Downtown Bureau

Chedoke Browlands Provide the Opportunity to Create a Real Neighbourhood

Who in the western half of Hamilton Mountain wouldn't love their own little mountain-brow village

By Jason Leach
Published October 22, 2007

As the battle for the Chedoke Browlands continues, I must admit that I am disheartened not to hear a call from local residents or other residents of Hamilton to have this development become more mixed-use.

Imagine turning some of those old pavilions into mixed use buildings with lofts above and cafes/stores at the ground level with nice patios. Local folks from the west mountain could go for a stroll, do some shopping, have dinner and walk along the brow for a nice evening out.

Folks from other parts of the city would also come to enjoy the neighbourhood, much like people come from all over to enjoy Westdale and Locke South.

Bus service would need to be enhanced and it would be easier to make the case for better service with a bustling community taking shape.

The area is already easy to cycle and walk. Folks from Hamilton's Southwest neighbourhoods could make the quick stroll up the escarpment stairs to enjoy this new neighbourhood in Hamilton.

Westdale was a successful planned community and continues to command great real estate values and prestige all these years later. I'm perplexed why we haven't built another one.

More pointedly, I'm perplexed why City hall doesn't demand such developments. Builders in Canada are fixated on box stores and highways, but who in the western half of Hamilton Mountain wouldn't love their own little mountain-brow village like a mini-Westdale or Concession?

Hamilton has a few mixed-use districts in smaller neighbourhoods, but not nearly enough.

One of my favourites is on Emerson Street, south of McMaster. A few neat pubs and cafes mingle along with a convenience store, barber shop and a couple other small businesses.

The area around Aberdeen and Dundurn also has a similar vibe, although it's a little too suburban with parking lots dominating three sides of the intersection instead of buildings lining the sidewalk.

Cannon just west of Ottawa is another one. A great meat market exists along with a few conveniece stores, video store and Italian grocery.

The lack of street parking doesn't help this area as Cannon is still treated as a thoroughfare for people who DON'T live in the area instead of a mixed-use street which could house many amenities for local residents.

Back on the Mountain brow, some of these heritage buildings would lend themselves perfectly to anchoring a little 'main street' in this development.

If multi-storey condos are part of the plan, then simply build them in a similar fashion to Downtown Dundas - with storefronts at the sidewalk. Think Paris, not Toronto. Height isn't necessarily better. Street presence, mixed-use and walkability are the goals.

It seems that many on Hamilton Mountain have given up any chance of retaining the uniqueness that was once associated with the mountain and areas like Concession Street.

Folks in this area, and other Hamilton neighbourhoods, deserve to have their own unique communities and districts.

We must voice our opinions to City Hall. otherwise, they'll continue on this path of stripping away the uniqueness of Hamilton in an attempt to turn us into another boring place like Mississuaga or Burlington.

We deserve much better.

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

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By Ian (registered) | Posted October 23, 2007 at 11:21:30

One of the buildings slated to get torn down within the next year to make room for the new west mountain development is where my wife currently works.

She's an instructor therapist for children with autism.

Do you know where she'll be moving? 'Cause she sure doesn't.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 23, 2007 at 11:30:40

I don't know much about this project other than what I've read online and in the Spec. You can try chatting with the folks running the website - www.chedokebrow.ca

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By Steeltown (registered) | Posted October 23, 2007 at 14:15:17

Likely to move to the new rehab centre being built at the General.

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