Opinion

The Mad Connaught

If the downtown is for everyone, where is the rest of everyone?

By Reg Beaudry
Published September 15, 2009

People don't flock to downtown Toronto to visit the working poor. Most people can't afford to live in downtown Toronto, or downtown Montreal or downtown Vancouver. Heck, they can't even afford to live in downtown Burlington, and that's just a suburb on steroids.

Royal Connaught Hotel (RTH file photo)
Royal Connaught Hotel (RTH file photo)

Yet here we are in this once great and still amazing city called Hamilton and I can afford to live in downtown Hamilton. Well guess what: I shouldn't be. I make squat. As Meredith Broughton wrote in a recent comment on Raise the Hammer:

Living downtown is a privilege, not something to be handed out to those who can't afford to house themselves. I fully support more affordable housing, but not in the city core.

Downtowns are not only a place to live and work, but also a destination. Most people who go to Hess Village do not live there. They go there!

So this whole argument about how we have to get people to live downtown is all fine and dandy, but if you're not giving them a good reason to live down there, then who the heck is going to want to visit them down there?

Indeed, Hamilton is not Toronto, we get that, but it is nonetheless a fully functional city with all the makings of a great city. Anyone with a decent IQ or a couple of years of university/college under their belt knows this.

From Bob Young to Jim Balsillie, they all get it. When you look at an overall snapshot of the lower city surrounding the core, it's pretty damn impressive.

We've got a vibrant art scene with eclectic restaurants and shops on James North, the historical James south with an energetic pub district, Hess village, Locke street, Westdale, grand stately homes in the Aberdeen area, and all the while nestled in between a beautiful escarpment, waterfalls and a fantastic waterfront even Torontonians envy.

Topped off with great professional sports teams, a world renowned university, architecture to die for and the Art Gallery of Hamilton's world class exhibits, we look good.

And what is it all surrounding? The Core. A boulevard of broken dreams. A single stretch, really, give or take, between Wellington and James, lost and utterly forgotten, a dumping ground for the insane, the inane and everything else in between. Welcome to scooterville, may I take your order?

What's interesting about this whole thing are the underlying issues that don't sit well upon further inspection. One of which is: who's minding the mint?

'Pottymouth' Ron Marini is the Director of Downtown Renewal. Tough job. So tough, it seems, we can only bow down and thank our lucky stars that we managed to land a dollar store type department store in the core.

Just the fact that Ron sees nothing wrong with this newly proposed Connaught deal speaks volumes as to why the downtown is in the sorry state it's currently in.

Heck, why try to woo CKOC, a University campus, or even a Milstones downtown, when we've got dollar stores, cheque cashing places and a slice of an urban oasis for the bold and not so beautiful?

At least the Connaught boys admitted they'd prefer something a little more grand than housing. But Marini? Nope. It's all good, my friends.

He says, "What's wrong with affordable housing?" What's wrong with it? Well, nothing - if it's not concentrated to the point of ghettoizing an entire downtown.

And before we all jump up and down at the 'nothing but positive' reviews of Spallacci's Terraces on King, take a seat and try not to open your eyes too wide or the sun might burn you.

The thing is, I've lived in that building, and although there are many wonderful people who live there, it saddened me to press a soon-to-be stolen elevator button with spit on it, walk down the back stairwell into a sea of graffiti and step on dog poo on the Terrace.

The folks who take care of the building are amazing and they work very, very hard to keep it clean and respectable, but it's difficult to do when the property management has to meet their social housing quota and let the next loser in after the last loser was just kicked out.

But then again, why would it matter to Mr. Marini anyhow? The dude doesn't even live anywhere near the downtown. He goes to bed at night in Stoney Creek. Sleep tight, Ron. Don't let the bed bugs bite.

Which leads me to my next zone of uncomfortableness. Does anyone aside from councillor Bob Bratina actually live in the place they are paid handsomely to run?

God bless him, but the Mayor lives in Stoney Creek. Lovely lady, but the head of the Downtown BIA lives in Caledonia. Thanks for giving it a shot, but The Connaught man himself, Tony Battaglia, lives on the West Mountain.

What does this say about the current downtown situation? All the people who are fighting to make this city great, without getting a penny for it - from the Raise the Hammer folks to Mixed Media's Dave Kuruc - all live in and around the downtown area. Think about it.

But you know what, that's cool. I can live with this. I can live with a few skanks kicking around here and there. Heck, it's urban living. It's all part of the package, right? Absolutely. But not if that's the entire package. A little bit of spice makes the steak, but too much of it and you've spoiled the meat.

If the downtown is for everyone, where is the rest of everyone? We've got the poor down pat. They're doing fine, thanks for asking. The working poor are there (me!) The mentally ill are having great conversations with themselves. The social down-and-out are relaxed and comfortable, fresh off the bus from downtown Toronto.

Great. Terrific. Fantastic. It's all there. We've got that mixed bag of people we all know and love.

But what about the people with money? You know, the urban hip, chic, the young and the restless, the ones who go to Toronto to spend their cash instead of in their own bloody city. And so we take the last grand building in the heart of the city and give it away to the 'working poor'? This, my friends, does not complete the picture as to what makes a great city and a great downtown.

Would the Royal York be turned into housing? Let's ask Mayor David Miller. I'll go get the phone while you pour me another glass of wine.

Ah, but, so goes the argument, better to have something than nothing. Well, that's nice. If you're torn between two lovers and feeling like a fool, comb your hair, brush your teeth, take a class on how to win friends and influence people, and find a better lover.

But then again, you know what? I'm special. Who else puts up with this crap? Me and the few other special people who choose to live downtown are here for the 'bones' of the core, the moderate convenience and the hope that one day it will all come together.

I can put up with all this crap and hold on to the dream of a city that can easily be the city it wants to be, but most people live in the moment and not the future. They don't see potential, they see what is.

What it is aint so pretty.

Dollar stores and carpet stores with hockey tape for a signage doesn't really turn their crank. For the moment, they will choose to live, work and play somewhere else that will turn their crank.

Sadly, they will miss out on the wonderful and exciting city Hamilton can be: a city already encompassed in beautiful historical architecture. Look up and you can smell the history when you walk down King Street. It's all there, my friends, everything we want and can have in a great city.

We just now have to decide whether we want to continue letting it be a dumping ground for the social misfits or spit and polish it to a new grandeur.

Reg has created an online petition calling on City Council to reject the current Connaught proposal in favour of seeing this building restored as a prominent hotel again: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/the-mad-connaught.

Reg Beaudry was the owner of THREE 16 lounge in downtown Hamilton. He was the creator, editor, publisher and design artist of the original urbanicity magazine.

132 Comments

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 15:27:29

Truth hurts, but there it is.

More "have nots" in the core = diminished incentive for "haves" to spend time and money there = diminished economic base = diminished economic development.

Sure, an influx of the "disadvantaged" may mean the cheque cashers, shawarma joints and urban clothing stores get a minor boost in business, but the downtown has the potential to be so much more than that.

Everyone knows it, but everyone in power - council, staff, the property hoarders (so-called "developers") - are conspiring against it.

Great article, Reg.

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By jim soklaridis (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 15:34:58

Reg, you hit it right on with your editorial.

We need another dollar store like we need more pay loan stores.
I also have a business in the downtown core and I have this fleeting dream that on day we will have the political will to do the right thing,
such as....
say no thank you to any more social housing , hostels.
clean up the roads and alleys of garbage and graffiti
perhapps ship some of our ploblems to toronto for a change???

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By new2thys (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 15:36:26

great commentary and totally bang on !!
I agree with this whole article

you need to send it to city hall, the Spec and even CHCH

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 15:41:23

"Ah, but, so goes the argument, better to have something than nothing [...]"

To be honest, I'd much rather the Connaught be left empty for the time being. As everyone knows, if this thing goes ahead (and all indications are that it will) the core will never again see a hotel of the size and grandeur that the Connaught once was.

Detroit's famed Book-Cadillac sat vacant and rotting for 20 years before a deal with a developer finally saw it (almost) returned to its former glory under the Westin marque.

Detroit is a city with far profounder social and economic problems than Hamilton, and its CBD is arguably in a much worse state (although this point is somewhat arguable, since they have seen more large scale development in the core than Hamilton has in recent years). If they could afford to sit and wait for the return of their grand dame hotel we should as well.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 15:44:55

Great article!!! I could not agree more with what is written.

Reg, please take the advice from new2thys and email this article to all city councillors, the spec, mountain news, stoney creek news etc etc.

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By hereandthere (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 15:45:21

Reg,

Bang on.
You wrote everything i've been thinking about the core.
I hope as many people read this as they did Trevor Cole's Globe article.

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 15:51:38

"I have this fleeting dream that on day we will have the political will to do the right thing"

The desire for change is there. You can feel it, especially amongst younger people in the city who have been asking for the last few years "why is this place such a sh-thole when it could be so much better? how was it allowed to get this way and whose fault is it?"

The problem is the apathy of older, uneducated voters which has allowed a system of quite blatant corruption and EXTREME incompetence to thrive for decades.

Progressives of all stripes really need to band together and field a candidate for the 2010 elections. They won't win in any ward, but a real concerted effort in the official political arena by all the people working and thinking hard to make Hamilton a better place might prove to be a turning point.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:00:46

Wow... Wow... Wow! FANTASTIC article, Reg!

It speaks to the complete and utter truth of this City, especially the 'Downtown Strip' comment. I always thought it was weird that our Downtown resembles more of a Small Town Downtown than a REAL downtown.

I REALLY hope this was sent to The Spec OpEds!!!!!

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By show-some-humanity (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:15:35

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:21:36

By show-some-humanity (anonymous) Posted 9/15/2009 4:15:35 PM bigot - every one of you.

Humanity... NO ONE IS AGAINST AFFORDABLE HOUSING!

The fact that 25% of the ENTIRE CITY OF HAMILTON'S affordable units are within the Downtown Core is what's disturbing!

Put them @ Eastgate, access to tons of buses (1, 10, 55, 44), or Limeridge, again more buses (25, 26, 41, 43) or even Ancaster Meadowlands (5, 16, 43).

NO ONE IS AGAINST AFFORDABLE HOUSING!

Simply spread it across the ENTIRE City close to existing, and future, Transit Nodes!

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:22:23

^Reading comprehension fail, no one thinks poor and disabled people shouldn't have access to affordable housing, the problem is concentrating too much affordable housing in one are creates a GHETTO that hurts the poor, hurts the area and isn't sustainable.

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By fan tastic (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:26:19

Great article. Well said.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:27:17

So...you all have problems with the elderly and diasbled having access to affordable housing?

How does turning the downtown into a ghetto help the elderly and disabled, pray tell?

A revitalized downtown = increased tax base = increased resources for social services. Comprende?

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:27:24

Excellent post. Signed the petition already :)

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:28:07

ALSO, Donna Skelly is probably the only Ally we have in the Local Media, the ONLY one on CHCH that's for sure!

I'm sorry, Humanity? But did you just call Hamilton a progressive city? I'm pretty sure I heard a quote from a Dundurn St business owner re: Dundurn's new bike lanes say, "If it aint broke, don't fix it"

And that was on CHCH Last Night (Monday, 6pm... check your PVR). You're favourite, progressive chanel!

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By synxer (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:31:58

Fantastic article! Councilors ARE YOU LISTENING?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:37:02

bigot - every one of you. CHCH should be ashamed of itself and Donna Scully for protoming this "news story". ... Lets see if this blog owner isn't too much of a cpward to allow this post and a dissenting opinion to stand.

Marini, is that you?

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:39:00

Wonderful job Reg, you've perfectly encapsulated the feelings of a lot of people on this board. I second the calls to forward this to every news outlet in the city along with the mayor, councillors, city planning department and even the developer himself!

Hopefully this kind of publicity will finally get the message through to Council.

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By Downtown by Choice (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:39:42

Great article.......bang on.

You would think that with the ability to be able to just look around and see the planning mistakes of the past half century plus that are all around downtown, that the tall foreheads that run this city would be able to start to get something right.

Granted you can't undo the damage done to Durand; the apartment buildings that blight the landscape all stand where there were once grand homes. But c'mon, you have to do something with the ridiculous one way freeways that have destroyed any sense of neighbourhood and any want to walk beside them. The unchecked urban sprawl that makes the decay of so many lower city neighbourhoods possible. The concentration of subsidizing housing and second level lodging homes in wards 1 and 2. The coming concentration of social services on the former Loretto Academy site.

An argument can be made that perhaps this CITY could do more, but the lower city, especially the core, has done it's fair share, and then some. This Connaught proprosal is nothing but corporate welfare at its finest. If these "investors" can't make it work, please, for the sake of this city, sell the building to someone else who possesses an iota of vision and who actually wants to spend some of their own money in this city.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:51:16

I say why stop with LOCAL media?

Send this to the Globe & Mail (good follow-up to Trevor's peice), Toronto Star, etc! Heck, even BCC it to that Lady who tried to make a name for herself by calling Hamilton a 'dump' (Rosie O'Donnel? I forget her name :s)

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 16:53:43

Oh god, the Durand - what a heartbreak.

In the first half of the century this was hands down one of the finest urban neighbourhoods in the entire country, almost on par with the square mile in Montreal and far more architecturally varied and interesting than places like Rosedale, Forest Hill, or Westmount.

Just another example of how easily a great neighbourhood can be destroyed by piss poor urban planning decisions and absolute insensitivity to the socio-economic realities of city life (i.e. don't put social services agencies and grossly out of scale developments in medium-low density upper income areas or the upper income people will flee to the suburbs).

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 17:01:44

Reg - this is what you had tucked away in that mind of yours eh? AMAZING!

Reg more than anyone knows it ain't easy doing business downtown. His 316 Lounge was unfortunately ahead of its time on a stretch of King Street East that is downright depressing. I walked by there this morning and it has so much potential - but I wouldn't dare open a business there...and I'm what you call a brave pioneer. The storefront spaces of the Terraces on King leave so much to be desired and sit empty as many of the storefronts do in the part of the downtown. Lack of vision and community on what should be our gateway to the core. I've even more concerned with the proposal by the Denniger's family to tear down the derelict property at the corner of King and Wellington. Do they have a plan to build something there or leave it empty until they feel the neighbourhood has sprung back?

Downtown faces its challenges and I feel this spaghetti on the wall approach is not working.

I would like to feel confident for once that not only my circle and I are contributing to the bigger picture of a downtown on the rise - but that our city council, city staff and business "leaders" are in on this vision of something better. I'm not holding my breath...

We need to not only recognize the ugly truth - but to also do something with a fresh and positive outlook that says Hamilton is embracing the future and is not just settling for whatever is the easiest, cheapest and quickest fix.

Reg - I'm behind you on this one!





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By jason (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 17:27:37

you should chat with him sometime. He's got a LOT more than this tucked away in that mind of his. HAHA.

Great work Reg. You're a classy guy.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2009 at 17:42:49

"So...you all have problems with the elderly and diasbled having access to affordable housing?"

.... um across from the porn shop, the money mart, the head shop? It is was my grandma, I'd have her outta there in a second. Not everyone's Grandma would have a choice.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2009 at 17:46:20

Very well written. I do hope others read the context of what I wrote.

I don't know if Reg remembers who I am, but we talked a few times when I was volunteering at the FRWY this summer.

While we're talking about that IV area, the only cafe that survives (Spoons closed this summer, Jet Cafe is really more of a restaurant) is the FRWY - and it's a nonprofit one run by volunteers.

There's been ZERO increase in paying customers there from the Spallaci project. It's nice having the free community space it provides, but when a volunteer-run place is finding it hard to stay financially viable, there's some economic realities that don't match up with the Spallaci claim it's "injected" customers into that area - of what? Jabronies?

editors --- Not to be too picky, but my name is spelled "Meredith" if that can be changed.

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By beaslyfireworkstechnican (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 18:11:54

Meredith

Frwy's doing fine. the volunteers wanted to shift the focus to evening programming, hence why mon/tues turned into thursday night. good times all around. hope to see more rth folks in there more often.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2009 at 18:24:02

Beasley - I know the FRWY's not in trouble, but they did have to remove their only paid position of manager several months ago, and that's not going to change. I know they didn't pick their location with profitability in mind, and I'm really glad they can still operate on a purely volunteer basis.

My point was more about the Spallaci building - although it's been recently publicized as "injecting more dollars" into a downtown area, it hasn't helped certain businesses - or business models - at all - hence the closure of Spoons and similar, I was talking to one of their former workers the other day too.

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By beaslyfireworkstechnican (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 18:38:50

Meredith

We've seen the closure of Spoons, Maxims and 316, but places like Denningers, Absinthe, Ya Man and that really nice used guitar guy are still on king east. The Spallaci might not have helped as much as people wanted, but failed business owners do need to realize that sometimes their own operations, actions and decisions might that also play in a project's demise as well.

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By Oliver Barkovic (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 19:14:00

wow I am shocked... these "skanks and losers" are our brothers and sisters. quite literally.

This article deeply offends me.

The comments are disgusting and small minded.

Last month we had a backlash to the condos beside acclamation because the cost of them would be too high and it would change the culture of James N. due to the influx of yuppies from out of town.

Now we don't want our own people from our own town to live downtown?

People give your head a shake.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 19:23:24

Highwater writes: A revitalized downtown = increased tax base = increased resources for social services. Comprende?

No, that is not necessarily true is it, when it is provincial legislation that has caused many of the problems we see today. Policies that include workfare, inadequate amounts to live on, cut off services at a blink of an eye, the horrible treatment people receive from the social workers. People cannot afford to buy food, thus left with the throw away rotten food from some of people in the city, stuff the years old.

Even if you get your high classy shops, how many of them will pay minimum wage, with no benefits, no pensions. How many of them exploit workers in other countries and you expect them not to exploit people here?

How many of you howl to high heaven. when workers in minimum wage jobs try to organize to get better wages, benefits and pensions. The increase in the temp industries whohave stepped on wrokers rights across the board.

So when the time comes to change legislation to get liveable amounts of social assistance or living wages, benenfits, pensions, I wonder where all you people will stand on these issues?

Of course there never is no investigation into the social agencies and what they or how they treat people.

Someone wrote put them down by eastgate, well guess what, there are a number of buildings down there owned by a slumlord. I have a family member who lives down there, who lost their job due to occupational disease. You know you have no idea what people have to go through to get repairs down, screens on the windows and balconcy doors for the young children. They had a toilet that would not flush for months and bathroom ceiling that was about to cave in. Gee I wonder how that would of read in papers, baby squashed and injuried. Of course, then CAS would called in and the parents would of be demonized and not the scumlord.

While anyways, your words here are marked in stone so to speak, I wonder how many of you will actually put your money where you mouth is to actually change the policies to make live better for those that struggle or will just simply continue on with the name calling with the words bums, lowlives, lazy.

Of course the poor are blamed when it those who have the money that have caused the problems, nothing will change ever. What I am reading here upsets me in many ways because for the most part none of you are really thinking before your speaking.

There will never be fairness, equality or justice.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 19:29:20

Oliver, I can't speak for everyone else but I don't think anyone is suggesting that certain folks 'cant live downtown'. The problem is that they're almost exclusively who DO live downtown...and now we're going to add a bunch more?? Crowding poor folks together in neighbourhoods with virtually no other social class in proximity is ghettoization.
These fine folks deserve to be allowed to live anywhere in this city, not just downtown. Hamilton's core houses a quarter of all subsidized housing rooms in Hamilton. Not to mention the massive swaths of affordable housing that exist in the north and eastern sections of the core spreading through the lower city.
Downtown Hamilton has done FAR more than it's fair share for the poor and disadvantaged and I have no problem with that. But I'm not too interested in all poor folks being crammed together in less than desirable neighbourhoods. The new project on Stoney Creek mountain is great and there should be many more like it added through Ancaster, Waterdown, the Mountain etc..... Cheers

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By UrbanPlanner (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 19:31:09

Though I bristled at some of the verbage used in this article I definitely agree with all of the positive raves.

Personally I have been preaching for years now against the concentration of any one land use in a "neighbourhood", be that low-income/social services, office use, commercial, residential, cultural, etc. Unfortunately, as noted in the article, the senior staff at City Hall don't seem to be terribly interested in what an actual vibrant neighbourhood is like.

As Dave knows, the City staff are more interested in being the traffic flying by on Cannon than doing something about it.

I am alternately torn with dismay at what a s#*t-hole this city is and bubbling with glee about how much potential there is for re-development. It has to be done right though, and that is what fuels my dismay as I am employed in the development industry and don't see it happening with the status quo.

I live, work and play downtown and cringe whenever I hear from my friends how gross/dangerous downtown is and that they are uncomfortable to even walk to my condo.

I am not fully aware of all of the details of the proposal, but if it is in fact a building of this magnitude for low-income housing, I would just like to give City staff a bus ticket to go look at Jamestown and Regent Park and then reconsider things.

Like most other posters on here, I'm not against social housing, very much the opposite, but as my original statement said, any high concentration of any one land use will negatively affect the living organism of a neighbourhood.

My vote is for Dave on Council :)

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By oliver Barkovic (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 19:48:48

jason wrote:

"Oliver, I can't speak for everyone else but I don't think anyone is suggesting that certain folks 'cant live downtown'. "


That is exactly what is being said... actually that is precisely what is being said. Verbatim.

Reg agrees that he is the "working poor" and shouldn't be able to live downtown.

quote

"People don't flock to downtown Toronto to visit the working poor. Most people can't afford to live in downtown Toronto, or downtown Montreal or downtown Vancouver. Heck, they can't even afford to live in downtown Burlington, and that's just a suburb on steroids.


Yet here we are in this once great and still amazing city called Hamilton and I can afford to live in downtown Hamilton. Well guess what: I shouldn't be. I make squat. As Meredith Broughton wrote in a recent comment on Raise the Hammer:

Living downtown is a privilege, not something to be handed out to those who can't afford to house themselves. I fully support more affordable housing, but not in the city core."



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By damonallan (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 20:26:26

I believe there to be many bright individuals on this blog and specifically responding to this opinion letter. We have become a lobby group and should use that power and grow that power to influence city council I hope that one day we can see a few of us from here on city council or at least have a tangible seat at the table.

Anyone going to city hall tomorrow night ;)

Damon

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By damonallan (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 20:35:09

Couple of website to see:

thehamiltonian.net Here Glen Norton is interviewed...

Glen Norton is the new senior business development consultant with Hamilton's downtown renewal office. Read more about him here . For 10 Tough Questions, Glen provides some additional insight into his approach and aspirations for downtown renewal.

hamiltonrenewal.ca

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By Shadow Shopper (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 20:42:07

Isn't it normal for Councillors to live in their Ward? (eg: Dave Kuruc would run in Ward 1 if he lived in Westdale, Ward 10 if he lived in Stoney Creek.) Should those who invest in neighbourhoods be mandated to live there as well?

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By muddywaters (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 20:58:06

have to say I was really offended when I read Ron Marini's comments in Andrew Dreschels column last week. I too am the offspring off immigrant Parents who faced discrimination, and to say that people who are against this proposal because of elitism and screams of "NIMBYISM" couldn't be farther from the truth. Most if not all the people who are not in favor of this idea see a little grander vision of the Downtown core and wonder if some at City Hall share this vision. The notion that the Connaught will become another Lister block speaks to me as more negative sentiment as appose to future possibilities. I know we are in an economic downturn at the present time, but if this plan is aloud to go ahead I can almost assure you that it will not make it easier for future development of Condos, Hotels, Restaurants and the like in the Downtown core. I hope that city councilors have the wherewithal to oppose this plan. If the current owners don't have the desire to underwrite the up-keep of the Connaught I suggest they sell it, rather than looking for various levels of Government to help pay for their idea. And if Mr. Marini is still upset at those of us who are against this plan,I'm sure he wouldn't have a hard time finding someone to give him an expletive or two on the matter. Myself included.

                                                                         John Palermo

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By Shadow Shopper (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 21:07:57

Have we buried the "living wage for artists" campaign? Wouldn't the average local artist/musician/crafter qualify as being "working poor"? If this was about the Connaught becoming a creative class co-op, would people be as sickened?

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 21:19:25

Hey Folks

Thankfully I've been too busy at a property inspection at a building in the core that my partner and I are considering as our first home to witness this splendid conversation as it happened. Some higlights and some real low points from my perspective.

I think what is needed here is a little breather. We're all DEMANDING things out of our City and city, politicians and core, community and businesses, and making wild assumptions about each others desires and actions. This is dangerous stuff. Why? Because it creates a divided community with polarized priorities oftentimes based on false statements and assumptions. Dangerous stuff.

I'm glad to see people expressing what they want Hamilton to become and what it deserves to be. I spend just about every waking moment working on projects that I feel are bringing Hamilton closer to what I want it to be.

More often than not when I see something like this happen its because the process is broken not the project.

Most of this conversation has been focused on who should live downtown, where should poor people go, etc. WRONG FOCUS. The focus should be on:
Who made this decision?
What process did they take to get to it?
How is this decision moving Hamilton towards our new vision?
Does the decision or process reflect the values of Vision 2020, Places to Grow, etc?

If the project can be analyzed in this way it wouldn't turn into a me vs. you, poor vs. rich, college educated vs. life experience, etc. Those kinds of arguments draw lines based on assets not principles.

If the Connaught project was subjected to the same public process that my organizations Building a Creative Catalyst project is I'm sure the outcome would be beneficial to the community.

We want public funds so we go through the process - Mr. Spallacci should be subjected to the same scrutiny. It would be nothing short of a miracle if we received $12 million for our project, but I'm certain it would meet the collective values of the community as a project worthy of our core.

Focus on poking holes in the process folks - not the people.

Jeremy
(does not have university degree and lives about 4 blocks from the Connaught)

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By beluga2 (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 21:31:04

That suburb on steroids down the street from us is looking more like a real city every day. If this shit keeps up, I'm moving.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 22:34:13

Bravo Jeremy! (Freiburger I presume?) Less heat and more light is always a good thing, and its easy to demonize groups of people when it should be about accountability and transparency. Know what stinks about this plan? 1/2 the homes are going to low income residents but the government's supposed to pick up 2/3 of the tab, someone's getting rich on the public purse and it ain't the poor people.

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 22:46:49

Taking this from my facebook posting which is also getting some interesting feedback:

I wish folks in Hamilton didn't say the following because of past events:

1. I don't want to see another Lister Block...
2. It's better than nothing
3. Hamilton doesn't deserve better

I come from poor stock. First generation CDN - my immigrant parents divorced when I was young - and I grew up in a single parent household. Was always taught to work hard for what I want and never give up. Always encouraged and most importantly I made it out of an east end neighbourhood where most kids I knew are still struggling to break cycles and move upwards. We need to show them Hamilton can be so much more than what they think it is.

We (as a city) truly haven't given our youth the chance to go beyond their surroundings. We need to do better...

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2009 at 22:55:32

Beasley

" ...places like Denningers, Absinthe, Ya Man and that really nice used guitar guy are still on king east."

These are all primarily examples of destination businesses: places that people will travel to go to even when they don't live or work in the neighbourhood. Tundra Leather, the other leather place my mother-in-law drives to Hamilton to visit, and Bizclip also fall into this category. So does P0wnz the gaming centre. They're all attractional businesses people will take the time to come visit, although some of the food-based ones have a local/delivery clientele such as Le Chinois and Forbidden City and the pizza places.

And while they're GREAT to have in the area... they don't tell you much about the area itself.

They're a poorer gauge of the health of the area than the "walkby" businesses. That's why I keep mentioning coffee shops - I know them, I've worked at Tim's, Second Cup, Fortinos' coffee bar and more, and I've looked into the stats required to keep them moving. I'd looked at the possibility of putting one at King/Locke where G.P. Grumpy's used to be (not that I could get the financing to, but what it would take and how feasible it would be).

Foot traffic businesses are different than destination or delivery businesses.

Coffee shops, specifically operate on the general principle that out of every 150-200 people walking by, you'll have one person coming in and buying something. Unfortunately, that's not the case for the coffee shops in this area due to less disposable income. So even if you get twice the foot traffic, you don't get the same profitability. That keeps businesses owners away, unless they're badly educated on the realities of the business.That's the kind of difference between this area and most other downtowns.

Definitely, the destination businesses, whether it's Denningers, Newman's, Milli's, or the Reptile Store will survive (almost) no matter where they're plunked on the arterial roads or the state of the surrounding area. Most businesses aren't so lucky, though.

Of course, much comes down to management and operation and business plan too. I agree on you there.

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By beaslyfireworkstechnican (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 23:04:01

Jer, Meredith etc...

I hope you guys can make it to the plucker on thurs at 7pm. Talking about large/complex things on the internet can usually turn into a disaster, so thanks again for for pulling it off.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 23:04:51

more info on CH tonight (it changes faster than I can keep up). Battaglia is saying they will open a restaurant, drug store and grocery store on site.

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 23:11:57

Also these jokers claim an NHL team is the only thing that will make them keep it a hotel...

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By IV Love (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 23:15:00

Creative Class! Spare some space in your heart for the IV!

Arts Hamilton
Key Music Group
Bizclip
Tiger-Cats
Denningers
Ya Man!
Brownies
Hunan House
Baramibunei
Absinthe
Artists' Lofts
Intolerant Gallery

Throw in a handful of part-time galleries and a PR agency and voila! Arts district on steroids!

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 23:32:40

Also don't forget:

- Payne Music
- surviving sign from Curly's Hat Shop
- only in Hamilton could we celebrate DOLLARICIOUS and it's wacky name and beautiful terrazzo basement flooring
- the ready to go just needs a new owner - Maxim's Cafe
- forgotten theatre spaces
- all the rock t-shirts you can handle
- Wellington Park
- pretty cool alleyways

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2009 at 23:40:44

There's definitely a better selection of businesses then there is in the core section of King Street.

That's one reason I like living just outside the downtown boundary on this end, because I can walk by anything I need when going downtown or through it.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2009 at 23:44:15

Also forgot -- the housing around here is still cheap, but there's a bit of "dead space" either way before you get to it around the IV with the street layout and parking lots, etc. That also slightly hampers any real neighbourhood feel to the area since a relatively limited number of people live above stores. (Though there are some absolutely gorgeous places up there)

There's a lot of really cruddy Beasley highrises and some slightly higher-prices single/duplex/tris in Corktown - the Landsdale ones are a bit of a walk away as are the Stinson ones.

Definitely still a great deal of well-priced housing around the IV, but it's sort of separate.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 01:19:38

Shadow Shopper wrote:

Have we buried the "living wage for artists" campaign? Wouldn't the average local artist/musician/crafter qualify as being "working poor"? If this was about the Connaught becoming a creative class co-op, would people be as sickened?

You're probably right that there wouldn't be the opposition to an artists' co-op, but in all our emphasis in the arts, we're forgetting a key piece of the puzzle. Who is going to buy all the art? If we don't do more to bring people with disposable incomes into the downtown, our burgeoning arts community is going to wither and die.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 01:56:00

Highwater: The question that needs to be answered is why those with disposal incomes have stepped on the poor? Why have they ignored the policies that have thrown many into dire poverty?

You can get all the money in the world into the core but that is not going to change anything for those that struggle if the policies are not changed.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 03:54:09

Reg >> But what about the people with money? You know, the urban hip, chic, the young and the restless, the ones who go to Toronto to spend their cash instead of in their own bloody city.

Scenario...You're a young, educated person looking to buy a condo. You have $250,000 to spend. You can buy something in Hamilton, which has less amenities than Toronto, but it will give you more square footage. Or, you can move to Toronto, get something smaller, but enjoy a more lively environment. It's a toss-up.

However, here's where tax policy can be a game changer. You then consider the total costs of owning a condo, which now includes city taxes. In Toronto, these taxes come out to 250k x .8548% = $2,137. In Hamilton, these taxes add up to 250k x 1.5878% = $3,969.50, or $152/month more in taxes.

Furthermore, if that 250k condo rises in value 5% in both Toronto and Hamilton, the increased tax cost is as follows...

250k x .05 = 12.5k in new equity.
12.5k x .8548% = $106.85 more in taxes if you live in Toronto.
12.5k x 1.5878% = $198.48 more in taxes if you live in Hamilton.

Therefore, even if Hamilton property values rise as much as Toronto's, which is doubtful, the Hamilton condo owner still ends up losing, because they have to pay more in taxes.

By insisting on charging high tax rates on people's biggest asset, the City of Hamilton is GUARANTEEING a losing proposition for home buyers. You simply can't make as much money owning a home/condo in Hamilton as you can in Toronto.

And you all wonder why people with money aren't demanding new condos in Hamilton? Maybe it has to do with the fact that Hamilton likes to tax more of people's net worth.

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By Train 48 (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 06:37:32

Jason wrote:

"Battaglia is saying they will open a restaurant, drug store and grocery store on site."

Eleven-storey building with gracious lines and a full slate of premium amenities, located close to the action?

Three words: Chateau Royale 2

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By damonallan (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 06:48:03

Grassroots:

You have to remember that this isn't a poor vs the wealthy scenario. It is about our downtown core. We don't want a poor downtown core. I have all the respect for those that are poor. It is about creating an atmosphere for the right type of Hamilton Brand to flourish. Everyone has a part in this process. We are talking about preceptions that we all buy into and if that is the case, then they are realities and we do not want a downtown to be, or feel poorer than it actually is because at the end of the day when you have people talk about Hamilton, they talk about the negatives such as the core even though we know how many positives really exist. I would look forward to seeing some rezoning of some of the half way houses, group homes and other social institutions. They are far too concentrated in the core. We need to spread these out. Added to the fact that people are still coming here from Toronto because of our social services...

more later...

Damon

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 07:31:51

Unbelievable, now the Spec is reporting that the developers owe $500,000 in unpaid taxes! They owe so much on several of their parking lot properties that the city has put a lien on them, and the hotel itself could have a lien on it at the end of the year. How about they pay back what they owe before taking more money from the government.

What other nasty surprises are waiting for us if we go ahead with this deal?

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 07:43:33

Damonallan: Yes I agree that "everyone" has to be part of the process. It has been a battle for those that struggle even to obtain a voice in this city, to be part of the process.

Downtown used to be the place to go but with the growth on the mountain and outward, the growth of other shopping malls in other areas, it decreased the amount of traffic to the downtown core, thus the decline we have seen in the last 30 years.

In all this back and forth, has anybody thought to ask what those who struggle think about all this? Many of poor do not have access to computers, so their voice is missing on this blog completely.

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By damonallan (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 07:49:09

See the Spec article here:

Call it affordable if you like but the project is being SUBSIDIZED and affordable housing means that someone is picking up the bill for the rest that they are not going to pay. Am I wrong?

http://thespec.com/News/Columnist/articl...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2009 at 08:03:45

Is this a joke? How long can I not pay taxes on my house before they take it and sell it? They haven't paid taxes since sometime in 2007? Because of "cash flow"? Give me a break.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 08:08:44

These rich people cannot afford to pay their taxes, nor can they control their cash flow. do thye actually pay their bills also?

Disaster waiting to happen. I wonder if the average house owner would be allowed to go three years without paying their taxes? Do anyone know the answer to that?

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 08:12:49

But a person on welfare who does hand in the proper piece of paper or the piece of paper is lost in the bureaucracy is cutoff their meagre $572 bucks a month.

Hey city, how fair is that, the rich get off easy, the poor live in the streets.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 08:14:32

meant to say does not hand in

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 08:19:19

They clearly see no problems reneging on their legal obligations due to "cash flow" problems, how can Council trust that they won't renege on the rest of their grand promises for this development?

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By damonallan (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 08:54:52

Grassroots - I respect your opinion and I believe what you have to say is valid. However, we are talking about an iconic piece of history that has been known as a landmark.

One of the other "landmarks" is the fountain (it's a new one however). When I was on the downtown BIA, which I believed to be dysfunctional, I proposed that we use private funding to clean up the fountain much what they did when they put the new one up - in exchange for a plaque in the area of something like that. It still sits rusting and it hasn't been repainted etc. One of our icons are rusting...

My point is that we are a little dysfunctional and the city is clearly not running like a business. Nor do I belive councillors understand what a Brand is and what they truly want for this city.

Tony Battaglia says that it will be for the working and seniors.

I'd rather the city take it off their hands as well.

Damon

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 09:05:14

damonallen: The city is dysfunctional and the people are not well represented in many ways.

I remember when they put in all those slate sidewalks and people were falling in the cold weather because they were so slippery, especially for the old folks.

How much money was wasted on that in the 1980's?

Someone posted on the hamiltonian.net asking how much property taxes were owing? Gee didn't we get a surprise this morning.

Is this to be another Plastimet in the making? I seen also this morning that all that flooding is going to cost us 11 million dollars, imagine if they had spent all that money in infrastructure.

It just keeps gettig worse and worse, with no end in sight.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 09:32:43

"more info on CH tonight (it changes faster than I can keep up). Battaglia is saying they will open a restaurant, drug store and grocery store on site."

Utter horsesh*it!!

I can't believe how much I have been agreeing with Jason and Ryan on this issue. Please keep up the good work on reporting about this.

Is this being voted on by council today???

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By damonallan (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 09:43:05

Yes it is being voted by council this evening. Show up or watch tv. My hunch is that it is going to pass...then we'll see what's what. I'm not happy I iota!

Damon

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 10:30:24

capitalist, don't worry. It's not the end of the world that you agree with us on something. Lol. maybe we can all get together sometime and go see Michael Moore's new film? JK

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 10:59:37

Yes, it's clear this is an issue that almost everyone seems to be on-side with --how often does THAT happen in Hamilton?!?

YET our City Council, who is apparently supposed to represent US (tax-paying citizens of Hamilton) is completely ignoring our cries and continue to support(?) this plan!

I have yet to hear any feedback from ANYONE I emailed (all council, Fred, Marini, BIAs, 'Hood Assoc's).

Is it any wonder why no one follows the political process in Hamilton? It's not b/c they're lazy, no; it's b/c they've given up... just as Battaglia & Co, Vranich, Council, and the list goes on.

Why do you love Hamilton so, Jim Balsillie!? Can YOU be our Mayor!?!?!

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 11:19:56

Really? wrote: "I have yet to hear any feedback from ANYONE I emailed (all council, Fred, Marini, BIAs, 'Hood Assoc's). "

I emailed my councillor, Bob Bratina last night and received an email within a couple hours. (I can post the email and response here if anyone is interested.) I couldn't tell you why mine got answered and yours did not, maybe you should post it here so it at least gets some exposure.

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By damonallan (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 12:13:47

Tony Battaglia is on 820 right now. He said that Terraces on King is a resounding success and that of all the people in there, there is only 1 on social assistance. He doesn't see it as a downgrade at all. He said it will improve the core and he is still planning on developing a hotel in the downtown core but with a reversal of plans with the hotel now being used for housing.

He also said that he will be paying back the 500 Grand at the day's end.

Damon

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 12:19:44

yea, I'd happily pay back 500 grand too after getting 18 mil from the government.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2009 at 12:24:19

How convenient for him to be so good to the city that he gives them half a million dollars on the day they are set to vote on his proposal. What a crook.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 13:01:36

Urban Rennaissance>> "I emailed my councillor, Bob Bratina last night and received an email within a couple hours. (I can post the email and response here if anyone is interested.) I couldn't tell you why mine got answered and yours did not, maybe you should post it here so it at least gets some exposure."

Please do post! I would love to know all parties opinions on this; although I'm not too confident it will reflect the opinions of us paying citizens.

If this passes tonight, after I cry, I may just put it in a transfer request to our Toronto Office and just give up like the rest of this City.

Hamilton: The City of 'One Step Forward, Five Steps Back'

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 13:11:15

Really? >>Please do post! I would love to know all parties opinions on this; although I'm not too confident it will reflect the opinions of us paying citizens.

As promised here's my email exchange with the Counsellor, who as I said, responded in both promptly and politely. I'd never written to an elected official before and was unsure what kind of response I'd get.

Here's my original email...

Dear Councillor Bratina,

I am a new resident to your ward, in fact I moved here from Stoney Creek just two months ago. My girlfriend and I chose this area because we love this city and being downtown allows us to be minutes from everything without the inconvenience of driving. I was dismayed when I read about the plan for the Royal Connaught coming before Council tomorrow night. Not because I hate the less fortunate or because I'm some NIMBYist, but because I believe that hotel and the whole core deserve better than this. As I'm sure you're aware over 25% of the city's total subsidized housing units are in the core. That's over 3700 units in the area bounded by Barton, Queen, the Escarpment and Wentworth. Further concentrating subsidized housing in one area will only further draw in those who prey on the less fortunate and further push out the hardworking, decent people who just want a safe place for their families to live.

Spreading out subsidized housing would have three main advantages: 1) It will allow those in the housing a better choice of where they want to live and allow them be closer to their work and families. 2) We can preserve this building for a purpose which better reflects its historic and cultural status. 3) It will show the citizens of this city that we take pride in our city's core and are committed to more forward thinking solutions.

Don't let the devloper's cynical use of the "if you don't agree with this then you hate the poor" rallying cry sway you, I would be willing to bet that he cares less about the poor than the fat government paycheque he wants to get.

I would also like to draw your attention to an editiorial posted on the Raise The Hammer website, written by local businessman Reg Beaudry, who feels as I do that the core deserves better. While you're there you should also read the 3 other articles about this issue and the 200+ comments that other concerned citizens have posted.

http://raisethehammer.org/article/944/

Thank you for taking the time to read this email, I'm sure you've been swamped by them in recent days.

And here is Mr. Bratina's reply...

Hi Ryan Thanks for sharing your views. There are two issues here. One is the regrettable inability of the ownership group to bring back the building as a hotel. There is a huge emotional connection to the Connaught by all of us who grew up in Hamilton who remember it in its heyday. I constantly reminded Council that the Lister Block was not the priority Downtown building. The Connaught, the Federal Building, and the Tivoli were all more important. Another related issue was the unfortunate decision by McMaster not to locate the Faculty of Family Medicine and clinics in the core as originally intended. If this development were substantially completed by now values throughout the core would have risen and chances of a Hotel at the Connaught much improved. A Hilton should have started two years ago on the HMP site but was delayed by heritage issues on the old brick repair shop on George Street. The developer, Vrancor, instead went ahead with two new hotels in Sudbury which are now in operation. So, many factors play into the viability of the Downtown core.

Although I am not happy about the Connaught's change of use I don't accept the negative depiction of its potential residents. Under the program income up to 40 thousand a year is permissible and the fact is that the similar "Terraces on King" project next to Denningers has an excellent group of residents of many occupations and incomes.

These are not shelters or social housing. I'm well aware of the unfortunate concentration of social services and agencies in and around the core and actually talked one agency out of turning an old school into units for homeless street youth. The building is in a mature residential area close to proposed GO train service. It is now intended for Market rate Condos

You're right about being swamped but I'm pleased to respond to thoughtful messages such as yours.

Bob Bratina

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By Vranchoir (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 13:34:55

Bratina has been snowed. The unfortunate fix is in.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2009 at 13:35:10

If Bob is in favour of it there's no hope of council voting it down

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 13:39:09

Ryan wrote "Wait, what?"

Haha yes my secret is out, my first name is also Ryan.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 13:40:13

Thanks, U.R.

... and I always thought Bratina knew the score.

I'm very, very dissapointed in this repsonse, and especially dissapointed in MY lack of response (although I can appreciate that he probably received dozens of similar emails, and is a very busy man).

Looks like it's gonna happen. Even LRT wont be able to save this City sigh

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By OctopusArmy (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 13:44:17

There's nowhere for poorer people to work downtown, nowhere for them to shop downtown, and they're not taking the GO to Toronto...

Forget about the effects on downtown...downtown's a sh**ty place to put people with lower incomes!

(someone else's thoughts i'm posting but i agree)

jt

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2009 at 13:54:05

I didn't get any response from Bratina, and he's usually good about those things.

I can't believe he's in favour of it and the "up to forty thousand dollars" lne. If you have a forty-thousand dollar income, the vast majority of people are not going to be renting in this city unless there's great amenities, convenience, or other reasons to, at least not on any long-term basis.

You can rent better for that price in the core already. You can even own a unit in the Pigott building for that much including condo fees. These are not the people who are going to be filling that project up.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 14:11:52

Agreed... if Bratina is on-board, there is no hope for the Connaught or Downtown. Also, I will be forced to change my last election's vote, and vote against Bratina next year (if I'm still around).

This is starting to look like a sad, sad day for Downtown and Hamilton as a whole (well, not really since the rest of the City will continue to enjoy it's low percentage of affordable housing).

The Crooks Win Yet Again!!! Anyone surprised!?

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 14:21:24

Collins isn't on board. His reply to my email was "I will be voting against the proposal Frank. I find it hard to believe that an affordable housing project will be a catalyst for downtown redevelopment."

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By Bratman (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 14:35:06

Bob talks a good game but he's just a little bit too cozy with the rogues gallery of developers, Vranich, Battaglia, Spallacci, also Gord sticky-fingers Moodie, Ron f-bomb Marini and the old boys Carmens Club, Liuna Louts all standing around cupping each others balls while they hold the city ransom and pilfer the public purse.

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 15:26:47

If Bratina's in this cause is lost.

I guess the proposal would have to involve a zoning change application. An OMB appeal is a possibility I suppose, although I can't imagine there would really be sound legal footing for it.

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 15:40:34

Not necessarily, Bratina doesn't exactly have the best track record of getting other councilors to go along with his plans. Don't give up hope, keep sending those emails to council if you havent already!

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 15:41:52

I've been discussing with Chad Collins. I'm sure they're getting lots of emails but so far I've gotten 3 replies from him and he's been quite helpful explaining the reasons for not having repossessing the properties and so on...

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 15:45:56

Frank, please share his reasons for not reposessing the lands already.

Let me guess, they were willing to 'wait-n-see'... Hamilton's typical attitude.

"Well, if we were to reposess, we'd have to write some letttterrrrsss, then go to courrrrttttt, then pay for lawyerrrrrs, then all the schams over the last several years would come to liiiiight... Can't Someone ELSE Do It!?"

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 15:59:26

I guess the proposal would have to involve a zoning change application.

I don't believe it does. However, the province still has to approve it, so I suppose the next step would be to start pressuring the province.

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 16:03:08

Nope, I'll actually cut and paste the answer I received from Chad Collins regarding the issue:

"Hi Frank, Provincial legislation dictates that property owners (residential, commercial, farm, industrial, etc.) can fall into arrears for a period of three years. After 3 years, the City has the option of placing a lien on the property. The owners then have one year to pay the amount in full (or establish a repayment plan). If a year lapses after the lien is applied, the City can advertise the property for sale under the tax arrears process. In this instance, the properties that were over the 3 year timeline have had liens placed on them, with the applicable charges applied to their tax account(s), almost $900 per lien.

Further, those in arrears are subject to paying 15% per annum on overdue accounts. Unfortunately, much of this information does not make its way into the newspaper and may lead one to believe that the owners are taking advantage of the situation.

Chad."

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By Really? (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 16:22:02

Thanks, Frank --that is very useful/helpful information.

A double-thanks to Chad Collins, Ward 5, who seems to be the only Council Member willing to discuss this issue.

Where are the rest of them!? Back-room dealing? Secretly taping the Mayor? Trying to con their way out of Speeding Tickets? Throwing Office Supplies at other Council Members? Or perhaps Googling themselves 'til their finger-tips go numb?

Hmmm...

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 16:43:38

LOL @ Really?

poor Merulla ;)

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 17:07:12

Collins is right.

Under 373(1) of the Municipal Act:

Where any part of tax arrears is owing with respect to land in a municipality on January 1 in the third year following that in which the real property taxes become owing, the treasurer of the municipality, unless otherwise directed by the municipality, may prepare and register a tax arrears certificate against the title to that land.

Obviously, registration of the certificate against title is at the city's option. Further, even if the city were to register the certificate, they could always extend the amount of time given to the debtor to repay pursuant to section 378.

Thus, the city could register against title to try to make it look as though it were taking a tough stance on property tax evaders, and then simply negotiate an extension agreement under 378.

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By damonallan (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 19:44:19

New development!!! Bratina proposed that the vote be put off in order to discuss some important issues surrounding this move to accept the project. He said that a lot of people are concerned and we don't need a public uproar.

Congratulations to everyone who made a difference at this stage. Keep it going. We don't need or want affordable housing in the majestic connaught!

Damon

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By adrian (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 19:49:44

Reg,

I understand your perspective, but there is a tone to this debate that I think is really unhelpful. It's typified by this line in your article: "I can live with a few skanks kicking around here and there." That attitude and that language kills it for me.

I'm really torn on this: I agree with the basic premise that downtown Hamilton needs to improve, and it's obvious that the only way this is going to happen is if we get a mix of people downtown - and to achieve that mix, it's clear that what we need is more affluent people. But, although you tempered your article with your own claims to being a member of the "working poor", there is derision towards poor people in your article and among many of the comments I've seen on this issue.

This derision is making it difficult for progressive people like me, and others (I think the commenter "grassroots are the way forward") to get behind opposition to this plan. I simply can't sign a petition initiated by someone who calls women "skanks".

This is not PC sensitivity. Language matters. It cheapens the debate and makes it sound a lot uglier than it needs to.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 19:54:40

I emailed my councillor this morning,

After reading the article this morning in the spec, it just made my blood boil. How can the poorest people in this city on, welfare but cut off and thrown into the streets because they have failed to send in a piece of paper or that a piece of paper is lost in the bureaucracy, yet these clowns who have got their hands out for public dollars can get away with not paying their taxes for three years.

Citing cash flow problems is not an excuse it is an atrocity.

If you vote to pass this, I think that every poor person who lives in this ward needs to picket outside your office.

Stand up for justice, never mind these no good thieves.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 20:44:18

Damon, Bratina said that serious issues have been brought to his attention and that "the public is in an uproar". He also cited some legal issues that have been brought to his attention. Council is going to have a second meeting tonight after the current meeting and discuss his issues privately 'in-camera', which for the layperson means, with no cameras on.
Hopefully these issues are made public tomorrow. We'll need to follow this development.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 21:32:09

FYI for language geeks, 'camera' is latin for room or chamber. To go 'in camera' means to go into a private chamber. It has nothing to do with tv cameras.

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By Publius Ovidius Naso --- (why use your r (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 21:52:31

>>> At first the Monster had one head: >>> The core was all boarded up - a run down ghetto; with bums ravaging through garbage; hookers, pimps and drug dealers and addicts feeding on cadavers of rich folks they mugged in broad day light; shattered glass strewn on sidewalks and sewage running in the middle of the streets; and the underclass and the "indigent" elderly pillaging abandoned properties for food and strewn newspapers to stay warm; with cynical bartenders turned storytellers, blog maestros and post-secondary educated types feeding the frenzy of hundred bonfires lit every night. ~ Multi-headed Hydra, (Unregistered).

This head was called "Perception" - born out of deep prejudices, cynicism, bad judgment, infantile research, half-cooked agendas and occasionally fanned by the anger of a young man who once had sparkle in his eyes and a spring in his feet that carried him through many jaunts across the core with good cheer. But in his so wanting the city to start smelling like Seattle, with a touch of Portland and a dash of Pittsburgh, with that Vancouver LRT Christmas decoration he yearned for so much since he was little boy - he allowed himself to get "brutalized" by a preliminary report of an event. In a rush to save the core - he quickly tried chopping the head of what he perceived to be a monster, little knowing that it was the Hydra.

>>> Out popped the second dubious head: >>>..."But …he did bring an unprecedented amount of attention to this gorgeous landmark!!" ~ Really? (Registered)

This head was called the 'Opportunistas' - raring to jump into a gaping hole blindly - that was mutely and patiently waiting to be healed. All that the gaping hole in the core ever asked for was to listen to 'A Bridge over Troubled Waters'. Instead it was forced to listen to 'Fly Robin Fly' repeatedly until it withered away, leaving behind artificially inflated expectations. Really? was that unprecedented amount of attention necessary...at all?

Now look at the chain of event that it has left in its wake. The echoes of 'Your time has come to shine' are now tainted with a raging class war. That was never the intent of the young man who once had sparkles in his eyes - and had since lost faith on discovering that God was really Santa Claus dressed in Black who had left for the coast and was last seen in Portland sipping a latte.

>>> And then reared the third ugly head: >>> "...it really just sounds like NIMBYism has finally infected what I figured was the last refuge of progressive Hamilton urbanists." ~ Borrelli (Registered)

This head was called "Discoursus in Free Fall". A predictable outcome of getting giddy with the expanding -circulation figures- while not keeping an eye on the content by "....attempting to not come 'on strong' or make other opinions feel unwelcome" - when the situation demanded exactly that.

>>> And then the fourth and the fifth… until finally the most ugly and horrific head of all arose: >>> "...Don't get me wrong, it said in a refined -learned- manner cultivated at the Bar. It said - But, to put it simply, the downtown denizens are not --of a type-- that I would feel comfortable raising a family around. Nor, to be honest, are they --of a type-- that I want to be around myself. I spent eight years in "post-secondary education" to get to where I am today. When I think about it "honestly", I have to confess that I want to live amongst people who have similar education levels, similar incomes, similar tastes, interests, and life experiences." ~ Tammany (anonymous)

This head was called "Obscenetus" - the final nail in the search for hope among our post-secondary educated types. With this, the battle to revitalize the soul of the city appeared almost lost for a moment! There is no way our secondary education system could have gone so wrong. Sadly in many ways then one, it now appeared that it had indeed.

This head was the most compelling reason why the earth really needs to switch its polarity fast and start afresh. But then maybe it already has, and the Monster just exists in the heads of our privileged post-secondary educated types just yearning to be free to catch up with Santa in Portland.


FYI: Jason,

You do need to cauterize the open stumps fast after you start slaying. Those were the rules of engagement for the alternative media which were given to you at the time of your investiture.

The reputation and possibly the future of the alternate media, not to mention alternate religion in Hamilton - now rests in your hands. For it is not about the spike in the number of "posts" without Adam Smith - it is about the content - just like it has always been, with the traditional media.

I did re-read all the fabulous Downtown Beat's filed by the once young man over the years, and I know he is still perfectly capable of slaying the vile demon he has unleashed - if he chooses to.


FYI: Tammany,

I have post-graduate degree from an ivy league university in nyc, with a professional graduate degree in architecture and over 25 years of "real" life experience in architectural design, urban design and real estate development. I am in the "real" downtown core of Hamilton - in a restored building which has gone thru three iterations from an International Museum of Urban History, to an arts building to the present live/work lofts -- and since the last three years, has housed more then a dozen renters who are highly qualified, intelligent and employed professionals in medicine, video & graphic design and film/arts/music -- from as far as Ohio, Calgary, Toronto and Burlington and some from Hamilton too -- and which now has an ongoing waiting list of highly-educated, employed, professional renters numbering over twenty from as far as BC to as close as Toronto.

"So please, please don't get me wrong...but to put it simply", the future of any community across Canada is unsafe including that of Burlington - until educated people such as you - outgrow your naive, simplistic and deeply disturbing prejudicial attitudes of class, housing types and economic growth

The 'ghettos' through history and across countries, have never been created by the urban poor or the marginalized. They have been developed by the perverted attitudes of yuppies and wannabe, who continue to grossly misread urban malaises and prescribe an overdose of unmitigated urban re-growth BS to counter their lack of research, class and social empathy.

But enough of this melodrama -- now if you do care to outgrow your condition before it spread into a full blown disease, I prescribe that you indulge you adventures side to venture into the decrepit dungeons of the downtown core - inside the cool safety of your 8 cylinder SUV, with your tinted windows rolled up for safety, to gawk at the many, many windows of apartments that magically light up on King and James Street in the core after dusk.

And if you start to feel safe and care to pull up and knock on any of the doors - You may be pleasantly surprised to even be invited in for a cup of coffee and a tour of the many self-respecting homes to see how wonderfully well they are living, and if you are courteous to them, you possibly may even get to meet the many fun loving children that are being raised there.

On your way out, please do remember to curb you instinct to say "you people", when you are attempting to quickly patch together a compliment for their hospitality.

I do know that recovery will be a slow and painful process for you. But I assure you that this visit will help you overcome your condition, and even possibly heal your debilitating socio-pathological condition for good.


FYI: Reg
You are a very talented photographer who has misapplied his gifts consistently. The power of seeing through the minds eye is definitely yours to keep as long as you choose.

"Don't get me wrong...but to put it simply" - as you are aware, I have always questioned your power of seeing with your eyes.

You exactly know the conditions of the failure of 316 - It was not the low-life's or the marginalized that made you shut down. It was your supreme potty-mouth spewing racial gaffes and poor customer service that aided your bad management in accelerating the demise of 316. Your foolish cavorting of the --oh so good lookin, wine sipping, black duds wearing crowd-- aided your downfall, with their in-built limits to sustaining a small start-up business between dusk to mid-night three days a week. In the process you visibly alienated the very "commoners" of various colours, that bent backwards to send you financially stable customers who were willing to just come there to support the core with their business.

You dare not whine back with an half-parsed rebuttal - as the many people on to whom you have heaped your "classy" behavior over the last years will not hesitate in getting together to sign a petition airing their view publicly -- as to why 316 was truly ailing !

You live in the very building that has given you a roof over your head in times of your deepest self-made troubles, yet you choose to publicly cast your sarcastic selective aspersions on it - just to score some cheap points, as you have with the very neighborhood that warmly welcomed you with open arms to set up your business.

Downtown revitalization is an activity that is stretched in time and space, and needs deep understanding, patience, commitment and strength of character - and not just some slick graphic designs, yuppie signage, glib talk, bad research or even soft focus black and white photographs romancing 'screen memories'.

If educated people like you, Jason and Tammany can in such a cavalier manner reduce complex events like the Connaught redevelopment to a caricature of your pet peeves and deep seated prejudices - with your selective observations, name calling, fear mongering and petty blame games - is there really any hope for reform, activism and the alternate media in Hamilton?

"It all comes down to the simple irrefutable truth" - Reg, you will be the one that Tammany and Jason will be throwing rocks at, if god forbid, you slip onto the wrong side of the tracks in your spiral. They have between them a law career and an upcoming medical practice, besides an economically flourishing family religious enterprise which lifts the downtrodden - all of which will finance them through old age while powering their version of what they call Activism.

You Reg, I fear for, my friend - as old age does creep up much faster, when your mind is shut tight and your butt clenched in fear and shame of being "overwhelmingly outnumbered by downtown denizens that are not of --a type-- you feel comfortable to be around."

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By nail on the head (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 22:28:37

Publius Ovidius Naso was a Roman poet who wrote about love, seduction, and mythological transformation.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 22:33:41

Ryan wrote:

Except insofar as the word "camera" to refer to a mechanism for capturing images is taken from the Renaissance-era camera obscura ("dark chamber"), a darkened room with a lens that projected external images onto a wall.

Ooo. We're really getting our geek on now, aren't we? This Connaught thing is making everyone punchy. A stiff drink while watching the news, then off to bed you go.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 22:35:15

Adrian: Thank you so much for your words. I got many thumbs down but I am still here. We can make a change but the change must include everyone.

I remember one day not so long ago, waiting for the bus and I started talking to someone. They were having a hard time and we chatted for a few minutes. You know, you never know, just by being nice to someone you can change their life forever to something positive.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 23:35:34

I'm with Adrian and Publius Ovidius Naso on this one. There are plenty of reasons to dislike the proposal, but quotes like the below don't help at all:

"a dumping ground for the insane, the inane and everything else in between. Welcome to scooterville, may I take your order"

"it's difficult to do when the property management has to meet their social housing quota and let the next loser in after the last loser was just kicked out"

"I can live with a few skanks kicking around here and there"

You've brought up some good points and there are plenty of problems to solve, but none of them will be cured by being an asshole.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted September 16, 2009 at 23:49:38

Publius Ovidius Naso: That was so eloquently said, kudos for you.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 00:02:11

"You've brought up some good points and there are plenty of problems to solve, but none of them will be cured by being an asshole." If it takes being an asshole to get people laughing and then talking there's worse crimes out there. I get your point but i read Reg's piece to be at least partially tongue in cheek.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 00:03:56

On the other hand you have Publius Ovidius Naso also being an asshole but not. nearly. as. funny. JK

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By beaslyfireworkstechnican (registered) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 01:42:56

Reg

Here's a map of (might have missed a unit or two) of the non-seniors-specific social housing downtown - http://tinyurl.com/q5wadp

What exactly do you mean by "social housing quota" anyways?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 07:14:32

I don't know Reg at all, so without context, he sounds like an ass.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 08:14:26

I'm still trying to figure out what vile demon I have unleashed?? Lol.

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By Reg Beaudry (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 11:28:07

z jones wrote: "I get your point but i read Reg's piece to be at least partially tongue in cheek."

Yes, indeed it was tongue in cheek...Thanks for getting that, as most people did. :)

Now, on to Publius Ovidius Naso.

Dude, get some balls. You wanna attack me, fine, but put your name to your words instead of hiding behind your blue ball building. Yes, I know who you are and where you live, LOL. I am quite certain based on the length of whatever-the-heck-that-was-you-wrote, lol, you are indeed the little man living and loving in a blue loft building that you yourself created seconds away from my lounge.

You wrote: "You exactly know the conditions of the failure of 316 - It was not the low-life's or the marginalized that made you shut down. It was your supreme potty-mouth spewing racial gaffes and poor customer service that aided your bad management in accelerating the demise of 316."

Buddy, you kill me. Not ONCE did I mention in my article why my business closed. That wasn't the topic. And for the record, it did not close because of the downtown, it closed because you kept coming in and bugging the sh*t out of me so i had no choice but to shut it down, ha ha JK. For the record, it closed for many, many reasons such as high interest rates, poor management decisions (yes), poor building infrastructure, low start up cost (the kiss of death in any business), blah blah blah and just plane ol' burn out, most of it having nothing to do with the downtown.

This is kind of funny actually because all the tenants in your building are the 'creative class'. So we're on the same lane buddy, you're just driving a European car :)

Anyhow kids, for a full explanation to those that hate me, lol, please read my reply to Adrian's article.

After that, I'm done. :) Not done, done, but done with this topic. I've said what I have to say and now I shall move on and try to make some money so I can move to Toronto, haha, JK.


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By frank (registered) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 11:58:39

It sounds like ppl need to get out more. I don't even know Reg and I got the tongue in cheek part. Lighten up ppl!

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2009 at 13:12:50

Reg:

I was disappointed, but not surprised from knowing you over the years - at reading your take on downtown and the International Village.

My previous posts to Ryan were concerning - conversations and developing a Design Centric language in Hamilton.

Aren't you being totally presumptuous with your ah! Sherlock moment - by lashing out at me in your above post - with language and logic that you accuse others in the city to use. Do you see where the real problems with our downtown's lies now?

I can see that you are having serious problems fitting in with the kind of class that is evolving organically in the International Village. But that is because you have always been spitting and chewing at the same time from the sidelines instead of engaging with the community.

I surely am not responsible for all the drool you now have sticking on you chin -- Please do keep me out of your controversies, it will be much appreciated.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 18, 2009 at 08:29:30

I guess this thread is done.

Whatever is happening 'organically' on the streets in King East is being very nicely hidden away from view. I don't see a soul on the sidewalks down there...at least not a creative one.

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2009 at 09:34:34


Isaiah 43:18-19

18 "Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
-----------------------------------------------------------------

" If you are entirely focused on the world - on the external realm of events and things - you are not aware of the significance of what happens.

If you are entirely focused on the world, constructing some sort of -narrative awareness- is very difficult. In such an awareness the present is integrated into a continuum encompassing both past, present, and future, and you stand in this moment, but are also cognizant of your history and your aspirations and anticipations. It is this -narrative' knowing- which can facilitate change, growth, and the perception of meaning."

~ (From the Narrative knowing Blog. Posted by: broke.)
-----------------------------------------------------------------

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 18, 2009 at 11:58:56

^And you wonder why no one responds to your posts! ;)

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By Ovid (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2009 at 14:22:11

One word... "Windbag".

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 18, 2009 at 16:26:26

Actually my post was in jest. I think Mahesh is swell.

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By D. Shields (registered) | Posted September 19, 2009 at 11:38:32

Jeeze, I'm glad I wasted an hour 2 nights ago to have my post not posted here. O.k., I'll try to make this shorter this time.

Nobody is going to buy deluxe accomodation in downtown Hamilton. If you've got $300,000.00 to spend on a condo, why would you plonk that kind of money in Hamilton? I don't care what you build they ain't gonna come, or not in sufficient numbers to fill the core.

Downtown Hamilton is poor, as are most city cores, but most city cores have some diversity in income. Hamilton doesn't because it has focused all it's energy & money in Urban Sprawl.(& "You gits what you pays for.")

There are a lot efforts going on to pigeon-hole "The Poor". A lot of older people who thought they had enough $$ to retire comfortably will not thanks to our recent & ongoing recession. These people may need assistance to be properly housed. Single family support mothers with their kids make up a great %age of the poor, as do seniors (mostly elderly women who are the Poorest of the Poor.) & persons with handicaps & chronic illness. (No, OHIP doesn't pay for everything! Get sick & find this out!) I find it very distasteful that Some people think that women with their children, elderly people, formerly middle class retirees, & a few people with diabetes, or in wheelchairs or walkers will somehow destroy the "Tone" of a downtown that has already seen better days. (& it not likely going to see it's former ?Glory? ever again, thank to the folks we keep electing.)

You don't have anything remotely resembling adequate public transit in your 'Burbs. You don't have hospital facilities & not much in the way of outpatient clinics either.

There have not a lot of things for people to do, esp. with kids. Suburban anywhere means long walks for groceries, stores, libraries, doctors & dentists. Are you asking people with low incomes to buy cars, or just wait @ bus stops for hours, take cab$$, or hike home with a week's worth of food? You are asking these folks to pay more out of pocket to simply live. (& YEAH... many things cost more in the 'burbs! )

Some of "The Poor' have addiction problems. (So do some of the very rich!) I think many of the people who are righting/ranting about "The Poor" have no idea whom they are talking about. They want to lump everyone in the same category with the homeless, the street people & the substance addicts. I'd also like to note that these people who want "The Poor" deported from downtown, want them deported to a suburb Far Away from Them. I live in the Suburbs & I know what is not available here. I'm aware of how much more money it costs to live here than in Hamilton.

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By Clarity (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2009 at 19:22:05

Enjoyed the article and took it with grain of salt that your dark wit & cynicism requires Reg. It did draw the painful picture of all that is wrong...drawing to light the painful truths that we are living with...downtown...

The commentary also very interesting and insightful into what dear Hamilton must really escape...

This is the City of Division...even those who all believe in the same thing have a way of attacking and dividing themselves up...leaving little units to plod along alone and with no valuable and viable momentum...

Let us divide and be conquered! Cries Hamilton from it's dismal den...

I have seen it in the Arts, the Entrepreneurs, the International Village, the Downtown B.I.A, the Councillors, the Musicians...

Let us look more to our similarities than our differences...

"Those who are not against us are with us"...

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By andrea (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 21:18:33

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 23:31:13

^Anonymous coward is cowardly and anonymous.

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted September 25, 2009 at 18:38:35

Thanks Andrea - I'm glad to hear you have such a positive attitude! I may not be educated in civic matters formally - but I've been learning on the job as they say. If you've ever been to Mixed Media - you would know that I may have a bricks and mortar store selling "crayons and colouring books" - but our space is so much more than that. Community centre, social hub, message board and for some of my friends, customers and neighbours - this is their living room. But you wouldn't know that - because you like to troll on virtual message boards.

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By andrea (registered) | Posted September 26, 2009 at 17:39:04

Kuruc:

Wonderful so you sell colouring books, crayons and host a room condicive to romper room pm! Lmao. You are still an idiot!!!

Lmfao

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 26, 2009 at 19:32:09

andrea, please put forward some thoughtful ideas, rather than just call people names.

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By andrea (registered) | Posted September 27, 2009 at 10:28:00

A Smith:

You apparently have not been reading the posts on this web site. The persnal attacks are very prevalant. I'm simply conforming to the standards that have been established on this site.Personal attacks with no rhyme or reason seems to be the norm. Perhaps you should look at yourself in the mirror before passing judgement.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 27, 2009 at 11:38:09

'andrea' wrote:

The persnal (sic) attacks are very prevalant(sic)...Personal attacks with no rhyme or reason seems to be the norm.

DiIanni? Is that you?

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2009 at 11:55:53

Andrea thanks for posting such thoughtful and provoking comments...anonymously no less! See you on the other side of the mirror.

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2009 at 16:03:06

Here are a few thought from 'Zygmunt Bauman' which may help in healing the damage that has been done from - poorly articulated desires to accelerate progress in our downtown core.

-----

"The most seminal consequence of the unprecedented urbanization of the planet is the elevation of 'living with strangers' to the rank of the most important of arts which humanity must develop and learn in order to survive."

"Living in the company of strangers prompts two contradictory sentiments: of mixophilia and mixophobia. The proximity of strangers arouses curiosity and attracts with its promise of new yet untested experience, of pleasant surprises, adventure, untried possibilities. But proximity of strangers also instills fear: fear of the unknown. Strangers, because of being strangers, are a mystery; it is difficult to be sure what steps they will take, it is impossible to read clearly their intentions. Mixophobia prompts an urge to separate, to hide in closely guarded 'gated communities' which only 'people like us' are allowed to enter, to build high walls and hire armed guards. Or, in the case of those who can't afford such costly investments, to frighten the unwelcome strangers away and bar them from entering by making one's own space a 'no go' area: by riots, violence and lawlessness of the place."

"Present-day massive migration that results in the accelerated urbanization is not caused by local conditions, but by global transformations. In this case, like in so many others, cities serve today as dumping sites for globally created problems, and there is only so much (much too little) that the elders of the city and its residents may do to resolve those problems while confined to their own limited resources. But cities serve today also as the laboratories in which the new art of living permanently with strangers is developed and experimented with, and as schools in which that art is learned and put to practical test. So, in the long run, what we presently gain in the cities, meeting strangers face-to-face and interacting with them with mutual benefit, may yet become a decisive factor in resolving the issues which on a global level, where 'strangers' appear as abstract entities in the equally abstract context of the 'war of civilizations,' seem intractable."

--from: "LIQUID TIMES: Living in an Age of Uncertainty - By Zygmunt Bauman

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2009 at 18:00:21

The nature of violence that poorly articulated desires to accelerate progress unleash, is best described by: George Johnson, in his "In the Palaces of Memory". The kind of violence that hurts without leaving bruises - or so we in Hamilton presume:

"Freedom of speech is based on the old dualist notion that mind and body are separate things. Hurting someone with a rock is different from hurting someone with an idea. But is it really?
As science continues to make the case that memories cause physical changes, the distinction between mental violence, which is protected by law, and physical violence, which is illegal, is harder to understand."

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"In Chloe, a great city, the people who move through the streets are all strangers. At each encounter, they imagine a thousand things about one another; meetings which could take place between them, conversations, surprises, caresses, bites. But no one greets anyone; eyes lock for a second, then dart away, seeking other eyes, never stopping... And thus, when some people happen to find themselves together, taking shelter from the rain under an arcade, or crowding beneath an awning of the bazaar, or stopping to listen to the band in the square, meetings, seductions, copulations, orgies are consummated among them without a word exchanged, without a finger touching anything, almost without an eye raised. ...A voluptuous vibration constantly stirs Chloe, the most chaste of cities. If men and women began to live their ephemeral dreams, every phantom would become a person with whom to begin a story of pursuits, pretenses, misunderstandings, clashes, oppressions, and the carousel of fantasies would stop."
— Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities


"...i love new york, even though it isn't mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because i belong to it. "
— Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's

"The more successfully a city mingles everyday diversity of uses and users in its everyday streets, the more successfully, casually (and economically) its people thereby enliven and support well-located parks that can thus give back grace and delight to their neighborhoods instead of vacuity. "
— Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

"Neighborhood is a word that has come to sound like a Valentine. As a sentimental concept, 'neighborhood' is harmful to city planning. It leads to attempts at warping city life into imitations of town or suburban life. Sentimentality plays with sweet intentions in place of good sense."
— Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities


"The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner."
— Italo Calvino

"Calvino's final words in this 1962 essay 'Defiance of the Labyrinth' are strikingly similar to those used by Gerald Graff in 'Literature Against Itself': "The critical problem... is to discriminate between anti-realistic works that provide some true understanding of non-reality and those who are merely symptoms of it." -- John Welsh, Erasing the Invisible Cities: Italo Calvino and the Violence of Representation.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted September 28, 2009 at 08:56:51

"andrea, please put forward some thoughtful ideas, rather than just call people names."

Andrea, you been served. How obnoxious do you have to be to have "A Smith" call you out for trolling?

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By andrea (registered) | Posted September 28, 2009 at 12:11:32

Nobrainer?! Lmao. Your name speaks for itself.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2009 at 00:54:58

andrea, please put forward some of your ideas for fixing downtown.

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