Andrew Dreschel Doesn't Get It

By Ted Mitchell
Published February 23, 2007

This morning's Hamilton Spectator shows classic Andrew Dreschel, his trademark bizarre, scoped perspective dripping with bias.

The issue is rather important: What form will Hamilton's future employment lands take?

Dreschel supports the traditional approach that Hamilton and most other Canadian cities have taken for the last half century: rape virgin farmland to supply the most desirable employment lands for potential industrial johns.

Then allow such companies to go bankrupt and toss aside contaminated brownfield lands like so many diseased whores.

This is the approach that Hemson Consulting verifies, using the apology that there will not be enough brownfield land to accommodate future growth as an excuse to continue to focus primarily on greenfield development.

The reason Hamilton ranks low in livability (pedestrian, cycling routes, downtown economic and cultural vibrancy) is exactly due to resources being directed at suburbs, highways, and new commercial employment lands on the city's periphery.

This is an expensive, inefficient business model with serious negative repercussions to the quality of life and tax burden of our city.

Dreschel and the establishment obviously do not see or choose not to see the negative repercussions.

I will quote Dreschel's final two paragraphs:

Hopefully they'll have sober second thoughts Wednesday. This is a crucial issue. Transforming the city's job creation performance is fundamental to everything in this city. It's not just an economic development issue. It's a social, infrastructure and environmental issue.

Exactly. So then how does he come to this mindless, regurgitated conventional conclusion:

If city council doesn't resolve it and start taking significant action, we will continue to see jobs going down the road to Brantford and Cambridge while we squat in our industrial rubble wrapped in nothing but threadbare dreams.

Brantford and Cambridge are not like Hamilton. They do not have the geography, the lake port, the prime central location or the architectural and cultural capital that we have.

In the traditional view, these are just liabilities: e.g. the Red hill expressway costs $60 million per kilometer to build given that cursed geography.

They can also be assets, but only if people like Dreschel are marginalized, or start to see the whole of reality (tee hee).

A weightlifter should not be training for the marathon. He is not built for it. In the same way we should not be competing with Brantford and Cambridge at a game where we will lose.

In fact, if we were to "successfully compete", we still lose because the negative consequences of our greenfield development obsession will not go away just because the establishment ignores them.

Ted Mitchell is a Hamilton resident, emergency physician and sometimes agitator who recently completed a BEng at McMaster University. He is fascinated by aspects of our culture that are harmful, but avoid serious public discussion.


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By Sharchy (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2007 at 10:29:29

For anyone who has read the Hemson report it presents three scenarios. The first is Hamilton maintains its current level of population and job activity maintaining its urban boundary. The second is Hamilton pursues middle growth and attracts some new economic activity in new sectors. The third Hamilton pursues aggressive growth and develops heavily new forms of employment (involves fully developing lands around the airport). The reality of the matter is that there needs to be some consensus about what people in this city want. Does Hamilton want to remain basically the same in its economic scale and attract more conventional manufacturing activities to the lakefront? Or does Hamilton envision itself as a multi-modal employment hub offering employment in traditional sectors as well as new sectors that involve airport imports? Does the city have a more green vision for it waterfront (this is the case in Toronto where conventional port activity has significantly declined)? The Hemson report just presents the reality of the three cases. It is up to Hamilton and its citizens to decide what role the city will play in the growth of the Golden Horseshoe. Failure to build consensus will just lead to more problems involving the airport being developed in the conventional ways that make Mississauga such a failure. If Hamilton really wants to avoid airport development present a plausible case for how job growth can occur elsewhere in the city that is visionary and economically feasible.

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By joejoe (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2007 at 12:31:16

Wasn't the point of the report to fully explore these options so that a vision could be defined? You can't set a direction without knowing what options lie before you. As I understand it the Hemson's report focused almost exclusively on airport growth and pretty much discounted other modes.

You can't chart a course without having all the facts.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted February 24, 2007 at 22:32:57

I want to clarify this: Vision 2020 uses the analogy of a three legged stool. The legs are economic, environmental, and social factors. Each is as important as the other.

Dreschel's second last paragraph seems to accept this. But then he comes out stongly in support of a conventional economic focus by backing a project which has serious negative social and environmental effects.

In other words, he didn't get it. He uses the words social and environmental without knowing what they mean. Others do the same by misusing the word "sustainability" to justify conventional thinking by adding a touch of superficial green paint.

Hamilton has all kinds of economic opportunities, and some of them will come from ignoring the economy altogether.

No, I have not gone mad. A strong focus on social factors and environment will attract people with enormous creative economic power (e.g. downtown renewal: restricting car access to certain streets, 12'wide sidewalks, noise bylaws, multiuse buildings, low energy architecture, etc.)

Pipe dream? Ask a neighbour how much it would be worth to them to be able to enjoy their backyard free from vanity noise (leaf blowers, boom cars), air pollution (idling diesels, woodsmoke, 2stroke exahust) and let their kids walk the neighbourhood without worrying about being killed by cars flying by.

Presently there is no place in Hamilton where you can live downtown, ie close to the action, and be free from such ignorant fallout. What is that worth???

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By Connie (registered) | Posted March 02, 2007 at 20:27:42

I am really glad to hear that about the councillors. They need to change who they are consulting with if they want new ideas: You can't turn a greenfield developer into a brownfield developer ... you need a new developer.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted March 02, 2007 at 20:31:58

... and that goes for Lister too! What is LIUNA's fetish for tearing down perfectly beautiful historical buildings? Now it's the one's next door! Get a new developer or Get with the program. Look at King Street in Toronto. The human environment downtown needs restored residential, not glass offices.

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