Revitalization

Strathcona Residents Welcome New Commercial Investment

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 22, 2009

Tonight, as I attended the Strathcona Community Council's Annual General Meeting, I witnessed something wonderful: local residents rising up in what I'm going to term PIMBYism: Please, In My Back Yard.

A young family has purchased the dodgy building at the northeast corner of King and Locke, which used to house the grim tavern GP Grumpy's. They plan to renovate the upstairs into four two-bedroom apartments and open a restaurant/bar on the main floor called Rolly Rockets BBQ.

At issue was the liquor licence: when Councillor Brian McHattie (Ward 1) announced the couple's licence request, he expressed open-mindedness about the matter but speculated that some residents might prefer to see the licence cut off liquor sales at 11:00 PM rather than the provincial closing time of 2:00 AM.

At that point, several people at the well-attended meeting stood up and stated flatly that they considered the restaurant to be a wonderful inclusion to the neighbourhood and that there should be no restrictions on the liquor licence.

A couple of long-standing residents pointed out that there has been a bar at that location for decades and it was never a problem, at least not until the last few years when it was a really seedy bar.

One resident contrasted the likely clientele - people like himself, who might like to pop out for a relaxing beer after the kids go to bed (don't worry - they won't be left unattended!) - with the loud, rowdy crowds at Hess Village.

Another resident pointed out that more 'eyes on the street' would be a good thing, especially for the safety of people walking through the park at night.

My favourite comment was from the woman who articulated her support for the plan and concluded, "Our neighbourhood can handle this."

Unlike Kirkendall or Westdale, Strathcona doesn't really have a neighbourhood centre. The closest thing is Victoria Park, but the commercial facilities in the vicinity are severely limited. It was clear tonight that the residents at the AGM recognize the value of new commercial investment in their neighbourhood - not only for local places to frequent, but also for the power to agglomerate people and amenities to their mutual benefit.

That process, of course, is urbanization itself in microcosm.

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.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2009 at 07:30:27

That's great to hear there's widespread neighbourhood support.

I work a couple doors down and we've been watching the renos/talking with the new owner of the building for a while... there's stuff happening on that part of King and its great to see.

We also wrote up a letter of support for the liquor license pretty much right after meeting the guy who's leasing the restaurant level. I'm looking forward to having a new place in the neighbourhood just for my own benefit too, I must admit ;)

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted October 23, 2009 at 08:08:51

Congrats to the owners of the place and to the community members who stood up for it.

It reminds me of what happened with the old (and ironically named) Regal Hotel at Bay and King. When I was in its new "Cottage Living" iteration last week I was pleased to see it was mostly full and that the crowd was made up of a diverse cross section of our city, (including a certain Spec columnist and a certain Ward 2 City Councillor), certainly a far cry from the Regal's previous clientèle.

Once this new place is open I'll definitely be taking a stroll down to Locke to check it out!

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By hunter (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2009 at 10:17:29

That restaurant at King and Locke is slated to be southern style bbq. Yummy. Across the street, Victoria Park will be getting more improvements in the next year including historical signage, community garden plots, resurfaced courts, trees planted and enhanced park entrances. Meanwhile, on the other side of the park on Strathcona Ave., the Hellenic Community Senior's residence will be converting the old firehall (raisethehammer.org/article/430) into residential untis and restoring the historical facade.

Stuff up in the air includes the possible LRT, the possible stadium and the possible pedestrian bridge over the train tracks from Locke St. to the waterfront. We'll see. Anyway, all good stuff.

Thanks to Strathcona Community Council (strathconacommunity.org) for the hard work and updates.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted October 23, 2009 at 14:09:54

Mmmm Strathcona BBQ District! Be sure to check out The BBQ Joint @ Hess & York as well! (http://www.thebbqjoint.ca/home.html)

Kudos to the Owners of this new joint with the Open House idea to show Strathcona residents just what they're about! Hamilton could learn a thing-or-two from them ;)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2009 at 14:31:50

Be sure to check out The BBQ Joint

Seconded! The BBQ Joint is excellent - and their hours are mind-blowing. You can pretty much show up randomly at any time of day and have a good chance of finding the place open.

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By hunter (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2009 at 14:42:16

Huh, had no idea that was there, thanks. Seems that it's on Queen, not Hess? Some Caribbean menu items too...

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 23, 2009 at 15:06:36

I look forward to this place reopening. I used to go once in a while before, as it is a very short walk for me. It is a chance to meet others in the neighbourhood and get to know each other. A new community garden will be in Victoria Park next year as well, so this helps those who struggle in the neighbourhood.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted October 23, 2009 at 15:47:03

Grassroots said, "A new community garden will be in Victoria Park next year as well, so this helps those who struggle in the neighbourhood."

Is the mini Crystal Palace still happening?

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 23, 2009 at 16:43:29

Really: Gee I do not know about that. That would be neat, as this was where the original Crystal Palace stood.

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By Balance (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2009 at 01:33:50

Great news, what a re-investment, I wish them all the success. This is community building from the ground up. These small projects can cause the tipping point for more to come. I believe the synergies and spill-offs will be positive. We should all be thankful someone has taken the risk and invested in the community. Any new business venture no matter where assumes risk. Lets do our best to support this venture. And thank you to these visionaries!

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2009 at 10:19:07

You know, there's a restaurant/bar at the end of our street here in the Delta, just east of Gage Park, very much a neighbourhood kind of place. It was there when we moved in, and it's presence never gave us pause when we put our offer in on the house where we live now. It's a family run business. By all appearances, it's actually a pretty sedate establishment.

I'll be honest, we've never been to it, but when we pop out after the kids go to bed (aside: it's so nice once the oldest kids are teenagers and can spontaneously babysit, isn't it?), it's usually for a relaxing coffee, rather than a beer- for budgetary reasons.

Heard from a student teacher of my husband's a while back that this bar is actually one of the places where Brock Fac Ed(further up the road on King St)students like to hang out for a beer after class.

I'd rather have that at the end of our street than an East Side Mario's. Just sayin'.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2009 at 11:26:40

Strathcona did their food drive this weekend as well - they did a great job of distributing flyers beforehand and making sure the neighbourhood knew about it. Many houses already had bags of nonperishables ready to donate. Although the day of I think there were only a dozen of us out collecting food, we got just about every street.

At the end of the day, we had two buses full of food, with a total of 6000 pounds of food donated, split half-and-half between Mission Services and Good Shepherd. All the rest to come this week from businesses and churches with donation boxes goes to the Salvation Army. For the launch of something like this, it was a great start.

Next year I hope to see a lot more volunteers and even more donations.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 26, 2009 at 15:48:19

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2009 at 21:10:30

The focus of that post was not to start a discussion about food banks, it was to highlight something else positive occurring within the Strathcona neighbourhood.

I know its an issue that you care about, but this is not the place to discuss it. I really, really don't want to derail this discussion. I've said in the past on multiple forums that there need to be better solutions than food banks.

In the interim, 6000 pounds of food is 6000 more than was available to people who need it than before.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 26, 2009 at 21:42:00

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted October 27, 2009 at 07:40:24

No one's trying to control you grassroots, you made a blatantly off topic post about the problems with food banks when the previous comment was simply highlighting another positive event taking place in Strathcona.

Don't act like you're being persecuted because I would be willing to bet that you've down-voted A Smith and others for similar reasons.

No one's said your post is incorrect just off-topic, if you wish to further pursue this topic why not submit an article? I for one would be interested in reading it.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 27, 2009 at 13:17:34

UrbanRenaissance: What difference does it make where the conversation goes, as long as an issue is discussed. Though the idea is to make this community better for all, many who post here have very judgemental views about those who struggle, never do people think it could happen to them, but they're wrong it could.

Follow this:

http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2009/09/re...

which led to this

http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2009/10/10...

I did write an article on the poverty debate but it was never posted, nor did I hear back from anyone as to what needed to be changed in order to have it posted.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 27, 2009 at 13:23:23

I did write an article on the poverty debate but it was never posted, nor did I hear back from anyone as to what needed to be changed in order to have it posted.

Grassroots, I did receive your essay and replied to you, but it doesn't look like you got it. I'll re-send my reply tonight.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted October 27, 2009 at 13:59:52

"What difference does it make where the conversation goes, as long as an issue is discussed. "

Then I take it you don't have any issue with A Smith constantly using the slightest pretext to bring up tax rates because (s)he's discussing an issue?

For the record I have no issue with discussion topics changing over the course of an online conversation, if its an organic change that makes sense given the context.

I do take issue with your implication that Meredith doesn't have the right to reply to a comment about her own post, and given the down-votes those two comments received it appears I'm not the only one who took issue with it.

To be perfectly clear I have no problem with what you said, but rather I have have a problem with how you said it. (As per the voting guidelines.)

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 27, 2009 at 14:25:42

Urban Renaissance: A Smith does go on about taxes and has an unrealistic view of the world. But every once in a blue moon, he or she does bring up a point of consideration.

I should of put more thought into my original post, I was in a hurry, that is my error but still, I do not tell people what they should or should not write, I would refer to her comment that as something else.

Meredith saw it as positive, I do not, as it does nothing to change the systemic problems and the fact the many in our commuity are denied access to food at the food banks.

Anyways, my original comment was not directed at her, personally, it just ruffled her feathers.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 27, 2009 at 23:15:33

Simply pointing out that a post is off-topic does not mean it is a personal attack. Stating that a post does not fit in a particular topic is not a personal judgment, but an objective assessment of the content. I would not take it personally if I were you :)

I have been impressed with the direction of the Strathcona neighbourhood in general since starting to work there about two years ago, and especially since my work moved from York to King Street and we have got to know a lot of our neighbours.

Some people (possibly it was Jason) have mentioned before that its one of the few neighbourhoods that we truly see the mixed-income housing and various types of housing side by side - from the low-rises to the multi-unit houses to single homes. I have seen detached houses for sale from 80k to 400k+ in the neighbourhood over the past two years and rentals all over the map. I know people on welfare living comfortably there and people in excellent jobs who also like living there.

I love seeing the various businesses that have been around for decades on my stretch of King - 54 years, 45 years, 35 years - right beside media production companies, the theatre, and then new artists studio and the restaurant opening.

Even in recent conversation with a Dundad gentleman who sends his children to school in Strathcona and has their family moving there, because of the quality of the education there.

Ive actually been a bit torn whether or not when, in the future wnen I am able to buy again instead of rent, I will move to that neighbourhood eventually - I very much value being able to live closer to my work and think that for the type of work I do it is especially important, but its not a neighbourhood where I feel my investment and property improvement would make as much of a difference as it could in other neighbourhoods, and I value that too.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted October 29, 2009 at 18:14:18

Next Stop: YUM YUMs I can't ever tell if this business is still open? It seems open, but I have never seen people in there. It's been around for at least 10-12 years, but is kind of sketchy. Hopefully that shop (which is directly across from this new BBQ joint) can get a new life and help rejuvenate a long-neglected corner/intersection.

I love how open Victoria Park is to the street now; just dissapointed in the half-assed Entry Gate (it should have been much more grand for such a grand, historic park). Speaking of the History of that park, what's the word on the proposed mini Crystal Palace?

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2009 at 09:30:28

The restaurant actually put a big THANK YOU sign in the window to the community - I didn't get to read the whole thing, but how great is that they found such a level of support for what they're doing?

Hopefully that inspires some other businesses that Strathcona is a good place to open shop.

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By Roland of Rolly Rocket's BBQ (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2009 at 07:55:51

Hello,

We are excited to announce as a result of everyone's support opposition to our application for a Liquor License has been dropped.

In retrospect we know the public process has afforded an opportunity to become more in-tune with the local community and will allow us to provide better service. One example is we had no idea there are so many vegetarians in the area, as a result we will be offering some delicious vegetarian dishes.

We would again like to thank everyone who cared enough to voice an opinion in this matter and we look forward to providing a local gathering place the community can be proud to claim as their own!

Best Wishes,

Roland Dube

Rolly Rocket's BBQ
(Corner of King & Locke)
Hamilton ON L8P 1B7
905 393-3555
info@rollyrocketsbbq.com
www.rollyrocketsbbq.com (which is a work in progress)

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 31, 2009 at 10:53:00

Roland wrote:

In retrospect we know the public process has afforded an opportunity to become more in-tune with the local community and will allow us to provide better service.

Holy smokes. A business owner who is sensitive, respectful, and wants to serve their community. Please, please, please come to Westdale and show 'em how it's done. (Not that we don't have a few great business owners here, but we're also plagued by fly-by-night artists who just want to make a quick buck off the students. cough Jimmy Gringo's cough cough King Paisley Haus cough cough etc.)

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By more development (anonymous) | Posted November 03, 2009 at 20:10:05

"It was clear tonight that the residents at the AGM recognize the value of new commercial investment in their neighbourhood"

And thank's to lower commercial tax rates, this is starting to happen across the city. Keep cutting tax rates and this city will pull itself from last to first in no time.

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