Events

Hamilton's First By-Law Crawl

By-law enforcement is complaint-based. We need to break the cycle of willful negligence and emergency demolition in this city by reporting reporting property standards by-law infractions to the city when we see them.

By Matt Jelly
Published January 20, 2010

On Saturday, February 6, 2010 Hamilton will see its first By-Law Crawl, at 1:00 PM beside the remains of the Century Theatre.

By-Law Crawl

Please be advised that the date and time of this event have been changed from the original time and date (Friday, Feb 5 at 7 PM).

Many people in our community are saddened to see another heritage building destroyed - demolition crews are dismantling the 97-year-old Century Theatre as I write this.

Multiple parties are to blame for this prime example of demolition by neglect, including the owners for not living up to their responsibilities as a property owner, and the City for not holding the owners to those responsibilities.

The public also has a role in this. By-law enforcement is complaint-based. We need to break the cycle of willful negligence and emergency demolition in this city. The only way for us to do that is by reporting property standards by-law infractions to the city when we see them.

It's the only way we can stop the next building(s) from being torn down.

We don't need any new by-laws passed to prevent this from happening. The city simply needs to enforce the by-laws we already have as they're written. The public needs to ensure that enforcement happens.

We will be printing up copies of the Property Standards By-Law for distribution at the event, and we will scour the core for the worst offenders. We will forward these findings to the city's by-law enforcement, and ensure that these complaints are processed and acted upon.

I will be in contact with senior by-law staff to explore ways in which we can work together to fix this problem once and for all.

Let me be clear - I haven't organized this event to crack down unfairly on property owners who are doing their part. There are many building owners in Hamilton who do the right thing. They maintain their buildings and keep them vibrant and active.

I want to focus on the worst offenders - property owners who have shown little respect to their neighbours, by allowing buildings to fall into disrepair and become a public danger.

I want to focus on by-law infractions proven to be the most detrimental to the safety and lifespan of buildings and properties. I don't want to attack those who keep business alive in the downtown core.

The point of this event is to crack down on absentee property speculators who do nothing but keep business out.

I urge you to join us on Saturday, February 6 at 1:00 PM, beside the remains of the Century Theatre. Let's work together to solve this long-standing problem, and prevent the wrecking ball from claiming any more of our last remaining heritage buildings.

For more information and updates, I encourage you to join the Facebook fanpage.

Editor's note: Matt Jelly has sent this as a press release to local Hamilton media.

Jelly is a local artist, graphic designer and map maker living in Downtown Hamilton, Ontario in the Central Neighbourhood. Matt is an advocate for built heritage, toxic waste eradication and the revitalization of downtown Hamilton. www.mattjelly.com

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By Really? (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 15:03:39

Any idea as to which buildings will be on the hit-list? I'd love to attend, but my weekends don't give me much free time.

And what about buildings that are currently occupied, and/or used for business, that just simply look disgusting? (ie: that 'pawn shop' Boyz Toyz beside the Linc Conference Ctr @ Plaza Inn Hotel; and not to mention Dollarlicious with it's disgusting scrap-yard fence façade)

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2010 at 15:28:58

We're working on a list of vacant properties first- but I will urge the crowd to keep an eye out for other serious infractions. What I want to avoid is picking on properties that may have a couple of infractions or may look unsightly to some, but are not doing the most harm, or do not pose a risk to public safety. We'll be going after the worst offenders- absentee owners of vacant, derelict properties.

As the crawl progresses over time (if the first one goes well it will be a monthly event) we'll be able to focus in on other problem buildings, even some that do house businesses- I'm definitely aware that there are some half-vacant buildings which are just as much of a problem.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 15:49:46

Thanks, MattJelly. I'm currently going over the by-law, but it's 46 pages and not so fun to read.

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/7038...

Does anyone know where one could find maybe an abbreviated version for those who don't have the time/patience/will to read through 46 pages of legal lingo!?

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By shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 15:56:03

There is no abbreviated version. Mwahahahaha.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:21:13

I think the abbreviated one is 150 pages. LOL

if you focus on every building that has a crappy facade or metal fence, you'll be completing the first bylaw crawl just in time to start the second one next month.

Great work Matt. Rock on.

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By meredith (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:27:24

The relevant sections are shorter since it'll mostly be looking at building exteriors. I have a feeling there will be a dozen or so bylaws that are violated over and over again.

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By Myrcurial (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:40:02

If you consider that brand new cedar cladding is unacceptable (http://www.thespec.com/article/627990), I'd love to know how Dollaricious is ok... it looks less inviting than the actual jail in Hamilton.

Why is it so easy for the city to pass the buck and say "it's up to the citizens to do the discovery work" when the vast majority of the people who work in city hall have to drive the streets of the downtown core to get from their up-the-mountain/out-of-town homes to the "food^W government court" in the mall where they work.

Sigh.

Amazing the difference between doing the job and doing the job WELL.

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:43:08

By legislative standards, the by-law is an easy read. There are only a few pages which are really relevant for the purposes of the crawl anyway. I don't think anyone here will really be concerned about kitchen facilities, toilets, plumbing, etc.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:48:24

I found that pages 7-20 are the most relevant for detection purposes, but ya, quite the boring & repetative read!

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:48:53

And what about buildings that are currently occupied, and/or used for business, that just simply look disgusting? (ie: that 'pawn shop' Boyz Toyz beside the Linc Conference Ctr @ Plaza Inn Hotel; and not to mention Dollarlicious with it's disgusting scrap-yard fence façade)

Unfortunately there is no bylaw against disgusting. Those 'scrap yard metal facades' are an institution of 1960's mallification and were installed before the bylaw protecting properties of heritage interest.

Comment edited by jonathan dalton on 2010-01-20 15:51:12

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:49:16

IF there ever was a bylaw that prohibited extremely bad names for businesses, Dollarlicious would have to be first to face a fine. Just wow.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:51:41

Yeah really. Dollar Joint was much better.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:56:22

^ LOL

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2010 at 18:07:27

dollaricious versus hairalicious

which is tastier?

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 19:57:46

Hairalicious is the only place in town where you can buy hair extonsions [sic]. Check out their sign.

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By shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 20:29:03

Okay, now that I'm not at work, I want to chime in and say that the main reason why property standards officers don't stop and reflect on buildings on their way in to work, or while out on the weekends is that nobody likes doing their job when they are not being paid. Now that the obvious is out of the way, the reason the property standards bylaw is enforced on a complaint basis is because there are ... oh, maybe 15, but probably less, officers for the entire City (I can find out tomorrow). Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Flamborough etc. They do not go out looking for every crack in a building foundation, or a leaning fence. Also, this year, they all have had to take courses on legal note taking, as they often have to go to court and must make sure that their t's are crossed and their i's are dotted. Proper note taking that will stand up in court is not a hasty scribble. Also, if an officer spends a few hours a week in court, that is time that they are not on the beat doing inspections. I think the public thinks that an officer answers the phone, takes the info, hops in the car, drives to a site that is five minutes away, snaps a pic and issues an order to comply. If you think that Property Standards requires more staff, I'd agree with you, and then heartily tell you to take it up with HR and Council.

Also ... hm. It's possible that vindictive people might make it a habit of tying up resources by making repeated complaints against an individual (say a neighbour they don't like), who responds by making complaints against the original complainant. Some residents use the bylaw office as a referee which is a HUGE waste of taxpayer dollars. Just sayin'. Hamiltonians are guilty of wasting taxpayer money as well.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2010 at 20:56:41

dollaricious versus hairalicious which is tastier?

Hmmm... I think it might be lurkalicious

Yes, off topic, but I couldn't resist.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2010 at 21:10:23

Now, to be on topic-- this sounds like a great idea. If the tone was set as high as it could be legally set, and enforced, it might encourage other business and property owners to get rid of the things that are ugly and untidy but that don't technically break any bylaws. You know, push the neighbourhood an inch, maybe it'll run a mile...

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 22:39:50

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 21, 2010 at 01:49:39

Yes. First and foremost, we'll be reporting redundant posts on local affairs websites. We will ensure that our downvotes are processed and acted upon. Soon all of the redundant posts will fade, fade away!

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By Myrcurial (registered) - website | Posted January 21, 2010 at 09:53:17

@shaddupsevenup: Given the zeal of the bylaw enforcement officers in the first two weeks that we moved into our place (we were busy getting the interior livable before we tackled the exterior) and the seemingly endless spare time that individual had to hassle new Hamiltonians, much of your argument falls flat.

Regarding not wanting to do their job on their offtime? Hey, I'm sorry, but welcome to the real world. I'm not paid to keep my education in my field up to the expected standard of an employer, but if I don't do that work, it's going to get noticed. Perhaps if some of our public servants had a little less orwellian doublespeak and remembered that there's more to doing a good job than punching a clock, maybe they'd be as proud of our city as many of the Intentional Hamiltonians who specifically chose this city.

Oh, and having to take a course on good legal note taking -- if you can't do the job and aren't willing to undertake the training required, please step aside, I can think of dozens of extremely over-qualified people who'd be more than happy to step into your obviously too tight shoes.

WHY is it that so many Hamiltonians are so willing to accept abject mediocrity? Waiting for the man to do something about it? Guess what - we are all "the man" and we are all in a position to better this place - a 1% increase in "giving a shit" by each member of our community would make this place so much better, most olde tyme Hamiltonians would shit an I beam.

Excuses and prevarication are the go-to tools of the weak willed - it's what keeps you down and holds the rest of us down with you.

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By shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:29:10

Hey, no need to attack me. I was just trying to provide a little insight into how the process works. Obviously, it's best to get people riled up and irate at public servants. That's an effective method for change. You bet.

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 13:49:59

i think the complaint based system could actually work in our favour. it does in the suburbs, because people COMPLAIN! ALL THE TIME! if the old guy down the street doesn't like the look of something he will harass city staff till they do something about it. they feel entitled.

we need to be as vigilant about the areas and buildings we care about. if you make it easier for the staff person to fix a problem properly as opposed to just sweeping it under the rug, ie. making one complaint and never following up with it, something i am guilty of myself, hopefully there will be an incentive for bylaw to crack down on some of the blatant offenses. jelly is right in that all the bylaws are in place, the system works if it is understood properly, it just takes effort by the general public to democratically decide what is important. there are and always will be limited resources, unfortunately right now they are being used up by cranky old guys complaining about the wrong people and the wrong offenses. let's change that. let's give them some new priorities.

p.s. no offense to cranky old guys in suburbs, i'm not sayin', i'm just sayin'

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By shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 14:16:26

The squeaky wheel gets the grease! The complaint system works in your favour if you complain. You better believe that there are people out in Ancaster who scrutinize their neighbours properties, lest it bring down the real estate value of their own home.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 16:33:06

yea, property values will plummet if someone hangs their clothes out to dry or forgets their weekly blast of neighbourhood pesticide.
Wouldn't it be easier if areas like that just rented a plane and had one big pesticide drop over the entire neighbourhood instead of every house buying their own supply??

Comment edited by jason on 2010-01-21 15:33:30

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 17:15:25

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 17:26:36

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 18:29:21

What is wrong with hanging your clothes outside, saves on hydro

Comment edited by grassroots are the way forward on 2010-01-21 17:29:35

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 23:43:52

hey jelly,
please, keep doing what you've been doing, man.

"a sign of the times," your posts read like the fart smells.

cause. effect. personal rights.

think about it, you Gottlieb Burckhardt.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2010 at 01:20:06

I'm not phased by "A sign of the times" or his/her/its trolling. It's a safe bet By-Law Crawl will do more to help the state of the downtown core than more counterproductive whining about "the poors", or anything else this scumbag can say to goad me. What have you done to fix the downtown core lately? (anonymously shitting on other people's efforts doesn't count.)

You've completely misread the intent of the crawl too- I'm not focussing on "struggleing" [sic] landlords and store owners who are doing the right thing. I'm going after owners of vacant and derelict properties who aren't being responsible- they don't house productive tennants or maintain their buildings properly. If you actually frequent the downtown core and talk to the neighbours of these properties, you'll know many of them feel the same way and want to see action. If they properly maintain their buildings and contribute to the vitality of the downtown, there's no reason they should have to put up with a negligent owner next door, driving away business and posing a potential safety risk.

Comment edited by MattJelly on 2010-01-22 00:20:40

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2010 at 07:56:03

What is wrong with hanging your clothes outside, saves on hydro

Many new subdivisions have bylaws against this for aesthetic reasons-- so my friends and relatives who live in them throughout the GTA tell me. Large, ugly condensers for central air systems, however, get a pass. Don't know what the word is on ugly rainbarrels...

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 08:24:40

Michelle: Yes I have heard that. You got to wonder why though, I mean if this is thing people have to complain about, then they really do need to get a life.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 09:43:21

I think Ancaster has a ban on clotheslines, unless it was recently reversed.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2010 at 09:47:06

AFAIK no city by-laws ban clotheslines, but many condo policies do.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 10:04:16

Well Jason, all I can say to the policy in Ancaster, is so much for freedom or the lack of freedom to live green. some people have lost their moral compass.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2010 at 10:14:43

For the record, By-Law Crawl fully supports clotheslines! ;) Let those skivvies blow in the wind people! Let your freak flag fly!

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By The Village of West Hamilton (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 10:30:44

g said: p.s. no offense to cranky old guys in suburbs,

ahhh - the guys we should be recruiting for this by-law crawl. They got eagle-eyes, years of experience and nothing else better to do. I'll spread the word to my neighbours - they'll be perfect for the job!

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 11:20:30

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By z jones (registered) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 11:30:15

Where's zookeeper when you need him? Just downvote and move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2010 at 11:38:47

You're the one who started the ad-hominem attack by calling me a "dummy". This is what qualifies you as a "scumbag", scumbag.

It takes people to make a downtown work. It takes people living and interacting with a downtown to solve the problems you're so lazily bemoaning. I will not take you seriously when you gladly admit you avoid the downtown at all costs. Maybe you should actually take another look at what is happening downtown, aside from the negative- small investors and artists have started to seed a transformation which is immediately spurring economic growth in a part of the downtown people like you gave up on long ago. And before you whip out your next talking point, these investors did so on their own accord, with little support from the taxpayer, if any.

Honestly, if you're so concerned about downtown, the worst thing you can do is to avoid downtown- if economic growth is going to take a foothold in the downtown, the people who work every day and all day to operate businesses in the downtown core need people to live, work and play in the core and support that renewal.

By complaining about the state of the core without offering ANY sort of solutions or ideas (beyond what, powerwashing?), you're a part of the problem. It's nonsense hyperbole like yours that reinforces the notion that downtown just can't be revitalized- and people just give up. It's a slap in the face of everyone who is constantly working to see this change happen- people who are far more valuable to this community than you are, you ignorant shit.

I implore you to start posting using your full name- I'm guessing you don't have the stones to say any of this garbage to my face. I will shove your false accusations of communism so far up your ass you'll be coughing up teabags.

;)

(I don't mince words, Hamilton)

Comment edited by MattJelly on 2010-01-22 10:43:44

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 12:34:46

Sign of the Times: Boy are you in a foul mood. I agree with Matt, you offer no real suggestions or ideas that would actually help people move forward.

Of course, you give no real discussion that it is the big banks that promote cheque cashing. I guess maybe you should be writing letters to all the CEOs of the big banks, who prey on the poor.

Anybody and everybody has the right to be downtown, you should really be looking and re-reading what you write because sir, you come across as somebody the supports ideologies that many died for in the second world war, you know the many that were labelled as being not worthy of participating in society.

Well not to worry because I am sure considering your ideologies, that you are very happy with the news of the funding cutbacks for the people who are marginalized to find work and that they will be left out in the cold.

I went to an interesting forum on the weekend, a workers assembly, which brought together many people, workers who are unionized, non unionized, immigrant, workers who are non status, those who struggle with the draconian rules of social assistance, that leave so many struggling or when they are cut off left in the streets, community activists who fight for labour rights, environmental rights, to start working together to fight for social justice.

Label me as you wish.

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 17:31:15

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2010 at 18:17:49

The event isn't tomorrow, it's on February 6th. Further proof you just skimmed the article and attacked the idea without thinking.

And really? Opening a business downtown is a recipe for disaster? I know plenty of people who have successfully opened businesses in the core, which are starting to thrive- they've built a real sense of community amongst each other. They also know how to take care of their buildings and add to the community around them- and resent those properties who do neither of these things. And I know for a fact they're willing to continue this work until the core is something all of Hamilton can take pride in and contribute to meaningfully.

Successful business breeds more successful business. It's the only way- I'd love it if you could elaborate on what you mean by "create a business-friendly enviorment [sic]", if part of that doesn't include small businesses in the mix. Nothing will bring your beloved corporations to downtown if that groundwork isn't laid down first- they want to see businesses thriving regardless of the problems- problems I might add, exist in any major city to some degree. It takes dedicated people, hard work and creativity to work around the challenges and make the core work.

Truth is, if it weren't for small businesses, downtown would be truly empty- as a direct result of people like you staying in your cul-de-sac, disparaging any effort for renewal with the same tired old bullshit, and convincing people there's nothing worth engaging with in the core. People like you do far more harm to the downtown core than any panhandler ever could, by perpetuating an exaggerated perception of the core and it's problems, and doing nothing to actually solve the problem. You make me sick.

I never said there's nothing wrong with drug dealers, loitering or panhandling in the core- but I don't believe it's a necessarily a productive starting point when it comes to improving downtown- even if they were all swept up tomorrow and sent to jail or wherever you'd have them go, you wouldn't notice because you don't come downtown. But I'm sure your complaining would continue, and you'd still find other ways to unnecessarily disparage the downtown and its residents. You've completely lost any authority to decide who contributes and who doesn't.

But by all means, if you think panhandling/loitering/drug dealing is a problem worth solving, feel free to actually participate in the community, organize your own event that addresses the problem, and spare us from your mentally dim arguments and FUCKING DO SOMETHING. But of course you won't- If your priorities in life are to shit on the efforts of the people who actually care enough to do something, I can tell you don't have what it takes to back your words with action. I can tell you're the kind of intellectually lazy fucker who would rather complain than do something about the problem. And whatever, that's your waste of time, not mine.

It's still hilarious to me that you won't back up your words with your own name- it says a lot that you won't take credit for your arguments- it shows us you're not even convinced they're right. Again- I dare you to meet me face to face and say any of this to me directly without hiding behind a pseudonym like a coward. You know how to find me.

(By the way, to RTH and the good people of this site, I don't mean to feed the trolls, or use such strong language. It's just that this particular kind of dickhead has always infuriated me to no end. I'm sure most of you understand. ;)

Comment edited by MattJelly on 2010-01-22 17:23:18

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 18:48:37

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2010 at 18:50:46

A sign of the times FTW!

Yes, I smoke joints from time to time. Got a problem with that? Lol. You're a howl.

Comment edited by MattJelly on 2010-01-22 17:52:10

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By Armando (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 22:15:20

Wow....By the Sign of the times ...The City does actually power spray the side walks downtown I guess you wouldn't know that because your head is stuck so far up your ....Anyways Matt and Grassroots may not have a solution to all the problems but at least the are doing something to change the on going decay of the core it's easy to bitch it's much more difficult to get off your ass and participate....

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By Hamil T. Onian (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 22:31:34

I used to live in Hamilton.

When we were kids (like 8 yrs old), my Father would take us down to the Broadway Cinema and we'd watch old Popeye and Betty Boop B&W cartoons on Friday nights from 8-10pm. I saw Rocky Horror Picture show there for the first time in High School

Just down the street on James, I saw Star Wars for the first time at the Tivoli. When my Grandparents came from England to visit, we took them to the Tivoli to see a double-feature of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.

We regularly went to Lionel Blair pantomimes at Hamilton Place, saw Dave Allen perform there, and in Grade 8 I saw my first concert there - Platinum Blonde.

After the shows, we would often walk over to Locke Street and have a sandwich at Loyal Georges, or La Papillon. On big nights, we'd go and sit at The Gown and Gavel, or Main Street Cafe.

The reason we went downtown as a family was for the arts. It was the shows, the music, the theatre.

It's completely reasonable to believe the current community of downtown enthusiasts (comprised significantly of artists and familiar friends) can build a movement that leads people back to the downtown core for the culture. It will take a lot of time though...and good leadership.

It'd be a real example of positive urban renewal if they could pull it off.

My money is on the hippies.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 22:35:39

great post Hamil. thanks for the cool memories. I'm too young to remember, but weren't the restaurants you mention on Hess, as opposed to Locke?

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 23:11:12

dedicated to SIGN OF THE TIMES

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pDRIJC31...

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By Hamil T. Onian (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2010 at 00:27:03

Whoops.
Yes, those places were in Hess Village, on George Street.

Thanks.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2010 at 19:47:14

Wow-- friends and I ate at Le Papillon back in the day (high school, to be exact) when we saw Bruce Cockburn at Hamilton Place.

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By RY (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2010 at 21:42:20

I stumbled on this article while looking up information on historical buildings in Hamilton for a school project - and I really appreciate the positive, proactive approach. I love the old, abandoned beauty of Hamilton buildings (although it would be much better if they could be repurposed...), but I get frustrated when people lament their decay after they are gone. Acting early to protect the ones remaining is a fantastic idea. Good work!

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2010 at 01:01:26

RY, if you haven't already, check out http://historicalhamilton.com/ - lots of photos there.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-01-24 00:02:30

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2010 at 19:03:22

Poor people haven't ruined downtown, poorbashing has. I spend a LOT of time downtown, and know a very good number of the homeless and panhandling folks. There are, at most, a dozen people panhandling in the core at any one time on most days, usually far less. Compare that with the thousands of people who work downtown, and thousands more who pass through, shop or eat. We really don't have a problem that compares to Toronto or other major urban centres. It's simply in our faces because panhandlers have to be to make any money.

What there's far more of, are people who have committed no crime other than looking unpleasant. Some are poor, others are ethnic, elderly, disabled, drunk or have fashion senses outside the mainstream. How far are we going to go to placate bigoted suburbanites? No swearing? No oversized sports gear or green hair? Nobody from the group homes? Nobody with mental illness problems? Perhaps we could have the Hamilton cops start doing drop-offs like on the pararies?

Human rights are human rights. Even when you're dirty, drunken and foul-mouthed.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2010 at 19:33:28

It's true. And many people think they know the solutions to these problems- they think it's easy, and someone just isn't doing it. I spend all my time in and around the core, and I don't like being barraged by panhandlers either. But I don't pretend to know why they're there and how to get them out of their bad situation.

We can police the problem to an extent, when it comes to panhandlers who get aggressive. But most of them aren't out to hurt anyone, and they technically have the right to ask people for money. It's a human problem that needs a human solution- not more cameras, not jail, not relocation.

Plenty of Hamiltonians complain about these problems, but nobody has a surefire idea of what to do about it- aside from some who wish they could all just be put in jail or given bus tickets and sent somewhere else. I wouldn't doubt there are even some people out there who secretly wish they could all just be put to sleep. But within the bounds of what's moral and decent, I challenge "A Sign of The Times" to offer us a solution, or even something resembling a constructive thought.

I've gotten a little out of hand in this thread, unfortunately I let a troll set me off in a way that was neither professional or appropriate. I apologize, not to the troll, but to RTH and the board for ignoring the rules of etiquette. I just take these issues to heart, maybe sometimes a little too much.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 25, 2010 at 09:51:01

just wanted to throw another idea out there. What about publicizing those who own our crumbling downtown buildings and providing phone numbers, and email address for concerned citizens to contact them?

For example, posters could be put up in prominent spots downtown and in library's/cafes etc.... advertising the name of the company that owns the Connaught along with their contact info. I'm sure this info could also be publicized on the web here on RTH, the By-law Crawl page and other local news/blog sites.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2010 at 10:52:15

I apologize, not to the troll, but to RTH and the board for ignoring the rules of etiquette.

Much appreciated, Matt. No one can accuse you of not caring enough!

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted January 25, 2010 at 11:06:49

I'm with Jelly. Once in a while you just have to give a good fistful back to the downtown haters. If nobody did, their arguments might be taken as credible and the disease of Hamilton apathy would spread unabated.

The large collective disinterest on the part of the majority of Hamiltonians has devalued our greatest assets as a city - irreplaceable heritage buildings and prime downtown real estate - to the point of inviting opportunistic investment which perpetuates this cycle of devaluation. Demo by neglect happens to some properties because, in an environment which allows it, some properties will be bought by opportunists drawn in by low cost and low risk.

A common mistake is to conclude that because some properties are used this way, that there is no feasible alternative. Wrong - properties are bought cheap and neglected because the market allows it and there are insufficient safeguards against it. History has proven that with intervention, buildings can be repurposed in economically feasible ways with private capital.

I still find the buildings we almost lost more amazing than the ones we did and continue to lose. Where were people like 'sign of the times' when they wanted to demo the Piggott, SunLife, Bank of Montreal, Sandyford Place, the Lister Block, City Hall, the TH&B, and basically everything we have left to distinguish ourselves? Were they saying our efforts at preservation were useless?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 25, 2010 at 12:10:06

Where were people like 'sign of the times' when they wanted to demo the Piggott, SunLife, Bank of Montreal, Sandyford Place, the Lister Block, City Hall, the TH&B, and basically everything we have left to distinguish ourselves? Were they saying our efforts at preservation were useless?

Is that a rhetorical question? ;) The answer is, they were part of the chorus of voices screaming for those 'eyesores' to be torn down. The fact that they have been proven wrong time and time again doesn't seem to deter them. The urge for destruction will always be a siren call to the ignorant, apathetic, and nihilistic.

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-01-25 11:10:28

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted January 25, 2010 at 12:47:23

jason wrote:

What about publicizing those who own our crumbling downtown buildings....

I'm sure this info could also be publicized on the web...

I had the same thought and it actually ties into something I've been researching ever since Keanin Loomis' article about his search for Signs of Life in the city.

I was looking into creating a crowd-sourced GoogleMap mash-up (or mash-ups) to provide users with an overview of what there is to do in Hamilton and help show off the diverse activities we have to offer.

But I figure this approach would work just as well to provide an easy way to organize and present the Bylaw Crawl data.

You can see an example of what I've done here. Basically I used the Google provided template (with some customizations done by me) to input my points, the spreadsheet then generates the map which you can then link to.

As you can see in the example its possible to customize the "bubble" associated with each point. For the Bylaw Crawl, the bubble could contain the address, description and photo of the building, plus links to more photos, and information to contact the building owner and/or the city.

The spreadsheet can be updated by anyone with a GMail account and internet access, so the map could be updated on-the-fly during the crawl by anyone with a smart phone.

If anyone wants more info about this or wants to join as a collaborator you can send me an email to the City Guide google account I created:

hamiltoncityguide@gmail.com

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2010 at 13:02:04

This is fantastic, UrbanRenaissance, and I'm excited to see where it leads.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-01-25 12:02:31

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By kevin (registered) | Posted January 25, 2010 at 22:29:01

Don't apologise, Matt. You're doing good work.

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2010 at 23:28:31

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

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted January 25, 2010 at 23:30:29

^ Tiresome troll is tiresome. I know it nags something awful, but try to resist the urge to feed it.

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 00:03:03

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By CityJoe (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 03:28:04

The last thing I read on the subject of The Woodward St. sewage & water treatment plant was. "It will cost too much to fix it." It won't be fixed any time soon. (This was not long after it was announced that it would be fixed & updated.)

IMHO, since it serves a large area of Downtown, industrial areas, & part of Stoney Creek, "Hamilton cannot afford NOT to fix it."

I wonder what 3 feet of sewage in basements does to property values & the actual physical structure of buildings, esp. older ones? Nothing good. Both business & property owners will see a drastic increase in insurance costs, if they can get insurance at all after a flood or 2 or more.

This a bit off topic, but just sayin'. If Hamilton can't get basic infrastructure updated, then what exactly is the future of Downtown? If they keep on firing their 'experts' as they did recently, who's gonna believe what City Hall has to say?

If we want Downtown 'neat, livable, & pretty' we had better be thinking about things from the under ground up. Like water, sewage, & gas lines as well as hydro, phone/computer lines. What's the point of doing large renos, if the buildings are damaged during or after the fact?

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 10:36:57

Why do people come on here merely to argue. I will never understand why folks with clearly radical (and frankly same old) views from the mandate of the site continue to visit RTH? Give it up and start your own "How to destroy the city even more" website.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 11:56:05

they don't need to start a website Dave. They get to further their cause at every election.

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:25:38

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2010 at 20:22:35

We have a government?

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By kevin (registered) | Posted January 26, 2010 at 22:50:47

Dave, you hit the nail on the head. I've often wondered what kind of loser frequents a place where he has open disdain for the people there. Simmering serial killers? Terrorists? Aside from HNIC I make it a point to never watch or listen to the CBC or anything on FOX. Why upset myself? Why pick fights? These aren't even real fights, anyway. There is nothing more cowardly than Internet attacks. I think everyone should have to state their name and come into the light, as Dave Kuruc, Jason, Ryan, Matt, Adrian, Ted, Ben, Michelle et al never fail to do. They're not afraid. What kind of "Capiltalist" trolls webistes dedicated to everything he hates? I don't know any real capilatists, but I imagine they haven't heard of, nor would they care about, RTH; they're too busy making money. Most of the people on this site try to be nice, but some people make it hard intentionally and that sucks. Karma, baby.

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By Myrcurial (registered) - website | Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:23:50

Feeding trolls is bad, but Mr. Fancy Pants up there is one of the two major subsets of Hamiltonians that makes me want to scream.

The Self-Important-Suburbanite.

It would be nice if we could set up some sort of system of consequences -- every time one of the suburban councillors votes against something that those of us who live in the lower city want, we get to vote them something they don't want. I think that since they like to zoom through the lower city at 70km/h on their one-lane-save-me-from-downtown-highways, we should get to convert their major thoroughfares to one way as well - Upper James goes Northbound, Upper Wentworth Southbound. Oh - and those inner accesses are expensive to upkeep, they can have the two highway accesses and we can dedicate the inner accesses to public transit only (with ram bollards to keep the riff raff out - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCSsope5v... )

I often wonder about the absolute intensity of damage that The Self-Important-Suburbanite and his near cousin The Pre-Defeated-Due-To-Being-Hamiltonian do to the efforts of The Intentional-Hamiltonian and The Urbane-Renewalist.

There should be some sort of comeuppance. But I don't see when it is going to happen -- maybe if we all work to elect councillors who are prepared to act like adults in meetings and who are willing to challenge the forces that work to put our city down.

Sigh.

I think I'll always be tilting at windmills - because it's the only way to know that I've tried.

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By Flustered (anonymous) | Posted January 29, 2010 at 16:20:41

Okay, I dig the sentiment. But the methodology? As you're witnessing with the comments above, bylaw enforcement is the playground of ratepayers' associations, neighbourhood nimbies and petty bickerfest partygoers. It is the part of town where people go to inhibit diversity and frustrate initiative. "I am offended" is the war-cry. In other words, it is not the way to encourage development and growth.

But as I said, I appreciate the sentiment behind this movement. Might I suggest that the fallen be honoured not with a march but with a show? A lot of shows, in fact, weekly guerilla movies projected against the walls of downtown buildings from the vacant lots next door. Call them the Century & Tivoli Guerilla Movies. No admission charge, but money raised selling popcorn and soft drinks go to a neighbourhood re-development fund. A lot more fun and, I believe, more effective.

Just a thot.

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By Historian (anonymous) | Posted January 29, 2010 at 16:24:46

I am too old for this. Ever since we allowed the developers and the Building Trades to gang up on the citizens of Hamilton to steal a beautiful green downtown plan and replace it with the red brick monstrosities we have in the shape of the Convention Centre, Hamilton Place and Copps Coleseum, (all good and worthwhile but not in those locations) the City Council's have gone pro-development and to hell with by-laws. I've said it before, we need to revive the spirit of the SOS (Save our Square) group, the Shiela Zacks,Thomas Beckett,Bill Powell senior, Harry Greenwood and Herman Turkstra to name a few. But we lost progressive Council to the likes of Cooke and Bethune and strong Labour to the opportunism of David Wilson and the weak-kneed Marston (possibly the worst Labour Council President in history)and replaced them all with a gang of non-fits in Council. You wont change anything with a By-Law
unless you have the people to police the By-Law,
and they sure as hell ain't there now.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted January 29, 2010 at 16:33:29

@Flustered

So you don't want citizen-based bylaw enforcement because it's "the playground of ratepayers' associations, neighbourhood nimbies and petty bickerfest partygoers" - all of which are highly effective at enforcing standards.

But instead of that you want to have "guerilla movies projected against the walls of downtown buildings from the vacant lots next door" and you think that would be somehow "more effective"?

What, because city officials will respond more to people watching movies than people actually, y'know, filing bylaw complaints?

This kind of crapass thinking is why the progressive movement doesn't get shit done anymore.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted January 29, 2010 at 21:44:31

Let me clear up a couple of things here. By-Law Crawl isn't a "march" or a "protest" against the lack of by-law enforcement- it's an event designed to inform and equip citizens with the tools necessary to tackle the problem of inadequate enforcement through already existing channels. This isn't another rally where we spend an afternoon yelling and carrying signs to make ourselves feel better. We're going to do something about the problem directly.

Property standards by-laws are complaint based, so we'll be giving people all the information they need to identify and forward their concerns to the City's By-Law enforcement staff, and to see that those complaints are processed and acted upon. We're not protesting policy, we're doing our part to ensure policy is implemented. There's a process in place, and it will only work with input from the public- we can't just blame this problem on the City if we don't give them this input in the form of reporting by-law infractions. If we do our part, the City then has no excuse not to do their part. I'll be following up with the City with a report, and ensure that the complaints generated by this event are acted on.

Flustered- you make it sound like I am some Johnny-come-lately moving into the downtown and making selfish demands of the core and it's constituents. I've lived in and around Downtown Hamilton for my entire life- as did my parents and grandparents. Over the course of decades, many great old buildings in the Downtown core have been demolished as a result of neglect and absenteeism. In my efforts over the last few years to combat this problem, it's become more and more obvious to me that proactive by-law enforcement is the most effective tool we have to prevent the destruction of our built heritage. A stitch in time saves nine.

I assure you I'm doing nothing to "inhibit diversity" or "frustrate initiative." with this effort. I believe keeping buildings vacant and poorly maintained keeps the downtown itself vacant and poorly maintained. As I've already stated, buildings with active tenants aren't the focus of the crawl- we're going after the worst offenders- buildings left vacant and open to the elements- which I'll add, do not "encourage development and growth". I bet if you owned a house, busted all the windows and just let the weeds grow over, it would in some ways discourage the development and growth of all the properties around you.

The same exact principle is at the heart of the By-Law Crawl- the businesses and people that surround vacant and derelict properties suffer in measurable ways as a result of this neglect. It's not a case of merely being "offended"- it's identifying a real problem and offering a real solution, and the expectation that people live up to their responsibilities. That's all.

I am all for your idea of screening movies on the sides of buildings- I'd suggest following that up and making it happen, I'd be happy to attend. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to ensure you still have some buildings left to project upon.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 30, 2010 at 15:43:26

"Clearly, most of you think that money grows on trees. If the city wasn't spending 20-25% of its budget on social services, imagine how much lower property taxes would be. More money in the pockets of landlords and business owners means more cash for improvements, better products, more employees, etc. Property values would increase and owners would be encouraged to maintain their properties to further increase values. It doesn't take a genius to realize that half-way/subsidized housing, crack houses and the obvious presence of riff-raff lowers property values. grassroots, before you throw a tantrum, realize I am not referring to people who legitimately cannot work, but those who chose not to."

This, right here, is exactly the problem. Decades of city councils dedicated to helping landlords and business owners make more money is the direct cause of this crisis. Development firms like very easy and very profitable projects like buying farmland and converting it into virtually endless tracts of mass-produced suburban housing or big-box warehouse store districts. At best they're willing to do a few flagship pieces downtown (preferably condos or hotels, as they're most profitable). Communities want decent housing, livable neighbourhoods and heritage architecture. By writing laws to benefit landowners we've only made speculators, slumlords and strip mall developers into some of Hamilton's main industries.

And of course we have to bash people who "choose not to work", as if those on welfare, ODSP or EI are somehow a disastrous drain on society, or that making them poorer and less serviced will somehow cause the problem to go away. How about that other class of Hamiltonians "choosing not to work" and instead living off the avails of under-maintained rental properties? They cost students, working families and communities far more than welfare could ever pay out.

"Bums" may often be seen near abandoned buildings, but that's just a correlation. It does not imply causation. It is abundantly clear who is responsible for Hamilton's rash of "blighted" properties - names like Zoran Cocov or Darko Vranich and Joe Mancinelli. Until we hold them accountable, this is just going to keep going.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 31, 2010 at 11:03:02

Thanks so much for weighing in Undustrial about the poor bashing. I wish people could really understand how the system works for those workers who have lost their jobs. The calls are starting to come into places like the Peer to Peer Mentoring Project, those workers whose EI benefits are running out, with no jobs in sight and facing the future on welfare and they are in a panic.

At present there is not much we as a community can do for them, accept to hold a hand out in solidarity, that we understand your fear and anxiety. There are also many workers out there who cannot even get access to EI, this is particularly true for those caught in the precarious job market, where one can lose your job assignment for addressing legitimate health and safety concerns.

In this story:

http://www.thespec.com/article/714088

These words captured me:

Devastated and embarrassed, the 50-year-old unemployed former call-centre worker scraped his way back, but just barely.

"I was living on the street, at the Salvation Army, with only the clothes on my back," he said.

"It was embarrassing, walking around with the same clothes for a week."

AND:

"Rooming house tenants are some of the most vulnerable," Crowe said.

Donnelly moved into the building in April 2009 and says he was not warned it could be closing months later. He paid $365 a month.

He was collecting employment insurance and did not have the money for first and last month's rent in a new place when the rooming house was shuttered the first week of July, so he ended up on the street.

Donnelly said he went to the building on June 4 and was advised by construction crews that all items in the rooms had been thrown out. He lost all his clothes, videos and family photographs.

"My nerves were shot, it was life altering," he said.

COMMON SENSE:

give proper notice people deserve to be treated with dignity

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted February 05, 2010 at 09:54:37

I've isolated the relevant sections of the Property Standards By-Law and posted them here: http://bit.ly/BYLAWCRAWL

TOMORROW! 1 PM! BESIDE THE REMAINS OF THE CENTURY THEATRE!

www.bylawcrawl.ca

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted February 05, 2010 at 13:05:17

I did a some building inspection work during my summer breaks in university, and for anyone planning on attending I'd advise you to bring the following: (if possible)

  • binoculars - Sometimes shadows and grime can look like damage so it always helps to get a closer look, especially if the area is high up or blocked by a fence.
  • camera - A picture is worth a thousand words and depending on the quality of the lens it can take the place of the binoculars.
  • ruler/tape measure - Anything to give some scale to your descriptions and/or photos. Saying "a big crack" isn't as persuasive as "a 3 inch wide crack".
  • a clipboard or something solid to write on - Makes filling out paper forms that much easier.

and of course, weather appropriate clothing.

Happy hunting everyone!

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