Comment 56817

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2011 at 11:16:47

wentworthst

Honestly, I don't want to wait even 5 years for big things to happen throughout my city. Hamilton is an overlooked jewel of major proportions, on that we are in complete agreement. The question we have to ask is, "Why is it overlooked"?

While I think the answer to that question is complex, I'd ask all of us to rewind 5 years, 10 years, 15 years. Think about the level of real, fundamental change in this City's fortunes in that time. Think about what King Street looked like along its length 5 years ago. What Barton Street looked like 10 years ago. Main Street 15 years ago. Sadly, the change has not been significant enough, neither commercially nor residentially. Why? What's not in place? Why do banks not want to loan money to developers in Hamilton? Why is everything limited to colourful artist renderings in brochures that never seem to become reality, with too few, although thankfully some, exceptions.

As you might expect, given that I run Hamilton HIStory + HERitage, I'm not exactly down on Hamilton. I love this city. Deeply. I would not be wasting my words, time and money if I didn't think so. I'm at a point in my life when I'm becoming impatient. But, until we truly focus our efforts on maximizing our limited investment when we have such a generation-changing, city-building opportunity, I fear we're doomed to play the waiting game, IMHO. The "it's just around the corner" view of progress.

The razor's edge our elected officials have to walk is to make life for current residents as pleasant as possible, while at the same time dealing with a budget that is completely backwards in terms of its sources of revenue.

Empty hotels, derelict buildings, demolished heritage, suffering retail, high unemployment, above national levels of poverty, and sadly the list goes on, are not signs of a golden era in the making. If I didn't believe it would ever change, I'd give up, close up "shop", and leave. I don't do that because it is going to change. But it's going to change even more slowly if we dissipate our once-in-a-generaation, 100% government-backed catalytic investments, of which the Pan Am investment is a prime, and very real, example.

We have to think seriously about implications. If IWS is rebuilt, and it opens, then what happens? What's the next obvious, and realistic, step? Who spends money doing what? What contribution will this make to the city? And it better be about much more than fans will be more comfortable and Bob Young will be happier. Much more. When we get these 2 promised Grey Cups, where do you think they will build the first new hotel that will house the out of town fans? The second? Why there?

Ask yourself the same set of questions about the WH.

As I said originally, I find one set of answers OK, and the other set of answers much more compelling. Critical mass is a huge factor for development no matter which city you live in, but in Hamilton, it seems to me it's one of the most critical factors in this whole stadium location equation.

Personal Footnote: Even I'm bummed out about what I just wrote, but they are considered comments, not simply those of a grouchy old guy having a bad day. Trust me on this. We're making a $125 million investment that should have a ten times multiplier effect for a generation. For me, the WH is the best place to make that come true.

Comment edited by H+H on 2011-01-18 12:07:42

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