Comment 18180

By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted February 09, 2008 at 17:15:02

Staitus,

It takes a strategy to fix a downtown, not a couple of point solutions. Jason is just providing a few examples of what this strategy should entail.

In case you never went there, New York's downtown neighbourhoods during the pre-Gulianni days was pretty rough. This despite the fact that, as you say the city was able to attract investment.

There's more to a healthy downtown that having viable investment opportunities, just as there is more to it than moving the homeless folks along. Here a few more things we need to do: (note that we need to do ALL these things to get the core back in order):

  • Expand the downtown renewal program. Providing incentives for downtown investors is a key part of the renewal. Many investors can't get loans on downtown buildings, City Council has to help.
  • Move the farmers market into the Gore. We need to leverage the successful commerce we have downtown and showcase the unique strengths of the core
  • Have traffic free days and festivals downtown. Once Hamiltonians see the potential of the core they will embrace other changes more readily
  • Route the traffic around, pedestrianize Gore Park. Mayor Eisenburger wasn't the first person to see the potential of Gore Park. You cannot underestimate the power and impact a city's identity has on it's success. Gore Park is a tangible link to Hamilton's proud past and it should be showcased.
  • Distribute social service agencies evenly. There's been a lot of chat about this on the site. My opinion is that social services should be spread around. This is the same principal as we would apply to any successful neighbourhood - encourage diversity in the poulation not a concentration of one demographic or another. I agree with Jason on this point though. The prevelance of disheveled, down-on-their luck Hamilton residents is not the single contributing factor to the core's demise. In fact, most healthy core's feature quite a lot of such residents. Spread the services around, but don't go crazy. This is not a pivotal issue.
  • Keep it clean (daily garbage sweeps etc), enforce property standards, dress up empty store fronts, beautify the public squares -Bring back the streetcar! The arguments about free parking can be significantly dilluted by improving public transit options. With a streecar transit suddenly you have a system everyone wants to use, not just those who have to use it. A city that travels together comes together
  • Inject a healthy police presence. I always love to see the New York cops hanging out on the street corners in groups of 2 and 3, chatting and joking with each other. Get the Hamilton cops out of their cars and onto the street. This creates a much less sinister presence and creates a real feeling of safety.
  • Plan the development of the core. New buildings should look nice, they should fit in with their surroundings, they should intergrate with the street and they should bring a positive aspect to the neighbourhood. Let's get a good balance of 'things to do', a mixture of residential accomodation, and essential services. A downtown urban analyst who studied medium sized downtowns (Filion I think his name was) once said that downtowns need to serve their residential population adequately. Make sure downtown residents are served by good transit and amenities.
  • Create attractions, things to do, reasons to go downtown.
  • Bring the institutions of Hamilton into the core - Bring more University campuses downtown, build a Spec bureau downtown (the local paper fleeing the core? - disgraceful...), put the TV station downtown

There's a lot more to add of course, but suffice it to say a downtown strategy is what is needed, and right now we ain't got one.

Cheers

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