By RTH Staff
Published February 15, 2012
Paul Sousa sent the following letter to HWDSB Ward 1/2 Trustee Judith Bishop on behalf of the Beasley Neighbourhood Association.
Dear Ms. Bishop,
I am writing you today on behalf of the Beasley Neighbourhood Association (BNA), the official community organization for residents living in the area bordered by James, Wellington, Main and Barton streets. On Wednesday, February 8, the BNA had a discussion and the overwhelming majority of residents felt that it was important for us to state our perspective on this issue.
The Beasley neighbourhood is one of Hamilton's oldest, and our residents have seen both prosperity and lean times over the past two hundred years. Yet a central characteristic of the neighbourhood and its citizens is resiliency: we push forward despite the challenges thrown at us, sustaining the vibrancy of Hamilton's downtown, our city's economic engine.
As such, we in Beasley have taken a special interest in the plans to relocate the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board building from 100 Main St. W. to the Crestview site on the escarpment.
We at the BNA are greatly concerned about the impacts such a move will have on the downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods, especially the message it sends to businesses and institutions that might consider locating in the core. As it stands, the HWDSB headquarters is home to hundreds of jobs, and the current plan to relocate will significantly impact local businesses that rely on the patronage of HWDSB employees. Furthermore, the current plan endorsed by the board will see the beautiful old building at 100 Main St. W. demolished, destroying yet another link to Hamilton's past.
While we understand that cost pressures are leading the Board to the Crestview development, we call upon you, Ms Bishop, as our representative on the HWDSB, to champion an alternative that would maintain HWDSB jobs in the core, while spurring on new development, including the proposed McMaster Health Campus, in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of the city.
Other options, such as the recent one proposed to City Council by our Ward 2 Councilor Jason Farr, seek to find a compromise that treats all stakeholders equitably. Councilor Farr has been instrumental in sustaining the transformative energy that is sweeping through all of the Ward 2 neighbourhoods. We urge you to work with Councilor Farr to keep the HWDSB downtown, where infrastructure and amenities such as parking, shops and restaurants already exist, and are within walking distance. A decision to keep the HWDSB headquarters downtown will not only help develop a Code Red neighbourhood, but protect valuable green space on the mountain that will otherwise be paved over for parking lots.
There was a time when Beasley residents commonly felt that our small sliver of the City had been left behind. But in recent years Beasley Pride has been reinvigorated by new development and the City's renewed commitment to downtown. Just look at the amazing impact that the new Dr. J. Edgar Davey school has had on the neighbourhood and the surrounding area. This was once a school with the highest turnover rates in the city, but in its reincarnation it has united and strengthened a once isolated and fragmented community. Dr. Davey is truly a community school, and Beasley's crown jewel.
As our representative on the Board, please do your part to passionately defend the interests of Wards 1 & 2 by promoting a plan that sustains this pride and energy, and keeps the HWDSB downtown!
Chair, Beasley Neighbourhood Association
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