Downtown Bureau

Lessons From False Creek South for Hamilton's Waterfront Redevelopment

Politicians like things to be cheap, easy, and popular. Making our waterfront an accessible, complete community might be popular in the long-run, but it's unlikely to be cheap or easy.

By Rob Fiedler
Published August 07, 2015

Last month I wrote that real success on our waterfront would be "if we manage to create a complete community that endures beyond the glint of newness." At the time I was visiting family in the Vancouver area, and without saying so, I was thinking about False Creek South as an example of that "real success".

Shortly, after I wrote my piece, a regular contributor to RTH made favourable reference to False Creek South in response to a piece on achieving intensification targets around the new West Harbour GO Station. For a number of reasons, I concur that this particular slice of Vancouver's waterfront is worth talking about as we move forward on redeveloping the West Harbour waterfront.

Prior to writing this article, however, I knew relatively little about False Creek South's planning history or current situation beyond the basic details.

It was built in the 1970s and was viewed by planners and urban progressives as an alternative vision for community and city-building, and that it was a place deliberately and carefully planned around a social agenda that focused on ensuring that the eventual neighbourhood would be mixed-income and socially diverse.

None of this is readily apparent to the casual visitor strolling by on the seawall or relaxing in the area's many parks and public spaces. To my eye the area has always seemed pleasant in an unassuming, yet vital way. The lush vegetation, textured pathways, and humane-scale of the buildings work together to achieve this effect.



I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Charleston Park and the seawall through False Creek South offer some of the best vantage points for viewing Yaletown and the downtown skyline.


But False Creek South interests me for another reason. Like Vancouver's West End neighbourhood, it appears to have transitioned from newness to middle-age gracefully.

For these reasons, for a while I have promised myself that I would dig a little deeper into the False Creek South story and write something for RTH about it.

As it turns out, The Tyee, an excellent independent online magazine in BC, did a special series in 2014 called False Creek South: An Experiment in Community, which provides good overview of the neighbourhood, its history for those unfamiliar with it, and its uncertain future.

It is well worth reading through if you have the time and are interested. The first segment is the short video below:

I'm generally reticent to point to other places and suggest we emulate what they've done, but False Creek South can inspire us and suggest possibilities for our waterfront - as long as we also learn from their mistakes and shortcomings. For me, False Creek South represents a kind of utopian alternative.

Carefully Planned, Intentionally Mixed

There is much talk about rising housing costs and the need for affordable housing so that revitalization doesn't lead to displacement in the core and North End. But are we willing to do more than talk and hand-wring?

We can look to False Creek South and see a carefully planned, intentionally mixed-income community, built on reclaimed industrial waterfront with support from three levels of government, designed to be dense, walkable, and supportive of a range of household types.

But as the Tyee series reveals, False Creek South is a fragile utopia. The innovative mix of one-third co-operative housing, one-third rental housing (subsidized and market), and one-third market condominiums, though laudable, was made possible by a unique political alignment: a progressive municipal government, an NDP government in Victoria, and an interventionist Liberal government in Ottawa.

Simply trying to replicate the model in our present context is unrealistic. Central waterfronts are now primed by the public sector for private investment, while limited fiscal capacity at the municipal level and austerity at the provincial and federal level make it difficult to do much more than maintain existing non-market housing stock.

Renewal Challenge

Moreover, if we fast-forward to now, all is not well. False Creek South sits on land leased from the City of Vancouver for 50 years. The first leases will begin expiring in 2022, casting a pall over residents as they wait to learn whether the City wishes to renew the leases - and if so, on what terms.

Expiring leases create uncertainty, but other insights can be gleaned from the situation. Preparing to negotiate with the City has forced area residents to tackle a set of inter-connected problems that many communities face as they mature or experience structural changes.

For example, residents aging in place means falling household densities and fewer children attending local schools and daycare facilities. It also means changing housing needs. There is greater demand for smaller one and two bedroom units for those who wish to downsize and from young adults in the community.

The existing housing and physical infrastructure in the community will increasingly need to be renewed, the financing of which is complicated by the mix of co-operative housing and subsidized rental units, which were constructed with government support. Without that support, money will need to be raised via other means.

Not surprisingly, intensification is being looked upon as a potential solution to both problems. The land the community is sitting on is considerably more valuable than it was in the 1970s, and what was considered "dense" then is now quaint when compared to more recently developed areas such as Yaletown, Coal Harbour, and the Olympic Village (just to the east).

The question facing both residents and the City is how to intensify in a respectful and sensitive way - a delicate balancing act given the development pressure that exists.

It's Up To Us

To connect the dots and make this story more directly relevant to us in Hamilton, the proactive response of engaged False Creek South residents is worth noting. Through a working committee of their neighbourhood association, area residents are making proposals which look to use intensification to serve their social aims, including maintaining the diverse, mixed-income character of their community.

That, as a planner quoted in the series states, is intriguing and uncommon. It's something for us to ponder when debating intensification and waterfront development closer to home.

Planning and urban design, not to mention architecture, are certainly important. But what kind of community are we hoping to build on our waterfront?

New urbanism's claims to the contrary, there is no architecture of community. Physical design doesn't create affordable housing, or lead to socially just outcomes. Public support for inclusionary zoning and new models of tenure and governance are needed.

A precursor to political support is fleshing out for ourselves what inclusionary zoning means in practice, what we're willing to do to achieve it, and establishing new models of tenure and governance such as land trusts.

Politicians like things to be cheap, easy, and popular. Making our waterfront an accessible, complete community might be popular in the long-run, but it's unlikely to be cheap or easy.

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.

Rob Fiedler is a member of the Beasley Neighbourhood Association executive. Expresses himself in a 280 characters or less @rsfiedler.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted August 07, 2015 at 09:49:22

Excellent article!

There are definite similarities to Hamilton's planned re-development of the industrial waterfront and the most interesting thing for me is that False Creek South shows that you can build a high quality attractive development in a city with booming real estate speculation and still keep a diversity of incomes and housing types. Density could be a bit higher, and there could be mored mixed use, but overall it is still a good development 40 years on.

People in Hamilton are already worried about poorer residents being driven out, but this example shows how to address the problem.

You have to make inclusiveness a priority and work out how to achieve it: it really is a question of politics! You also need to build a high quality development that people with money actually want to live in (to avoid ghettoizing as happened with many of France's originally mixed income projects). Hamilton could also mandate a similar mix of co-op, rental, condos and subsidized/market based rents if it wants to. But it will take determination and political courage.

A worrying sign is that the city has already apparently caved to potential developers on the point of owning the land. Why is it enough for some developers to say that they would prefer to own the land for the city to just acquiesce? Why not actually try to do the right thing first, like they did in Vancouver.

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By mamasaurusof2 (anonymous) | Posted August 07, 2015 at 14:49:40 in reply to Comment 113336

I lived in Vancouver for 8 years. I earned a good living and while looking for housing quickly eliminated False Creek. It was a plethora of overpriced poorly constructed condos. It also boasted "greenspace" but this was overshafowed (liteally) by high rise buildings. An igly blight on beautiful waterfront property. I'm afraid that Hamilton's wzterfront is headed for the same fate. Thonk of the Toronto Waterfront from 26 years ago. One could approach downtown and see the lake and greenspace with citizens enjoying the waterfront. Now the view is obscured by high rise condos.
If Hamilton don't heed the lezsons of Vancouver's False Creek and Toronto's waterfront it will suffer the same fate.
A wayerfront that resembles ANY OTHER waterfront in the world. A maze of condos that block the use and view of the waterfront. High density housing that nrings woth it traffic chaos, higher crime and simply becomes a blight on the affordability and access to area neighbors.
We have a beautiful waterfro t that must be protected from greedy developers and city officials who have visions of tax dollars "dancing in their heads".....But these dollars generated by additional taxes will so.y disappear into general city coffers to be used for yhe benefit of a few only.
Weust object to any fevelopment without careful consideration of what we wNt the waterfront to look like in 26 years.
We want to see responsible building not another Condoland.....

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted August 08, 2015 at 08:11:22 in reply to Comment 113347

What you're describing is NOT the mid 1970s False Creek South development (which is medium density with no tall buildings and plenty of green space as shown in the photos), but the late 1980s to 1990s high density False Creek developments.

Watch the video to see which community we're talking about and why it is so different from the places you're describing.

The 1980s and 1990s condos were indeed criticized for poor construction (e.g. the 'leaky condos scandals') and are much higher density with less green space. This is the type of development shown across the water in the fourth image.

The whole point of the article is that the specific False Creek South development was unique in its design and has aged well. No other area of False Creek was developed in the same way. They are also still extremely popular with residents, which says a lot for an innovative 40 year old development.

In fact, when Expo 86 was being planned the post-Expo development of the north shore of False Creek was shown as being very similar to the False Creek South development ... needless to say once the land was sold to Lee Ka-Shing it turned out more like Hong Kong (but nevertheless with a seawall walk access to the entire waterfront).

However, just leaving Hamilton's waterfront as disused industrial land, or as a greenspace, or low density housing should not be an acceptable use. Hamilton is a City, there is lots of greenspace at Bayfront and Pier 4 and this is a chance to do a successful urban development.

But it means that the City needs to set high standards and not just sell off the land cheaply to the first developers who show up: they know this land is currently hugely undervalued!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-08-08 08:18:38

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By RobF (registered) | Posted August 08, 2015 at 11:26:14 in reply to Comment 113364

Totally agree ... our aim should be urban communities that are well-built and designed.

I think a missing aspect to the discussion is the ability for places to incrementally change over time ... one of the key faults of modernist architecture and planning, particularly high-modernist (urban renewal was generally this ... see Pruitt-Igoe), was that they were almost sculptural. Once built they couldn't be changed or adapted by users/residents. Current residents at False Creek South are looking to allow respectful intensification in the community to address shortcomings in what is a generally successful place. That is possible only because, while dense, False Creek South wasn't over-built to start with.

I also reject the current dogma of Vancouverism that height doesn't matter as long as the podium is appropriately scaled and designed to compliment the streetscape. I'm not against tall buildings, per se, and Vancouver generally does tall reasonably well for a number of reasons (the Vancouver Charter gives their planning department and city council powers that the OMB in Ontario thwarts), but tall shouldn't be our first choice for most spaces. We have a lot of land available for infill in the core. Starting with well-designed low-to-mid-rise projects makes sense if urbanism is our goal (by low-rise I mean 3-5 stories, and mid-rise 5-12). I'd reserve tall for key sites and demand that height be used to create architecturally distinctive buildings ... no square floor plates or 20+ storey slab-blocks.

You hit my main point in your first comment ... getting our waterfront development right is about politics. If we don't demand social/income-mix, high-quality architecture and design, and so on, we won't get it, because money will drive the decision-making. I'd like to see the City benefit financially from a good-quality development that contributes to the tax-base of the City, economic sustainability matters, but ROI can't be the only criteria in city-building. It leads to pyrrhic victories for urbanism.

Comment edited by RobF on 2015-08-08 11:30:03

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 07, 2015 at 15:50:15 in reply to Comment 113347

I also support low income housing, it must be part of a diversified Hamilton mix, to avoid leaving the poorer behind.

(Not talking about tall towers at West Harbour -- this is is for out-of-way piers like future discontinued steel land -- you can't see water anyway while driving past the steel mill).

The Toronto Regent Park revitalization (whether you're for it or against it) is an amazingly interesting case study (except for the much-hated temporary construction-time-period displacement of some of the families before they moved back into a nice subsidized-housing upgrade that's almost unamiously liked).

The poor people at Regent Park has generally rave reviews of the brand new luxurious municipal FREE indoor swimming pool miniwaterpark that opened there (Regent Park Aquatic Centre). Beyond nicer residences and far better amenities (including free), the quality of life of the poor Regent Park people has dramatically increased for those who duked it out during the frustrating construction time period (some families being forced into an hourlong commute in temporary housing elsewhere).

But on average, it was a resounding "include-the-poor-and-rich" success by Canadian standards, beyond my expectations. Subsidized housing in the same building as luxury condo apartments, makes everyone feel more included, saw white-people business suits next to immigrant families, single moms next to full middle class families, people having popular at outdoor patiopubs, etc. (For those not familiar, Regent Park is the area between Gerrard and Dundas, to the north of the PanAm athlete's village that's being converted to condos, and west of Don Valley). Even though the small 3-story ugly box apartments got replaced by tall condo towers with embedded subsidized housing. The development was profitable, despite having to subsidize the poor housing.

There were definitely a bunch of controversies there, and I'm not happy with 100% of the Regent Park megaproject, but, it behooves a good look at any Hamiltonian city planner wanting to install a "gradually sloping densification" from 4-storey lowrises at West Harbour all the way to tall towers on former U.S. Steel lands (if they disappear in 20 years). It may not happen for 50 years, so this may be an issue for our grandkids, but I am not discouraging it as long as the poor is included (see above).

Better condos (with embedded subsidized housing) and office towers than an abandoned steel mill in 25 years from now, eh? You can't see the waterfront in front of U.S. steel anyway, while driving on Burlington...

Maybe it'll just be an office park, or a steel-parts manufacturer -- still a big improvement if that Toronto-downtown-sized parcel of land begins to later employs MORE people than U.S. Steel (so everybody wins). Maybe not this generation, but one of the next two or three.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-08-07 16:02:40

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 07, 2015 at 15:46:49 in reply to Comment 113347

The concerns are legitimate --

For West Harbour itself, a moderate reasonable densification should be welcome -- e.g. European style height buildings is a great compromise, I think. Fortunately that's what I noticed in various master plans for West Harbour, buildings not much taller than the pre-existing buildings in that area, currently some discontinued very industrial buildings west of Sarcoa. So empty ugly bulk replaced with livable bulk.

For tall towers, I'm not against them, on one condition:

Any super-tall new CBD in Hamilton should occur maybe if U.S. Steel leaves. With that we also eventually build a shoestring unmanned Gage GO station platform. The U.S. steel land is a downtown-Toronto-sized parcel of land, and we might not have a U.S. steel in 20 or 30 years from now. The steelworks will still continue in Hamilton as we are always a steel city but not every single square kilometer of land will probably still be used for steel by 2035 or 2045 -- so tall towers may someday be built where a steel mill stood.

Who knows? Any discontinued steel mill (whenever it may happen) should be okay for densification, methinks. I've seen industry-works land turn into brand new towering downtowns in some other cities, in a 30-year to 40-year timespan (it's amazing, actually), so it's technically possible for Hamilton; we have to increase the number of jobs locally --

I can understand taxpayer waste but taxpayer waste falls with increasing densification. That's borne out in other cities, so I admit that selective densification, and some zones of allowed CBD's may need to be allowed in a few decades from now.

City apparently owns land on Gage next to the railroad there now (almost right in the middle between West Harbour GO and Stoney Creek GO) -- purchased by the city already for a soccer field and currently used as stadium parking for the moment. But there's extra excess land for a simple unmanned outdoor pedestrian GO platform in addition to the soccer field -- at Gage less than 10% cost of West Harbor (and this will finally provide GO train access to stadium too, where it could have been at West Harbour). Combined with a north-south Gage HSR bus that also connects to the LRT, we can let developers give a tall-towers boom on a future discontinued pier -- far away from West Harbour.

Who knows? Maybe this won't happen -- but the door is open. I wouldn't encourage closing this door, as long as we lobby hard for proper densification.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-08-07 15:56:23

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By pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 08, 2015 at 23:04:25 in reply to Comment 113351

Alternatively, if a miracle did happen and hundreds of thousands of people moved into an ex-stelco waterfront at the North end of Gage, couldn't the a-line go East along Burlington to service this hypothetical community? 3 more km of LRT is nothing to sneeze at financially, obviously, so it would have to be some impressive development go demand that.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:39:33 in reply to Comment 113369

You tweeted this idea to me. That made me think. Could we have your idea today (with no stations) as our route to the maintenance facility? How would A-Line deadheading of B-Line LRT cars affect A-Line?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 13, 2015 at 15:29:12 in reply to Comment 113399

That's exactly what I was thinking - either way, we need a track from one of the LRT lines to the garage. So where can we put that track where, in the future, it could be upgraded into a full-service LRT line?

Well obviously, you pick the end-point of the line to extend it. The B-line ends nowhere near the garage, so that's out... but the A-line ends in reasonably close. You could run it along Burlington Street to Wentworth, then head south.

This means theoretically you could add another stop at Victoria if the Victoria office park takes off (the city is in talks for an impressive office park at Victoria and Ferrie). Then if miraculously in some future date where Stelco develops into some massive waterfront metropolis? We've got LRT at Burlington and Wentworth, that's not too far from Gage. Extending it becomes a much smaller transit upgrade, and we're not slowing down the GO trains with an extra Hamilton stop (when you ride the GO, you hate every damned intermediate stop that takes forever).

But it is adding a longer distance to get the train from the Harbour to Wentworth, and it's not a trivial amount.

The city's current plan is about 1.4 km each way.

If the garage must be entered by Birch, then a Burlington -> Birch alignment would be about 3km. That's a lot more track. If the train can come up wentworth, then that's 2.5km.

1 extra km plus the cost of building on Burlington/Wentworth instead of simpler roads like Birch and Sanford. In exchange, you get future-proofing if you want to extend the A-line eastward along the harbourfront.

I don't know enough about rail to know if this is silly or not.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 07, 2015 at 16:11:00 in reply to Comment 113351

Michael Green (Ward 3 city councillor) is currently aware and comlimented my Gage GO station idea:

https://twitter.com/MGreenWard3/status/623545891811684353

When I talk about "Barton Street Condos" by 2035 in that tweet, I'm referring to hopefully European style 4-storey condos, not the boring cookiecutter glassboxes of Toronto, of course. Major revitalization on Barton for business & residential is much easier with simultaneous Hamilton HRT and shoe-string pedestrian-only Gage GO station book-ending Barton on both sides, along with many additional north-south bike and HSR bus improvements (transit connector routes). The shuttered storefronts will be extinct on Barton for our children's generation.

If somebody at City Hall was secretly thinking "Gage GO station" when buying the land on Gage next to the railroad for a soccer field -- this is nearly as prescient as the Toronto mayor that protected for a subway when bulding the Prince Edward Viaduct -- rail deck embedded into the bridge about half a century before Bloor-Danforth subway got built and utilized this deck. This is more visionary Hamilton City Hall thinking than the usual Old Boys Club, in my opinion. Gage GO might not be built for 20 or 50 years, but it's now successfully protected municipal land abutting directly into the GO train corridor between West Harbour and Stoney Creek.

We have to make sure Lower City employment can increase over the years (while also including the poor too).

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-08-07 16:25:40

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By RobF (registered) | Posted August 08, 2015 at 12:22:44 in reply to Comment 113353

There are quite a few reasons to support a Gage GO station on the Lake Shore West line, but it will only really become feasible with electrification. You are right that now is the time to protect the old Dominion Glass lands, which the City owns (i think), for that eventual purpose ... not only would it give us a much better link to the stadium precinct, but also to whatever happens down on the US Steel/Stelco lands on the waterfront (hopefully the primary use remains geared to employment/jobs).

Comment edited by RobF on 2015-08-08 12:23:45

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 08, 2015 at 15:52:32 in reply to Comment 113367

Metrolinx recently teased images of electric trains with West Harbour and Stoney Creek GO; hopefully that's for RER II (next 10 year plan), 2025-2034. In more than two dozen cliparts, they were German's Stadler KISS trainset pictograms, rather than classic Bombardier BiLevels.

(This is included as part of my upcoming GO article for RTH I've promised to Ryan...)

Of two of most interesting Hamiltonian note:

Electric train at West Harbour: electric train

Electric train at Stoney Creek: electric train

(see the catenary -- guesstimate 2030-2035? Once they finish electric 15-min all day Burlington as planned by the first half of 2020's, then Hamilton is a no-brainer once they figure out the freight contention issues.)

Although official plan is only hourly diesels, technically the door is open as the Lewis layover yard is electrification-ready (in official government documents). So theoretically if freight contention is solved, 15-minute all day 2-way service is doable with West Harbour GO/Gage GO/Stoney Creek GO -- this theoretically becomes our 2nd "surface crosstown subway" in parallel to the LRT, and also makes us a commuter destination (for the rest of Lakeshore line) instead of just a bedroom community. But Hamiltonians would perhaps also use it as another way to commute crosstown in a more express manner than the LRT, as well as to commute to waterfront businesses.

In combination with the A-Line LRT serving the mountain (and another Mountain crosstown LRT in BLAST plan), it could also serve Mountain residents needing to commute to a future waterfront CBD.

Related topic -- Over the years, it will be critical for HSR to overhaul the Hamilton transit network install many new north-south bus routes as connectors. Including Lower City lines Like a Sherman bus line, Gage bus line, to allow east-west crosstown rail users far away from the A-Line to transfer to north-south destinations not near a rail/LRT station. (Even lower city north-south buses that serves Sherman and Gage).

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-08-08 16:06:03

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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 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/n... )

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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By RobF (registered) | Posted August 08, 2015 at 12:06:45 in reply to Comment 113361

I was just getting started ... but I like to leave room for others, and see where they take things.

I think an OPA related to the James North Mobility Hub Study will be the next shoe to drop ... we may learn then what's in store for the City Housing properties in the North End and other City and Port-Authority owned lands.

And yes, we are in the 7th or 8th inning of a nine inning ball-game. The Urban Design Study for Piers 7&8 is probably running concurrently with internal machinations related to land subdivision and disposition. I'd like to think that the latter will involve a public process of consultation and engagement, but don't count on it. Once council lays the tracks, the process, independent as it might appear, will follow the course laid for it to the expected/desired conclusion. If it's mainly to achieve a set financial return then it will end that way. Everything else will be secondary and sacrificed if need be to achieve the main goal.

Comment edited by RobF on 2015-08-08 12:09:55

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:30:24

Timely, but check out this new UrbanToronto Photo of the Day:

Sugar Beach and the RedPath Factory

"The juxtaposition of recreational and industrial uses is part of what makes Sugar Beach such an interesting space on Toronto's waterfront. The most traditional view of these clashing styles is from the east (Sugar Beach) side of the Jarvis slip, where the public space's white sand and pink umbrellas stand in stark contrast to the Redpath Sugar Refinery on the opposite side..."

We could use a Sugar Beach copycat on the north-west corner of the pier where Sarcoa and HMCS Haida is. We'd have two beautifully contrasting views, just like Sugar Beach -- to the west is the recreational waterfront and to the east would be the Hamilton steelworks. We have other nicer beaches we can swim in but this is a perfect place for a parkette, given the proximity to industrials.

Any development on this pier that replaces all the ugly discontinued industrial buildings, should leave enough pier space somewhere to accomodate such a vision, with the beach parkette has to be developer or community funded. Make it a people-friendly area, including for any visitors. Since the waters isn't likely worth swimming in this close to the industrials, a Sugar Beach type "beach park" corner would be an interesting appeal to Hamilton's steeltown heart with a great view of both pretty recreationals and nice gritty industrials.

Thy copycat should be somewhat Hamiltonized, maybe a little local flavour -- maybe a steel H-bar "trellis" set back further behind the beach (with vines crawling over the steel) behind the beach with picnic tables within -- or some other idea. If cost is a dealbreaker -- then at the simplest, we can go with simple sand, a few parasols, and a few muskoka chairs to begin with for now -- and a small boardwalk strip behind the beach -- fairly inexpensive.

And if we cannot incorporate such a beach parkette into development on this pier (Where Sarcoa and HMCS is) for any reason, then the next pier to the east that becomes revitalized later.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-08-11 10:44:13

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