Signs of Life

Hamilton Still Trending Upward

September gave me renewed optimism that my investment in Hamilton might well have been a good one.

By Keanin Loomis
Published October 17, 2011

Those who have despaired recently with the direction of the City's LRT and velodrome files have found rejuvenation from a five day period in September that proved that our political leadership can't stand in the way of all signs of progress in this town, much as they seem to try.

In a city that suffers from a muffling ratio of private to public sector jobs, in less than a week, three events - Locke Street Festival, Supercrawl and Lion's Lair - provided impressive evidence that entrepreneurialism in Hamilton is alive and steadily improving.

Locke Street Festival

Let me first start with my beautiful neighborhood in the shadow of the escarpment. On Saturday, September 10th, the Locke Street Festival drew thousands of people who perused over 200 stalls and storefronts, including those of the many new foodie hangouts that have recently appeared.

Starbucks, with its visionary determination (just four years ago? Really?) to give the street a chance, may have lowered the risk to Bread Bar, Chuck's Burger Bar, Bitten, and NaRoma.

However, the success of so many new joints on Locke is evidence that if you build it and have a good (even premium) product or service, you can do well in Hamilton. With other restaurants reportedly forthcoming, next year's festival promises to have an even wider array of offerings.

Supercrawl 2011

On the same day, throngs of people took to James Street North for the third annual Supercrawl, which boasted a truly world class musical lineup on two stages.

Praise be to the underappreciated Tim Poticic, the Godfather of Hamilton's creative entrepreneurs, this festival has gone from 3,000 attendees to an estimated 50,000 in just three years.

The vibe was the greatest I have ever experienced in Hamilton. I navigated the crowd wearing a smile that grew wider as I noticed all the other perma-grinned souls; it was a contagion of the good kind! It was a grassroots commercial and cultural success.

It was a dose of image tonic for the thousands of attendees who either had never been to, or had given up on downtown Hamilton. Better yet, for those who remain so stubbornly optimistic for this city, it was nourishing for the soul.

LiON's LAIR

Several other events were going on in Hamilton on that weekend, leading to fears that Hamilton's citizenry would be stretched too thin. As it turned out, however, it seemed that the various events shone a spotlight on downtown Hamilton. For one weekend it seemed that Hamilton was a regional hub of culture and commerce, which is exactly as it should be.

Discussing the third event is shameless self-promotion, but significant nonetheless. On September 14th, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce teamed with Innovation Factory to host the inaugural LiON's LAIR, an investment forum for local entrepreneurs that, for trademark purposes, cannot be referred to as a made-in-Hamilton version of popular television program, Dragon's Den.

Ten great start-up opportunities received tremendous exposure to a business community that raised $100,000 in money and services that would be distributed to the top-three opportunities.

Once again, the entire community got another glimpse of what I have experienced firsthand over the last year - there is a simmering vibrancy of small and medium enterprise in this city that could portend great growth in private sector employment.

Add the LiON's LAIR participants, and all the other entrepreneurs in this community that are following their dreams with dogged determination, to the growing list of graphic and website design companies, artists with galleries, animation studios, etc., and it is clear that the creative sector is proliferating in Hamilton.

Attractive Cost of Living

As I've said repeatedly, Hamilton is very attractive to businesses seeking low rents. Add that to the higher quality of life (depending on your POV, of course) and the lower cost of living (ain't no arguing with that one), and Hamilton would be the ideal place to become a mecca for small and medium enterprises.

It's a goal that Portland, Oregon set long ago and is paying off in spades now. When selling Hamilton to my Toronto friends, I borrow a phrase from Sam Adams, the Mayor of Portland, who said, "If you want to be rich, go to Seattle or San Francisco. If you want to be prosperous, you come here."

It might be fashionable to invoke Portland when talking about what Hamilton must do to thrive, but it's a best practice that Hamilton must study and learn from.

September gave me renewed optimism that my investment in Hamilton might well have been a good one.

First published in the October, 2011 issue of Urbanicity.

Keanin is the President and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

92 Comments

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 12:57:01

I am not so sure we want to aspire to be Portland.http://images.businessweek.com/ss/09/02/0226_miserable_cities/2.htm

High crime, high unemployment, a huge drug problem and being the most depressed city in the country are not goals that are in the best interests of the city of Hamilton.

They rank right up there with Detroit for being one of the worst places to live in America.

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By not depressed anymore (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 09:26:24 in reply to Comment 70610

Very clearly you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Portland has LRT and wonderful bike lanes and therefore is very clearly a much better place to live than Hamilton. I am putting a finger in each ear and humming now.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 20:01:36 in reply to Comment 70610

They rank right up there with Detroit for being one of the worst places to live in America.

Which goes to show you how useless stats are in determining quality of life. Portland is world-renowned for it's livability. Detroit is world renowned for...well, we all know. I don't want to beat them while they're down.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 01:41:11 in reply to Comment 70627

Ah, so stats are only good when they back up your point of view. I get it now.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:26:04 in reply to Comment 70639

Stats are good for things that require stats - how many people ride an LRT line, average income etc....
Quality of life can't be determined via stats. If that was the case, absolutely nobody would move to Hamilton from TO. Our stats don't look as good as theirs....yet we all understand quality of life is more intangible and must be experienced. There is a reason Portland has delegations visit it from around the world, and their city hall constantly has requests for interviews and TV specials on urban issues, quality of life issues and sustainability issues. And there is a reason Hamilton deosn't....yet. We will eventually, IF we invest in the things that will enhance our quality of life in the years ahead.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:58:09 in reply to Comment 70649

Was hoping that someone who works in a non-profit accelerator might be able to offer even a snapshot of the trending within that sector.

Anecdotal success wil have to do. Good thing that's not a double-edge sword.

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By JM (registered) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 12:57:04

"If you want to be rich, go to Seattle or San Francisco. If you want to be prosperous, you come here."

...great line! i think that sums up the whole thing. of course, replace those cities with a reference to "Toronto" and we're bang on.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 15:05:47 in reply to Comment 70611

Gotta say this line got me as well .. being a transplant from toronto i say it like this.. In Toronto you think about how to pay the rent, in Hamilton you think about how to retire. My mortgage ... twice the GST on my studio in toronto. Thats how to save for the future.

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By Jay Benda (anonymous) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 13:08:09

Bless you for your optimism, but there are enough Hamiltonians who can't even prosper, even with the low rents that people still can't stop talking about. Free street festivals are a colourful lifestyle diversion, and I'm glad our pet vacuumers and grilled cheese vendors were recognized for being business beacons, but there is arguably a bigger boulder that needs rolling. We need to make the promise of a livable Hamilton attainable to all who live here.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 17, 2011 at 14:20:30 in reply to Comment 70612

Ok, I'll bite ... what would turn this city into "a livable Hamilton attainable to all who live here"?

Are we just talking about high employment? Or a city whose features are affordable for everyone? Or what?

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By JM (registered) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 13:19:05 in reply to Comment 70612

those bigger boulders will (hopefully) come down the road. the problem is most of the big boulders disappeared, and left a huge void - hence the job losses and poverty.....

the only place to start again is small, and hope that the bigger boulder will regenerate itself! and that starts with these small businesses - growing in numbers and promoting to large companies that hamilton is a good place for business!

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By Jay Benda (anonymous) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 13:38:25 in reply to Comment 70613

The boulder I was referring to was the city's trenchant poverty and socioeconomic disparity, not the erosion of big industrial employers. I'm sure that the situation will change over time, but I worry that small businesses and those who have advanced skills will be too focused on short-term investment to be able to adequately address Hamilton's intractable problems, challenges that problematize any meaningful discussion of "quality of life" issues. If, in fact, anyone has the stomach for that discussion.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 23:11:24 in reply to Comment 70614

I think it's fair to say that new small businesses, often "advanced" or filling specialized niche markets, will not be able to offer jobs to many of the economically disadvantaged. However, as those businesses grow in number and size, the network of supporting businesses they require will also grow, many in service industries that may be more of an option for some Hamilton residents. If nothing else, the rebalancing of the tax base back toward a larger commercial/industrial share may help the city institute more of the types of programs that can help address social service needs, or at least let the local government turn more of its attention to those issues.

While it will take time to develop - perhaps a long time - a local economy comprised of many SMEs to balance a smaller set of large employers will ultimately be more stable, and benefit everyone, including those who need help the most.

Comment edited by ScreamingViking on 2011-10-17 23:17:43

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By TnT (registered) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 15:53:38

Just finished a visit to montreal for a conference (www.backpackers.ca) and then spent the better part of Sunday wandering the streets of Kingston. You need not go to Bogato, Vancouver, Portland, New York when these two cities are less than 10hrs away and filled with phenomenal life and rebirth. Montreal is the gold standard, Latin Quarter, for how to have a diverse city. However, Kingston should be held up as a very close example for us here in Hamilton. If I had a camera with me I would have made a list of all the shops around Queens university like: http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/12...

They have drug problems, homelessness, disaffected youth and a whole host of problems, but they have affordable living right beside million dollar condos. Markets with cheap food and just walking the streets is filled with life and beauty. No one wants to bulldoze heritage buildings for parkinglots. Parking is the last thing on anyones mind.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 17, 2011 at 21:44:36

Move to Toronto if you want a six-figure salary. Move to Hamilton if you want to be able to afford living here.

We may have a lot of problems with poverty, but we also have (at least some) services to deal with it. We have a low cost of living and lots of working-class culture. There are much worse places to be poor. Part of having a good quality of life means not needing to be rich to achieve it.

Of course, while not everyone in Hamilton is poor. But we all see benefits - low-cost areas are really important incubators of all kinds of art and culture because people can afford to devote their time to painting, music or writing rather than working 80 hours a week at a crappy job to cover rent. This is a primary reason why areas like James North (or Soho, Haight-Asbury, Kreutsberg etc) take off, and why areas like them so often fail to maintain that sense of vitality once prices rise.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 08:47:41 in reply to Comment 70629

Or move to Hamilton and commute to Toronto for a six figure salary. Why not? People do it for a five figure salary.

Since we're talking about trending, can anyone point to employment stats breakdown – growth in various job sectors, growth in number of start-ups and attendant earnings, growth in investment of private capital, increase of private sector workforce relative to net population growth, increased median household incomes – that might offer evidence of an upward trend?

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:36:04 in reply to Comment 70644

In 2008, Canadian Business ranked Hamilton #7 on their Top Places To Do Business in Canada index, an improvement on previous rankings where the city placed #17 (2007) and #16 (2006).

http://www.canadianbusiness.com/article/15744--the-best-places-to-do-business-in-canada

In 2008, CB’s Cost of Living index ranking was 71.28 (Toronto was ranked 100, Vancouver 99.18, Montreal 91.08, Ottawa 89, Mississauga 88.99, Brampton 83.16, Windsor 74, London 73.1, Kitchener 72.27)

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 13:04:56 in reply to Comment 70651

Average Rent for Two-Bedroom Units ($) (new and existing structures), April 2011 / Vacancy Rate (April 2011 VR vs April 2010):

Hamilton CMA: $856 / 3.5% (-0.6%)

Montréal CMA: $703 / 2.5% (-0.3%)
Windsor: $761 / 9.4% (-3.0%)
St. Catharines – Niagara CMA: $830 / 3.6% (-1.2%)
London CMA: $873 / 4.7% (+0.7%)
Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo CMA: $877 / 1.8% (-1.3%)
Halifax CMA: $885 / 2.8% (+0.3%)
Guelph CMA: $892 / 1.9% (-2.7%)
Kingston CMA: $966 / 1.7% (-0.5%)
Calgary CMA: $1,040 / 3.4% (-1.9%)
Toronto CMA: $1,124 / 1.6% (-1.1%)
Vancouver CMA: $1,181 / 2.8% (+0.3%)

Ontario (10,000+): $980 / 2.5% (-0.9%)
Canada (10,000+): $839 / 2.7% (-0.4%)
Canada CMAs: $864 / 2.5% (-0.4%)

http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/nero/nere/2011/2011-06-09-0815.cfm

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:36:59 in reply to Comment 70651

Urk. 2008 Cost of Living index ranking for Hamilton was 71.28.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted October 18, 2011 at 00:50:51 in reply to Comment 70629

Is that to say those places don't have a good vibe?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:34:44 in reply to Comment 70637

Certainly not the same vibe. Ask anyone who lived through the transitions.

I haven't been back to Kreutsberg in a few years, and East Berlin in general was still somewhat early along in this process. Still, you didn't have to speak the local language to get an earful on the subject. I've heard similar complaints about Queen West, Commercial Drive and even Locke Street (starting mostly in the past year).

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By TnT (registered) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 23:16:21 in reply to Comment 70650

Locke Street? What vibe exactly got killed there? Antiques? It has a great vibe and feeling there. Success does not equal sucking. That is a very bad anarchy rooted attitude.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 17, 2011 at 21:47:12

Supercrawl is the new Festival of Friends! (the old one I mean...)

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 14:09:05

An accounting of 2010’s economic development highlights for Hamilton’s Downtown, courtesy EcDev:

National Academy of Health and Business (31 King East)
> Community college with 12 employees, 40 students (in 2010)

College Boreal (120 King West)
> Francophone community college with 25 employees, 125 students (in 2010)

Central Library & Farmer’s Market
> Reopened Nov 2010 and Feb 2011

Hamilton City Hall
> Reopened June 2010

Hydromantis Environmental Software Solutions, Inc.
> Environmental consulting firm with 12 employees, expected to double in 2011

Lister Block Building
> Expected to open April 2012

MacNab Transit Terminal
> Opened Jan 2011

NetAccess
> Moved from One Main East to One King West

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Perioperative Surgical Program
> To be completed by fall 2011

http://www.investinhamilton.ca

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 14:16:30 in reply to Comment 70669

Missed what might be the key private sector highlight: a $3.4m, 18,917 square foot Shoppers Drug Mart & 5,465 square feet of medical offices at 232 Cannon East.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 01:43:31 in reply to Comment 70671

Only issue is it shuts at 10 because the area is full of bums!

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2011 at 19:59:40 in reply to Comment 70698

Dangitall. I went there one time with my bro at like 11pm. I was shocked to find it closed. Every other SDM closes at midnight unless open all night. Guess that makes my brother and I bums. Glad its clear.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 01:20:01 in reply to Comment 70729

The comment was not meant as a reflection on the area residents (I live at Cannon and Victoria) it was a shot at Shoppers for not staying open late in a "bad" neighborhood! That seems to be the entire policy of this city. Bums!

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 14:13:46

Rents are low for a reason - not that many people want to be here. Despite this I do see some renewed sense of vigor in this city's outlook. Albeit slowly.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 19:45:16 in reply to Comment 70670

I wouldn't call rents that are higher than the national average and bang on with the CMA average 'low'. Sure, there are some other cities higher than us, but also a bunch lower. In fact, we might be the exact mid-point market right now for Canadian and CMA rental prices.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 15:15:26 in reply to Comment 70670

That's the most optimistic thing I've heard you say in months!

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 16:01:23 in reply to Comment 70675

I have always been bullish on Hamilton's long-term future. We seem to be going 3 steps forward and 2 steps back in this city.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 15:25:33

Pardon My Lunchbox 2: Mystery Meat City

http://twitter.com/#!/MapleLeafFoods1/status/126739483143049217

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By George (registered) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 15:50:21 in reply to Comment 70676

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-inv...

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. (MFI-T10.56-0.02-0.19%) unveiled a $560-million plan to modernize and concentrate production at its aging meat processing facilities as part of a three year plan that will see half a dozen plants shuttered across the country.

The centerpiece of the strategy calls for the construction of a new $350-million prepared meats factory in Hamilton, Ont., that is set to employ 670 workers by its scheduled completion in 2014. Another $155-million will be invested in new equipment in three plants in Toronto, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.

Comment edited by George on 2011-10-19 15:50:45

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 16:46:20 in reply to Comment 70677

This strategic concentration comes with area closures:

"Hardest hit will be Kitchener, Ont., which will see a sprawling meat processing plant closed and 1,200 jobs lost.... In addition, distribution centres in Burlington, Ontario and Coquitlam, B.C., will be shut."

The Burlington plant employs around 1,000 people, I think.

http://www.insidehalton.com/insidehalton/article/820215

So we could potentially be looking at 2-3 times as many potential workers as there are positions available. Will be interesting to see how this shakes out – whether they commute in or relocate. (I suppose it's possible that Hamiltonians already commute to jobs in those ML communities.)

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 17:03:50 in reply to Comment 70682

My bad... the G&M story ended with a breakdown of job losses (1,858 in Southern Ontario):

Burlington: 87 jobs lost when plant closes in early 2013
Hamilton: 247 jobs lost when plant closes in early 2014
Weston: 324 jobs lost when plant closes in late 2014
Kitchener: 1,200 jobs lost between closure of distribution centre (early 2013) and plant (late 2014)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/sweeping-maple-leaf-overhaul-sees-job-cuts-plant-closings/article2206652/

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By Nord Blanc (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:48:07 in reply to Comment 70686

Hire the most talented third of each city's workforce and you've got a dynamic staff to go with your state-of-the-art facility.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 14:19:45 in reply to Comment 70706

And 1200 Ontario jobs lost being spun by MLF and the local media as 600 "new" jobs.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 16:55:49 in reply to Comment 70682

"Maple Leaf will close existing processing plants in Hamilton (about 300 jobs), Kitchener, and Toronto"

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/611728--maple-leaf-to-build-390-million-meat-plant-in-hamilton

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By RB (registered) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 16:34:44 in reply to Comment 70677

That is fantastic news! PRIVATE BUSINESS locating here is music to my ears.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 16:21:19 in reply to Comment 70677

Thanks to the RHVP we would not be getting these jobs and the associated tax revenues to this city.

Jason, Ryan and other anti RHVP folks what say you now??

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2011 at 06:56:08 in reply to Comment 70679

In the four years since RHVP was opened, we've had exactly two significant industrial employers announce / build new facilities here - and in both cases, we poached the associated jobs from neighbouring municipalities. So far, that's not a fantastic return on our public investment, especially given the net cost to the city's books of all the new low-density residential houses that were also built as a result of the highway.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 16:49:42 in reply to Comment 70699

Ryan you can never admit you are wrong can you?

I don't think that the business park is fully serviced yet so it will take many years for it to fill up. It won't happen over night.

By the way, what ever happened to your predictions about $200 oil???

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2011 at 13:19:33 in reply to Comment 70719

By the way, what ever happened to your predictions about $200 oil???

I may have been wrong about that. It looks like the economy gets shocked into recession whenever the oil price goes significantly above $100/bbl, as it did in mid-2008 and again in early 2011.

The economy seems to be even more vulnerable to high oil prices than I thought.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 19:36:02 in reply to Comment 70679

you know that I want to see us continue to expand employment opportunities in the heart of the city and Bayfront District, BUT I will happily eat crow if those entire business parks fill up with huge investments like this. The only reason a place like Mississuaga was able to sprawl at will for so many years was because of the massive tax income being brought in from places like this, in parks like this. I have concerns about us locating all of these jobs in an area only accessible by car, but I am pleased to see some (potential) momentum developing out there. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Canada Bread also owned by Maple Leaf?? Not that it matters, but I'd like to see a different company take interest in that park. A few more 'big fish' like this and we will likely have the attention of industrial companies across the country. I've always supported the idea of getting our tax base supported by industry instead of residential, and this helps. No sour grapes here at all.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 16:58:43 in reply to Comment 70691

Jason, you have a much better attitude than Ryan does about this.

I think that once this park gets filled up over time they will send out a bus line if demand warrents it.

Yes, I beleive Canada Bread is owned by Maple Leaf.

Mississauga was able to sprawl because it had acres and acres of empty land with many 400 series higways going through it. Being beside Toronto and having the airport in your city helps to.

You guys need to understand that if you want a 400K sqr ft facility in your city and all the jobs and tax revenue that goes with it, it can only be built on greenfield land (in few cases brownfields - see my posts below), Something like this won't fit dt. If we don't provide the land and highway access for these developments then they will go to another municipality (like all the business we lost to Brantford in recent years). That is why I support the AEGD. Not because I want to see land paved over but because if we don't develop the land some other city will and Hamilton will lose out once again.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:01:55 in reply to Comment 70721

Before we support AEGD we need to start asking some hard questions. First and foremost - land ownership. Who owns the land within the AEGD? How will we protect the land from being developed as residential? Have you read about the severe restrictions in regards to business placement near the airport - noise, building heights, etc? The costs of managing sewage that needs to be pumped uphill before it will flow down to the treatment plant? The plans to force potential tenants to do their own stormwater management - with the same challenges as sewage (aerotropolis is at the headwaters of several watersheds)?

Aerotropolis is a huge project with huge problems and little promise of payoff.

If highway access was so important, we wouldn't be giving prime land aside the QEW up to big box retail developments...

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2011 at 17:25:41 in reply to Comment 70679

Jason, Ryan and other anti RHVP folks what say you now??

Two words: Listeria Block ;)

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By Locke (registered) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:23:55 in reply to Comment 70689

Nice pun...

While I'm glad to know Hamilton will have these jobs, I feel for the hundreds and other communities affected.

I also worry that our current trend to large processing plants is a double edged sword. Cost efficiency and price control, concentration of food processing and larger outbreaks of food poisoning.

Where before an outbreak might affect one of 10 plants, it now means one outbreak affects far more people. In some cases, some food ingredients from one plant can become an ingredient in 1000s of other products that affect aisle after aisle of the supermarket. It can get scary.

If you didn't get Undustrial's pun, check this out: http://www.stevensonlaw.net/MAPLE%20LEAF...

Comment edited by Locke on 2011-10-21 12:27:58

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 16:48:21 in reply to Comment 70679

Well, you didn't ask for my comments...but do we know which business park they are building on?

It would depend on whether or not any of their trucks will even use the RHVP.

I mean, maybe they located here based on a visit Chris Ecklund's Waterfall Bus? No? Oh c'mon...it's possible....isn't it?

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 17:07:20 in reply to Comment 70683

They are locating in the Glanbrook Business Park

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 20:40:37 in reply to Comment 70687

That definitely takes advantage of the RHVP. Can't argue about that.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 16:25:47

Re Maple Leaf Food announcement

This is a perfect example of why we need to develop the AEGD. We need land with highway access where we can build if we ever want to reclaim our industrial tax base. Businesses don't care about bike lanes or LRT, they need highways so they can move their goods in and out fast.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:31:38 in reply to Comment 70680

Yes we have a dire shortage of industrial land with highway access which is why we have refused to allow conversion of prime QEW industrial land to big box commercial.

/SARCASM

http://www.hamiltoncatch.org/view_articl...

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 19:46:31 in reply to Comment 70680

don't get carried away with yourself. Let's fill up our current business parks before worrying about adding AEGD. And businesses DO care about LRT and bike lanes. Travel the world and see for yourself.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 09:58:31 in reply to Comment 70694

I have travelled the world Jason. You can't compare cities in cold low dense countries like Canada to places like Copenhagen. Who is going to ride a bike up the mountain in -10 weather?

We need to move on AEGD b/c our other business parks will be filling up while AEGD is being serviced. It takes time to service these parkes Jason. You can't just flick a switch.


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By jason (registered) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:12:48 in reply to Comment 70704

forget Copenhagen. How about Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, Phoenix, Charlotte etc.....

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 16:46:04 in reply to Comment 70705

I don't want to get into a bike riding debate with you but Portland, Phoenix, Chalotte and Vancouver have warmer weather. I see very few people riding their bike in Montreal in winter. Most cases it is just for leisure.

Your love of bikes is a bit over the top. There is a reason why people have abandonded them in favour of cars: save time, convienience, weather, able to carry goods/people/kids, don't want to smell like a pig at work etc etc.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 18:38:23 in reply to Comment 70718

I was actually referring to cities with both, or either LRT and good cycling. Portland is warm for 3 months and it rains for 9. Everyday. Ditto for Vancouver. Montreal is like the North Pole compared to here. My point was simply - yes businesses DO like LRT and bikes. That's why cities like Phoenix for example (worst city I've ever visited bar none, with a horrendous downtown 8 years ago) is now developing a real urban core with condo towers, businesses, restaurants etc.... because they put in LRT and focused on fixing their horrid downtown. I vowed to never go back there after visiting 8 years ago, but now I'd love to considering the rapid changes happening along their LRT line. Ditto for Charlotte. I'm cool with the Maple Leaf project, but don't start making statements like 'business doesn't care about bike lanes or LRT'. They do.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2011 at 16:55:48 in reply to Comment 70680

Have you seen the highway access Burlington Street provides? We've got a tonne of industrial lands available right by the harbourfront.

The problem is that the government has been sluggish about the derelict owners sitting on semi-abandoned toxic properties. Those brownfields should be reclaimed (at the landowner's expense) for new factory lands, not left to rot.

edit: I can't even find where this is being built from reading the article. Anybody have more info?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2011-10-19 16:57:57

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 17:16:17 in reply to Comment 70684

Pxtl,
I am aware of the access at Burlington Street and I would love to see that area redeveloped however, there are a couple of reasons why businesses don't go there that you need to understand:

1. The cost of land remediation. Cleaning those lands would take a few years while building in the Glanbrooke Park can start in 8-10 mos. Do you want to tell your shareholders that you are delaying investments so you can locate on a remediated brownfield? Do you have any idea what kind of cost this delay would have for a company in a competitive industry?

2. Small land parcels. The development in the Glanbrooke Park will probably consume 30 acres of land. There just isn't this availability in the north end, and copled with #1 the costs would be very high.

I would love to see the north end redeveloped to new businesses but for many businesses the obstacles I listed above make going there a non-starter. I wish it weren't true but you have to accept it and plan around it. That is why I was/am a strong supporter of RHVP and AEGD.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2011 at 17:26:38 in reply to Comment 70688

The cost of land remediation. Cleaning those lands would take a few years while building in the Glanbrooke Park can start in 8-10 mos. Do you want to tell your shareholders that you are delaying investments so you can locate on a remediated brownfield? Do you have any idea what kind of cost this delay would have for a company in a competitive industry?

This is why I'm complaining about the City's bad track-record on this (and the various higher levels for failing to provide them with the tools to help). Remediation should not be the buyer's problem, nor the taxpayer's problem... but because the government sits on their hands on these issues, the businesses that destroy the land walk away from the problems.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2011 at 19:44:31 in reply to Comment 70690

It's hard to fault people for not wanting to buy into a potentially toxic brownfield. It isn't just the potential million-dollar plus cost, it's how hard to predict that cost will be. The only real constant is that it will go up. Sadly, once the companies who made the mess are gone, we're left with a set of bad options, and still need to pick one.

Looking at the issue with a bit more foresight, it's a damn good reason not to contaminate lands this way in the first place. Even if you can do it without being held accountable for the massive costs and liabilities it creates, somebody will be. Nobody wants to hear it while business is booming, but once that's done, it's too late.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted October 22, 2011 at 10:55:47 in reply to Comment 70692

Lewis Mumford talks about keeping these types of buildings and industry separate. Functional Zoning is what he calls it. So by placing the MLF rurally in surrounded by greenspace is the right plan.

Comment edited by TnT on 2011-10-22 10:56:56

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted October 23, 2011 at 12:34:40 in reply to Comment 70766

I think this is a key point, and Maple Leaf's investments in the city are a perfect illustration of it. There are certain types of industries that are just not compatible with the existing ones in the north end. If Hamilton is going to develop a major cluster of food-processing businesses, it will not happen north of the CN tracks between Wellington and the RHVP without some other large changes in the industrial environment there.

However, the city does need to do more to promote and make better economic use of its older brownfields. I'm realistic that for massive plants like those of ML, no matter what sector they're in, it would have been a challenge to find a large enough parcel of land in the Burlington St. corridor. But some creative thinking about making better use of the space that is available is required.

For example, I suspect there are substantial tracts being held by companies like AM-Dofasco and particularly US Steel Canada which may be underused today and are simply being kept as surplus. Imagine how much land was dedicated to parking lots when there were 30,000 people employed by those two companies - is that land being used today in an economically efficient manner? Would the city benefit if some of it could be sold and used for other purposes? Does the city's land-use inventory even account for it, or just assume that the parent company owns it so it's not available for redevelopment?

Remediation is a major hurdle, but is it possible that a lighter degree of improvement could make the north-end land usable for certain types of industries? For all the talk about building logistics-related business around the airport (a proposal with which I personally agree), is there similar potential for more business that is reliant on water-borne transport?

Small steps have been taken but if the city truly wants to revive its central wards, it needs to expend as much energy on repurposing employment land in that part of town as it has been putting into business parks on the periphery.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 22, 2011 at 21:03:08 in reply to Comment 70766

I wonder how Mumford would feel about the nature of the Maple Leaf plant. Sounds a little bit "megatechnic" for his tastes. I suspect he'd prefer a decentralized network of smaller local meat-packagers.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2011 at 06:57:07 in reply to Comment 70692

Actually, brownfields tend to be cheaper overall to develop than greenfields, but a) the former are harder to finance and b) the latter enjoy significant public subsidies via low development charges.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-10-20 06:57:47

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By do the numbers lie? (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 15:25:31 in reply to Comment 70700

Let's take a look at the numbers.

Maple leaf is paying $2,670,000 in development charges. Arguments are made that the cost should be higher, so let's assume they should be a little more than double at $6,000,000 to reflect the true cost.

The West Harbour Site needed $8,000,000 in remediation work for the stadium, and it is a lot less than 50 acres. So how can this tale of 2 sites possibly show that brownfield remediation is cheaper than greenfield development?

Am I missing something?

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By Greener Weiners (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 13:03:10 in reply to Comment 70700

City press release notes:

"This modern plant will produce wieners and deli meats for national markets and the investment will ensure the competitiveness of both Maple Leaf Foods and Hamilton on a world stage. The centerpiece of this network will be the new $395 million, 402,000 sq. ft prepared meats facility in Hamilton. It will be a centre of excellence on par with best-in-class plants in North America. The new facility will employ the highest standard of environmental management *and like Canada Bread’s new bakery, will be one of only a handful of Canadian manufacturing facilities built to be LEED Silver certified.*"

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 09:53:31 in reply to Comment 70700

Ryan you are completely wrong.

Businesses are not just interested in the development. They are interested in ALL costs, including opportunity costs and potential risks.

What is the cost of lost profit and lost competitive edge b/c it takes 2 yrs longer to get a brownfields off the ground as opposed to greenfield?

Longer construction/development projects result in increased risks/opportunity costs such as: potential loss of market share, labour disruptions in construction industry, higher financing costs, unexpected remediation costs, etc.

In construction, you want projects to be build as soon and as fast as possible. It eliminates the risks I mentioned above.

Brownfields have significant costs, if it was cheaper more businesses would be utilizing them and we can clearly see that they are not.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:51:17 in reply to Comment 70703

You have a point about risk, but according to those entrepreneurs who are actually developing brownfields, their overall costs are lower but they have a more difficult time securing financing.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 16:41:08 in reply to Comment 70707

I think you and I have a very different definition of cost.

Not being able to secure financing would be a very significant cost to any development in my book or to any other business person.

Further, if they are unable to get financing for a brownfields project it is probably because the lender feels that he will be unable to get his money back (i.e costs of the project too high, ROI too low etc.)

I'd love to see brownfields redeveloped but you have to accept the fact that economic development policy centered around brownfields remediation will leave you dissapointed.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2011 at 19:57:40 in reply to Comment 70717

...economic development policy centered around brownfields remediation will leave you dissapointed.

Anyone here know much about bio-remediation?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2011 at 01:55:52 in reply to Comment 70728

Nothing I could put into practice, but enough to know that it's generally one of the better options. Did a bunch of looking into the bio-remediation of an old nuclear site in the former Soviet Union for school. If it can work there, surely there's some promise for Hamilton.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 22:11:06 in reply to Comment 70728

I wouldn't say I know much about bio-remediation but I did write this on the subject for RTH in January.

West Harbour: The Three R's

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2011 at 07:48:29 in reply to Comment 70700

"Greener" options are generally cheaper overall. Also generally harder to finance or get subsidies. Funny how that works...

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[ - ]

By Atom Eyes (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2011 at 20:30:37

The Chamber's reaction:

"The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Maple Leaf Foods for today’s announcement of their investment of $395 million to build a new state-of-the-art prepared meats facility. The 750 construction jobs, the plant’s 670 jobs and the annual tax assessment, coupled with Maple Leaf Foods $100 million investment and 330 jobs at the nearby Canada Bread facility, provide a substantial economic boost to Hamilton and raise the prosperity of the whole community.

The Chamber would also like to congratulate City Council’s decision to approve the land purchase at the Red Hill Business Park to provide the site for the new facility and the hard work of the Planning and Economic Development Department, particularly Tim McCabe and Neil Everson, on this initiative.

Today’s announcement speaks to the strengths of Hamilton as a place to establish a business or facility of this scale , such as the availability of multi-modal transportation options, supply logistics, skilled labour and a supportive business community."

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[ - ]

By JM (registered) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 09:32:35

this should not be an argument of RHVP vs. LRT... BOTH are essential to the economic prosperity of this city. (just like LRT vs. GO!). maybe if the RHVP was built when it was originally proposed we would have seen more results...

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2011 at 14:28:28 in reply to Comment 70702

Most of the arguments in favour of Light Rail seem blatantly in conflict with the arguments in favour of the RHVP. One's an inner-city mass transit line and the other is a highway through a park leading to suburban sprawl.

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[ - ]

By Kevin (registered) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 17:18:33

Apparently, no one told council. That’s gotta hurt.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2011 at 21:54:04 in reply to Comment 70723

I wouldn't tell council either if I was considering moving here.

They don't seem to provide any level of help to most businesses trying to locate here.

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[ - ]

By George (registered) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 09:54:38

The Economic Development dept has been getting praise from several quarters for a while now.

Council should trust them to do good, and let them do their job. If this is any indication of what they can do, then let them do their job, and involve council at the end for a quick review and approval as they did with the Maple Leaf deal.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 11:20:51 in reply to Comment 70740

I'm on the fence with this comment. On the one hand, I do think they do good work, and bringin in council earlier may have spoiled things.

On the other hand...I don't like secrecy, and feel it would be good to see these things coming...

Oh conflicts...

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By George (registered) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 14:45:50 in reply to Comment 70744

One man's "secrecy" is another man's "confidentiality". Semantics aside, this is common business practice no?

I know it's different when the gov't is involved. There must be transparency and accountability, but in the end, council does make the final decision here.

In this particular case, it seems like EcDev's competence made it easy for council. Good on 'em for that. As a Hamiltonian, I'm proud.

Comment edited by George on 2011-10-21 14:47:44

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[ - ]

By know what u r talking about (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 14:55:49

Copenhagen actually has a nicer climate than Hamilton does. A little warmer in the cold months and cooler in the warm months. And there is no 100m cliff dividing the city in two. It is a lot easier to ride your bike when the city is only 90 square kilometers. Everything Hamilton is not.

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[ - ]

By come on be honest (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 15:38:29

well isn't that a fine keetle of fish. Gee who could ever wonder that the chamber of commerce would be in league with Maple Leaf. Meanwhile, workers who work for this employer at times are left behind, especaillyn those in saniation. The PPE does not cover the worekrs enough and many suffer from allergic reactions to the chemicls used in cleaning. Too bad the union does little to support the workers, where a company doesn not care if the workers are suffering.

I guess alla you people who behind desks and praising this, should actually experience the chemical burns and rashes before making statements how great this employer is.

Too bad a big study was done at a toronto hospital. Well with the CEO of WSIB now denying long term benefits for WSIOB, his bonus is more important, then workers who ahve been damaged.

Go figure with the corrupt world we live in.

Corporations rule, the people are losing but not for long.....

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 21, 2011 at 19:23:31 in reply to Comment 70754

I worked at Bicks while locked out at US Steel. The Sanis were absolutely drenched in 3 different types of chemicals. I got soaked in Endochlor fixing leaking pipes, it burns like hell.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-10-21 19:47:06

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[ - ]

By detalumis (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2011 at 09:18:29

Sorry people, I don't see any trend upwards. I grew up in the east end when the entire city was walkable, it looked like the neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto. Now you have 1 street left that is similar to what used to be everywhere - Locke Street. I thought of moving back but wanted a downtown walkable place and with a city that caters to the poverty industy and thinks that the poor are morally superior I couldn't see that - it just seems depressing to me when I compare it to what has been. If you want to see what has been destroyed I suggest you get the "Vanished Hamilton" series of books and see how an entire walkable and vibrant city can be destroyed in one generation by a series of inept council representatives that put a priority on things like giving free transit to seniors regardless of income instead of fixing the sewer pipes or building an expressway through a ravine so that more ticky tacky tract houses can be built. For the same bungalow I now live in in south Oakville I would be paying at least $1,200 more in property taxes if I moved back to Hamilton. At least now I have the option of close proximity to Toronto on the Go Train.

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By Malex (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2011 at 14:35:44 in reply to Comment 70805

Ottawa Street is experiencing a similar rebirth to that of Locke Street...bakeries, coffee shops, galleries, etc are moving into the street and it's quite walkable...sure, it's in its early stages, but it's getting there...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2011 at 09:26:51 in reply to Comment 70805

Now you have 1 street left that is similar to what used to be everywhere - Locke Street.

I moved onto Locke Street in the early 1990s when it was just starting to come out of the same long decline that plagued the rest of the city city - and still plagues so much of it today. I wrote in March about how Locke Street transformed itself into a great place, and it's a lesson we can apply to other city streets to reverse the damage of the postwar period.

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By Downtown Downer (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2011 at 17:49:44 in reply to Comment 70807

These pieces you wrote about Locke and I believe an earlier one about London were excellent photo-journalism. I think we saw a negative version about King Street too.

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[ - ]

By Chim Chim Cher-ee (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2011 at 15:45:01

The following stats are for the four downtown Census Tracts – comprising the area between Wellington Street to the East, Queen Street to the West, Cannon Street to the North and Hunter Street to the South.


Downtown Hamilton Workforce, 2006 Statistics Canada Total, Place of Work Data


Age Group Male Female Total

15 to 19 310 370 685
20 to 24 610 1,225 1,845
25 to 29 635 1,200 1,835
30 to 34 810 1,300 2,110
35 to 39 870 1,655 2,520
40 to 44 990 1,995 2,980
45 to 49 955 1,935 2,900
50 to 54 935 1,390 2,335
55 to 59 715 945 1,660
60 to 64 285 505 800
65 to 69 190 90 280
70+ 95 80 185
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Total 7,445 12,710 20,155

As of 2006, the vast majority of downtown workers (63% or 12,710) were female and the majority of those (55% or 6,975) were aged 35-54. The population of downtown more than doubled every workday due to an influx of employees, and average income among downtown workers at the time of the 2006 census was $53,926.

http://www.communitystudy.ca/pdfs/Downtown_Profile.pdf

++

Compare those findings to the north two tracts of Downtown, from the same period:


5370048: Queen North / Cannon West / James North / King West

Population in 2006: 1,761
2006 Unemployment rate: 6.3% (vs 6% CMA)
Median income in 2005 - All census families: $30,595 (vs $71,989 CMA)
Median income - Persons 15 years+: $16,487 (vs $30,186 CMA)
Percent in low income after tax - All persons: 45.4% (vs 12.1% CMA)
Percent in low income after tax - Persons age 18 and less: 51.2% (vs 15.9% CMA)


5370049 (James N / Cannon E / Wellington N / King E)

2006 Population: 2,597
2006 Unemployment rate: 11.6 Percent (vs 6% CMA)
Median income in 2005 - All census families: $31,575 (vs $71,989 CMA)
Median income - Persons 15 years+: $15,855 (vs $30,186 CMA)
Percent in low income after tax - All persons: 48% (vs 12.1% CMA)
Percent in low income after tax - Persons age 18 and less: 68.5% (vs 15.9% CMA)

http://media.metroland.com/thespec.com/statistics_flash

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