Commentary

Barton Neighbourhood is Diverse and Vibrant

Residents living in Barton Street neighbourhoods are already familiar with the opinions and prejudices of people living elsewhere in the city.

By Christine Nicole
Published April 23, 2019

I'm writing in response to Andre Ramshaw's piece, How I survived a walk down Hamilton's Barton Street, published in the Hamilton Spectator last week.

I'll admit, my response to Andre Ramshaw's opinion is a little biased. Maybe it's because I live beside the corner that was featured in a photo at the top of his article. Maybe it's because I feel like I'm part of the community he's calling a cavity.

I'll describe the neighbourhood from my perspective. I'm writing this on my laptop, sprawled out in the backyard that I share with four other tenants. To me this feels like a huge luxury because I've been living in high-rise apartment buildings for most of my adult life.

I can see the yards of neighbours on either side of me. Most of the properties around here don't have six-foot walls separating our backyards. So we all know each others' business. Right now, I'm blaring my music but we tend to do that a lot in this neighbourhood. I'm often out here playing my music while puttering around, gardening, trying to improve the property in my own tiny ways.

I have the privilege of spending one afternoon a week working with the children in my neighbourhood, helping them to improve their STEM skills. How do you feel about sharing your article with them? Because I can guarantee you they are talking about it.

You must think they enjoy being told that they and their families are rot. Or maybe you just don't think about them at all. Should I tell them that there are people in this city who wish they'd just disappear, so that shiny new condo developments can rise up in their place? The real problem is that I don't have to tell them that. They're already pretty familiar with this opinion of yours.

Sorry, but I tell them the exact opposite. I tell them they are incredibly resilient, savvy, and brave just the way they are. I see them exude more energy and perseverance in one afternoon than you'll seen in a lifetime. I tell them that I am incredibly proud to play a small part in their lives. Mr. Remshaw should be so lucky.

You can't take any shortcuts to building a community. It's also not the kind of thing you can throw money at. (Take a walk down the streets of Ancaster and you will find yourself truly alone. Believe it or not, you're never alone when you walk down Barton. Perhaps Mr. Ramshaw is not used to really seeing the people who live here.)

Community building requires time, consensus, and a whole lot of discussion. You can only do it one generation at a time. Kids grow up here, and then raise their children here because they've helped to build a home they can be proud of. Maybe you can't see it, but we've got that in droves in our community.

I don't see any rot here. I see a diverse, thriving, residential neighbourhood. This is our community and we'll build it as we see fit, thank you very much.

Christine Nicole grew up on the outskirts of Hamilton. She works as a software developer in the downtown core. She's proud to live in the neighbourhood along Barton Street, where her ancestors lived and raised their families.

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By andrew.martin (registered) | Posted April 30, 2019 at 10:57:48

That article was awful, especially considered in light of the Paul Wilson's brilliant StreetBeat column or the more serviceable but still honest work of Jeff Mahoney. It reads more like those stock columns that have run quarterly in the Globe or Star about Hamilton as the new Brooklyn. I think there's a repository that get pulled when they're short a couple inches of print.

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