People

Only In Hamilton

By Adrian Duyzer
Published August 14, 2010

You've heard it before, when people see someone doing something peculiar, dismaying, or outright bizarre.

"Only in Hamilton!"

I've heard people say this in all sorts of situations, like when they see:

"Only in Hamilton!"

What a strange claim this is, that the ill, poor, homeless, overweight, desperate - or just plain peculiar - people of this world all live here.

Travel anywhere else in Canada and you'll quickly see how untrue this is. Vancouver, renowned for its livability, is also renowned for its heroin addicts. Toronto, at a glance, appears to have proportionally more homeless people than any other Canadian city I've ever been to.

Travel abroad and it's no different. Paris is famous for its cathedrals, but the alcoves of those cathedrals host sleeping homeless people every night. And although I've never been there (I know, I need to go), by all accounts when it comes to peculiar and unique individuals, NYC has us beat hands down.

So what really is "only in Hamilton"?

Just the naive belief that we're different than anywhere else.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

55 Comments

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted August 14, 2010 at 09:24:36

Just the naive belief that we're different than anywhere else.

Yes, that, and the unbelievably smug opinion that if all these people would just go away and Hamilton was populated only by people who were as attractive and up-and-coming as one and one's friends, it would all be so shiny and wonderful.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 10:24:25

So true. Personally, I hate these haters. This self loathing is poetically captured in the Weakerthans song 'One Great City'. In the lyrics, John K. Samson pokes fun at this mentality in his home town of Winnipeg.

the driver checks the mirror seven minutes late
crowded riders' restlessness enunciates
the guess who suck, the jets were lousy anyway
the same mood every day
and in the turning lane
someone's stalled again
he's talking to himself
and hears the price of gas repeat his phrase
i hate winnipeg

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By stormysky_dw (registered) - website | Posted August 14, 2010 at 11:10:10

I will say that with all certainty (and a hint of sarcasm) that we must have the most motorized scooters of any city in the world.

Serious question though, does anyone know why there are so many motorized scooters here?

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By Ryan w. (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2016 at 16:22:03 in reply to Comment 45693

More d.u.i's per capita

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 11:12:47

...poetically captured in the Weakerthans song... - Henry and Joe

Weakerthans... nice!!!

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By TeamHamilton (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 11:28:29

I belive the proper term for said situations would be "Hamilton: F**k Ya!"

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 14, 2010 at 11:59:26

It's hard to deny that Hamilton has a fairly unique brand of crazy. I've spent a lot of time downtown, as well as travelled extensively through bad neighbourhoods of all forms.

The thing with Hamilton's crazies are a lot more harmless. Most of the "scary looking" people downtown here are disabled, elderly, and a lot more afraid of you than you are of them. I've spent my share of time in East Vancouver, especially on the Lower East Side, and it's a lot more threatening. You will be robbed, you car will be broken into, and if there's an open-able window on the front of your home/store, they'll find a way in... Plus I'd much rather lose a fight in Hamilton than win one with a crackhead in Van...one drop of blood could be the end of you. Hamilton may have a crack problem in the North End, but Canada had a crack problem (and a meth problem, and a junk problem, etc) in Vancouver.

Hamiltonians need to realise that every other city on earth struggles with drugs, poverty and graffiti too.

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By hamguy (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 12:36:02

I think what people take issue with here in Hamilton is the disproportionate nature of things downtown. While no one should condemn or criticize the disadvantaged, our downtown (a a whole) , seems to have an unfavourable balance when compared to other cities. Until this demographic mix becomes more in line with other cities, our downtown will always be perceived as a run down scary place. Right now the perception of our downtown is that the disadvantaged outnumber the no so disadvantaged, for lack of a better term.

I dont mean to sound negative here, but this is an outsiders perception of of our city, and until such time as we get a better demographic mix, the perception will not change !!!!!

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By Al Czervik (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 12:51:18

So the point of this post is that it's bad here but it's bad in other places too? Only thing is those other places have culture, attractions, and 'normal' people too!

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By adrian (registered) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 12:59:20

It's hard to deny that Hamilton has a fairly unique brand of crazy.

Which mental illness would you say is unique to Hamilton?

And if you don't mean a particular mental illness, can you elaborate on what you do mean?

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted August 14, 2010 at 13:23:38

Serious question though, does anyone know why there are so many motorized scooters here?

Um,as the boomers age, I think we can expect to see more of those everywhere, both budget and luxury models...

Seriously, now. Very dear friend of mine needs a scooter if she's out and about for long periods of time, due to a neuro-degenerative illness. Highly educated, well-traveled, middle class, etc. Does that make the scooter more forgiveable, then?

Here's another thought: back before there were motorized scooters and wheelchairs, people who had mobility challenges had to rely on others to push them around, and probably weren't seen in public as often because they would have to wait until others were available. Plus they weren't seen in as many places because of the lack of ramps, lifts, elevators, handicapped parking, etc. How about a little cognitive exercise here, wherein we all train ourselves to think, whenever we see someone on a scooter or wheelchair, "Isn't technology great? Aren't accessibility and independence wonderful?" instead of, "There goes the neighbourhood..."

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By dsahota (registered) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 14:33:32

someone pushing a shopping cart packed fill of bottles and cans down the sidewalk

This happens in all cities, in Vancouver, its actually quite common as there are deposits on all pop cans, milk jugs, drink boxes, etc. The people who do it generally refer to themselves as "binners" and actually have started their own collective, which is now a registered charity, in the downtown eastside called "United We Can." Heck the government even hired binners during the Olympics to pick up recyclables: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbi...

I do think the "only in Hamilton" meme is completely false and unfair. I think its more an indication of the general lack of confidence of Hamilton residents have in their city because they've been beaten down so many times. Its also reinforced by many from other cities who just drive through and never stop to meet or talk to the people here.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 14:48:29

Back in the early 70's when I was a preteen, my friends and I used to wander around downtown all the time. There were all kinds of "scarry" people even then. There were homeless people everywhere with their tin cups at their side looking for handouts. It was no big deal then why should it be now. Just because they are homeless or look different, that doesn't make them dangerous or a menace.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 14, 2010 at 16:16:03

Homeless people, people with mental illnesses, people with tatoos and spikey hair and people who dress like they enjoy rap music are everywhere. What we need to remember is that they're all still people. I agree totally with bigguy - too much of this "problem" relies simply on hurtful stereotypes and prejudices.

Oh, and as for all those folks wandering the North End with carts full of bottles, I go to the same beer store, and have talked to a bunch of them. You'd be blown away by how many don't drink. Imagine what our parks and streets would look like without them.

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By stormysky_dw (registered) - website | Posted August 14, 2010 at 16:50:19

@Michelle Martin - I'm not trying to suggest scooter folks are lesser people, I'm asking a serious question about why there seem to be WAY more scooters here than any other city I've been in. Is it just perception? I really don't think that's the case...there really seem to be an inordinate amount of people that use motorized scooters as their preferred mode of transportation.

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 17:14:20

Here is something interesting regarding crme rates...Here’s Statistics Canada’s chart showing crime severity and violent crime severity indexes for all of the country’s big urban areas, called Census Metropolitan Areas,2009 in order

1.Regina 2.Saskatoon.3.Winnipeg.4.Kelowna.5.Edmonton.6.Abbotsford.7.Thunder Bay.8.Vancouver.9.Brantford.10. Halifax.11Sain John.12.Victoria.13.St. Johns14.Montreal.15.London.16.Sudbury.17.Trois Rivieres.18.Calgary.19.Saqeuney.20.St Catherines/Niagara.21.Moncton.22.Gatineau.23.Kitchener.24.HAMILTON.25.Windsor.26.Sherbrook.27.Ottawa.28.Kingston.29.Peterborough.30.Barrie.31.TORNTO.32.Quebec City.33.Guelph

http://www.cancrime.com/2010/07/20/winni...

There is always this idea that Toronto for instance has a lot of murders/violence but it really doesn't its just the size of the population to make it appear that way. Toronto has never had 100 murders in one year and even if it did that would be like hamilton having 10 murders. When people look at regina..they ask how can that be true but it is true.

This from 2006...

The province with the lowest crime rate in 2006 was for the third straight year Ontario with 5,689 per 100,000, followed by Quebec with 5,909 per 100,000. The province with the highest crime rate for the 9th straight year was Saskatchewan with 13,711 per 100,000. Saskatoon is the city with the highest crime rate following by its provincial counterpart Regina. Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, and Saguenay have the lowest crime rates of any city and are all located in Quebec.

I can understand someone living in burlington/oakville coming to hamilton and maybe being shocked to seeing actual poor people...yes they do exist in canada but it isn't exclusive to hamilton at all and hamilton does have a low crime rate for its size just as toronto does. I also think alot of people in hamilton havent really travelled around other canadian cities or know these numbers. I actually kind of laugh when i hear people say how violent hamilton and or toronto is. If you ranked murder rate both hamilton/toronto are extremely low near the bottom for cities in canada. Not only low for canada but if you ranked it in comparison to an american city of hamilton size and up it would be at the bottom.

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By Jarod (registered) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 18:01:04

In reference to scooters.

I live near First Place Apartment Building. Scooters and me don't mix.

Yes, some people do genuinely need a scooter to get done what they need to get done.

More often, people can no longer afford or operate a car and want to maintain the same mobility they had when they owned one. I think this is the reason we see more scooters here than elsewhere....say St. Thomas where I grew up...which is the second city people think of after Victoria for elderly people per capita.

I have and would take no issue with someone who needs it to get around. One problem I think lead to the frustration of many and the stereotype of scooter culture (holy crap...scooter culture...are we there...really...) might be because a large percentage of people who would/could be mobile without a scooter use it as a mini car, which in my mind is worse because those things can fly down the sidewalk...and who is going to yell at someone in a scooter?

And in Hamilton, car culture rules the day. Unfortunately.

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 21:53:11

On the subject of car culture, it is the very reason for the misconception of crime and violence associated with urban centers. People who rarely leave the insulated bubble of the car when traveling to, or through cities never mix with the locals. The same people by definition also don't ride public transit, so their only perceptions of what happens in a city is from TV news daily crime reports. The news doesn't report on ordinary people living happily and comfortable in their urban communities every day. Perhaps they should.

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted August 14, 2010 at 23:12:01

I like Hamilton. I live here and I like it. But, I don't work here. One of my colleagues was scheduled to attend a conference here and asked for recommendations for a few places to eat - he was also planning to bring his wife and two kids here and stay an extra day (a little cheap holiday). He was staying at the Sheraton.

He did not extend his conference and he did not bring his family to downtown Hamilton. His comment to me when he returned was something along the lines of "Holy, that is one ghetto downtown, and I like my downtowns seedy".

We do need to be careful about accepting "peculiar, dismaying, or outright bizarre" behaviour in a great big group hug. Sometimes, the behaviour is "peculiar, dismaying, or outright bizarre", and should be regarded as such. I wasn't particularly pleased to hear my colleague's comment, but I knew exactly what he meant.

We have a problem with a concentration of poverty and ugliness downtown. Nobody is advocating locking up unattractive or strange people. But, it is a downside to our downtown. Let's not celebrate it.

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By al.hamilton (registered) | Posted August 15, 2010 at 00:03:23

D.Knox, I agree.

The well-off contribute to this dismaying bizzardom more so than the poor and unstable, IMO. Look at all of the bought up, derelict property downtown, which is just sitting there boarded up and has done so for months (some even years). If these buildings are allowed to sit vacant and decaying for this long, what do they think this will do to the surrounding properties? Of course it brings property values down.

It also sends out the message to all who pass through or frequent the area that this property is down and out for the count, no one cares what happens there, so it's okay to chuck that candy wrapper in that general direction. Well, why not an empty cigarette pack too, then? An empty beer can; a half-full beer bottle; "Hey Fred, don't pee on that side of the building, we sleep there!". Before you know it, Fred's got a freshly derelict building next door to call his own.

It's a self perpetuating cycle and is fueled by none other than lax laws and by-laws. The city should rewrite some of these. Give landlords a time limit of six months to clean up these properties and bring them up to code. Failing that, tear them down at owners' expense. Most important part of the puzzle - don't just have laws, enforce them! If I buy a house today with old electrical wiring and panel, chances are good that I will not be able to properly insure my house until I get that wiring updated. Chances are that the insurance company will give me a set time limit by which I must complete the updates, no ifs or buts. Well, what's good for the goose...

edit: Oh, and speaking of bizarre... I find a highway full of over-sized SUVs with single occupants in them, many sitting there banging at the steering wheel and swearing out loud or muttering under their breath, all losing nerves in the crawling traffic... I find that scene infinitely more bizarre than the less stressed out Fred in his raggedy coat, asking for a quarter every time you pass by.

Comment edited by al.hamilton on 2010-08-14 23:07:24

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By Hunter (anonymous) | Posted August 15, 2010 at 07:35:23

It's not 'only in hamilton'. Every big city has this situation. I was in Ottawa on business and the market district has way more panhandlers than dt Hamilton. I lived in a desirable area of dt Toronto for 5 years and was grabbed twice by transients and was threatened way more than here.

I think Hamilton gets a bad rap from all the 'townies' that surround it and have never seen a city before. But then again, as mentioned above, other dt's have more to offer in terms of shopping and entertainment. LRT will go miles to improve this situation in Hamilton. The Eaton Centre is Toronto's #1 tourist attraction. Hands up who drives there...

The one thing I have noticed that is 'only in hamilton' is something I call the 'hamilton special'. This is a car that is 20 feet long, 20 years old, and has 20 visible defects. You really don't see these beasts much outside of the Hammer :) There goes a special...

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By Kourt (anonymous) | Posted August 15, 2010 at 08:47:06

Hunter...the "Hamilton Special" - that's hilarious. I'm having a coffee on a patio as I read that, look up and there's one trying to parallel park right in front of me. Fits your description to a tee..too funny.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2010 at 10:54:26

You're bang-on, Adrian. I just spent ten days in the Ottawa area and one of the biggest things I noticed was the abysmal quality of Ottawa's streets - cracks, potholes, gouges, you name it. There was plenty of evidence of my tax dollars at work (it's a breathtakingly beautiful city), but they're not at work maintaining asphalt.

Interestingly, with a denser population and more vertical building stock than Hamilton, Ottawa nevertheless manages to make room for dedicated bicycle and transit lanes throughout the city.

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By gj (anonymous) | Posted August 15, 2010 at 12:00:22

It's dismissive to simply say, "Well, Toronto and Vancouver have homeless people and crackheads, too." The problem in Hamilton is the incredibly obvious imbalance between individuals who suffer from poverty, drug use,and scooter reliance and those who do not. Yes, of course other major urban areas have undesirables and "unique" individuals in their urban core. However, for every "down-and-outter," there are hundreds, thousands of middle class and upper-middle class individuals who frequent the cores of major urban centres on a regular basis for work, play, and living. One simply cannot argue that you come across the same socio-economic imbalance in other cities (NYC, Toronto, Vancouver, etc.) that is experienced in downtown Hamilton. Unfortunately, living in Hamilton's core is still not an option for most young professional's who favour places like Binbrook (for whatever reason), and downtown is still a scary place for surburanites who would rather rush home after work than enjoy a drink on a patio or shop on King West. Until there is more of a balance in the core regarding socio-economic status, this city (or, more accurately, its downtown core) will always fit the phrase, "Only in Hamilton." I live downtown, by the way, and I wish many others shared my love for it.

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By gh (anonymous) | Posted August 15, 2010 at 12:02:30

It's dismissive to simply say, "Well, Toronto and Vancouver have homeless people and crackheads, too." The problem in Hamilton is the incredibly obvious imbalance between individuals who suffer from poverty, drug use,and scooter reliance and those who do not. Yes, of course other major urban areas have undesirables in their urban core. However, for every "down-and-outter," there are hundreds, thousands of middle class and upper-middle class individuals who frequent the cores of major urban centres on a regular basis for work, play, and living. One simply cannot argue that you come across the same socio-economic imbalance in other cities (NYC, Toronto, Vancouver, etc.) that is experienced in Hamilton. Unfortunately, living in Hamilton's core is still not an option for most young professional's who favour places like Binbrook (for whatever reason), and downtown is still a scary place for surburanites who would rather rush home after work than enjoy a drink on a patio. Until there is more of a balance in the core regarding socio-economic status, this city (or, more accurately, its downtown core) will always fit the phrase, "Only in Hamilton." I live downtown, by the way, and I wish that most others in this city would appreciate it as much as I do.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2010 at 13:01:48

The well-off contribute to this dismaying bizzardom more so than the poor and unstable, IMO. Look at all of the bought up, derelict property downtown, which is just sitting there boarded up and has done so for months (some even years). If these buildings are allowed to sit vacant and decaying for this long, what do they think this will do to the surrounding properties? Of course it brings property values down.

Absolutely.

It is important to be really careful about putting things in terms of desireable vs. undesireable types of people. No, of course we don't want people to be engaging in criminal activity downtown, but aside from that, where's the line? I'd actually be interested in what any given person's profile of the ideal frequenter of the downtown should look like, and how closely it resembles him- or herself.

None of us is necessarily immune to some kind of breakdown, or at least from eventually becoming old, arthritic, much poorer and maybe even cranky. And no social class or income category has a corner on crankiness or rude behaviour. Sure, there are scooter drivers who are inconsiderate, but I remember taking the subway in Toronto with two small children and being plowed past on the platform, on more than one occasion, by some businessman wielding an umbrella in one swinging arm and and a large briefcase in the other, like a couple of weapons. A bit of "car culture" in pedestrian form.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2010-08-15 12:04:14

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2010 at 13:52:51

The problem which IS mostly unique to Hamilton is that we let most of our downtown become unpleasant for anyone who doesn't hang out by default, and we don't have a healthy balance of people. That is a problem that's not shared by most other cities referenced. It's the statement "Downtown is only good enough to go into by default, and we really don't care about making it great for everyone."

Vancouver has its shifty areas for sure, but there's also an amazing number of pleasant ones -- it's not like in Hamilton that we have a nice downtown with a few unpleasant parts, we have a mostly unpleasant downtown with a few nice parts. I've worked in some of the nicest and some of the worst parts of Toronto, and the beautiful parts of downtown far outnumber the ugly ones.

Two really recent stories, both involving Gore Park.

One: I'm working a temp assignment this summer that involves working with some executives, and more than once I've needed to schedule appointments downtown around the Gore Park area. There's not a single executive-appropriate (or even really professional-appropriate, sorry P.A.M's) coffee chain in downtown proper. One of them likes to meet at Starbucks on Locke, but it's a bit far if the person they're meeting with works in downtown proper, and there's certainly nothing walking-distance, e.g. if they're meeting with someone working at the courthouse. That means meetings that could take place in a chain end up taking place at the Hamilton Club, which is SO unnecessary given that they're just as happy meeting at a chain coffeehouse.

There's also a dearth of business-lunch-appropriate places downtown. It's not a friendly place to do business. Gore Park certainly isn't a pleasant place to go with a coffee and talk, that's for sure.

Two: Last Thursday I went down to read for a while in Gore Park with my husband. I joked later that night that it was the "2 out of 3 problem" - 2 out of 3 times it's nice enough except for the constant smokers, the third time there's always a major problem.

No cops around, and there were a couple young-to-middle-aged guys openly drinking and half-shouting their conversation in the park - for an HOUR. Whatever sympathy you have for their life circumstances, they shouldn't be able to ruin the environment for the twenty other people who were using the park. If I had a cell phone, I probably would have stepped off and called the cops, but good luck with them responding to a "minor" thing like that.

In Hamilton, what I find unique is not that there's "some parts" of our lower city that aren't nice, or the fact different types of people use downtown.

It's that we say by our development policies, our failure to enforce bylaws with buildings, our abysmal job in making it a friendly business environment, our poor police presence and more that (again) "Downtown is only good enough to go into by default, and we really don't care about making it great for everyone."

Edit: I think the demographic downtown needs is very much NOT my own demographic. I don't make a lot of money. (Personally, I find it a bit ironic that I constantly get asked for money 'for coffee,' when I always bring a travel mug from home.) I sure don't bring a lot of dollars into the downtown. And while there can be a place for everyone, there isn't right now.

We need more people downtown who are able to inject money into it... at the same time, there's a lot of factors that make it really unpleasant for certain demographics at the moment and that needs to change.

Families don't like bringing their kids into a downtown full of secondhand smoke. If they're staying at the Crowne Plaza, a lot of them don't want to go outside. People are afraid to walk around and find a restaurant. That needs to change. I have friends who come here every year for a conference, and they're scared to go outside of their hotel and they drive to Grimsby on their lunch break. That's ridiculous!!!

I know people don't like the idea of displacing anyone, but demographics need to change for a successful downtown, and there are other public places in the city.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-08-15 13:02:49

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted August 15, 2010 at 13:55:33

Michelle: I think the main point to consider is not the ideal, but the aggregate. We don't need a Stepford Hamilton downtown - all shiny and antiseptically beautiful. That's why people go to Disneyland for vacations.

But, there needs to be a mix to make things attractive and appealing. I think this point has been gone over many times, and sort of spirals into a chicken and egg thing. We want to draw people to the downtown, so we need a great downtown, but how can we get one if many people don't want to go there...and around we go.

Well-dressed people can be shits, the down-trodden are not criminals, speculating real-estate types who let their properties deteriorate need to be sanctioned and stopped. Everyone deserves their place in the sun. Yes.

But the downtown is an aesthetic blight and right now it needs help. I go downtown, on my bike. I shop downtown for some things, including groceries. And it's depressing. But no need to go over all these arguments again. Good things are happening, more are in the offing. And when the downtown becomes an attraction, there will be more of everyone and less impulse to say "Only in Hamilton", which btw, isn't something I've actually heard. "Ah, the Hammer", yes, but not "only" the Hammer.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2010 at 13:59:08

I'd actually be interested in what any given person's profile of the ideal frequenter of the downtown should look like, and how closely it resembles him- or herself.

I think that you've asked a leading - even a misleading - question, Michelle. (Hi, Michelle :)

I agree with gj/gh that part of Hamilton's image problem is the seeming majority of unpleasant people: scowling toughs, scootering masses, shuffling messes. And I think that Hamilton's image and Hamilton's prospects would improve if there were more people who were ... well, nice looking.

But I don't want to see one kind of nice. Not even just my kind of tweedy-wooly nice. I want to see everybody ... suits and dresses, leather and studs, old Portuguese men in nice hats and cooler-than-thou hepsters (probably wearing the same hats), old ladies in black and young girls wearing too much makeup and too few clothes, college students and university students and high-school students of every description. Even suburbanites in Ti-Cats t-shirts and fanny packs, and - why not? - even suburbanites in polo shirts and pressed Dockers.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-08-15 13:07:02

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2010 at 15:09:52

But the downtown is an aesthetic blight and right now it needs help.

Absolutely. Let's talk in terms of making things beautiful for everyone, period. I just object to talking about the proportion of this kind of person, versus that kind of person (leaving aside illegal behaviour, of course, including public drunkenness and the wanton breaking of bylaws), and "What's up with all the scooters?"

If I had a cell phone, I probably would have stepped off and called the cops, but good luck with them responding to a "minor" thing like that.

In my experience, they don't come for "minor" things. They'll phone back or show up at your door fifteen minutes later and ask you your full name and date of birth.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted August 15, 2010 at 15:19:24

@Meredith:

There's not a single executive-appropriate (or even really professional-appropriate, sorry P.A.M's) coffee chain in downtown proper.

There's now Mulberry Street Coffee House a.k.a. "My Dog James." Not sure if that doesn't count because it (1) isn't downtown, if "downtown" is defined by urban braille, (2) isn't a chain (although it's basically a reply of My Dog Joe, or (3) didn't exist until a week ago.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2010 at 16:19:07

I definitely agree it's a much better option than the other ones downtown, no disrespect intended to the other coffeehouses in the immediate area.

It was mostly #3... but also #1 thinking of proximity to the workplaces I need to schedule with. Only 2 weeks left on this job though, so it may not come up again.

Chain doesn't matter so much, but it does help with familiarity's sake, especially when scheduling with people from different cities.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-08-15 15:19:56

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2010 at 18:21:30

It's important not to confuse who's responsible for downtown's ills by introducing classist, ageist, ableist and racist assumptions. Poor, downtrodden people are using downtown, and spending what little money they have there.

Wealthier people are not. It isn't homeless people who are buying up buildings and leaving them to rot, nor is it "people on scooters" who refuse to shop downtown because they don't like the looks of marginalized people. This always ends the same way - a policing blitz that targets everyone who looks poor (it's happening again right now).

I've lived in the middle of downtown - used to be able to see the City Centre out my bedroom window. It was dirt-cheap and they didn't ask for a credit rating. And everything I could think of was available within a five minute walk, once I knew where to look. Buying homes around downtown, especially in some of the nicer but undervalued neighbourhoods (like the North End or Deleware), costs a fraction of what similar homes would go for in other areas. If you're having a hard time living downtown, you're not trying.

Not everyone who's dirty and tired-looking is homeless or a crack addict - some of them work for a living. And every time you take money you could be spending downtown and take it to Limeridge or Meadowlands instead. If you're rich, and you want to see more rich people downtown, try setting an example, instead of just whining from the suburbs, which only makes the "image" problem worse.

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By Jarod (registered) | Posted August 15, 2010 at 22:55:04

One thing that irritates me to no end isn't the money question, isn't the question of whether or not you have a roof over your head. My major irritant is that it seems it doesn't matter who you are, it seems like there's only one type of person (I know major generalization...I'll refine my point in a minute)

  1. I know there is more than one type of person - and there are good and great people who just don't do these things.
  2. Just because you have money (or are perceived as having money) doesn't mean you can't be a menace to your surroundings.

I was asked if I could instantly change three things about the downtown what would they be. I call them the three S's.

-Smoking -Spitting -Swearing

It seems it doesn't matter if you're down and out or not. Chances are, you do one or more of the following if you exist more than 10 minutes on King St. (I know I'm preaching to the choir as it were)

Everyone smokes. Around kids. Around shops. Around grandmas with oxygen tanks. (which are only frustrated because they don't have their lighter on them to light up their smoke) It makes the place smell, and it kills. It kills me, and it kills you. It's gotta go.

Spitting has to be one of the lowest most disrespectful thing you can do. Essentially, you are telling everyone around you that you don't care. Walking through someone's loogie is disgusting, and the guttural undulations to bring forth the tasty morsel is sickening and noticeably audible. People get colds, infections...yada yada yada...when I do, I spit into a flower bed and step on it (while not stepping on the lovely flowers) and try to be as polite as possible ...or hold on until I'm home or near a washroom where I can lay waste to my lungs in the way they so desperately desire. I don't spit in front of you as you walk because I respect you, no matter who you are. (oh, and my grandma, mom or aunts would slap the daylights out of me if I dared to spit in front of them...)

Swearing. I have worked in trades for most of my life (my dad has done general contracting, I worked in autobody, I work in factories via a temp placement agency.) People swear. I get it. I swear, sometimes. If it is part of your general conversation language, go back to school. (I'm not saying that only uneducated people swear . But maybe you missed a few vocabulary lessons. Or maybe you hang around with people that swear and to fit in you do it too...who knows.)

But you know what surprises me the most. It's not just the down and out that do these things. It's people with jobs. People with kids (and the kids are standing/sitting right there!!!). It's people with money.

It's a downtown that people don't take pride in, and they don't feel they need to take pride in themselves while in it.

Maybe it's just my perception and how I view those three things. But if I could dream some impossible dream.

Downtown Hamilton would not fill my lungs with smoke. I wouldn't have to watch where I walk to avoid dog crap and spit. I wouldn't hear derogatory speech. From my lips or anyone else's (I'm still working on it. I wouldn't tell someone to do something I wouldn't do myself)

Sorry for the rant.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted August 16, 2010 at 08:15:53

Only in Hamilton?

  • muttering shouting
  • pushing shopping
  • person zipping
  • involving clothing

Now that's Hamilton! Get used to IT!

C'mon Hamilton, what are we waiting for?

What an amazing time, what a family

How did the years go by, you're a stupid...

Nice try Adrian, please do, give us some more.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 16, 2010 at 09:56:00

And if downtown "redevelops," what happens to all these people? Displaced North and East from the place they've been spending their days for years? So many poor, disabled and marginalized people go downtown because it's walkable and serviced, which very few other areas in town can offer.

Unless "renewal and redevelopment" include everyone, the only thing that all of these people can do is smoke, swear and spit, to hold onto their neighbourhood.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 16, 2010 at 09:59:24

Keep in mind that Hamilton is smack-dab in the middle of suburbia. We're a city that has suburbs, but our suburbs aren't suburbs of Hamilton, but of Toronto. See how that works? They don't care about the problems in Toronto because Toronto is a destination. It's The Place To Be. And the suburbs don't have these problems because you can barely even afford to be poor in suburbia with the car culture there. So Hamilton is just this weird spot stuck on the edge of the otherwise "normal" 905 sprawl.

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By Jarod (registered) | Posted August 16, 2010 at 10:40:16

It's misleading to say that people smoke, spit and swear to hold onto their neighborhood.

Sorry, but I think you are very wrong in that assumption. Smoking, spitting and swearing are all habitual actions. Doing things to hold onto your neighborhood implies some form of intentional, thought out process (either good or bad). Habitual actions are the opposite. They become so commonplace in your actions that sometimes you don't even notice you're doing it or the effect it has on other people or your surroundings.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 16, 2010 at 19:59:26

It's misleading to say that people smoke, spit and swear to hold onto their neighborhood. Sorry, but I think you are very wrong in that assumption. Smoking, spitting and swearing are all habitual actions. - Jarod

I think you're taking what was said a little too literally. There may have been some poetic license to Undustrials' statement.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-08-16 19:00:01

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By Jarod (registered) | Posted August 16, 2010 at 20:42:55

Perhaps you're right. I do tend to take things too literally. However, while I understand the poetic intent of their response, it was taken from something concrete that does happen and all too frequently.

Making something figurative or poetic out of something concrete has its complications, especially online.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted August 16, 2010 at 22:38:01

-Smoking -Spitting -Swearing. It seems it doesn't matter if you're down and out or not.

Indeed-- biggest loogie I ever encountered was in T.O. on Bloor Street just west of Bay (for those unfamiliar with the area, it's one of Toronto's shiniest spots- think Toronto International Film Festival). It landed on my shoe, courtesy of a fellow in a nice business suit. I was so disgusted, I almost threw up on the street. I have to admit, though, I addressed him after he'd done it with an epithet that it isn't usually my habit to employ loudly and in public. But that was in my younger, more impulsive days.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2010-08-16 21:39:51

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By Jarod (registered) | Posted August 16, 2010 at 22:59:02

I have to admit, though, I addressed him after he'd done it with an epithet that it isn't usually my habit to employ loudly and in public. But that was in my younger, more impulsive days.

As I said, I don't swear often...but if I accidentally chop my finger off with a saw...or someone hurled a formerly internal projectile at me and it makes contact...I might be inclined to practice what seems to be the downtown vernacular.

Comment edited by Jarod on 2010-08-16 21:59:34

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted August 16, 2010 at 23:44:27

I might be inclined to practice what seems to be the downtown vernacular.

Yes, sometimes only an Anglo-Saxon word will do.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted August 17, 2010 at 10:13:15

"there really seem to be an inordinate amount of people that use motorized scooters as their preferred mode of transportation."

Does anyone else find that statement rather offensive??? Who would prefer to be reliant on a scooter? My boyfriend has a degenerative condition that makes it impossible for him to walk for more than a block. A lot of people suffer with arthritis, bulging disks, MS etc, and they can walk for a bit, then have to use the scooter. It's not like they are lazy and use it like a modified motorcycle!!! It's a terrible way to live.

One reason we may more scooters in the Hammer is that if you are on disability, it is much cheaper to live in Hamilton, than say Toronto.

I love the guy in Gore Park with the scooter done up like a hog, with a big steel tarantula on it. He always wears his studded gloves, leftover from his biking days. He is a good man - he is one who can walk sometimes, then needs the scooter. Talk to him sometime - he is the consummate downtown character.

Comment edited by AnneMariePavlov on 2010-08-17 09:49:00

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 17, 2010 at 12:38:24

Hamilton has a wonderful European flair.

It's just that by European, we mean Manchester or Glasgow, not Paris.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 17, 2010 at 14:17:30

Paris is by far the dirtiest, smelliest, and one of the scariest cities I've ever been to. I'd spend a lifetime on the streets of Hamilton before I did a year there (I've been stuck a couple times without accommodations overnight, and good-gravy that town has an ugly side). And though none of them smell quite as bad (the stench of urine is really overpowering - they need to stop charging people money to pee), I could say much of the same about London, Amsterdam, Rome or Barcelona. Paris may be many times more beautiful than Hamilton, but it's many times uglier too.

Pxtl - you hit the nail on the head. There is nothing in Burlington, Brampton, Milton or the South Mountain for people who don't have jobs, cars or working legs. In fact there's very few public spaces between Hamilton's core and downtown Toronto where marginalized people can just "hang out" in a well-serviced area (buses, social services, coffee shops).

Oh, and as for the smoking/swearing/spitting - I'd say it's one of many motivations, as it is for graffiti, muggings, and others. Not so much because it's conscious strategy, but because it works much better than most conscious strategies (like meetings and fliers) at keeping gentrification out. Not a "happy" strategy, and doesn't encourage a healthy diversity of incomes or populations. However, it works very very well - these kind of fears built suburbia. And thus, a very large number of surviving working class neighbourhoods tend to bully people in khakis, simply because the neighbourhoods that didn't are now full of condos and Starbucks outlets.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 17, 2010 at 14:35:29

"there really seem to be an inordinate amount of people that use motorized scooters as their preferred mode of transportation."

Does anyone else find that statement rather offensive??? - AnneMariePavlov

Uhm, no… it is simply an observation and some might say an accurate one.

If the poster had said - All scooter users are "insert derogatory comment here" - then it could be considered offensive. If you truly are offended by that statement, I would recommend getting thicker skin. It is a nasty world, that statement is benign in comparison.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted August 17, 2010 at 16:19:39

I admit, I am totally thin skinned, but I just took issue with the idea that using a scooter is a "preferred" method, a choice.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted August 17, 2010 at 17:48:33

I think I know both, to be honest -- people who use scooters because they have to, but yes, also those who've bought them for convenience, unfortunately.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 17, 2010 at 19:16:02

I admit, I am totally thin skinned, but I just took issue with the idea that using a scooter is a "preferred" method, a choice. - AnneMariePavlov

I understood what you were getting at : )

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 19, 2010 at 10:05:08

I think we all understand what he's getting at, but I totally see AnneMariePavlov's point too, and it's really valid.

Scooters are for people who CAN walk, just not as well as the rest of us. It's really not possible to tell from a distance why they need one.

Picture yourself with a neuromuscular condtion. It's degenerative - ya didn't always have it and you have no real hope of getting better - only worse. Half the time you're fine - you can walk, ride a bike, or participate in sports. You show no outward signs. The other half, a good chunk of your body is paralysed. And you don't know when it'll happen.

Then imagine overhearing talk like this. And keep in mind that most of the talk we all hear on this subject in person is far less polite.

How would you feel? Offended, probably.

I make a point to take a very "innocent until proven guilty" approach when it comes to people's disabilities.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 21, 2010 at 00:39:09

One thing about "here" is there are so many people who physically never left the 'Burbs or the higher end areas of Hamilton. Even if they physically left for a time, their mindset was still in Middle America. Even if they came here from another white collar ghetto, in another place, it's just a transplant from one piece of suburbia to another, with no change required.

One thing that is noticeable right away in higher end areas of any city is the absence of the disabled, the mentally ill, the poor, & the very old. This is because people there have the means to 'remove' them to hospitals, chronic care facilities, group & seniors homes etc.. Sometimes people are just abandoned by their families & left to fend for themselves -in the City.

Like minded people have expectations of their neighbours & that involves everyone being 'Normal' because that's the front that is expected & demanded. It's another part of conforming & being part of a group. But at what cost?

The same situation was part of the problem faced by Blacks & other minorities in the 50's, 60's & 70's. As they moved into more affluent areas, the other residents resisted their inclusion, or in some cases, moved away to Outter Suburbia. Single & divorced women faced many of the same prejudices during that time.

FYI Yesterday a teenage kid was walking down my street spitting & swearing. I live in the Burbiest Burb of all the Burbs. Maybe he was trying to be all tough & Urban, but likely he was just another snotty (literally) little brat having a wee fit cuz life wasn't perfect all the time. I can see that he will fit in here just fine, what with his demands of 24/7/365 day a year 'perfection'.

Swearing? Most of those 12 words that George Carlin loved so dearly are very old words. The F. bomb is found in numerous serious pieces of literature from before the time of Shakespeare. (I think he may have used it too.)
English is a language that never stops evolving, even the naughty bits. If somebody doesn't like whats on the radio, they can turn it off. If you don't like what you are hearing, don't listen. I'm far less offended by a little cussing than I am by $%#@!(())^$!! Glen Beck.

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By urban man (anonymous) | Posted August 21, 2010 at 21:04:26

Don't forget folks, a lot of homeless/down and out/ etc are bussed here from other communities. The word is out that Hamilton is a very caring city. Almost too caring. It's hard to sweep the floor clean in the middle of a sand storm if the kitchen door is open. I've asked almost every person who has asked me for money downtown where they are from, and 95% are not from Hamilton. Simply put, we can't take care of the whole country anymore. It's like telling a family of 4 with a modest income to raise another 10 children from another community. We can't do it anymore. We can't open another church, it will just get filled. We're done. Maxed out. Lets shut the door and clean up our city. When more money comes in, we'll be able to help more people. But right now, we're not even able to help ourselves. We're practically drowning. K, let the bleeding heart hate comments begin, lol.....

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By thecitydoesntcare (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2014 at 08:56:06

born and raised in this city, and the downtown area has never really changed, I don't go king/james to shop; as I have every amenity I need in the area I am in. I have found; since the opening up of the LCBO store; the core has gotten worse; intoxicated people in Jackson, and who needs that harassment dealing with that. There is hardly any entertainment in this city as is; unless drinking is your thing, bars are like Horton's in this city; one on every corner; I try avoid DT altogether; heck I even moved my bank to the centre mall location instead.

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By thecitycaresafterall (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2014 at 09:59:08 in reply to Comment 97344

Sounds like you missed the news, downtown is coming back in a big way while you weren't paying attention. Half of the 94 new restaurants that opened in Hamilton last year opened downtown.

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