Comment 75912

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted April 13, 2012 at 13:08:29

So again, it's down to the question voiced at the outset: What are we to be?

I'm not so eager to ditch Hamilton's industrial past, and upon thinking about this for a couple of days since reading Ryan's great article, I'm not sure the vision of Hamilton as a post-industrial learning city is one I share.

Not that it wouldn't be great to be Toronto-lite, but despite globalization shifting the location of industrial work to low-wage, low-regulation jurisdictions, there are still goods that need to be made and resources to be processed. This isn't creative economy stuff, and it's usually low-margin, but I think Hamilton is well-positioned to be the centre of that work.

Southern Ontario has a post-industrial megapolis, and I think Toronto's sort of cornered that market in this region. But with our port, affordable housing, and central location, Hamilton has the opportunity to provide Southern Ontarians who aren't lawyers, I-Bankers, or ad-execs with a great, yet modest standard of living, and offer companies a relatively low-cost/low-risk place to invest (despite our council).

I always think to myself that if I were mayor, I'd try to sell Hamilton as "Ontario's Second City" (face it, Ottawa & the NCR is like D.C.: a quasi-independent federal zone).

Like Chicago, the industrial gateway to the West, Hamilton is a perfect transportation hub, and can be to Toronto what the Windy City is to New York's world-class financial and entertainment Mecca. There's no shame in knowing your place, and I think aspiring to Boston or New York isn't bad, but they are regional titans, and there are perhaps better models to emulate.

Y'know, the unheralded cities that toil out of the spotlight, but are indispensable to regional and national economies: like Osaka or Nagoya to Tokyo; Stuttgart's auto-manufacturing zone to Munich's financial hub; Nanjing's industrial zones to Shanghai's get the picture. Like that unforgettable Kathleen Edwards song: "You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorley/You're the Concord, I'm economy/I make the dough, you get the glory."

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