Jason Leach sent the following letter to Hamilton City Council.
I feel compelled to send this information to each of you because this truly is a success story for Hamilton.
I've attached two articles from the Toronto Star and one from The Globe and Mail1, 2, 3. Allow me to make a couple of observations worth noting.
This is true image building. Our city is getting more praise from out-of-towners over this one project then I can ever remember. Imagine if we could do such good work in our downtown that we become known as the North American model for "making blight right" as Star columnist Christopher Hume says.
You've never seen this type of praise for Hamilton over sprawl projects or "another big box mall," and you never will. Downtown is the heart of the city and needs to be given the appropriate attention and funding to continue the successes that we are starting to string together.
More literally, we need to connect the different parts of the downtown with pedestrian friendly streets and sidewalks. Main, King, York, Cannon and Wilson must be revamped - and sooner rather than later would be nice.
The City of Hamilton should court Bruce Kuwabara to assist in future renovations of other public institutions. He is a passionate Hamiltonian who gives the impression that he would love to do more work here.
In one of the attached articles he mentions the Convention Centre and Jackson Square. I'd add Hamilton Place, Copps Coliseum and Central Library to the list of downtown facilities in need of a facelift. I know money is always the problem, but the investment in our core would surely skyrocket if we become known as a progessive city on the move.
I strongly urge council to follow through on his suggestion to remove the elevated walkway over King Street. I've seen the downtown street master plans and they plan to "pretty" up the bridge. Please just get rid of it. All it does is block the view of the wonderful glass entrance to the gallery. Nobody uses it and it's simply a momument of 1970s planning done badly. I don't imagine it would cost much to knock it down. Please do it.
Art, culture and entertainment are important. You've heard many of us say this before - the "creative" industries literally have the power to change the image of a city. Think of New York, Paris, Bilbao Spain (whoever heard of them before Guggenheim?) and others.
I have written a piece boldly proclaiming Hamilton as the cultural capital of Canada that will appear in the next issue of Raise the Hammer (due June 1). The problem is that most folks have no clue about the wonderful and amazing number of cultural and artistic ventures in our city.
It's time to improve our marketing and bring this incredibly passionate and bold industry into the limelight. Please look for my article in this next issue. There are interesting comments from one of Hamilton's newest artists who recently moved from Toronto.
Finally, an encouragement to each of you - please keep on the path toward change. It's not always easy, but you're starting to realize the importance of protecting and planting trees, making city streets pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists, investing wisely in the core (Lister Block, Hess Village), and moving forward with waterfront plans.
This is the future of Hamilton as I see it - a clean, green Canadian city full of culture, art, dining, good jobs, education, street life and fun. Keep that long-term vision in mind as you make each decision. Our future depends on you.
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