Comment 33400

By Schoobabe (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2009 at 12:20:51

This is a sad moment for Raisethehammer. I am truly disappointed to say this, but the opinions expressed in this blog ARE nimbyism at it's most vile. Meredith's comments in particular raise the spectre of the poor as morally inferior, by definition unworthy of living where they might enjoy the "priviledges" deserved only by the wealthy. Instead the poor should be relegated to other areas where services are less concentrated, such as townhouse surveys on the east mountain, perhaps.

This picks up a theme that has long been trumped by the downtown business association, and I think explains at least in part their failure to redevelop the city centre thus far, that the people who now inhabit and congregate there must first be removed to attract middle-class shoppers. It is the essence of nimbyism that where people are to be removed to is never specifically discussed, the polite equivalent of telling them to "fuck off and die." In other political constituencies the poor can be "disappeared." In Hamilton they go the first step, publicly dehumanizing the poor as "undesireables." This is where the argument that there are already too many of Hamilton's poor concentrated in the downtown fails. More services should be provided throughout the city, but I doubt that pushing or keeping the poor out of the downtown will accomplish that.

The idea that the reduced economic resources of the poor means they represent the "wrong sort" of development ignores how economies develop. To succeed, businesses must work with the resources at hand, not dream of attracting some idealized, wealthy clientelle in the sky. Would there be a theatre district on King St. West in Toronto if Ed Mirvish had not begun with the equivalent of a dollar store at Bathurst and College, where he used his showmanship to makee shopping there seem like fun? Would The Royal Alex have been revivied if he hadn't initially opened relatively cheap restaurants nearby to put the expand the theatre-going experience within the reach of lower-middle income people? Would the artsy redevelopment of Mirvish Village exist without Honest Eds on the corner?

Restoring the Cannot Hotel for mixed-income housing is not a misstep in downtown development. Those who think so should walk from Toronto's Union Station, or the GO bus station next door, along The Esplanade to the finally restored industrial Distillery District. En route are restaurants and hotels backing one of Toronto's entertainment and theatre districts, the historic St. Lawrence Market, and a narrow band of parkland usually flush with people who live in surrounding apartment buildings, including the mixed-income St. George development, and the no-frills "co-op to condo" apartment that is the model for the project being considered for the All Saints site in Hamilton, and disparaged in one of the responses above.

Mixed-income housing is a proven route to neighbourhood rejuvination. Building a hotel is much riskier, dependent on sorting out "chicken and egg" tourism and convention industry priorities that pit the needs for more expensive attractions that will draw hotel business, against the concurrent need for existing hotel space. Each needs the other to be in place to make their own project viable and a derelict, vacant city-block-big building in the centre of the potential development area is itself a deterrent to tourism. While we're waiting for tourism to build, the Cannot can become a can do project, housing more people in the city centre, the reconstruction itself a municipal economic boon. Are when it looks like the locals are having too much fun to ignore, the tourists will follow.

When the rich come to live in Mr. Stinson's saphire tower, or some other equivalent, as they surely someday will, I've no doubt they'll retain the power to maintain sufficient "privileges" against their poor neighbours in order to satisfy Meredith.

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