By Ryan McGreal
Published May 16, 2012
Toronto's Spacing magazine just published an engaging essay by Julie Baldassi on Hamilton's struggle over whether and how to preserve its built heritage of old, urban buildings.
Hamilton has a livable, vibrant urban core which is distinct from its suburban periphery. And, over the past decade, the urban core has been inhabited by a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial Hamiltonians who have raised the profile of their local arts community and thriving businesses. These facts are worth stating - not to brag or invite flattering comparisons to grander cities or boroughs - but to illustrate the point that Hamilton is its own city with its own unique set of growing pains and reasons for civic pride.
Chronicling the "anti-urban" policies of the 1960s and on, in which Hamilton bulldozed whole city blocks in a misguided, top-down attempt to repurpose the core, Baldassi also touches on the parallel phenomenon of "demolition by neglect", in which old buildings are allowed to deteriorate until they collapse of their own volition or are ordered demolished for safety reasons.
She closes by asking: "how can Hamilton's built heritage advocates convince investors to preserve culture, if what they value is only based on utility and money?"
This is the first in a series of articles about Hamilton.