Comment 10

By MHornell (registered) | Posted None at

I just discovered RTH through the link to the Kunstler article on Planetizen. Superb site; I wish we had something similar in Victoria. Can Hamilton become a green city? Absolutely. I was the Coordinator for the Regional Chairman's task force on sustainable development back in the early 90's and served as scribe to the task force in writing Vision 2020. As you point out in this article, the vision is still relevant, and I find it heartening to see that council has reconfirmed it. The rewards in planning are often long in coming, and looking back I'm somewhat amazed to consider the extent to which we were pioneers in local sustainability in those days, and that Chairman Reg Whynott's interest in finding an organizing framework for regional revitalization, meshed with the passion for SD of a young Strategic Planning staff under the leadership of John Barr. It was one of those rare alignments of good policy and good politics, and the moment was seized. But as with all plans, the proof is in the action taken, and in this regard, I'm not sure if Vision 2020 has been as successful as we hoped then in re-orienting business as usual. Certainly the official site identifies an enviable track record of activity at the policy level. Great work has been done on monitoring, training, community outreach etc. But on the ground, the evidence is somewhat harder to see. Since relocating to BC in 1992, I've only been back to Hamilton once (in 2003)and I came away feeling somewhat depressed at how little had changed, and how much more remained to be done. Successes I could see: the revitalized North End waterfront; the downtown campus of McMaster University; some of the physical improvements to downtown streetscapes. On the other hand,the sprawl on the south mountain continues to consume farmland (enabled by the completion of the E/W connector)and downtown seems even more depressed than when I lived there. And as another article points out, the Red Hill Creek Expressway is, alas, still alive and kicking. Vision 2020 still forms a solid platform for action; but the action has to follow and as one of your other articles on image points out correctly, if you want to change your image, you have to change your reality, and the best reason to do that is for the people who already call Hamilton home. Make it better for yourself, and others will want to be there too. In closing I believe now as I believed then that Hamilton has huge potential: the most stunning physical setting in Ontario, magnificent natural amenities, a wonderful store of beautiful historic architecture, a rich multi-cultural community, superb educational institutions, and one of the most real, and authentic public markets in Canada. Best of all, Hamilton is a real city, with an urban tradition and self-image, situated in one of the richest region's in North America. Hamilton has also had the advantage of hard times, which long ago should have scrubbed any sense of complacency away and focused minds on the work that needs to be done. You've got the vision; now for the followthrough. Best regards in your work, Mark Hornell Director of Regional Planning, Capital Regional District, Victoria, BC

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