In January, the Downtown Hamilton Business Improvement Area (BIA) will survey its members on the matter of a potential downtown casino before taking an official position. According to a newsletter distributed this morning, the BIA does "not take lightly our obligation to ensure our voice properly represents the collective whole."
The BIA will survey its members via letter mail, email and telephone to get a comprehensive, representative response. "The BIA will then issue a public statement based on the opinions of our membership."
The BIA represents over 180 property owners and 430 business owners in the area bounded by Queen Street, Cannon Street, Wellington Street and Hunter Street.
Downtown BIA Map (Image Credit: Downtown BIA)
The letter reads in part:
As downtown business owners, we believe the impacts of a Casino would be neutral at best and possibly negative. Many people have acknowledged that while challenges remain, our downtown has turned a corner, helped significantly by the contributions and investments of many small businesses.
It has not been shown that a Casino will have a broad positive impact for the pre-existing businesses in the downtown core, nor will it advance our goal of attracting a vibrant mix of new businesses to the downtown.
We know that bringing tourists in for a few hours is not nearly as reliable as bringing in more residents who will live, work and play in our downtown core for a few years or decades. The day-to-day sustainability of the downtown small business community is largely reliant on achieving that goal, a goal that is directly at odds with the placement of a new OLG facility in the core.
A project as disruptive as a casino not only places the future of our arts infrastructure and the health of our most vulnerable downtown residents at unconscionable risk, but also contradicts the Secondary Plan for downtown Hamilton, a plan which cautions against the impulse towards large, simplistic intervention:
In fact, experience across North America suggests that Downtown revitalization most often results from a collection of seemingly modest actions by individuals, small businesses and community organizations.
In this manner, the statement continues:
What has been achieved to date through private investment, public dollars and immeasurable amounts of sweat equity is a cultural renaissance that invites meaningful participation in downtown Hamilton.
This was achieved by no single monolithic act or institution; rather, the arts grew in partnerships like the monthly Art Crawl, which invites visitors to explore the arts from one storefront to the next and engage freely in shared public spaces.
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