Letter: Hamilton Could Learn from Heritage Preservation in Downtown Collingwood

By Letter to the Editor
Published March 06, 2013

I would completely agree with the recent comments about revitalization not necessitating demolition of old buildings, which could look quite beautiful with some attention to restoring and preserving the exterior features while adapting interiors to new purposes.

My suggestion would be that you look at the downtown of Collingwood, which has a very attractive 'streetscape' with the Victorian and Edwardian era buildings and also has restoration projects which are award winning and have produced very functional and well-used spaces for commerce and the arts.

It's a small town so it would not take long to view the downtown, but it might well be worth it. The town website, as well as the site for The Tremont, might give you enough of an idea of what's been accomplished that you might want to talk to Rick and Anke Lex who have been instrumental in this preservation and restoration work (and who won a heritage award for their work).

I was born and grew up in Hamilton and am happy to be living elsewhere, but there are some beautiful old buildings there, the preservation of which might add to the downtown core's appeal.

Pamela McDermid

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted March 06, 2013 at 19:36:30

Nice Pamela i think Hamilton has alot of homes like they have in Collingwood juste go and take some pics along Delewar and Holton and St Claire and more along the way

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted March 07, 2013 at 13:59:06

Collingwood is little town of 20,000. A very quaint little place, a place everyone should visit. But hardly a blueprint for Hamilton to follow, unless of course we want Hamilton to become a quaint little town of 20,000.

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By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted March 07, 2013 at 14:49:19 in reply to Comment 87097

Hamilton: where nothing that works anywhere else works here because we're Different!

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 03:44:30 in reply to Comment 87099

Yes we are different. Only a fool or an idiot couldn't see that we are about as far from Collingwood as is possible.

I suspect that you are neither and are just trying to be rude. Well its official you are definitely being rude. That's ok we all deal with rude people every day.

If you really have a problem seeing how Hamilton is different and must use those differences read Ben Bull's great article "Hamilton Must Build on its Unique Strengths" right here on this site."

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2013 at 20:27:24 in reply to Comment 87099

Normally I'm the first to argue against exceptionalism - there are a lot of post-industrial cities similar to Hamilton that are doing things far better than us, and we should learn from them. But I think a small tourist town is sufficiently different it's worth highlighting those differences.

Collingwood is a tourist destination since it's in a cottage country, near Wasaga Beach, and the ski slopes.

Tourist destinations have synergy with showing off beautiful old buildings. And with its small size, you can see a much larger proportion of the town devoted to this.

Many small Ontario towns have their own tourism niches carved out that makes it similarly profitable for the city to invest in architecture this way - Stratford has Shakespeare, Niagara on the lake has wine and Shaw, etc.

But then go to small towns that do not have a tourism resource and you see things looking a lot like Hamilton.

I don't think Hamilton can build a similar tourism industry off of our art scene and waterfalls. At least not one that blankets the entire lower city.

The better cities to point to are the ones that have successes in spite of sporting similar problems to Hamilton. Guelph has a vibrant downtown with old buildings in spite of no single major tourism draw, and its downtown is about as far from the university campus as Hamilton.

Brantford's downtown is every bit as run-down as Hamilton's and then some. But still, downtown Brantford has some successes that are worth noting. It's far more pedestrian-friendly for example, with no one-way highways or crazy intersections, even though the Grand River bisects the city in a similar manner to our Escarpment. Highway-ramp corners exist but they're marked with big blinking-yellow-lights and YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS signs.

So I totally think we can learn from other cities... but it's fair to say that downtown areas of Collingwood and other tourist destinations have a very different economy from Hamilton, and heritege protection gives them better dividends.

That said, it does speak to the idea that heritage should also consider the relationship to the local economy - having a pretty building facing the Gore is a lot more important to the city's success than having a pretty building next to a small school on Sanford.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-03-07 20:29:13

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted March 07, 2013 at 14:32:21

20,000 sounds juste about wright south Sherman hub

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 18:11:33

CBC News has learned the Ontario Provincial Police are probing complaints of potential conflict of interest involving the town council in Collingwood, Ont., and politicians’ ties to a lobbyist involved in a multi-million dollar sale of a local utility and on a proposed new casino.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted March 21, 2013 at 13:08:07

An article titled "Join the war, tear down no more" by Paul Wilson on CBC Hamilton today highlights Councillor Brian McHattie's effort to engage citizens in identifying and advocating the preservation of local heritage properties:

Meanwhile, an article titled "Cannon Knitting Mills project needs tenants to move forward" by Samantha Craggs on CBC Hamilton reports that anchor tenants have yet to be secured for The Mills Innovation Exchange proposed development at Cannon and Mary Streets:

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