Giving Thanks for Gore Designation

By Chris Erskine
Published December 13, 2013

I want to express my deep appreciation to City Council for their decision to designate the Gore Park buildings. I know that some Councillors may have concerns, but I believe that the entire community of Hamilton will benefit from this decision. Hamilton has a bright future and people value the past because of what it can do for the future.

18-28 King Street East (RTH file photo)
18-28 King Street East (RTH file photo)

I also view Gore Park and its buildings not only as heritage of this City, but also of the Province. By protecting the City's heritage, we are protecting the critical role that Hamilton played in building Upper Canada and later Ontario.

Finally, my family has worked or lived in Hamilton for over 100 years. As blacksmiths and small business owners, my father, grand-father, and great grand-father lived and celebrated in the landscapes and buildings of Hamilton. So saving the historical character of the Gore is not only saving architectural history but family histories, as well.

I know designation does not end the struggle to save the Gore, but this remarkable decision deserves recognition and appreciation.

Again, thank you and well-done.

Chris Erskine is a labour and community activist. He is also a print artist, exploring historic landscapes and building themes using lino-cut and woodblock printing methods. You can visit his website.


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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:30:18

Yes please save them councilor Farr so Money Mart/Cash Money/Money Now can move back in and make downtown prosperous again. What a joke.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted December 13, 2013 at 12:56:13

I know of (at least) the following businesses who were located in the building before they were evicted:

  • South Side (high end men's clothing)
  • Mahal (Indian restaurant)
  • H&R Block
  • Convenience Store
  • the offices of architect David Premi
  • Cash/Money
  • Infusions/Sizzle (cafe/restaurants)

Not a bad selection considering the owner clearly didn't put much effort into maintaining the building and had more or less written off the upper flows. All these are now gone.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2013 at 14:43:31 in reply to Comment 95962

Infusions > Al Centro > Steel House Grill = 24 King East

Sizzle = 25 Hess South.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted December 13, 2013 at 15:16:42 in reply to Comment 95970

Sorry, I meant "steel house grill"

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2013 at 14:40:40 in reply to Comment 95962

South Side went out of business, I believe.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted December 13, 2013 at 15:16:21 in reply to Comment 95969

I used to shop there. The owner told me he closed down because the building owner would not renew his lease.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2013 at 16:14:33 in reply to Comment 95977

As often happens with older businesspeople, if their lease is not renewed, rather than face the hassle of moving elsewhere, they usually retire.

This also happened to Reardon's.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 13, 2013 at 16:36:06

Something overlooked - there were two reports commissioned by the city over the summer. One said that the buildings are of historical interest and the other said they are structurally sound candidates for adaptive reuse.

See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRRu4sbHc... and later in the meeting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRRu4sbHc...

So it appears all of Blanchard's talk about the buildings being "shot" and "just done" were either misinformed or outright lies.

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-12-13 16:40:14

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted December 13, 2013 at 16:42:06 in reply to Comment 95981

And he is upping the ante, claiming the buildings are essentially in danger of collapse, just like owners of the (heritage designated) Baptist Church around the corner:

From the Spec:

"Blanchard told CBC Hamilton this month that the buildings are crumbling and beyond repair. "The only part (of the buildings) that will be maintained, if it is maintained, is the facades,” he said. The buildings are in such poor shape, he said, that “we have nothing to attach to the facade right now.”"

If it worked for the owners of the Baptist Church, he is betting it will work for him too.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:52:47 in reply to Comment 95982

The heritage committee did their due diligence on the church, even toured the place, and came to the conclusion it was indeed in danger.

I'm not hear to say they were right or wrong, but given that one of the main reasons the congregation sold the church is that they knew there were significant structural issues with it, I'm inclined to believe that there were likely significant issues.

I hope the heritage committee takes the report Sean cited into account if they ever have to make a decision on the Gore.

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By erskinec (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2013 at 21:25:12 in reply to Comment 96031

With regards to the City’s Heritage Committee and James Street Baptist Church, there was a lot of excellent talent across the table from the Committee; clearly they were outmatched. It is unfortunate that Joey Coleman has removed his record of the two meetings, particularly the last meeting. It would be useful to re-watch the relevant sections.

As an adaptive re-use project, I find this proposal to be very exciting; something meaningful can be done with this building. That being said; the standards for alteration or partial demolition should be higher for designated buildings than for non-designated buildings.

The Committee should have required an independent structural assessment by a structural engineer with heritage preservation experience and selected by the City. This assessment requirement should apply to all permits that involve significant alterations or partial demolitions of heritage designated buildings. How can the Committee have all the necessary information to fulfill their due diligence responsibilities without an independent assessment?

The role the Heritage Committee is not only to assess requests from property owners but to represent you and citizens of Hamilton. Furthermore, given that the Province defers to the City on designations, the Committee also represents the people of Ontario.

So, from my perspective, why the Heritage Committee didn’t make this a requirement of granting the permit is a mystery. I certainly had the impression that the Committee was moving in this direction. Maybe it is unreasonable to expect more from volunteers.

Comment edited by erskinec on 2013-12-16 21:29:02

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:53:27 in reply to Comment 96031

That should say "here" not hear, but as an anonymous user I cannot edit my prior posts.

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