Comment 37374

By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2010 at 11:24:23

I think for Hamilton's downtown to improve there has to be a hard-to-prescribe combination of two factors:

  1. Opportunity for possibly non-altruistic business people to make some money in the real estate market. This may require some subsidy or other encouragement from government.
  2. Encouragement for those who are motivated by some degree of altrusim (they want to help Hamilton because it is the right thing to do).

For example, Dave Kuruc may not be making a killing at his Mixed Media shop on James, but it appears he reaps considerable non-monetary rewards from having such a high-end, culturally interesting shop at that location.

What Hamilton has to get over is the idea that doing the right thing is always a bad business decision, or that being a predatory or irresponsible business is the quickest way to profitability. It is the prevalence of such false dichotomies that sometimes makes Hamilton appear parochial and self-defeating (based on my reading of letters to the editor of the Spectator).

Doing the right thing is sometimes quite profitable, especially if it creates a big jump in the value of your assets through careful planning and design. Nor is doing the wrong thing always profitable. Lots of wrong things have happened to Hamilton's downtown over the years but I haven't see too many people profiting greatly from them.

In Hamilton's case it can't all be about money - otherwise you'd be better off to try your luck in Ancaster, Burlington or Oakville. Nor can it be all about altruism since major amounts of cash are required to rehabilitate a place like Hamilton and people with excessive amounts of altruism often tend not to have excessive amounts of cash. It has to be a bit of both.

People are often motivated by both monetary and non-monetary rewards at the same time. In order to create that virtuous circle of high-quality urban development so needed in Hamilton you cannot afford to marginalize either of those two camps.

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