Comment 37866

By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 05, 2010 at 16:46:59


While I respect your vision for the downtown, I would argue that in this case you are making the perfect the enemy of the good. The immediate choice isn't between a high-density, tax-paying development and a mosque/school. It's between a vacant lot (or perhaps a parking lot or police storage facility) and a mosque/school.

It is entirely conceivable that this part of the city may become a desirable, high-value, high-density commercial district some decades hence. But that outcome is not inevitable, and it's hard to read recent events as arguing that it's probable. Almost every project of significance in this area in recent years has either involved public money (CityPlaces, Spallacci Building, Gore Building), demolition (Century Theatre), or construction of a parking lot.

The block bounded by Catherine, Mary, Rebecca, and Wilson is not a very large space. A mosque, school, and housing complex would give it a much greater built density than many nearby blocks, and there will be a great deal of nearby empty space left over for future projects.

Beasley, even more than many other areas of Hamilton, has been hurt by monolithic, large-scale development thinking in the past. By contrast, real renewal in this city has always come from small decentralized projects. Think James North, Locke South, or Ottawa Street. As an aside, one of the great assets of James North is the Anglican Cathedral, which is used as a community space for Art Crawl, Maker's Market, and other events. Perhaps a larger mosque on Wilson could serve a similar role.

As a last note, who else would be in that beautiful old commercial building on Wilson right now if not the mosque? And who else in that part of Wilson keeps up their property to the same standard as the mosque? By contrast, the vacant lot behind the mosque is a disgrace to the city and a blight on the neighbourhood. The mosque deserves praise from the community for trying to create something good on a space that no one else would use for anything more than pavement and yellow lines.


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