Comment 113361

By Selway (registered) | Posted August 07, 2015 at 23:26:56

Great article but it stops just when it is starting to get really interesting.

"It's up to us to do some of the heavy lifting: to both demand it and make it possible. There's no reason to think that the status quo will make it happen for us."

Yup. But I have the impression, reading some of the comment on this piece and others on this site, that many think it is Tuesday morning when in fact it is Thursday night and construction starts on Monday. Lots of planning has already gone into West Harbour that we know about, and I'm sure lots more that we don't. That said, "It really is a question of politics! " as Kevlahan says, and there is certainly plenty of opportunity yet to apply pressure.

Council owns -- I'm sorry, the City owns about a quarter of the land in the West Harbour planning area, including, in addition to most of Barton Tiffany and all of the piers through to eight, a large tract now occupied by social housing in the near vicinity of the new GO Station, and an apartment tower at the foot of Macnab. Hamilton Housing is reported to be adopting a cash-out policy: sell some lands in areas of rising values and use the money to build more units elsewhere.

(See )

Will this policy be applied to properties in the North End? It sure seems likely to me. The fact that this policy and its implications for intensification on these lands is not under public discussion indicates the level of political will to secure diversity in that part of the neighbourhood: zero.

Beyond the social housing lands, without serious public pressure that which occurs in Barton Tiffany and on the shore will be uniquely as the council-development combine wishes: high density for high returns in profit and taxes, period. Whatever "public consultation" or "engagement" occurs and finds expression in Urban Design Guidelines will be shed by Council as requested by the proponent. In any case, the key elements for a durably good development that extends the existing neighbourhoods onto the barren parts of BT and Piers 7 and 8, namely social diversity, quality built fabric, and low energy design features, are outside the Urban Design Study process. Real political contests on those questions, if any, will occur when the city is setting the terms of sale of these lands to developers, and the building proposals start coming in.

If we want to emerge twenty years from now with anything like the one-third co-op, one-third rental housing (subsidized and market), and one-third market condominiums situation which exists at False Creek, now is the time to start insisting on it.

The current round of musical chairs in city property markets is deepening the rift between those who are in the market and those who can't afford to get into the club at all anymore. Some of those can't even rent here at current rates, and are having to leave town altogether. It's a little coarse to put it this way, but hey, I live below the hill: if we want to remain Hamilton we will have to reassert our old cultural loyalties and stick together better. Otherwise we're just going to be another Toronto bedroom. Surely one Toronto is enough. Let's go on being something else.

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