Lister Block

Lister: Already Built, Thank You

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 26, 2006

I saw a big banner hanging off the Lister Building on my afternoon constitutional today:

Fantastic. Instead of covering the windows so the building isn't exposed to the elements, they go in and hang flashy banners from them and set up a cheap website designed by a slick marketing firm.

The designer stole the Lister History from the Government of Canada collection and stole the City Council profile from the City of Hamilton's website - without attributing their source in either case.

They don't actually identify who is behind the website anywhere. No "about us", no contact information, no nothing except the name of the marketing firm that designed it - and they have no contact information either.

It's not just propaganda: it's third rate propaganda.

Lister doesn't need to be built now. It has already been built, damnit, and is still structurally in great shape; it doesn't need to be built again.

It's physically impossible to rebuild a building to the same specifications as the existing building for less money than it would take simply to restore the existing building. The new building will be structurally weaker than the old one, and will start falling apart in twenty years.

The more I learn about this deal, the more it stinks to high heaven. The same organization that broke the law overcontributing to Di Ianni's campaign and has hosted gala fundraisers at LIUNA Station to pay for Di Ianni's legal fees negotiated this deal in secret with Di Ianni's office and then changed its plan from restoring to rebuilding after City Council had already approved the $30 million sweetheart, no bid office contract.

Several independent architects have investigated the building and find it to be in great shape and a good candidate for restoration. Further, LIUNA's architectural assessment was not conducted properly.

Demolishing Lister now is like eating a big chocolate bar because you can't wait for dinner. You spoil your appetite and and up feeling sick later. Hamilton has had enough sneaky deals and quick fixes to last a lifetime.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By swanway (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2006 at 22:27:40

Yup. I wasn't at Friday's press conference so it may have been rendered, but I have yet to see anything on the Hughson Street facade of this crime in progress. What LIUNA/Hi-Rise propose is in fact two new buildings: pseudo-Lister, and glass box. Not a peep about glass box from anyone that I've seen.

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By Dave (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2006 at 12:23:00

There is a new glass box - in behind the building now...

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By localresident (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2006 at 14:38:26

I like your analogy, but the fear of mine and many local residents is that dinner will never get served. I don't think a chocolate bar is better then a steak, but I do think a chocolate bar is better than nothing at all.

Futhermore, if you subscribe to the "Broken Glass" theory mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, you'll see that the simple demolition of The Lister Block will dramatically decrease crime in the downtown core. I know that I could do without people peeing outside my window and breaking into my car to steal a couple dollars.

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