talents to be better utilized. You know, on a site that's trying to revitalize the city...?

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-26 07:15:04

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:53:41 in reply to Comment 66878

... I would argue that the problem is a long sequence of civic leaders (in both government and business) who don't understand how cities work and stubbornly refuse to learn.

What a great topic for a round-table discussion.

I'd pay to watch/listen to a deconstruction of Hamilton's history in this regard.

Who could we have on the panel?

And whom would we like to see moderate the discussion?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 25, 2011 at 20:58:33 in reply to Comment 66879

I love it.

I heard tell years ago of an urban geography course at McMaster that did this. A friend told me that they'd basically gone through the decades in Hamilton with what we did, why, and what went wrong. Getting a hold of that prof (or really anybody in the department) would be a good start.

A Freeskool-styled course on local urban history would be really neat, too. Perhaps a reading of "Death and Life of Great American Cities" or something like that with local examples thrown in, topped off with walks around town.

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By a (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2011 at 12:57:46 in reply to Comment 66884

FYI.....Walter Peace is a fantastic professor at McMaster with a keen interest in Hamilton and urban historical geography.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2011 at 12:40:05 in reply to Comment 66884

Undustrial/Mystoneycreek, please count me in. Sounds like a great idea. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that discussion.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 23:03:36

We need our Board of Control back!

People like Ryan, Mahesh and lawrence would be perfect fits.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2011 at 07:50:50

Here's a question I asked Lawrence directly, and though it deserves its own space on this site, I'll nevertheless offer it up for all to consider:

What do YOU think Hamilton should want to be when it grows up? Specifically. From top to bottom. East to west, north to south. What's YOUR vision of the city?

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-28 07:51:23

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:13:31 in reply to Comment 67006

For now, Hamilton should want to be pretty. Nice things/places attract nice people.
It cost money to make this city beautiful. So people should continue to work hard here or elsewhere, but spend and invest here in Hamilton.
If Hamilton really wants to be beautiful, work hard.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted July 28, 2011 at 22:08:36

A poem by Bill Mahoney, retired USW1005 Steelworker:

City of Waterfalls

There's hardly any jobs at all, but come and see our waterfall; I'm not quite sure just where it went, it's somewhere under the cement.

Ignore our closed down factories and growing welfare lines; Just look at our waterfalls, everything is fine.

If the hungry children cry, our mayor says diversify; We don't make things here anymore, all our plants have moved offshore.

We'll just become a tourist trap, and sell each other foreign crap.

You can work in a coffee shop, or sell tourists hot dogs and pop; And maybe be a tour guide, and take the tourist for a ride.

But don't show them where the homeless lie.

I question the wisdom of these calls, that base our future on waterfalls. The mayor should give his head a shake, this line of thinking he must break.

Jobs with dignity for all, that should be our battle call.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-07-28 22:09:00

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By Hooray (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2011 at 22:16:43

Welcome back Mr Janitor. Your insight has been sorely missed on this site. We need an everyman champion to stand up to the elitist ramblings of Butani, MyStoneyCreek and the assinine stuff from WRCU2. Your take on the historic buildings in the city and Mr. Jelly's posts would be greatly welcomed. IMHO.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2011 at 06:53:38 in reply to Comment 67076

...We need an everyman champion to stand up to the elitist ramblings of Butani, MyStoneyCreek...

In the way we need non-judgemental, non-generalizing, non-victim-mentality, non 'Us vs Them' commenters, yeah?

I'm constantly astounded that on a site predicated on the notions of shared ideas, engaging discourse that there's this default setting for so many of presumption based on supposed divergency of stances, on demonization based on apparent insecurity, and on pure animosity based on...Lord-knows-what.

In the case of Mahesh alone, to accuse him of being 'elitist' is proof-undeniable that you haven't got a clue as to what you're talking about.

Think before you declaim. It's embarrassing.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-29 06:54:00

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2011 at 20:16:40 in reply to Comment 67081

... or read a little book "Who moved my cheese", then think, then think again.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 29, 2011 at 13:17:23

Pretty sad when anyone stereotypes someone. I would suspect the above poster is commenting based on the intellect level shown to write the comments they do. I've gone through their comments and they seem progressive, does that mean elitist? And when did elite become a negative thing?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2011 at 15:58:19 in reply to Comment 67086

It's Friday afternoon, so I don't mind getting my hands a little dirty...

The term 'liberal, intellectual elite' is used by certain parts of the American political landscape, mostly out of insecurity. It's become a pejorative. Which is funny, because I remember the days when the right had some mighty intellectual behemoths of their own.

It's sad that looking at things from a more introspective way, and expressing these observations in complex sentences using polysyllabic words with a dash of élan and maybe some oomph thrown in for good measure can upset some people. Especially when they haven't met you.

But I would ask this question: 'What the Hell does an 'everyman' look like in Hamilton?'

Methinks we're talking about a class demarcation...and if we are, then we're wading through some very troubling waters indeed.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:28:56 in reply to Comment 67089

I find American political life really fascinating for this reason. It's unlike any comparable country. The American "left" has embraced elitism and middle-class aesthetics wholeheartedly, alienating a huge chunk of the working class. The conservatives, on the other hand, are very good at appealing to 'common folk', even though they hold an ideology which is much more elitist in terms of belief.

It's a colossal PR failure for the American "left". By relying constantly on arguments and attacks which paint their opponents as "uneducated" or "low-class", they've alienated a lot of the people they claim to be fighting for.

I don't know that I'd single out anyone on RTH as an "elitist", but we certainly tend to converse in fairly middle-class terms (academic, technical, economic etc). It's certainly a favourite complaint of trolls. In a city like Hamilton, that means we have to be mindful of how we come across to others who don't. This isn't to say that there's something wrong with using verbose language or "big thinkin' words" - just that we should be careful not to do it in a way that excludes or belittles people. Not everyone's had the chance to take urban economics classes or read Jane Jacobs - that doesn't mean they're stupid.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2011 at 13:19:33 in reply to Comment 67101

we certainly tend to converse in fairly middle-class terms (academic, technical, economic etc).

When I am within earshot of big people I use bigger words, I am a lot less candid or descriptive in the presence of littler ears.

It's certainly a favourite complaint of trolls.

By the end of the summer there'll be fewer trolls complaining at Raise the Hammer, I can promise you that.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 29, 2011 at 21:07:30

It strikes me as "we don't need yer book learnin types around here, see!"

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By What does Hamilton want to be when it gr (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:10:03

Good article. Thing I love the most is the concept of a vision to contain sprawl and reinvest in the communities we have already. LRT and regular GO service (with ammenities like parking) are components of this reinvestment which can't be ignored. They attract people and encourage reinvestment along the LRT lines. Where is Hamilton going? If our leadership knows, they need to do a much better job of communicating it.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:52:29 in reply to Comment 67100

Good article. Thing I love the most is the concept of a vision to contain sprawl and reinvest in the communities we have already...Where is Hamilton going? If our leadership knows, they need to do a much better job of communicating it.

Greetings what does, I like what you wrote above and I can tell you are NOT an anonymous troll with a really ridiculous choice for a screen name; I think IT is silly to use such lengthy anonymous names but whomever did the programming for RTH which allows so many characters to be submitted as a name is truly the sillier one.

I find IT interesting that the emboldened words above were only used one other time in all of Raise the Hammer's history. These words appear in an article by RTH Staff and are a direct quote from Mayor Bob Bratina's inaugural speech:

Our friends are of every race, creed and colour, and although I've had the good fortune to travel through much of the world, the place I love the most is Hamilton - the place and the people.

I am sorry folks don't appreciate what I'm doing nor the way in which I represent myself literally but that doesn't bother me. What bothers me are anonymous trolls who call our elected officials and certain businessmen in this city derogatory names or say things they probably wouldn't normally say to these people as an identifiable and real person. This is no way to make friends and allies in my eyes.

If you are Mr. Bratina you should post comments here as our Mayor like our former Mayor Mr. DiIanni does. But if you are not, your choice of words still puts you on holy ground in my book and yes, our leadership does need to do a better job of communicating everything they know about how Hamilton is destined to GrOw.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-30 13:25:35

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2011 at 12:06:02

Anyone see the editorial piece by Herman Turkstra in The Spec?

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/letters/a...

Anyone have any thoughts/comments?

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2011 at 13:56:48 in reply to Comment 67110

I am beginning to enjoy the abuse I'm getting from R-users so I'll bite mystoneycreek. Here are some quotes from the article by Mr. Turkstra:

The amazing topsoil and growing conditions that had made the area the finest market garden land in Ontario, if not in Canada, were decisioned out of existence, never to return. That is the kind of decision Hamilton is now looking at making when we decide on our future transportation priority.

I already commented about this earlier in the thread.

Once-in-100-years decisions can have positive impacts. The decision to protect hundreds of acres of development land for the Royal Botanical Gardens created an amazing asset for the region and will probably last more than 100 years.

Other once-in-100-years decisions can have devastating impacts, like the decision to build the Queen Elizabeth Way below the escarpment, where it virtually wiped out the best tender fruit land in Canada, rather than building it on the mostly sterile land lying on the top of the escarpment.

Which further supports what I already said.

Council’s decision in the 1890s to focus on industrial development of the bayshore lands rather than the very strong ecotourism that Hamilton was starting to develop in those years, gave us 100 years of jobs and smoke and dust.

Such a shame really but the truth is our entire modern civilization was built upon the steel industry and look where J.P. Morgan is today!

Before we get to decide on LRT or no-LRT, the first question that should be addressed is how the decision should be made. Is there really some reason that Mayor Bob Bratina or any council member is better equipped to make that decision than my neighbours?

No, absolutely not, BUT, we elected them to make these decisions. Until we citizens begin packing ourselves into council's chambers like 1005 did during the last municipal election, we will not help influence our city's direction.

If this is a once-in-100-years decision, why can’t I participate in the decision, why can’t every reader of this newspaper participate? Is there some reason members of council have a particular qualification to make that kind of decision or should we all share the responsibility and the vote?

I find IT very interesting that the Hamilton Spectator has removed commenting from most local news and op-eds like this.

In many countries and cities, this kind of once-in-100-years decision would clearly be sent to referendum. Why not here?

Good question Mr. T and thanks for sharing mystoneycreek.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-31 14:18:27

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2011 at 14:25:37 in reply to Comment 67120

I find IT very interesting that the Hamilton Spectator has removed commenting from most local news and op-eds like this.

I agree.

Until we citizens begin packing ourselves into council's chambers like 1005 did during the last municipal election, we will not help influence our city's direction.

It's not just a question of quantity. It's a question of quality.

My thoughts: http://mystoneycreek.blogspot.com/2011/0...

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2011 at 16:12:30 in reply to Comment 67121

My thought on your thoughts...

Not to put too fine a point on it, I don't trust the average person...

Nor do I mystoneycreek but we all must work together in a concerted effort as you put IT. The way I see IT, the average person will not attend town halls nor information evenings, folks like you and I will and probably already do. The trick is forming a critical mass of above average, educated and engaged citizens to meet these kinds of challenges head-on.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2011 at 17:50:12 in reply to Comment 67123

The trick is forming a critical mass of above average, educated and engaged citizens to meet these kinds of challenges head-on.

Right now, of the 40% of eligible voters that exercise their franchise, you could (in a fantasy world) count on about 20% of these to be 'active' throughout the year on any given issue. (In other words, not part of the 60% who cast their votes on the basis of 'name recognition' or somesuch other nonsense. LOL) This means that at best, less than 10% of eligible voters are 'active'. This is of course much less of a slice of the overall population pie, so a very, very small group of people are weighing in on a regular basis on behalf of everyone.

I wonder how the average person feels about this. That when it comes down to it, there's a possibility that this very, very small group of people are in fact 'putting out' for civic engagement. It's all on their shoulders.

(What's 'ideal'? A 90% voter turnout based on informed decisions, possible because people regard their own local governance as a responsibility and not some sort of act of begrudgement and are therefore playing an active role...so that maybe half the population are 'putting out' for the betterment of all.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-31 18:10:40

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 00:29:44

I would love Hamilton to head the advice of world travellers who come here and can see our follies with fresh eyes.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 06:53:56 in reply to Comment 67131

How do you define 'Hamilton'? Its leaders? Its citizens?

I agree with what you're saying, but I can tell you as someone who lived somewhere else for a long time and therefore qualifies as a 'world traveller' that many people in most situations take umbrage at such 'observations'.

Putting a fine point on it, we have an eminently qualified 'world traveller' in our midst, someone who knows of what he speaks in terms of precisely what you're talking about regarding a 'fresh-eyed perspective' and many here don't want to hear what he has to say, slam what he says and generally haven't got the time of day for his contributions. This is a member of our community; does he have to leave here to gain some kind of cred?

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 08:25:03

Well, I get exactly gist your point about outsiders not being welcome in the lodge. That attitude is very similar to the above posting against elitists. Everywhere is different and have unique issues. However, very simple things I.e. Transit are universal. To get somewhere in Tokyo is as important as getting somewhere in StoneyCreek. I guess I would like to see minds embrace new ideas and not deem anyone as carpet baggers who just don't get Hamilton.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2011 at 03:04:33 in reply to Comment 67134

After about 16+ years of 'carpetbagging' in Hamilton, I find my bag is a lot emptier than when I got here..
I think I do sometimes 'get Hamilton', & it scares the Hell outta me. Can we really be doing this to ourselves? & Why?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 08:59:33 in reply to Comment 67134

I guess I would like to see minds embrace new ideas and not deem anyone as carpet baggers who just don't get Hamilton.

-puts on his Cap of Cynicism-

I'm not so sure that 'Hamiltonians' get Hamilton.

Often responses are so fuelled by emotion and are missing context, perspective...and an historical grasp of the city.

Here's something offered up in a connected (private) conversation:

"But then that (solution) would require planning, not missionary zeal."

I posited a question earlier on in this thread, and nobody seemed interested in responding (and should be an article in itself, or the topic of an RTH-sponsored salon or town hall meeting). It ties into what you've brought up here, the 'fresh eyes' notion:

What do YOU think Hamilton should want to be when it grows up? Specifically. From top to bottom. East to west, north to south. What's YOUR vision of the city? Let's hear some visionary suggestions as to how YOU'D like to see the city look.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-08-01 09:01:05

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 14:11:45 in reply to Comment 67135

What do YOU think Hamilton should want to be when it grows up? Specifically.

I tried my hand at writing this up, but it's hard enough to stay under the article word-count limits (I'm already well over a page, dusting off an old article idea from the fall). This town is enormous, populous and diverse - is there really a single idea/vision we could aspire to? And if so, what would set that vision apart from other cities?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 14:34:43 in reply to Comment 67140

Well, I'd be very intrigued to read what you've come up with. If you don't feel like putting it in point-form here, I encourage you to send it to me via my blog.

But who said anything about a 'single vision'?

And why should any vision have to set it apart from other cities?

Pick a part of the city. Re-imagine it. Pick several parts, offer up synergistic imaginings. There are no rules.

The other day, I was sitting with a friend talking about RTH and one of the things he pointed out was that very few people seem inclined (courageous enough?) to post specific ideas. For fear of getting downvoted, or just plain ridiculed.

I think he's right, and I think it's a shame, because it takes something huge out of the 'discourse' formula, leaving us with hardly more than 'thumbs-up' or 'thumbs-down' options.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 21:40:03 in reply to Comment 67142

I tried to sum up my feelings with a single sentence, by Yeswecan seems to have managed it far better than I.

My vision would be for Hamilton to embrace it's working-class side in an economic sense. Large-scale manufacturing may be on it's way out (of the core, country, continent etc), so why not embrace smaller firms? If we can't compete at mass-producing low-quality goods, why not turn the army of un/underemployed skilled tradespeople toward local, custom, on-demand production of high-quality goods?

The "innovation" wouldn't necessarily be in the skills or technology, but with the organization. Networks of small firms (ideally co-ops) could share resources, collaborate on contracts etc. This would allow them to trade goods and work in kind, allowing them to work even when cash/capital is scarce. Open-source hardware would provide a wealth of products available to all firms, as well as the techniques and machines needed to build them.

Real ambition and innovation for our city would mean aspiring to be something other than the rest of the region.

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By Downtown Downer (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 14:09:11

I nominate TnT to sit on this board too. I think you will get very frustrated running into the NIH crowd. Front yard and back yards people, that is where it is at.

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By yeswecan (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 19:32:09

Hamilton has been a city of mono-vision for too long. It's time for a city with many visions - we can be more than we think...

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 06:41:55 in reply to Comment 67146

And some of those visions are...?

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By yeswecan (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:05:25

arts - education - green industry - eco tourism - DIY - heritage restoration - food - alternative transportation - innovative ideas - youth engagement - independent businesses - etc.

the list can go on - the city is large enough to accommodate all these ideas and more.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:57:50 in reply to Comment 67158

I agree.

But I'm actually not referring to 'genres' so much as actual ideas. How a street might look. How a neighbourhood might be revitalized.

In specifics.

People tend to talk in generalities. In 'genres'. As kids we imagine building things; castles, towns, cities. Why can't we do that as adults?

RTH as a whole needs to loosen up. Learn to play a little more freely. : )

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 03, 2011 at 00:51:14 in reply to Comment 67201

Well from my own life I can say honestly I was trying to revive Ward 3 by running a backpackers hostel. I think everyone know how that panned out

http://hamilton.openfile.ca/hamilton/fil...

We may have failed, but hopefully we’ve opened to door for atleast a discussion about adaptive reuse. I would love to see more houses turned into Rebel’s Rock or The Pearl or a bakery or a camera shop or friggin anything that would create interest. Interest = people coming

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 13:41:43 in reply to Comment 67201

When you asked me MSC, street by street, house by house was the path my visions started to take. My mind, needless to say, quickly started to go a little numb and short circuited.

Perhaps as a collective, we can start venturing through this city and jotting down some notes that could be shared on an Open Data map, that outlines how we see this city shaping up for the future?

It's a big project. One that shouldn't be stepped into softly or lightly or with quick off-the-cuff thoughts and suggestions. We would be talking about 'other peoples back yards'. about houses and buildings we feel should go. About business parking lots that should look at alternatives to pavement, or about converting streets to two way or LRT paths or about adding more bike lanes, or adding/removing schools and social services and all of these requiring proper input from area citizens and so much of this process will surely open up some serious debate. All good things I believe but if we take say 4km radius's at a time for example, take a long hard look at them and figure out ways to engage the local citizens and business owners and the ward represenative(s), I think we can get some wheels turning and forumlate our own solid and hard thought, business plan for the whole of the GHA.

I added more to this part of the discussion on Kevin Somers piece about People.

It seemed to all tie in, in a round about way.

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By yeswecan (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:13:46

Those are pretty big visions - if anything Hamilton needs to DREAM more. A city that doesn't dream tends to have nightmares. We've had our share...

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:18:57 in reply to Comment 67204

Or you could say that because rank-and-file Hamiltonians have traditionally disassociated themselves from the process of local governance, they've surrendered their dreams to a bureaucracy that fails them at most turns.

Town halls, anyone?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 13:49:23 in reply to Comment 67206

Town halls, town halls, and more town halls. I'm in.

As far as revitalizing neighbourhoods goes, it's effectively illegal for most in our city. By-laws and zoning codes prohibit a huge range of activities and tightly regulate most others, at huge expense. If we want to see an interesting, diverse and widespread range of new ventures, we're going to have to loosen those rules. At the same time, we can't deny that there are many kinds of businesses which we don't want in our neighbourhoods, often for good reasons.

Our by-laws don't protect communities. I could wander from my chair to the closest known illegal stockpile of toxic waste before you finished reading this comment. What we need is an actual means for voicing concern, as communities, about the matters that affect us, which isn't mediated by city bureaucrats.

Did I mention town-halls?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 14:04:42 in reply to Comment 67230

I think we could keep Joey Coleman and CO very busy with Open Data solutions and statistical maps.

There should be a open database/Google Fusion table, where all complaints, concerns, and ideas that have been brought up to the councillors, is input into and I should be able to type an address I have complained about or am thinking of complaining about, to see if there is already a complaint that has been sent through and where that issue is in the process. Who has it been forwarded to? What steps have been taken for it to get there, etc.

This would both be more efficient time wise, but it enables us all to check-in and make sure every complaint, concern, and idea is accounted for. Every voice is heard and adressed.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-08-02 14:15:36

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2011 at 03:20:32 in reply to Comment 67232

I think that Town Hall Meetings would be excellent, (unless there is a by law against them. ; P

At the end of it, new people have to be convinced to run for office, butt heads with the status quo, & our citizens need to get out & vote.

Many people here seem to have been so divorced from local politics for so long, & City Council has made things difficult for people who wish to be heard. (Too much secrecy, & often disrespect is shown to citizens who ask to speak, etc.)

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 16:31:58 in reply to Comment 67232

Developing methods and systems for conflict resolution isn't easy, but it goes along pretty well with the notion of town-hall meetings. Even if it weren't binding (ie: mediation, counselling etc), it could certainly go a good way toward resolving neighbourhood tensions.

The current complaint-based system has a bit of a tendency to inflame these tensions. Ask any beat-cop or bylaw enforcement officer how often this kind of thing happens, and how much they hate dealing with it.

The one fear I have is that such a system would end up targeting certain complains and populations more than most. An online database of home addresses raises some ugly possibilities. The squeaky wheel gets the grease in these sorts of cases, and some people complain more than most, especially on certain issues. This is why it's important that we reach out to all different kinds of people, and have a good dialogue from the start.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 13:42:29 in reply to Comment 67206

I have more on that Town Hall line to come. Yes!

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By yeswecan (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:49:55

Even though it made me cringe - perhaps we abandoned "Reach-Dream-Rise-Shine" too early. Hamilton could stand a tiny bit of new-age like thinking. Just a bit.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2011 at 14:32:07

Anyone see this re Walmart and the Centre on Barton? It's not the Hamilton I invision. Not at all!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2011 at 14:59:28 in reply to Comment 67307

"[Each additional Walmart] per 100,000 residents increases average BMI by 0.24 units and the obesity rate by 2.3% points."

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/art...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 09, 2011 at 13:20:17 in reply to Comment 67309

More fun obesity correlation facts.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2011 at 15:44:34 in reply to Comment 67309

You know Ryan, at first I thought 'I am going to start a petition and try to keep this from happening.' Whether or not that could happen is another story. I even started typing a couple hundred words to add to that petition.

Then I thought ... what if we just allowed them to walk in seemingly unscathed? Then we proceed to break them down from the day they open their doors. Using facts and figures and stories and selling local shops to no end. Working to create more local manufacturing that produces made in Hamilton for Hamiltonians items, creating jobs both in the production and sale of, these items right here in our city.

There are probably 100's of videos and datasheets and articles in support of this company not being good for the economy or where job creation is concerned.

I would think we would hit them harder by allowing them to set up and fail, then to just painfully try to keep them out only to lose in the end. Not that I am affriad of trying, but it just made me think of an alternative way of going about this because with the resurgence of Ottawa Street, this is bad news. It's even bad news for existing box stores in that plaza.

Target will replace Zellers and already shows as such on the Redcliffe website. I can't even stand Canadian Tire any longer with their cheap movie bins and frozen food freezers creating more obstacles so it's not that I am worried about the other stores, but I would think they would be in support of Walmart not coming to Barton and Ottawa.

We need to support the little guys and we need to sell hard to Hamitonians, why the Walmarts of the world are actually more expensive. How can supporting local mean it still costs consumers less to by the things they need? Obviously that would mean trying to get them to stop buying the dollar store-type crap. Not that I am any better sometimes so I am not judging.

We all need to be better informed, and we need to formulate solutions to help us move away from being dependant on these forms of industry.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-08-03 15:48:15

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 04, 2011 at 07:46:32 in reply to Comment 67310

If you want to stop Walmart from moving into your neighbourhood - and there are some excellent, evidence-based reasons to want this - you are best to focus your efforts before the decision is made, not after.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2011 at 22:08:47 in reply to Comment 67310

Lawrence, I'm glad you brought this up. Ryan - I can't believe you found a scientific paper on that subject - totally hillarious.

My biggest beef with Walmart is their "saturation" strategy. The company has admitted to putting more superstores in an area than it can support, with the intention of driving competitors out of business (then closing the extra Wal-Marts). That kind of behaviour displays a total disregard (if not hatred) of customers, communities and commerce in general.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 04, 2011 at 07:47:40 in reply to Comment 67315

It's well understood by economists who have studied it that Walmarts produce a net reduction in employment and a net reduction in per capita wealth when they move into a market.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted August 04, 2011 at 08:25:21 in reply to Comment 67323

It's well understood by economists who have studied it that Walmarts produce a net reduction in employment and a net reduction in per capita wealth when they move into a market.

I cannot tolerate this retailer this close to my home and my beloved BIA!

Larry, check your inbox...

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 09, 2011 at 16:46:42

What does Hamilton want to be when it grows up?
1) A do-nut. (a big empty hole in the middle with all the goodies on the outside.)
2) The World's largest parking lot.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2011 at 14:51:50

Even though this thread is no longer current, I think I can see what Hamilton is 'shooting' for.
After looking at the Parks dept criteria for Leash Free Areas, aka Dog Parks, I'm reasonably sure that no more will be created, since no existing parks can meet these weird criteria. ("An area of 2 to 5 acres is required...??!!" I thought this was about Dog Parks, not horse or elephant parks.)
The 2 pet limit for citizens of the GTA. (smallest pet limit I've ever heard of for Any City, Anywhere!) Not only does this make a large number of citizens into criminals, it also will put those already reprehensible & very embarrassing GHA euthanasia stats through the roof!
If I'm reading the laws correctly, assisting any animal, pet or wild that become injured or in trouble, without calling Animal Control will also make you a criminal.
So the Future of Hamilton is to phase down to a Zero Pet Zone, & make a big profit by selling expensive real estate to animal haters & militant Vegans.

"If you get rid of them..They will come."?????

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2011 at 04:47:30

I kind of thought that my above comment might not resonate very strongly with readers here, when placed next to topics like: LRT, jobs, & revitalizing areas of the City, etc.

However I think it's an important issue, especially when you consider the rest of the legislation that came with it. Pretty Heartless! (& useless!) I had considered staying in Hamilton for the future, in spite of the foolishness that goes on with regard to the future of our City. But not now. If a City decides that it officially seems to see animals, pets & their owners as 'A Huge Problem' most of the time, that's good enough reason to leave it.

"I wouldn't want to be a burden to Hamilton!" :(

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2011 at 16:29:46

Some great comments, CityJoe. Love this one:

Many people here seem to have been so divorced from local politics for so long, & City Council has made things difficult for people who wish to be heard. (Too much secrecy, & often disrespect is shown to citizens who ask to speak, etc.)

Are you sure that bit about animals isn't a 2 dog limit and not a two animal limt? If that is the case, Hamilton is most definately and surely, a bunch of hooligan's. :) And the bit about calling Animal Control, not likely. They have a 72 hour holding limit for Cats in specific. Than -----. They do call the SPCA first to see if they have space, but the number of cats turned in each day is sadly quite substantial. :( There are many local volunteer run agencies who will help you. Our resdient stray came to us with a sore paw. The one agency had the paw fixed, and then had him fixed and microchipped and released him back into my care until he was safe to go back outside.

My Hamilton would also see animals more as part of our society than it currently does - including many more leash free parks and yes, that 2-5 hectre thing is redonkulous. We'll see how far the plan I am sending to my councillor for a dog park close to my home goes. It most definately doesn't fall under the space guidlines or close to residential homes guidlines but those criteria would leave me to believe dog parks can only exist in the forest far away from where people live or public transit. Not that you are aloud to bring your dog on the bus which should be challenged in itself, because of our lack of public leash-free spaces. Me going up to the SPCA leash-free is environmentally backwards.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2011 at 02:38:09

Here's a lovely article about an initiative that could teach us all some lessons about engagement:

http://www.thespec.com/community/article...

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By RadiatorSteve (registered) - website | Posted April 23, 2012 at 02:19:27

Hamilton is far from being a designer city, but it is slowly being molded by modern needs and city planning. Placing business and commercial needs before others transformed it into the city it is today, and there is actually very little that we can do to stop it.

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