Downtown Bureau

Gore Park Promenade: Glimpse of a Real City Square

Head downtown for the rest of the summer and enjoy the Gore as it should be: a vibrant, fun heartbeat for our city.

By Jason Leach
Published July 12, 2012

This week marked the official opening of the Gore Park pedestrian pilot project. This pilot is a baby step towards a hopeful implementation of the entire Gore Park Master Plan as prepared by staff and a citizens committee over the past three years.

Gore Park Promenade
Gore Park Promenade

As downtown has seen increased growth and investment on James, Hess, Locke, Augusta, John and surrounding neighbourhoods, the Gore area and high-speed streets such as King, Main, Cannon and Wilson have seen little to no investment.

As we all now know, downtowns thrive when people are comfortable being there. There's a reason we all love to hang out on Locke, Hess and James yet avoid King and Main like the plague.

Gore Park is the centre of Hamilton. It is our historic centre and most would agree it is our city's heart.

The fountain in all its glory
The fountain in all its glory

Urban experts from around the world constantly visit Hamilton and, mere steps into their downtown walks, they all state the same things: get rid of these freeways and the Gore could be a stunning city centre.

Despite a lack of political will to deal with the speedways that hold our city back, we are seeing some slow progress on the Gore front.

I was at the Gore last week and had a sneak peek at the newly constructed pedestrian zone, and will admit I was underwhelmed. In fact, I couldn't figure out why the street had been closed for two months.

Gore Park overview. Let's extend it to the Connaught before 2015
Gore Park overview. Let's extend it to the Connaught before 2015

Like many other downtown residents, I have wanted to see us do the entire Gore plan at once, instead of this pilot project and then more delays until after 2015.

We recently rushed a streetscaping project in downtown Ancaster in order to complete it before the Canadian Open. We should make sure we do the Gore before Pan Am comes to town in 2015.

Successful Opening

Enjoying the sound of water, music and laughter, with no cars or buses
Enjoying the sound of water, music and laughter, with no cars or buses

After yesterday's success at the opening of the Gore Park Promenade, I'm certain everyone at city hall and in the Downtown BIA will agree.

For the first time in my life, I experienced Gore Park with a glimpse of what it could be year-round. It felt like Montreal or Boston. It felt like a real city square.

Sitting on the street
Sitting on the street

My only complaint is that it doesn't stretch all the way to the Connaught. Anyone who was at the Gore today only needed to step across Hughson St to see what a difference the old parking meter design makes compared to the new pedestrian zone.

One lonely patron at Chesters patio had his chair facing all the action at the next block, craning his neck as if to say, "What's all the excitement about over there?"

On the other side of Hughson, it was deader than dead
On the other side of Hughson, it was deader than dead

Those who stopped by the one block of pedestrian activity were treated to great music, lots of seating, beautiful gardens, and good eats from various food trucks and the wonderful Reardon's family, back downtown with a sausage stand.

Head downtown for the rest of the summer, and during Supercrawl, and enjoy the Gore as it should be: a vibrant, fun heartbeat for our city.

So nice to see Reardon's back downtown
So nice to see Reardon's back downtown

Great burritos are almost here
Great burritos are almost here

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

51 Comments

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 08:15:26

First was Starsky fine foods, and now Burrito Boyz here ! Our favourites are here now, no trips and $$ spent in Mississauga anymore.
Thanks for the news !

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 09:11:58

Design: underwhelming.

Pilot project: COMPLETELY unnecessary.

But this is the city we live in and we have to accept the fact that they move like molasses in January...when they do anything at all.

I'll bet Burrito Boyz would have liked having the promenade extended all the way down to John or Catharine. Oh well, can't give up on that sweet parking revenue.

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By BBoyzHamont (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2012 at 16:48:25 in reply to Comment 79392

We're actually pretty happy, the promenade is a great addition to the core and will hopefully bring people back downtown. I was worried the promenade would hinder parking and pick up orders but I guess we got lucky with the best of both worlds.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2012 at 13:46:57 in reply to Comment 79392

If we're going to use viscosity-based comparisons, I figure we may as well get it right:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_drop_...

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By Cobblestoner (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:14:10

Yes, we're finally approaching Mississauga-grade excellence.

Even aside from the yawn-inducing production values and car-friendly design, the pedestrian pilot project is disappointing because it is just so damned boxy. And i'm not just talking about the amateur flowerboxes -- everything about it reinforces a static grid. The City has apparently done its best to colour within the lines and prevent pedestrians from moving around too freely.

Ditto for the Gore Park Promenade, which simulates activity and street life for the benefit of those visiting downtown during business hours, importing businesses to pad out the place for three days a week during three months of the year. Visit during the day on a Monday or Tuesday, or any day of the week after 6pm. The pulse will be very different.

An irony of the old-timey snapshots screwed with educational intent into the planter facings is that the streetlife evident in those nostalgic frames was abundant and authentic despite the absence of a municipally mandated Urban Experience Zone of Engagement.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:32:31 in reply to Comment 79396

This is why I think we need to do the entire Gore plan immediately, instead of this pilot project. No business will invest in a 3-day a week pilot project, knowing that the rest of the week will bring no people, and only 30 parked cars. Once the entire Gore plan is constructed, I believe businesses will invest and locate in the Gore again....Even the pilot should have gone to John. Fingers, Chesters and now Burrito Boyz are on that block. I agree with the molasses in January comparison... but hopefully those who were there yesterday will agree that the Gore was more lively than it's been since those black and white photos, and we need to get moving on the project ASAP.

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By Cobblestoner (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:05:18 in reply to Comment 79397

I don't know if the BIA has any options other than to import vendors for the Promenade. It's not as if the strip lends itself to colourful street-level experience.

My sense is that the tenant demographic will always make vibrant street life on the north side of the King a challenge.

Head east from Bay and you've got the AGH, Convention Centre/Fairclough Building, transit terminal, accountancy, bank, bank, bank, payday loan shop, convenience store, restaurant, restaurant, [vacancy], [missing tooth], bank, [vacancy], March of Dimes, nightclub, tavern, restaurant, consultancy, fast food, payday loan shop, courthouse, [comatose hotel].

Until the Connaught is brought out of its coma and commerce returns to the ground-level storefronts, my suspicion is that things will be random.

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By BurritoBoyzHamont (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2012 at 16:54:44 in reply to Comment 79401

*Quickserve

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By Cobblestoner (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2012 at 17:31:57 in reply to Comment 79485

Not intended as an insult. Fast doesn't necessarily mean bad. North Americans just tend to perceive it as a negative.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 15:34:04 in reply to Comment 79401

Which is the cause and which is the effect? The experience of James North would argue that walkability improvements lead to lower commercial vacancy rates and better use of storefronts.

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By Cobblestoner (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 23:24:15 in reply to Comment 79413

The vacancy rate on the north face of King from Bay to Catharine compares favourably to James North (two empty storefronts, a vacant lot and a dormant hotel vs. several empty storefronts, three or four vacant lots and a dormant theatre). There are few out-and-out crappy tenants on the Gore's north face. It's just that the stretch is very institutional, and the jobs are dominated by full-time white collar professionals. They tend not to shine in a sidewalk sale environment. It should be said that James North is rather quiet on Mon/Tues and after 6pm as well, similarly dampened by a monolithic law-and-order block. And it's prone to similar Urban Experience Engagement activity too: Open Streets, Art Crawl, Supercrawl are all staged events manufactured to varying degrees. The street's default mode is far more sedate than most once-a-month tourists grasp.

The key example of James North (at least the four blocks that get all the hurrahs) speaks to the value of a residential neighbourhood. Downtown has comparatively few residential units adjacent to the Gore: Draw a line bounding Bay/Catharine/Rebecca/Hunter -- two blocks either side of a six-block stretch of King -- and you'll find about 250 1BR+2BR residential units inside that box. Now draw a line bounding Rebecca/Park/Barton/John and add up the residents therein. It's the chicken/egg thing. You're unlikely to lose the banks from downtown, unlikely to want to lose restaurants or hotels. It's just not a strip that has pent-up self-expression or indigenous assets crying out to be repackaged in tent or food truck form. Maybe someone will open a bistro in the old Canada Trust. Maybe the Connaught's lower level will swell with buzzy boutiques. Maybe. But it'll take more than a walkable piazza and a catchy name.

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By Cobblestoner (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 07:41:43 in reply to Comment 79430

"There are few out-and-out crappy tenants on the Gore's north face."

Compass is broken. That should read "south face" naturally.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 07:36:46 in reply to Comment 79430

To my mind, there are two key differences between the Gore Promenade and the James North Crawl.

FREE vs FEE
One is that the Crawl ran for years as an almost entirely non-commercial event, an experiential happening. Its founders conceived of it as part of a broader word-of-mouth marketing campaign to brand the neighbourhood as not being about buying stuff; the $100 cans of paint and $8,000 loveseats only showed up latterly. Even now, it's entirely possible to spend an hour or two wandering around without buying anything. The Promenade, on the other hand, is more easily monetized; its transactions are often cash-based. There's nothing wrong with that distinction. It is the city's central business district, after all. But it does have a way of limiting engagement.

CONFOUND VS. CONFIRM
The James North Crawl starts after working hours and runs into the wee hours, bringing foot traffic into the neighbourhood as the sun is going down. For a strip that had been plagued with drugs and violent crime, this was a notable achievement, a way of proving that there's nothing to fear (admittedly, being in a crowd of familiar-looking middle class people of homogeneous complexion helps). That unspoken message, repeated monthly over several years, begins to sink in. The Promenade, meanwhile, has no such ambitions. Its operating hours (roughly lunch to close-of-business) showcase the Gore much as it would normally be seen. It's perhaps helpful to create a space that is more visibly different than the streetlife on the North side of King, which is a bit touch-and-go. All the same, it's not challenging the idea that downtown isn't safe after dark. It's confirming it.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2012 at 09:35:53 in reply to Comment 79445

I don't totally have an issue with it being just during business hours although as you say, we do need to work on the night presence. We want downtown to be more and more a place people want to work amongst and spend a day off hanging around. Growing up on the mountain going downtown was a big deal/fun adventure. Hell I am nearing 40 and I still get a bit of that same feeling when I am downtown. Was down there every day for three years before I finally got a vehicle again. I miss it but glad I had that time to truly see both the potential and the gradual change. It's not a bad downtown at all.

The Connaught is obviously one of those things from my long-winded rant above that needs a solution now. It's just this dark, dingy, facade covered in stagnant wood. If anything as I have talked about before, we should force owners who leave buildings vacant for so long, to build some sort of lighted window dressings/displays instead of boarding up windows. It would brighten up the downtown at least. I understand things take time. Just don't totally understand this building stinking up our downtown for so long.

What would it cost to take down the wood, build some boxed in window displays on all the windows and throw some art or advertising or something to add a little life to this stretch? Artists and downtownists would possible do it for free?

If we can't rush these projects, can we at least make the downtown appear to be more lived in?

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By Armagnac (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 10:32:41 in reply to Comment 79455

An event that is held mid-week during business hours is inevitably going to reach a limited audience. Namely the people with full-time jobs who don't work in downtown Hamilton and are therefore less likely to be aware of the core's amenities. (Some might argue that the Promenade is more a novel lunch/coffee break option for downtown workers than it is a draw for those outside the zone.)

Whaty sort of impression does it leave on out-of-towners? Here's one review of last year's iteration:

"The Gore Park Promenade, (not to be confused with Gage Park on Main Street E.) smack-dab in the middle of downtown is taking on new life. This is a downtown in transition.

When I visited on a sunny Friday afternoon it was alive with activity. An eclectic group of artists, artisans and entrepreneurs, had set up tents under lovely mature trees. They were selling every thing from jewelry to cupcakes. There was even live music.

The first thing you'll notice in the park is the magnificent Gore Park Fountain. It was built in the late 19th century and refurbished about a dozen years ago. Mike Andrushko, a veteran tarot card reader, and one of the vendors, had set up near the fountain.

'It's an attempt to bring more people to the downtown area of the city because for many years the park has been used by transients,' he said.

It seemed at least on a Friday afternoon to be working. There were lots of office workers and visitors enjoying the green space of the park. However, on the nearby sidewalks there was the usual crowd hanging out. Some were waiting to go into Tim Hortons (it's the only Tim Hortons that I've seen with a security guard outside), others were trying to sell you something and some were trying to save your soul.

Now, let's get back to the Gore Park Promenade. One of the summer students working on the re-vitalization of the park explained, 'The city has recently taken the buses out of this area and we simply wanted to take advantage of space that is available to us and bring more business to downtown.'

....A word of caution: parking is very limited."

http://m.torontosun.com/2011/08/08/hamiltons-downtown-in-transition

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By Cobblestoner (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 07:46:34 in reply to Comment 79445

"All the same, it's not challenging the idea that downtown isn't safe after dark. It's confirming it."

Not sure I would formulate it that way. More than anothing, it just reinforces the idea that downtown Hamilton is closed at 6pm.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2012 at 13:13:38 in reply to Comment 79401

Why is a Councillor or the Mayor for that matter, aloud to put up their hand and vote on our behalf?

I know it's a bit off topic but we are talking about slow processes and wondering why certain things are done.

I personally would love to know what our Hamilton would look like if it was planned more to some of the visions I find on here or other local online outlets. We've got some bright and creative minds pulling their hair out in frustration.

Why? Why aren't Councillor's managers of a larger 'paid' team? A team that must vote with the Councillor like the Mayor's vote of the group?

Then Councillor's are accountable. There is no question.

Maybe we'd get nothing done. Maybe nothing would pass. Maybe. Maybe for a while until we all understood one another even more, as to what we as a city really want. The change we really want to see. What we really want to save and where we want our city to go. Then maybe things would pass more smoothly and efficiently because the sneaky bullshit wouldn't have a chance to slip through the cracks.

Maybe. Maybe the neighborhood association leads would all be on their Councillor's board? Perhaps if they were all paid, every area would not just have a NA but a functioning and active one. We need large teams of citizens active in every pocket of this city to reduce crime, clean up the bad, preserve history, and make them walkable, liveable, strong communities.

Maybe it's too late with all the schools leaving and forever changing the dynamics of so many communities. Maybe that sense of community will be harder to embrace, with our children bussing all over hell's half acre's.

Maybe it's just a wasted thought. Maybe I shouldn't care. But I do. And it needs to change. This aint a corporation. It's my home, so let's make it more of a family than an office.

I support your vision Jason. Extend it. If you are going to try something, make sure you're all in but your shoelaces. Giving it your 'all' is the only way we'll truly know if it's all we think and in our hearts know, what it can be.

There are so many people that believe in downtown even in it's long past and current state. It's coming along but as Jason points out with Gore, it's too slow. Jump in with both feet. Every city knows the importance of our downtown's. So go nuts for Pete's sake. Do it for the people who have stuck it out this long and who are trying to take it upon themselves to do what they feel council is dragging their feet over.

And the BoE better be the last damn piece of our history that comes down without all of our input. Bullshit. F'in bullshit. We need to project Matt's movie on a wall by the BoE the day the wrecking ball strikes. All of council needs to be there. They need to watch as something dies that they pulled the plug on.

Sorry for the rant. Every day closer to D day saddens and angers me a little more.

Why?

Give us a reason to believe again council. Gives us a sign that things are going to change. You know i don't think it's just council but a problem with the process in general but let's work together to fix it. Do you really think this city as a whole wants that building to come down and before that question is answered, it needs to be asked what everyone knows about it? Been in it? Stood close and stared and admired it, or just rushed by it through 5 or 6 lanes of side by side traffic.

Things are changing too fast in this city. Too many things to advocate for. Highways, conservation, urban sprawl, airports, architecture, school closings, waterfront plans, stadiums, LRT, GO, PanAm ... A freakin' lot of huge projects just pushing through with not enough people or time to sit back and say whoa, let's get off at the next stop and discuss all this awhile.

On one hand we need to speed up some projects, and on the other we need to ensure we are making these decisions with the whole of the communities blessing. Not a handful of reps with way too much on their plates to truly understand the dynamics and future ramifications of all of this.

There is multi-tasking and there is throwing all your balls up in the air and running for cover.

I'd like all the bullshit about the mayor and council to not exist in our media. Sick of reading it, but for that to happen things need to change.

Will it ever? Maybe. Yes. I think so. Yes. I know so. Too many people who care in this city for it not to.

But time. Time is not on our side because it needs to change now. Schools=closing=wtf. BoE=distruction=wtf. AEGD=sprawl=wtf. Escarpment Hwy=sprawl=destruction=wtf. Walmart at the end of Ottawa St=wtf. No more vocational schools=wtf. No more Stoney Creek Dairy=history gone=wtf. What's next? Hutches? First covered mall in North America=left to rot=gone=big box=wtf.

Everybody's changing and I don't feel the same. There's evolution and absolution and theirs disillusion and confusion.

We were taling about Made in Canada the other day. Sad to be excited to find such a rare product. It's time for Made in Canada to make a comeback. Time for made in Hamilton for Hamiltonians. Time to take our council seats back. Time for change.

Time to park the high-speed trains from and by this city and plop our keister's in an office space right here in the Hammer.

I want to live and work and play and buy my lunch and mid afternoon coffee right here at a local shop. I want to attend events and camp and explore and for us all to thrive and grow together right here.

There is only one real reason to leave these municipal borders now and that's for work. To me that's where this massive change needs to start.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-07-12 13:33:42

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 13:41:47

Haven't gone but I am looking forward to it. Also related is similar plan to close Cannon Street by the new stadium. It is only a consultant recommendation, so we know where thet will end up. It does have some support (only 30% said "don't touch it"

Even if they could do it for events, it would be great (You get so squished crossing Cannon in that tiny cross walk)

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 14:36:39

Went down and met my wife (who works downtown) for lunch, had an awesome Schnitzel sandwich from the DOBRO JESTI food truck.

While it was nice, as was the blues played by ALFIE SMITH, (He was terrific! http://www.alfiesmith.org/ and no, i don't know him )

It all seemed so minimal and restrained, just begging for more.

It was quite enjoyable but what nagged at me was the minimal effort put in to this.

Just came back form my first ever visit to downtown Montreal on the weekend. What a terrific city.

There are successful models out there galore.Let's go City of Hamilton! Move forward. Now!

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By Crim2k (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 16:50:48

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 George (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 19:48:49 in reply to Comment 79414

With all due respect, I don't recall any of what you typed in your first paragraph.

I don't think you could be more wrong or way off base.

All those things help the core, but to truly revitalize the core it must be livable. People need to want to live there.

That's slowly happening (too slowly), and none of that could happen unless most, if not all, of that civic "infrastructure" is present.

Get rid of the halfway houses and calm the damn traffic already.

I frequent downtown often, there are many gems and reasons to go there, and as much as I like NF and Clifton Hill, I much prefer Hamilton.

Never been to the casino, and have no desire to. I'd much rather give my money to local businesses that are making an effort in our city. And I get lots of enjoyment doing so, whether it be eating a meal at HARBOUR DINER, getting a coffee at THE CANNON, or watching live music at THIS AINT HOLLYWOOD, and attending art crawl.

Tomorrow night I plan to make a purchase at DR DISC (have never done that before).

http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/thingstodo/st...

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 17:11:53 in reply to Comment 79414

I could see your point at first. I am not strong beleiver in a singular panacea or silver bullet that is going to revamp downtown Hamilton. That is because no one thing destroyed it.

the Downtown will prosper bit by bit, storefront by storefront.

Then you started going on the "Casino will save the downtown" part and you lost me.

Let me clear, I have no moral qualms against gambling or casinos. I have on occasions made conribution to our provincial government at slots and blackjack tables.

the problem with using Casinos for urban development is that Casinos are designed to internalize revenues. they want you eating at their restaurants, staying at their hotels and shopping in their stores.

So while a casino will bring people downtown, it will be bringing people to only one building downtown.

Proof of this is in Niagara Falls NY where they converted the old Niagara falls convention center into Seneca Niagara Casino. That Casino has thrived for 10 yearss, its always packed but the surronding neighborhood (except for the Crown plaza that was already there) makes Barton St look like Broadway

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By Crim2k (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 17:17:53 in reply to Comment 79417

That's odd, because every time I go to the casino in Niagara Falls ON I make a day of it.

I spend money at neighbouring restaurants because I find the food and fun to be far more enriching than inside the casino.

I like going walking down either Clifton or Lundy's (depending on which casino I'm seeing), and Brantford's surrounding area is thriving from their casino. If Brantford of all places can pull it off...

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 17:57:11 in reply to Comment 79419

Much of those areas in Niagara Falls Ontario you speak of (Lundy's, Clifton) were already established before Casinos arrived (The falls themselves were the business boost before the casinos arrived).

Again look at the Seneca Niagara on the US side (I drive by it constantly). Niagara Falls New york put all of their eggs into that basket and 10 years later they are still no further ahead.

As for Brantford been in about 4 years so I may be talking out of my butt here but I don't remember the Casino revitalizing anything. Judging by Google streetview, if you consider big parking garage and old house across from it or the Wendy's down the street to be thriving well let's just say we agree to disagree

http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&cp=...

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 16:57:10

Step back from ledge big fella. I hear ya, but it's not that bad. You make some good points about our horrible decision-making in the past, but to say "no one wants to look at it", referring to King and Barton would be one more bad decision to add to the heap. We could have said that about James N 10 years ago too...seems like people love looking at it. Check out the crawl tomorrow night.

We are turning around and gaining attention for our progress...sure it's too slow for many of us, but at least we're heading up again. Enjoy the ride, warts and all!

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By Crim2k (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 17:15:23

I'm quite sure I will get far more nagative score with my comments... but blind patriotism has never acheived anything.

I'm assuming my comments will get struck down because of the "HOW DARE YOU" factor.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 19:59:11 in reply to Comment 79418

"Blind patriotism" is defintaley insulting and trolling.

I frequent downtown and other locally owned businesses not out of charity or patriotism, but out of value.

I enjoy them!

For you to insult my choices and likes is way off base. You don't have to like the things I do, but you should respect my choices and preferences as I do yours and your choice to spend time and money at the casino.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2012 at 07:23:16 in reply to Comment 79424

For me I would say supporting local usually starts with either A. Patriotism of sorts to buy 'Made in Hamilton',or B. Word of mouth suggestion. Its the value you feel when you try it out that keeps you coming back. Local or not if the food/products are crap and the service is terrible, I simply won't be back. On the other hand if it was for example a burger that wasn't spectacular by any means, I'd still be back and recommend them if the owners/people are folks you strongly want to see do well because they make local business feel like family. They represent what so many value in small businesses. A true connection with people and the community. Downtown has a lot of that now thanks to streets like James N and King William.

Its no secret my love affair with Ottawa St and Locke when I lived there - and still now of course. The people connections are why I love living close to these streets. All cities should have lots of these types of street wall shopping districts. I'd love to see more. Maybe for us all to work on Barton Street which has changed slowly but isn't the hole many think it is as a whole first, then look at other street wall options/revivals. Some really nice shops on Barton but spread out across the entire path. Starpolski's for one. Yum!

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-07-13 08:51:28

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By George (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 07:56:38 in reply to Comment 79443

Yes "Patriotism of sorts", but not "Blind Patriotism".

For me, personally, I don't patronize a place just because it's downtown. I'll go out to patronize it if it's earned my approval and like. If they do, and they're making the effort downtown, I'll be more than happy to make the effort to support them.

Can't wait for tonight's art crawl an the rooftop concerts at Dr Disc. It's either dinner at AUGUST 8 or MEX-I-CAN. Should be fun!

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 18:06:49 in reply to Comment 79418

I really need to read all the comments before I respond but because now I know you are trolling

1-You have not been downvoted on your inital comment at all- your score at the moment is zero. I'm downvoting this one though

2-Both responses to your initial comment acknowledged that you had good points. I disagreed with the impact of a casino in urban developemnt (and that is just our opinions) and Jason simply said that things are getting better, may be not at the pace we want but it is

3- This site is full of criticism- there are criticisms of the promanade right ere in this articles. If we wanted rah-rah go to the Hamilton Ec Dev website. If we wanted to hear complaining and moaning we would read the comments in thespec.com but we're here because we can speak of the good and bad in the city

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 07:08:43

For the Casino thing, I heard the mayor talking on the Bill Kelly show a little while ago when Burlington and Hamilton were grouped together in the same "zone". He was throwing out hypotheticals about where the casino could be placed. I really liked one of his ideas - the Connaught. Here's why I like that idea:

  • Instant revitalization of a great building in an excellent location downtown
  • It's got a nice, large property that can run the entire block bound by King/Main/John/Catherine
  • It has everything a casino could want: space, location, parking (could be built underground or as a parkade attached)
  • It could easily incorporate the existing buildings

I think that with that done that could help feed into the core, but I'm not a city planner. I've also never been to a casino!

Sidenotes: I love that a Burrito Boyz is coming to our city. They make the best burritos out there. I tried one from Ole Gourmet but was sorely disappointed (WAY too much lettuce and filler, not nearly enough meat, and I wasn't asked what I wanted on it, they just put their toppings on it). Will still visit the Boyz location in Port Credit on occasion though, the surplus store next door can't be matched in terms of selection, quality and price. How come we don't have any surplus stores in Hamilton any more?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2012 at 14:35:58 in reply to Comment 79438

I've also never been to a casino!

It shows.

Casinos are magnets for crime and depression. Hamilton has enough problems with addiction already - having a Casino in walking distance of the roughest neighborhood in this town would do some grievous damage.

Get ready for lots of "small children found abandoned in their car for 9 hours" stories with lots of folks moralizing and pontificating about how this terrible thing could've been avoided.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 14, 2012 at 18:28:07 in reply to Comment 79464

I disagree with your statement there.

Casinos are magnets for crime and depression.

Get ready for lots of "small children found abandoned in their car for 9 hours" stories with lots of folks moralizing and pontificating about how this terrible thing could've been avoided.

Brantford, Orillia, and Niagara Falls are all relatively close casinos to us here in Hamilton. Close enough that stories like this would be news if it were happening at those locations. I don't recall hearing any stories like that. Further to that, I've been near the casinos in the above cities (some for extended periods of time) yet never felt unsafe or uncomfortable there. So if you've some stories like this that have made it to print media please point me in their direction so I can read up on it and maybe change my mind.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2012 at 09:47:16 in reply to Comment 79438

First, please try Poco Loco's on Ottawa Street. Great burrito's and great folks. Great corner location with colorful picnic tables out the side. Very cool two level building as well.

I am torn about the Casino. I agree with another commentor above. I used to frequent Niagara Falls a lot when I got my license. There was so much to do. I go to the Casino from time to time now but in general I don't like them. I like the shows more than anything. The ding ding ding really get's to you. I'd rather see Flamborough Downs thrive then for us to jeopardize losing it with a downtown Casino.

What about the Stelco tower? That steel/glass is looking a bit worn. It could use a 'Casino-like' facelift. I don't dislike your Connaught idea at all. Just thinking if we could clean up an ugly building while still putting the Casino downtown if we have to have it, it might make it easier to justify bringing the RC back in all it's hotel glory.

Although I'd rather not have a Casino on some principal levels, can anyone really say that put right downtown, revitalization wouldn't suddenly explode. I guess the question would be, would it be a stadium in the Harbor type fix. Not really what's ideal for the location but it would give us the quick influx of money that doesn't seem to be coming/available from anywhere else anytime soon.

I'd rather downtown be a mom and pop haven, but perhaps that's just me.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 08:53:06 in reply to Comment 79438

There's Steel City Surplus on Dundurn. Don't know how it stacks up against other surplus stores though.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 14, 2012 at 08:42:52 in reply to Comment 79453

Sorry, I should've been more clear. I mean army surplus, not surplus in general. Hamilton's got several surplus stores - another is Lens Mills down in the east end near the new Walmart - there's some deals to be had there. Steel City Surplus has a lot of stuff, but not much (any?) army surplus.

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By dsafire (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2012 at 18:11:18 in reply to Comment 79480

Theres a small army surplus on Ottowa st.. lemme look it up... Ah, here. Ottawa Boot & Surplus Store 88 Ottawa St N

I was in there looking for bags to make into saddlebags for my bike. I didn't look at much else though.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 08:02:49

I've played a couple slots in New Orleans, walked around the casino trying to figure out the attraction. I don't get it. Never been to a casino up here, and I'm undecided when it comes to the pro casino and anti casino arguments.

But, I tend to agree with DowntowninHamilton when he says,

"...that could help feed into the core, but I'm not a city planner. I've also never been to a casino!"

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By Papa Wheelie (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 09:26:21

Given the mid-block placement of restaurants along Gore Park, there can't be very many spots that would allow hassle-free food truck operation under the 30 metre bylaw setback. Maybe that why this story showed up shortly after this week's launch:

http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/760206--downtown-bia-finds-a-gorilla-cheese-in-its-midst

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By alhambra (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 14:30:37

Incrementalism: worse than doing nothing? The problem with doing this BS pilot project, just like doing two way on one section of York, is it reinforces the haters' predictions. Now they get to say: see, that should never be continued because look at how badly it worked in the pilot project.

Or maybe it's not incrementalism as much as it is compliance. We want complete communities, that's in the Places to Grow Act. We must have mixed uses. So let's put in some token walkability and then we can continue doing things exactly as before. Maybe if they didn't spend a few hundreds of thousands of dollars to paint lines on streets and pay IBI Group then there would be a legal recourse against them under the Growth Plan.

Cynical, yep. But contrast it to grassroots movements like Art Crawl and compare which has a clue. Why does everything the city touches turn into a soggy mediocrity? Compare the York farmer's market to Ottawa street and ask yourself if the City is helping or hindering the city.

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By Pica (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 16:06:20

To be fair, the Art Crawl took a while to find its feet. It's been going for six years and got no small amount of help from local media hyping the neighbourhood. Give the Gore time. It can come around.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2012 at 07:55:10

Maybe we should have a pilot project for a casino, say a small room, maximum legal capacity of 100 people and slots programmed to never deliver more than $1.00 in winnings. Then, if it's a raging success, do the real thing!

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By HammertownLove (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2012 at 09:06:56

If you look at research for top tourism destinations in the world- people are drawn to places to hang out and shop. Having a live, vibrant space which draws people brings life to an area and can have huge economic potential. Keep going Hammer! Raise it up!

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 15, 2012 at 11:07:50

What is this cities problem? That Gore promenade is a lot of money to not really achieve the idea. Sigh.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2012 at 13:09:38

"I experienced Gore Park with a glimpse of what it could be year-round. It felt like Montreal or Boston."

I wish I had your prescription (glasses/meds). At best I maybe got Chicoutami or Nashua.

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By Crux (anonymous) | Posted July 17, 2012 at 08:40:43

"As downtown has seen increased growth and investment on James, Hess, Locke, Augusta, John and surrounding neighbourhoods, the Gore area and high-speed streets such as King, Main, Cannon and Wilson have seen little to no investment."

I sympathize with your enthusiasm for the former, but the "increased growth and investment" has been unevenly distributed even on the streets you name (quibble: Locke seems more "lower city" than "downtown").

Hess has always done well though it bisected by one-way streets. It's a neighbourhood dedicated to getting drunk, picking up and flexing your Darwin. On the Hamilton Maslow Index, it's as blue chip as it gets.

Augusta has always had a healthy pub ecosystem, and it's arguably the "next Hess" speculation that has inspired restaurant/pub/cafe investment in properties around Augusta/James. James South is used by more drivers than James North (more residential and retail up top) yet has done decently well, despite largely missing out on the ready-bake PR windfall of James North (which has, strangely, failed to inspire much residential development -- from 2006-2010, there was a total net population increase of just 50 residents in the four census tracts that meet at James & Cannon).

John has seen some investment as well, though relatively finite since two-way conversion. Most of the notable investments on John in the last 10 years are either Augusta spin-offs or downtown hybrids (such as London Tap House or Treble Hall). South of Hunter or north of King William, John has probably seen as much growth and investment as it has at ay point in the last 30 years.

It has been said before and bears repeating: Downtown lacks critical residential density of the demographic quality that makes a thriving core sustainable: Young professionals with disposable income and active social lives. There are good-paying jobs downtown but there are no residentail options that would coax those workers to stay downtown in sizable numbers, which plays a considerable role in perpetuating a downtown economy predicated on workday conveniences. (This socioeconomic incongruity may or may not help to explain why Cannon and Wilson -- dominated by low-income rental units -- remain collector roads.)

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2012 at 10:57:31 in reply to Comment 79509

The problem is, all of the residential upstairs units in Hamilton's small-but-beautiful 3 storey brick retail buildings went vacant some time ago, and it is legally difficult (and sometimes impossible) to conform these spaces to new codes and bylaws.

Some of these buildings are under 12 feet wide, and once you add interior finishes, maybe under 11 feet. And many have had the original staircases reworked or removed. To add a code conformant staircase to these buildings could occupy 20-30% of the available floorplan for both the retail and the residential unit, making the entire building borderline useless. If you want a separate third storey bachelor unit, the code may require a second staircase - and they no longer allow exterior fire escapes. So now your 12 foot by 80 foot building needs two interior stairways. If the main floor tenant wants to serve coffee, get ready to donate the final 40% of the floor plan to accessible washrooms. Oh and by the way, you can't actually run the business because you don't have space for 4 parked cars out back. I don't know what the answer is, but vacant buildings don't seem to be doing us any good so we have to figure something out.

City hall seems to be desperate for mega scale residential projects, but these will never be viable until the small scale spaces get renovated and filled organically. Then demand will rise to the point that the larger projects make more sense.

So unless we rewrite our position on codes and laws governing these upper units, the residential scene will continue to stagnate and the commercial development will never come.

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By Topo (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2012 at 23:23:14 in reply to Comment 79587

The stairwells strike me as being related to fire code. If so, the odds on getting that repealed will be extremely low, certainly in the absence of fire escapes.

Some neighbourhoods may be better suited to such renovation than others. Surely not all of downtown is cookie-cutter three-storey brick retail spaces of equal width and depth.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 18, 2012 at 08:51:38 in reply to Comment 79509

It has been said before and bears repeating: Downtown lacks critical residential density of the demographic quality that makes a thriving core sustainable: Young professionals with disposable income and active social lives. There are good-paying jobs downtown but there are no residentail options that would coax those workers to stay downtown in sizable numbers, which plays a considerable role in perpetuating a downtown economy predicated on workday conveniences.

Beautiful. Thanks for this.

The portion of the downtown-core that interests me the most...essentially north of King, east of James, south of Wilson, west of Wellington...is more a key to change than the hot-and-swingin' James Street North enclaves. I believe that once we generate the re-imagining and re-development activity there, we're going to see a different landscape unfolding. One that will nudge us closer to correcting what you've pointed out.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2012-07-18 08:53:01

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 17, 2012 at 13:15:46 in reply to Comment 79509

As I've pointed out in another thread somehwere, John Street North of King William is really incapable of benefiting from two-way the same way James North did because of what's left on John Street North of King William - almost nothing.

You have a fire hall, Horizon Utilities, two or three parking lots, the old bus station (an addiction counselling centre now, I believe) and as you continue going north other than a few businesses around cannon and barton you start getting into residential, parkland, etc.

If, rather than having so much parking north of King William, John Street had some actual vacant storefronts (as James North did) I feel we would have seen more investment in John North as well. But with new buildings being so expensive, it's hard to get to that point.

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By Crux (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2012 at 05:11:22

Do we really only have two weeks (seven Promenade days) left on the clock before this stretch reverts?

"Preliminary programming for the Pilot, as identified on the related 2012 capital budget submission sheet, indicated opening and closing of the South leg of King Street East twice per day, three days a week, for four weeks.

To reduce operating costs and respond to requests from the Downtown BIA and Culture staff, this has been revised to a one-time closure in June/July through August, with re-opening of the street at the end of August. Closure will be for one block between James and Hughson Streets. Specific dates are to be determined in coordination with Culture and the Downtown BIA.

A one-time closure and re-opening is a better trial-run for the pedestrian space envisioned in the preferred conceptual plan presented to Public Works Committee on January 18, 2010, as it will include day, evening, weekdays, and weekends."

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