Comment 38134

By geoff's two cents (registered) | Posted February 17, 2010 at 19:17:36

Ryan, I truly enjoyed this piece, particularly that lovely WWII analogy! It perfectly encapsulates the developmental quandary Hamilton finds itself in.

Most outsiders to Hamilton, especially if they hail from outside the sprawling GTA (i.e. Vancouver or Montreal) would agree that the status quo does not suffice. For my part, even as a sometime resident/visitor I often wonder what actually living (or visiting) in a revitalized Hamilton would be like. Part of me laments that my favorite German restaurant would likely no longer be able to afford to serve such epic portions of delicious cuisine for ~$15 or $16, or that the city's incredibly unique pub culture (vis a vis Vancouver or Toronto anyway) might also lose something in in the face of sky-high rents on a revitalized Augusta street. How would 'Little Portugal' (especially that delightful little cafe that serves pulled pork sandwiches for a steal) on James North fare? The 'survivorship bias' likely extends beyond the somewhat blinkered business perspective chronicled here, to include a large proportion of Hamiltonians who like things just the way they are. The innate conservatism I bore witness to in Ontario, and the economy's traditional reliance on car-culture, undoubtedly does not help.

In my view, this is incredibly unfortunate, and I think a full-blown LRT from Eastgate to Dundas might be the only thing to lift the city out of its almost nihilistic complacence. I can't think of any other single project (stadiums and hotels included) that has comparable potential to raise land values and change the geography of the lower city - in effect restoring the city to its former glory. From my experience, Hamilton has so much to offer the world - but it will have a hard time marketing its charms if it doesn't change for the better (become more livable) in the near future.

It would be nice if we had an understanding of what the city's leading downtown businesses thought of LRT. Hearing what pawn shops and drive-thru car washes have to say is certainly not (entirely) irrelevant, but over-emphasis on this aspect is getting tiresome. What about Denningers? Farmer's Market? London Taphouse? Hess Village? Augusta pub owners? Schwartzwaldhaus? Jackson Square? La Luna?

What follows is quintessential armchair commentary (from Vancouver, at that), but I can't help but wonder if RTH would be performing a valuable service to the LRT cause by gathering the opinions of business owners such as these, and presenting them to the public in some coherent fashion - perhaps even via the Spectator, if they would countenance such a piece.

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