Light Rail

Letter: Positivity is Attractive

By Letter to the Editor
Published July 13, 2011

Dear Mr. Mayor and Councillors,

In 2009 I decided to settle in Hamilton with my growing family. We were attracted. It wasn't just the relatively low housing costs, and the senses of community, heritage, and culture that attracted us. Hamilton's opportunities for renewal gave us a very positive feeling about its direction. The region's expected population growth virtually ensures Hamilton would attract many more residents, and in turn businesses and employers.

This, combined with the vision of LRT, all-day GO trains, Pan Am infrastructure, the rebuilt library and market, and many other projects large and small, instilled in us great optimism. Positivity is attractive.

The urban renewal benefits case for LRT is difficult for one to dispute, once informed. A thorough professional study investigating how LRT would work and its effects on land use is underway. The studies have yet to conclude, and outside funding commitments have yet to be made.

During this time some pessimistic and discouraging comments have been made in the media, casting doubt on this type of investment being right for Hamilton. The suggestion is that such a promising project may not happen. This is premature considering there are so many unanswered questions. These comments foster a negative outlook. Negativity is repulsive.

The public hears a common refrain, that the city must do more to attract developers. Developers go where there is a market. The municipal government can create all sorts of incentives, but if there is no demand for their product, developers will not come. So it's obvious, we must be attractive to residents, workers, students, and employers as well.

I support investing a bit more in taxes if necessary to finance LRT, being confident of a return. I do not speak for all of Hamilton's population. Perhaps in the end we'll see that the time truly isn't right for LRT investment, for any number of reasons. Until that time, and after, nothing is more important than maintaining positive messaging around the issue, even if it were to be delayed or worse.

As an outsider, I saw that Hamilton is poised for rebirth as a modern, thriving city with a rich heritage. I now realize this has been the case for a long time. You are not in office to simply 'hold the fort' during your term. You are expected to make things happen.

Making things happen is more difficult. It involves risk and sacrifice. There is a distinct difference between positive and negative. Hamilton needs its elected officials and public servants to inform the public how projects could happen, rather than explaining why they won't.

Before my arrival, I perceived Hamilton as a city in transition. I saw the realities of poverty, the poor job market, and deserted areas, but saw the glass as half full. Many residents have been led, by their media and government, to see the glass as half empty.

Please commit to presenting a positive message, regardless of the current challenge or opportunity.

Positivity is attractive.

Thank you,

Jason Morse

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By RichardDenOtter (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2011 at 04:13:36

Jason, I hope your letter reaches our council. Urban renewal will happen with or without LRT, with or without the support of our municipal government. The demographic and economic trends make Hamilton Core a very attractive investment for a savvy real estate developer. It is one of the few Canadian cities (if not the only one) where the land in the city centre is cheaper than the land in the suburbs.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 09:19:18 in reply to Comment 66139

Yes, the only issue is developers have identified several barriers to investing in downtown Hamilton, including zoning regulations, and height, density, and parking requirements that the city imposes, among others. Developers have noted, for example, that it's difficult to meet the density requirments given the parking and height requirements.

Source: http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/C2BD81C2-42DA-4247-8CBD-6C4D5632C479/0/BLineDevelopmentIndustryFocusGroupReportFinal.pdf

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