Comment 21600

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted April 19, 2008 at 11:45:52

There's a lot more going on here than simply "demolition by neglect". LIUNA has been eager to knock these buildings down for years, but public pressure has prevented them from acting. After the aborted fiasco involving city offices for the building (let's be realistic, the only thing downtown needs less than new office space is luxury hotels), they've pretty much given up on the public. Unfortunately, there's a large community supporting the Lister, frustrated by decades of demolitions, derelictions and "urban renewal" disasters, who recognized that the small streets and heritage buildings (like what's left of that part of King William or King St between Wellington and Mary) are exactly what we need, not what we need to knock down.

Condos, luxury hotels and high-priced entertainment complexes serve primarily the small class of developers who have been given de-facto control of our city, not the interests of the community downtown. As they buy up buildings and leave them to rot, or better yet, level them outright - The federal building, HMP, the Royal Connaught, Lister Block, etc. - biding their time, often for decades, until the market is right for them to make a spectacular profit, they contribute heavily to the "urban decay" everyone complains about when one mentions downtown. Then downtown's most vulnerable take the blame for that decay- the poor, homeless, immigrants, young, drug addicts or panhandlers - for the actions of Hamilton's most powerful and privileged.

Witnesses at the scene saw a number of youths enter the building in question and proceed to break glass and throw furniture off it. This made the news. What hasn't become public was that employees of one of the nearby businesses saw a number of them leave - well-dressed youngsters - and get into luxury cars. Later, when the block was originally shut down, it was for reasons of a "gas leak", which then led to the building crumbling. Who's kids were these, and was it only a coincidence that they'd been in there only hours before all of this happened?

It wouldn't be the first time a big development project in Hamilotn had been "assisted" by an "act of nature". Think of the appartments at Hess and King - a planned entertainment complex for a certain infamous Hamilton developer - that just seem to keep catching fire. And think of the nearby old Federal Building, which just lost $4 million in city funding for inaction, which is being piled high with flammable materials, right by the windows.

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