Sprawl

Higher Downtown Density Target Threatens Sprawl Plans

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 05, 2009

The city's planning committee has rejected a motion by Councillor Brian McHattie (Ward 1) to increase downtown density targets from 250 persons+jobs per hectare to 400.

Bill Janssen, a city staff planner, responded at a planning committee meeting on March 3 to McHattie's motion (CATCH, as usual, made a transcript of the meeting) that staff:

don't know at this particular moment how high we can push the density without doing an evaluation of the current infrastructure and planning framework as well as undertaking an office and vacancy strategy to determine how high a density target could be established.

He added that the density goal of 250 people+jobs per hectare should "be recognized as a minimum target, and that increases in the density be encouraged" but that this should be done "through a review of the downtown secondary plan".

If this all sounds like bureaucratic boilerplate, that's because it probably is. Janssen followed up with what may be the real issue here:

The one concern that we have with increasing, or having a target in the plan that we don't know we can achieve, it may impact what other development can be undertaken, particularly in greenfield developments.

Read that a couple of times and let it sink in.

Staff don't want to increase the downtown density targets because that might threaten the city's greenfield expansion plans.

Isn't that the point of intensification - to limit suburban sprawl?

Janssen specifically stated that a higher downtown density target "may restrict where development can occur and potentially put off looking at" the planned urban boundary expansion in Elfrida, near Upper Centennial Pkwy. and Rymal Rd.

However, the province has already unilaterally removed the inclusion of a 2,800 acre urban boundary expansion at Elfrida from Hamilton's official rural plan.

Hamilton the Slacker

While the province continues to push cities like Hamilton to commit fully rather than reluctantly and half-heartedly to intensification, the city continues to drag its feet.

Staff make noises about the city's intensification objectives being "minimum targets" that we should be aiming to exceed, but the ugly fact is that the city's long-term GRIDS plan is only shooting for the provincial bare minimum of 40 percent infill - and at that, only on development betweeen 2015 and 2025.

We're basically that slacker kid in school who aims to do just enough work to eke out a pass and keep the Principal off his back.

The Planning Committee ultimately voted to reject McHattie's motion to plan for increasing the downtown density target. The only supporting vote came from Councillor Terry Whitehead (Ward 8), who said of the motion:

we had the GRIDS that was highly touted by some of my colleagues across this table and here we have an example of something that came out of the GRIDS process is not being agreed to and I have some concern that you can't suck and blow. Either support the GRIDS process and the determinations of that process or we don't. And I certainly support it

Perhaps surprisingly, even Councillor Bob Bratina (Ward 2) opposed the motion, stating that he thinks "the downtown, in my humble opinion, is moving along very nicely". He prefers to reach the current target of 250 people+jobs in the next five years and then "set the next target".

In response to a question from Councillor Lloyd Ferguson (Ward 12, Ancaster), Janssen reported that staff don't know whether the city's water and sewer systems can handle a capacity of 400 people+jobs per hectare downtown. Staff would have to evaulate the current capacity and assess what, if any, changes are required to meet that capacity.

McHattie responded that he would "certainly be willing to add an amendment" to his motion "that the servicing capacity issue be examined at the same time". The motion was still rejected.

Province: Support Intensification or No Money

This ridiculously myopic decision comes in the larger context of a provincial government that has signalled strongly that it will support municipalities "who get it - who get the Places to Grow Act concept of trying to intensify as much as possible" as McHattie put it.

He argued that the city needs to send a clear message to the Province that Hamilton is committed to exceeding the bare provincial minimum - committed to meeting the spirit, and not just the letter, of Places to Grow - as the province makes its decisions on where to make infrastructure investments.

George Smitherman, the provincial Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, explained last November in a speech to municipal leaders that the province will invest in cities trying to limit sprawl and increase density - and conversely that the province will not invest in cities still focused on sprawl.

He stated very bluntly that municipalities which aim for higher density will get provincial money and municipalities which slack off will not:

I want to work with municipalities that share our vision for communities that are cleaner, greener, more compact and that work. ...

At the ministry we're working vigorously on the development of new infrastructure investment programs that will have a ten year run of at least $60 billion. As the minister tasked with drawing up these programs, I'm giving them very careful consideration to the priorities of municipalities who have done their work to meet the growth plan. ...

When things are tough, I will stand behind those who stand up for the Growth Plan. ...

I want to get things done. And I look forward to the opportunity to work with people who want to get things done as well. I think we all recognize that achieving the Growth Plan objectives is not just a numbers game. It's not just about how many more hectares you can squeeze into the urban envelope, or how many people you can fit into a subdivision. Ultimately our goal is to build better communities, places which are viable, sustainable and serve our people well today, and in the future.

Meanwhile, here in Hamilton, our municipal leaders vote against a motion to adhere more closely to the Places to Grow framework because it might undermine our plans to keep building suburban sprawl.

The mind absolutely boggles.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

51 Comments

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By JonC (registered) | Posted March 05, 2009 at 12:14:47

To put in perspective, to reach the 400/Ha target by 2031 is only an increase in density of 3.2% per year. Not exactly earth shattering. Concerns regarding utilities can be resolved as they are regularly maintained and replaced.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted March 05, 2009 at 13:22:24

Wait, what?

Are you kidding me?

This is absolutely preposterous!! I can't believe they're so damn brazen about it. How do these guys still have jobs with crap like this? What can citizens do about it??

Help!?

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By Ross (registered) | Posted March 05, 2009 at 13:28:02

What a frigging joke, clearly the developers are getting their election donation money's worth... I'd like to know how many of the City of Hamilton planners (do not) live downtown!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2009 at 13:40:16

What continues to shock me is that Councillor Bratina (Ward 2, right downtown) seems to be going along with this.

In a comment on a previous RTH blog entry, Bratina articulated his case against the higher density target:

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1164#comm...

I'm just not persuaded by Bratina's argument about geological height limits. As I wrote in the blog entry linked above, Paris has a population density some 15 times higher than Hamilton's, despite having almost no buildings over six stories.

The whole thing really smacks of a depressing lack of vision among most of our politicians and planners.

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By Synxer (registered) | Posted March 05, 2009 at 13:50:32

Our politicians are hopeless. The only one I can see with any forward-thinking ideas is Fred Eisenberger, but he can't act on any of them entirely because of the naysayers.

rant

This system is not working. I am (still? maybe?) a supporter of the amalgamation, but the amalgamation isn't benefiting Hamilton, like our sub-urban neighbors lead themselves to believe.

Councilors, who are still acting like children, knocking down ideas that benefit our core communities will continue to do as such because of unruly ego.

It's upsetting to see other smaller cities go forth with fresh ideas -- without their sub-urbanites dragging them at the coat-tails.

No one is getting what they want. Flamborough residents act like Quebec separatists. Pride is the death knell of the whimsical and unrealistic.

We're all on the same boat. We all need to understand that.

/rant

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By Mike B. (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2009 at 14:25:16

nobrainer wrote: How do these guys still have jobs with crap like this? What can citizens do about it??

Vote? Organize into neighborhood associations? Support PC MPP Norm Sterling's resolution calling for the creation of an all-party select committee to look at municipal governance in Ontario's big cities?

I wish it were that easy, but it's a start?

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 05, 2009 at 22:43:56

Nobrainer, "What can citizens do??" Figure out a way to have people with smart ideas and actual vision for our city out-donate all of those who don't. Good luck.

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By H Mag (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2009 at 22:57:23


You can all start by coming out on the 19th of March to the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre for a talk by the Guelph Civic League.

www.guelphcivicleague.ca

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 08:24:36

at what time would this event take place at WAHC on mar 19?

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By Bob Bratina (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 08:42:10

I think some are reading too much into this. The main issue is volume of work for staff, not lack of vision. When the urban boundary expansion plan we call GRIDS came to Council for approval, there were only two who opposed it....Councillor Dave Mitchell and myself. This is neither the time nor the mechanism to reverse some of the unfortunate implications of GRIDS. We have Councillors on one hand pushing for higher density targets and on the other,demanding interim control by-laws to freeze development in the Core. I continue to work on tangible, achievable goals for our Downtown, such as the re-direction of buses away from the Gore in the so-called "hybrid terminal" design I initiated. Among the benefits will be more direct HSR connections to the GO station at Hunter. The platform has already been prepared, and paid for, by GO Transit and the benefits to commuters will be substantial at very low cost. You've heard about the hotel developments downtown, and soon you'll see pictures of the residential development to start this year on James North. These are all positive, deliverable progressive developments among many more, that will result in a better Downtown. Large target numbers make for great visionary discussion, but our energies and resources have to retain achievable focus.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 08:59:35

thanks for the reply Bob. Much appreciated. I think most folks on RTH are excited about the various hotel/condo projects that are slowly moving forward downtown. We know that our downtown, and entire city, will be better off when they are built.

However, what does that have to do with the topic of this blog? Perhaps you could elaborate on the initial statement regarding staff workload, as well as any other insight you may have as to why we are keeping our targets so low in favour of more sprawl. Thanks again for your openness to discuss and dialogue. Cheers

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By Jonathan (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 09:14:02

They don't want to face big city traffic coming into the downtown. Our downtown is functional in a sick way as a drive in employment centre. For every new or restored building 3 adjacent vacant lots supply cheap parking. It's a model repeated all over downtown.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2009 at 09:37:27

Hi Bob, thanks for weighing in here.

some are reading too much into this

I don't think so. Limiting sprawl and increasing density is precisely what the city should be focusing on.

The province has made it abundantly clear that they want municipalities to focus on intensification, mixed use development, multi-modal transportation and limiting sprawl.

GRIDS is an unambitious, bare-minimum plan - and I'm highly skeptical that the plan as formulated will even meet those minimum targets, given that it back-loads all the actual intensification into the last ten years.

As I wrote a few months ago, 400 people+jobs per hectare is not an unrealistic goal - other cities have achieved densities at least ten times higher than Hamilton's without skyscrapers (e.g. Boston, which is mostly 2-4 storey buildings and Paris, which is almost entirely 6-storey buildings).

http://raisethehammer.org/article/642/ http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1164/

This idea that staff doesn't have time to figure out how downtown could achieve 400 people+jobs per hectare is incomprehensible to me, given that they ostensibly set their priorities from Council's direction.

The fact that staff don't have time for this is evidence of a lack of vision.

Please don't take this as a personal criticism of your track record as a councillor. We know that downtown is making important progress, and that you have spearheaded and/or supported a lot of this:

  • The recent P&ED report (which Jason covered) showing steady improvement in downtown vacancy rates.

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1245

  • The Downtown Transportation Master Plan, including two-way conversions and transit improvements (though it's still weighed too heavily on automobiles IMHO).

http://raisethehammer.org/article/657/

  • The generally impressive York Blvd Streetscape Master Plan (and you've indicated that you want to see the pedestrian scramble restored).

http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/1224

  • The downtown residential loan program, which continues to pay for itself in new development.

  • The planned new GO train terminal and the recent addition of another AM train.

  • Progress in the plan to move the buses out of Gore Park.

  • The Gore Plaza pedestrianization project.

  • And, of course, your early and steady support for LRT.

Large target numbers make for great visionary discussion, but our energies and resources have to retain achievable focus.

Without large target numbers, we're stuck with staff saying that increasing density downtown could threaten our greenfield expansion plans.

That's where the lack of vision poleaxes whatever other progress we may be making. As long as Hamilton continues to sprawl - and there's nothing in our GRIDS plan to constrain that sprawl over the next several years - the city's revitalization will continue to sputter instead of roar.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 09:49:55

Thanks for taking time to post here Bob...one thing you said bothers me tho - that part about increased workload for city staff. I'm not sure which staff you're talking about but I know, when I worked for the city, an increased workload would simply mean less time to socialize and play solitaire...

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 09:51:54

As an addendum to that, perhaps it's not a good idea to complain about having too much work when there are many people in the city who are now not working... I'm sure they wouldn't mind taking the place of the overworked staff.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 10:30:11

Councillor Bratina, why make things easier for yourself and the city staff by just getting out of the way. I'm sure property owners would have no trouble at all figuring out what the market is calling for, the optimal heights of buildings, number of parking spaces, etc. Just kick back and relax.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 11:39:43

Oh Lordy...here we go again.

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By mattchall (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 11:54:50

Mr. Smith, the property owners have already figured out what "the market" is calling for: 0 story buildings with as many parking spots as they can get on the footprint of the demolished building that once stood on their lot. I know I'm absolutely relaxed with their foresight and leadership!

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 11:55:53

Everyone, please, I beg you: stop feeding the troll!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 12:20:47

Yourself and the blart blart city staff by just blart blart property owners would have no trouble at calling for, the blart optimal heights of buildings, back and relax. Councillor blart blart Bratina, why make things easier for getting out of the way. I'm sure all blart blart blart figuring out what the market is number of parking spaces, blart, etc. Just kick blart blart blart.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 12:20:47

comment deleted

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By Bob Bratina (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 12:32:41

I just dumped a whole load of work on staff with the Hess Village motion regarding complete review of every aspect of its operation, including a possible interim control by-law. Pan Am site evaluation, Official Plan amendments, Setting Sail Appeals....
Here we go again with the insulting remarks, so I'll just say so long, and hope that someone comes up with a blogsite that will provide a useful forum. I enjoy passionate discussion and have taken direction and inspiration from many sources and look forward to the opportunity.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2009 at 13:04:03

Bob Bratina wrote:

Here we go again with the insulting remarks, so I'll just say so long, and hope that someone comes up with a blogsite that will provide a useful forum.

Bob, who is insulting you? I just looked through all the comments that followed yours and came up with the following:

  • Jason thanks you for your comment, expresses excitement about downtown developments but asks what it has to do with increasing density targets.

  • Jonathan argues that city planners want to maintain traffic flow at the expense of downtown redevelopment.

  • I thank you for your comment, express support for your initiatives, but respectfully disagree that setting large targets isn't important.

  • Frank suggests that city staff aren't that busy.

  • A Smith suggests that less government regulation would lead to reinvestment.

  • Frank objects to A Smith's comment.

  • mattchall objects to A Smith's comment.

  • zookeeper asks Frank and mattchall not to reply to A Smith.

  • highwater parodies A Smith's comment.

  • A Smith repeats highwater's comment.

So I ask: where are the insults? It seems to me that every response either respectfully engaged your comment or else was unrelated.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 13:28:39

I like to stir up trouble, but I didn't have anything to do with that last comment.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 14:01:32

Councillor Bob Bratina, my comment wasn't a direct knock against you personally, I just think it would be more helpful if the city stopped trying to "shape" development and just let the buying public decide what buildings should be built. Correct me if I'm wrong, but according to city documents, the max height of a building in the downtown is 55 metres. Why is this the case?

What is wrong with a city having skyscrapers? Like you have said before, Hamilton is a city and not a village. Cities are supposed to have skyscrapers? Furthermore, this height restriction seems to me to be symbolic of the city's inability to grow. I think most people on this site would love to see a few outrageously tall structures, it would give the city it's mojo back.

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By mattchall (registered) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 14:49:36

Mr. Smith, the property owners have already figured out what "the market" is calling for: 0 story buildings with as many parking spots as they can get on the footprint of the demolished building that once stood on their lot. I know I'm absolutely relaxed with their foresight and leadership!

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2009 at 18:38:26

Well after seeing how Bob reacted in other threads we try and be nice to him, prefacing all reasonable questions with praise for him and he still runs out on us as being insulting of him. I hope he handles complaints from citizens in his ward differently.

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By Downtowner (registered) | Posted March 07, 2009 at 05:45:36

The previous post said "I hope he (Bob Bratina) handles complaints from citizens in his ward differently."

Just be thankful he hasn't thrown a pen at you...yet!

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By Robin (anonymous) | Posted March 07, 2009 at 16:55:14

Holy sensitivities Bratman, we like your grime fighting sentiments but sometimes we wonder about all those fabulous toys you work with. Today that includes the 250+ density model.

I get your argument that you have to work with what you have and why worry about the 400 model when the 250 hasn't been achieved yet. Good point. Still, I can't help but wonder, as the equivalent of infrastructure nitro is fed into the local economic engine, are we building for the long term.

Things are changing fast, and there's a lot to suggest South Ont. may be hitting something of a threshold when it comes to housing. Demographics and the declining manufacturing economy both point to a probable shift from big houses in expensive suburbs to cheaper, more compact lifestyles close to services. You don't want to be caught unprepared like certain automobile manufacturers we could mention (not you Bob,) building the wrong Bratmobiles when market demand suddenly changes.

That's just my opinion. Hope you find it amusing, not insulting. You remain my Superhero.

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By A Teacher (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2009 at 15:35:41

i think you all should lighten up a bit on this bratina guy. i mean come on, look at what bobby has done so far. could you guys have accomplished that? i mean seriously, the ambition and vision and dedication needed to be on city council, and get all his school work done, and do his chores and eat his vegetables? i know i could never have managed a half of that when i was nine years old. i mean i haven't actually met the young guy or anything, i'm new to this city, but i think you should be more supportive of children running for office. it will benefit the city when they grow up and start making really informed decisions not based on what their buddies egg them on to do. and everyone is a little sensitive when they are young. we should be investing in our future politicians, like that other young chap on your council, sammy, though i think six years old is a little too young to start i find his vocabulary impressive, more fitting of someone almost twice his age.

i'm behind you all the way, good work boys! if i could pat you both on the head i would! don't let the mean old poopy pants raise the hammer people get you down with all their logic and studies and boring old stuff like that.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2009 at 17:41:49

This comment said it all:
"Staff don't want to increase the downtown density targets because that might threaten the city's greenfield expansion plans."

Here is a case of somebody who has seen the skewed story for too long & now sees it as true or desirable.

1)Developers run much of Hamilton.
2)Developers don't want to take chances with Downtown redeveloment.
3)Developers see more profit in 'green places, & pretty vistas' than they see in the convenience of Downtown. They (think) they know who their market is, & they aims to please.

I'd like to interject one important idea. 'Boomers'. Boomers are retiring & aging. Some of them will loose their drivers' licenses, health, & degrees physical autonomy within the next decade. Many of them have lost substantial amounts of their retirement funds recently. I would tend to think that like the rest of the population, they might want to spend less on a place to live & live in a smaller place, spend less by getting rid of their cars,& be closer to public transit, the Go-trains & buses, stores, libraries, recreation, doctors & hospitals.
It's not the 50's or the 60's anymore, City Hall. Wake up & smell the Metamucil & the Money!

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2009 at 17:46:55

Thank you 'A Teacher'. That's the best bit of spot on sarcasm I've read in a while. I hope you will return! :)

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By xgen (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2009 at 09:49:32

That's what's so strange about Boomers Cityjoe. Who do you think the home builders are? Boomers. They know their market because they are their market. They're developing Box Stores and sprawl McMansion because that's still what Boomers are buying. That'll be the day I see a boomer on a city bus. If they do we'll have to make the Tim Hortons drive thrus bigger to accommodate.

More misleading facts about Boomers.

Claim: Boomers are retiring in massive numbers.
Truth: They're hanging on to their jobs and not letting the next generation move up. Two years ago all the talk was about where will businesses find labour, today millions of people are out of work. Most of whom are people under 45.

Claim: Boomers will downsize their homes
Truth: Boomers still love their showcase monster homes, even with 2 or 3 vacant bedrooms they're not moving. Most still have mortgages. They're the wealthiest generation yet and yet it wasn't possible to pay-off a mortgage? They'll be moving out of the suburbs feet first.

Claim: Boomers will engage in a healthy lifestyle and in retirement will take up tennis, boating and other outdoor leisure.
Truth: Boomers are not changing their lifestyle one bit. They're staying in their cars, using drive-thrus, eating unhealthy diets and spending their leisure time at Box Stores and Malls.

Claim: The Boomers will inherit the largest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.
Truth: Yes they will, and it's a possible reason why they spend like no tomorrow, knowing they have their parents hard-earned, hard-saved money waiting for them to pay off their debts. Sadly this largest transfer of wealth will be squandered and when it's their time leave an inheritance it will like be in the form of debt, trash heaps and a massive environmental cleanup for the next generation.

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By fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 09:33:21

What no one is thinking here of revitalizing downtown is.. Get the crackhead trash off the street in downtown and send them somewheres else. Why does there have to be homeless shelters downtown? People who come to this city dont want to see that. I brought my girlfriend over on the weekend (she lives in Burlington) and she couldnt get over how many homeless people there are out their. I mean having someone pestering you for cigarettes and change every 10 steps is enough to drive anyone away from this city. The city used to be a great city, way before anyone came up with wonderful Ideas to revitalize it. But then for some reason really seedy people started to move in and people started up these horrible bars like buttinskies, and that strip club thats somewhere close to it. It seems that the clientel that some of these places attract are killing it for the rest of us. Its killing it for people who want to live in a nice clean city where crime is low and you have an opportunity to better yourself. We need somekind of social help building for the homeless to find a job and not some halfthought place that looks like it was renovated from a conviences store like that joke of a place on kingstreet. How do people think the downtown core will pick up if we overlook the people in the downtown core. We need the police to stop being so kind and when they see someone fighting (I see fights all the time) to break it up and not just get on their bicycles and drive right by. The mayor of Hamilton is throwing away money on projects that is started on the mountain and forgeting completley whats happening below concession. If you live downtown or work down here you know what Im talking about. Im only 22 and I see this as plain as day. Im sick of having to deal with depressing people all the time downtown and be harrased for change and smokes. Sick of having to hear people talk about how the mayor blew the money on something and rip up perfectly fixable buildings downtown and build parking lots. Does he realize that it looks like the city just gave up and just decided to make downtown one big parking lot?If your going to have a downtown have a downtown thats functional and upbeat and not so dirty and depressing. This place is a mess.

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By fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 09:45:51

Another thing is, The corner of King and James where Jackson square is, for God sake do something about it. I mean thats where all the ugliness goes to congregate every morning noon and night for some reason, I find myself have to push by them every day when I go to and come back from work. They have to stand their? Thats something thats killing the downtown core as well. Im sorry if I come off as ranting but I mean, no one mentioned anything I just wrote. Everyone was talking about other aspects of downtown that can be changed. And im not knocking anyone's ideas. I like them, started to make me think of what it would be like if any of those ideas happend. But I mean if you want those ideas to work you need to deal with the street trash first. Because its driving people away from downtown and into the suburban malls and powercenters. If you want a nice clean bustling downtown you need to work on closing the ugly dangerous bars and stripclubs and focus more on trying to help people who need it, move the shelters away from main public hubs where people go to spend their money and then think of putting in some decent shopping stores downtown, all that is downtown now is convient stores, restaraunts that are mediocer, bars, and pawnshops. Other then that what is there? what is it that makes it so special, Anything stand out in your mind other then rat hole? if thats what came to your mind, think what people from other cities visiting think. You want to attract customers not attract trash.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 10:15:00

funny, Montreal has way more of the 'trashy' type asking for change and sleeping on the ground. Doesn't seem to be hurting that city's downtown economy. Ditto for Vancouver and Toronto.

The key is to attract more middle/upper class folks to live downtown, not push out the poor.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 11:24:00

Excellent counterpoint Jason... I'm not quite sure which class fender fits into. I see lots of ideas but very poor spelling and grammar! Might be one of the trashy types masquerading as someone better...

Heaven forbid fender gets his house repossessed for some reason or looses his job and, at the end of his rope, has to head for downtown to ask for change. And I'll echo Jason, whenever I go to TO or when I visited Montreal last summer, there were a lot more homeless/begging people than I see downtown here and they're still bustling places.

There is a reason for having shelters downtown, well there are several I'm sure but I can only think of a few and they are things like: close to public transit hubs, close to amenities and close to a place where people go. Fender, perhaps the answer isn't looking down your nose on them and calling them trash, it's helping them. It might actually make you feel better about yourself.

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By fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 11:40:16

well maybe you like that kind of thing I really dont know. But now I see the city's problem. If your going to check my spelling to pick my suggestions apart then maybe you shouldnt be so shrewd yourself. Just next time you go downtown have a look at everyone and then think who goes to your downtown.

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By fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 11:41:46

Its great to sound like your the good guy and make me the bad guy but im not working against you or anyone else. Im just tired of living in a disgusting city and moving out as soon as I can

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 11:44:38

I know who goes downtown. I do... and lots of other people like me as well. And the only reason I picked apart your spelling and grammar is because you're picking on people who are the easiest to pick on.

Your suggestion is not really a suggestion as much as it is idiocy. Once you start classifying people and removing them from downtown you're starting on a slippery slope downhill. Simply because someone has to beg for money or food doesn't make them any less of a person than you.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 11:45:20

Let me know when you're leaving, I'm coming to the party.

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By fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 11:45:20

Its great to sound like your the good guy and make me the bad guy but im not working against you or anyone else. Im just tired of living in a disgusting city and moving out as soon as I can

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 11:49:36

While you think you're a good guy, a good person doesn't kick someone while they're down and that's exactly what your proposing. If your travelled sphere is as big as Hamilton/Burlington then get out more. The only reason you perceive that there are more homeless/begging people downtown is because there aren't enough middle class people there. Kicking those who are down on their luck out doesn't solve that problem, it just means there are less people downtown in general.

In other words, the solution isn't to remove people from the core, it's to make it a destination for more people using proper planning procedures.

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By Fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 12:00:50

Frank im sorry but you missed my point. Im saying that they need to cutt down on the strip clubs and seedy bars so they dont attract the wrong type of people downtown. Im sorry if I have offended anyone but look at what other cities have done, sure Toronto has a few downtown but thats because its a bigger city, it can get away with things like that because they are more spread out. Hamilton decided to put them in a huge cluster. Thats not helping anyone, Ive spoken to someone who lived in a shelter. No one is getting helped they enable people who stay their to keep them unemployed (which is simple in this city because its near impossible to find any kind of employment anywhere in this city unless you want to go to a temporary placement) I work full time , pay my bills, buy my food. I am not suffering by any means. and I should correct myself in the wording I've used for someone whos less fortunate then me , your right its a bit harsh to call anyone trash but I was caught up in the moment. I mean instead of worrying about building that huge condo that never will get built why not worry about first fixing the homeless problem and the run down bars? I like the whole Gorepark as central downtown thing where christmas they have things going on , and they have charities and public entertainment. Those kind of things draw people in. But we need to focus on drawing in better business's into the equation, something brandname. keep the privatley owned stores, but also use some of those parking lots as spaces to build some buildings with brand names.

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By fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 12:15:37

My area where I go is farther then Burlington and Hamilton. Ive lived in Toronto untill I was 19 then moved here. This city doesnt get it compared to how Toronto's city core is run. They are at least working on cleaning up their streets and facilitating the homeless. Here its more of a fight for your life untill you run into a bit of luck. Im done debating on this with you because you think your right,I just want to get my point across that I feel that people have completley missed and I hear and speak with probably alot more people who live down here then you do, and they all say what im saying. So bad talk me all you want and complain about what I say untill you had your fill I really dont care because in the end it doesnt really matter what you or I have to say about this, its up to the city planners and the mayor to do what they think is right for the city and use our money for it. So no hard feelings on my end, I didnt really come on here to debate I came on here to share what I thought could work, youve done a great job in showing me how much of a know it all you seem to think you are. Visiting and living downhere are two different things.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 14:04:57

Fender, I wasn't arguing that I was right or wrong, I was saying you're proposal to kick out the trash was over the top and doens't make a difference. As far as downtown establishments, I think you need to peruse the downtown a bit better. There are quite a few classy establishments although perhaps they don't crack up to the Keg, they provide food that's as good if not better. Downtown bars attract line ups of people so they can't be that bad.

The last time I checked each city has it's share of "seedy" joints that you may not approve of and if anyone was to walk through a downtown core with a pessimistic view, that's what they'd see. When I walk through downtown and eat at some killer restaurants browse through some nice stores, I could care less if I have to walk past the tattoo parlour or a strip bar.

As far as living, I lived and worked RIGHT downtown for 3 years. I moved out to east Hamilton to get closer the office I drive to every day. If you enjoyed TO so much, you're welcome to go back.

What would work is a variety of establishments in all the boarded up establishments along downtown streets, changing the highways through downtown to two way roads and slowing them down, increasing the sidewalk width, allowing restaurants to have patios out front weather permitting...that kind of thing. It works like your lawn, if you have a lot of weeds you don't pull them you put down some good triple mix and overseed with grass....

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 14:49:49

Fender - Toronto is 'facilitating the homeless'??
Yea, all those one-way bus tickets to Hamilton that they hand out are sure showing compassion and care towards the homeless.

as for strip clubs, there are exactly zero in downtown Hamilton proper (Queen,Charlton,Cannon,Wellington). The city just bought the last remaining one and is converting the building to residential uses.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 10, 2009 at 14:50:31

It works like your lawn, if you have a lot of weeds you don't pull them you put down some good triple mix and overseed with grass....

Great analogy.

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By MohawkMike (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2009 at 11:23:44

Well Ryan ,,, you really stirred the pot this !! GREAT..Love your direct approach
About time we AGAIN see the real facts that Hamilton Council and their STAFF don't hear the music. In fact I don't think they know there is a parade going on for intensification or smart growth or what ever else every one else in the province is doing. ... To Mr Jannssen Please ? Green fields ??/ WHY do we need more SPRAWL???
Way to go CITYJOE .. your analysis and observations are right on. What about infill throughout the city. I ( and my parents and one uncle) live on the mountain. What ever happened to those hospital Chedoke lands that was supposed to be redeveloped for medium rise condos on the Brow. The retired folks (my parents ) were look to purchase there as the ideal retirement home. Sounds like the wealthy Scenic Drive crew and the local alderman Terence Whitebread scared them off .. probably with municipal staff assisstance. I understand they were not "local" in house favoured builders or maybe they didn't just know the ""hamilton system" If you get my drift ? It is is my understanding that infill building uses existing sewers, water pipes , schools, roads. So why aren't our city politicins grabbing hold of infill or intensification throughout the city ?? Maybe our reputation precedes us??
Hey Ryan.. How do I locate the developers/bulders of those brow lands ?
Thanks Mike

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By Green Eggs (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2009 at 11:41:35

Hot damn MohawkMike, swing that tomahawk! The company your looking for is Deanlee Management, and the principal in charge of the Chedoke project is Ron Starr www.deanlee.ca

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By MohawkMike (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2009 at 18:31:08

Thanks green eggs..
I got hold of Dealee Management and had a great informative conversation with the Head honcho himself, he was actually in his office to-day ( Saturday ). They are reworking their Condo plans and have not given up / apparently just taking a lot longer and more studies than they expected. This is the type of infill or brownfield redevelopment I was reading about and Hamilton should be going after. He was telling me that by the time they finish it will be a $200 million effort with something like $16 million in fees and local levies and charges. That's a lot of zeros.I may only be a graduating student but it sure sounds like a lot of construction jobs and community investment to me.
I'm going to meet him this week when he comes here to Mohawk College. Apparently they have already challenged the planning students on various concepts.
Will follow up on line.
Mike

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