Letter to Council: City Hall Deserves Better

By Jason Leach
Published October 06, 2008

Dear Mayor and Members of Council,

I've been following the ongoing discussions regarding the renovations of Hamilton City Hall.

As a resident and taxpayer in Hamilton, I certainly appreciate the desire to manage costs and keep taxes low.

However, I believe that there are certain instances where saving a few million dollars can end up doing more harm than good. The current reno plans for city hall must be viewed in a broader context. This isn't just another building being reno'd in a corner of the city where folks won't notice it.

This is our seat of government. City Hall represents our city to newcomers, visitors, residents and investors alike.

A few points that I would like to share with you:

  1. This is one of the most unique and stunning buildings in the province, and in fact, the entire country.
  2. We are setting a precedence with how we renovate this building. A cheap, bland renovation will set the bar low for private building owners that decide to renovate or construct new buildings in our city. We, as a city, need to lead by example. How can we hold others up to a higher architectural standard if we don't do the same for our most important building?
  3. Make City Hall a great place for the public. I recently strolled around the entire property and see such grand potential for an amazing public space with gardens, art, water features, benches, cobblestone, a skating rink, cafe and even an ampitheatre in the southwest side of the property. Right now it's a disjointed site with too many different levels and bland public spaces. The potential is remarkable though, especially with some traffic calming on Main St and development of Light Rail.

I encourage council to look at this project as a legacy project. I appreciate the desire to shave off a few million from the cost, but as a taxpayer, I happily support spending the extra millions in order to get a city hall that we can all be proud of and hold up as a standard for other developers to follow in our city.

We don't need a Taj Mahal, but we certainly deserve better than concrete and aluminum. The steel, marble and tile mosaics are what make this building so stunning.

Let's make the right decision with the image and future of our city in mind.

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 highwater (registered) | Posted October 07, 2008 at 08:57:59

Thanks for this Jason, and thanks for the reminder. I meant to send a letter myself. The vote's today so better get off my duff.

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By charles111 (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2008 at 01:46:35

I totally disagree, this building has always been an eyesore to me and most people I know. I would have gladly paid more on my tax bill to see this building torn down and a new modern/classic built in it's place (along with the surrounding features you mentioned). This whole reno has been problematic and a joke to other communities looking in.

My humble opinion only, no offence meant.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 08, 2008 at 09:42:27

This building is widely acknowledged to be one of the finest remaining examples of the International Style in the country. Now you may not like the International Style. Fair enough. You are entitled to your opinion. Personally, Victorian architecture does nothing for me, but you won't see me going around saying every poorly maintained Victorian building is an 'eyesore' that should be torn down, because I recognize that they are a vital part of our history and our urban fabric. You don't have to like City Hall, but you do need to recognize it for the special building that it is, and not rob future generations who will value this style of architecture.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 08, 2008 at 10:15:23

Economic Development and Planning voted for aluminum and concrete yesterday. Full council vote is tomorrow. Ironically, they also voted in favour of a new bylaw yesterday requiring owners of designated heritage buildings (which city hall is) to properly maintain their buildings. Do as I say not as I do??

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 09, 2008 at 13:16:46

Next council meeting is Wed. Oct. 15. The agenda should be available tomorrow.

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By Rick (anonymous) | Posted October 10, 2008 at 13:08:06

The Mayor is doing a poll on the City Hall issue at his website -

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted October 17, 2008 at 19:10:58

Stainless Steel, anyone? :D

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