Special Report: Light Rail

What Does Hamilton Want to Be When it Grows Up?

Light Rail Transit would surely fuel the fires of rapid change in this city, but it would be a welcome change.

By Larry Pattison
Published July 22, 2011

My grandfather is 96 years young. No one has seen this city evolve like these long-standing members of our community. He was eight when his family immigrated to Canada from Denmark in 1923, but outside of a tour of duty in Europe during World War II, Hamilton is the only home he has otherwise known.

Both my parents were born, raised, and still reside in Hamilton. Although they are 30+ years younger than my grandfather, they have seen this city change quite drastically over their lifetime, including the fall of our once vibrant downtown core.

To be reminded of the way in which our downtown once pulsated with lights and people, electric cars and automobiles cruising down King Street, one need only flip through the pages of a book published for the 125th anniversary of Hamilton, entitled Pardon My Lunch Bucket.

Although our urban centre is changing for the better (and I see that change first hand almost daily as someone who is in the core in the morning and in the evening as I commute in and out of Hamilton), but there is still much to do to bring that area of our city back to a place our fathers once enjoyed hanging out in when they were younger. Hamilton has a long way to go to alter the image so many carry, of a core they haven't stepped foot amongst in a very long time, but it's on the right path.

When we were younger, we stated how we would never say the things our parents did like 'when I was your age'. Well I am 38 years old now and 'when I was a kid', I remember playing kissing tag in the high-grassed fields that once quietly grew where Limeridge Mall now stands. All of that land west of Upper Sherman where I grew up, and north of Berko, was mostly undeveloped at that time.

My grandfather talks of picking cherries on the farm that once occupied the land underneath the high-rise he has lived in since it was built over 30 years ago. My parents and grandparents talk of shops and hotels (we call them bars now), they used to frequent as we travel through town.

Rapid Change

I now have many of my own 'when I was your age' stories to tell my children, some as recent as the demise of the long-neglected Centre Mall, one of the first shopping malls in all of North America.

Things are changing quite rapidly in Hamilton in general - faster than we can fight to preserve what we love and don't want to lose within our city. In many ways, the future of Hamilton is being planned for us by big business and out-of-town investors who see dollar signs instead of a city wrapped with trees, draped with waterfalls, surrounded by multiple bodies of water and blanketed by vast farmland, forests, and green space.

If there is a dollar to be made, none of these features listed above, which so many of us find to be endearing qualities of our city, will halt development if nobody attempts to stand in their way.

If we can't sell them as a city, why they should invest within the city boundaries instead of expanding into areas of our municipal boundaries that we should be looking to protect and for which we should be looking to set urban boundaries.

A City Without a Business Plan

Hamilton is a city without a true overall business plan or as one of my former instructors once asked of our class, Hamilton hasn't answered the question as to 'what it wants to be when it grows up'. Our city needs to better visualize its long-term goals because if we don't do this soon, our future will continue to be designed for us by those willing to see our city become little brother to Toronto with sprawl stretching to Caledonia, Smithville, Grimsby and Guelph, with very little green in between; all in the name of progress.

I have been sold on so many levels as to the benefits of Light Rail for some time, especially with regards to how it might figure into the planning of the proposed stadium district. But it wasn't until a recent article on Raise the Hammer that I truly realized how it could greatly impact two projects dear to my heart: the aforementioned stadium district, and that LRT might encourage the powers to be in this city to look at defining some hard-set boundaries for urban sprawl.

RTH editor Ryan McGreal wrote:

Portland had a much lower population density when it decided, in the 1970s, to impose a firm urban boundary and to use federal highway funding to build its first LRT line.

The high density that [Mayor Bob] Bratina says is the reason for Portland's LRT success is actually a product of that city's success at directing traffic into high quality urban intensification instead of endless sprawl."

LRT is something many of our children are going to want to see and if we act now, it will be a well developed system by the time my own girls are young teenagers wanting to explore the whole of Hamilton's surface. Will they travel within on Light Rail, or leave on paths drawn by GO or paved by endless highways leading them out of dodge?

A Place to Raise a (Grand)Child

I believe many parents dream of their children living within close proximity when they grow up, and of being able to play an active part in their grandchildren's lives. For this to happen, there is much to do to prepare their city as a place that they will want to raise a child themselves; economically, environmentally, and overall liveability.

I don't want Hamilton to be like every other largely populated metropolitan centre. I want it to be Hamilton; a city that can hold its own. A diverse city of many communities surrounded by and filled with, substantial plots of green space and farmland. Once that green is gone, we can't get it back.

LRT would surely fuel the fires of rapid change in this city, but it would be a welcome change. We are losing heritage buildings, schools, valuable land, and valleys, faster than we can vocalize our attachment to these features that make up what we love about our city, like being able to drive 20 minutes from our cities core and suddenly finding yourself driving quiet country roads with the smells of cows and the sounds of natures breathing in through your open car window.

It's what Light Rail could help us save and what it could help us revitalize amongst the downtown wards of our city that truly sell it as the next step Hamilton needs to take.

We can't be afraid of moving forward. Believe me when I say that I have spent way too much time in my life fearing the unknown images of change. I have allowed that fear within to paint its own portrait of how change might look instead of embracing the future and allowing it to formulate its own image of how change could open up doors that I couldn't have imagined would ever be possible.

A Solid Platform

I think we should take a step back as a city. Work together as a community; politicians, local businesses, school boards, post secondary education institutions, and citizens alike, to create a business model for all four corners of this city. I will challenge however, that many in Hamilton already see LRT as something that will stand front and centre in the final plan.

LRT is a solid platform on which to build our business plan, and something we should move forward with, while we step back to look at the broader picture of Hamilton's future.

Where GO Transit is concerned, I used to often wonder myself why a city as large as Hamilton never had any parking for commuters. Perhaps that is Hamilton's 'thing'? No parking at our major train and bus hubs, and little parking around major sports stadiums. Many have never seen these aspects of our city as something that we were lacking. Maybe in a roundabout way, these 'limitations' have unintentionally set us up for a future that is much less dependent on cars?

By adding more parking around Ivor Wynne or extensive paved lots at the planned James North or Centennial Parkway stations, are we actually taking an undesirable step back?

I am not sure about those last statements myself, but perhaps it's something to ponder as we look at the long-term vision of our city as we plan LRT, GO stations, and Stadium Districts.

If Hamilton continues or furthers its path of not adhering to the car culture, do we lose a lot of residents and detract visitors - or do we attract many more people looking for a city more focused on public transit, bike lanes, and walkability?

You have a vision for your city. I have a vision for my city but the problem is, money also has its own vision for our cities. What is the balance that will enable us all to thrive amongst this community?

What does Hamilton want to be when it grows up? How will it show leadership? Why will it be the Best Place to Raise a Child?

Larry Pattison is a local blogger, life-long resident of Hamilton, and father to two amazing girls. Larry is a former HWDSB Trustees for Ward 3.


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By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 13:26:49

Again, nice job, Larry. Here, here!

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 13:31:59

Thanks Slodrive. Always appreciated man.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:41:55 in reply to Comment 66799

Amazing that this post got down-voted.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:53:01 in reply to Comment 66817

patting yourselves on the back does not add to the discussion. Do it behind closed doors.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 15:17:51

I am very much in favour of LRT but may I pose a question? Why are we only talking about an east/west route? Why not north/south from Upper James and Mohawk to the core? I am guessing here but I would say there are more people living in that north/south corridor (the Mountain) than there are from Eastgate. Or am I setting myself up for a Mountain vs East end battle?

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 15:49:16

Since we are not going to use any common sense,why stop there? Let's do it in style. The B line from Eastgate to University Plaza followed by the A line from the Airport to the waterfront and then we can run one along the mountain brow maybe along Concession and Mountain Brow out to Mohawk Sports Park. With so much of our population further south we could run a couple more along Rymal and Mohawk, maybe they could be connected at the East and West ends to make a big loop that would certainly be convenient for all the riders. Sounds like a grand plan to me. 18 Km for the B line, 25 Km for the A line, 10 Km for the brow and anther 25 Km for Rymal and Mohawk loop for a total of 78 Km but since we are doing it all we can get a bit of a break so lets call it 75 Km. That should not be more than 4 or 5 billion. As soon as someone figures out how to pay for it we should do it. LRT is not bad, it is good, but damn it is expensive. Maybe the Gates foundation will come and pay for it, have you asked?

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:20:52 in reply to Comment 66813

Hudak's going to build a highway from Hamilton airport to his own riding of Welland. It will probably cost in the neighbourhood of the 5 billion you're talking about, and there will be fewer riders than there would be in your fictional transit system. Yet one of these is very likely going to happen. So I'd gladly trade your absurd scenario for the one we're going to get, by the guy I bet you're voting for.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2011 at 19:45:29 in reply to Comment 66816

If that highway gets built I wonder what the traffic numbers would be compared to the LRT. The mid pen highway would be about 50 Km long and would cost a lot less than 4 or 5 billion. The Linc was built 15 years ago and cost less than 30 million. The Redhill was finally finished 5 years ago and for 7 Km of some of the toughest highway to build cost 100 million. That was not only building a lot of bridges but also rehabbing miles of valley making it a lot nicer after the highway than it ever was before. Not to mention all the legal battles against misguided parties. There is still a huge action before the courts that may take years still to resolve. If not for the idiocy of senior governments and truly misguided activists the cost could have been and would have been a lot less.

Toronto has a huge LRT/subway system, about 70 Km of track, in a city much bigger and much more of a destination city for miles around. The LRT/subway carries about 1,000,000 people per day on its 4 lines through one of the densest and most highly developed cities in North America. The 401 one of the busiest highways in North America is used by about 500,000 vehicles per day. It is truly a car-centric culture we live in, is it not. You may wish more people to use transit but that sure is not reality.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 24, 2011 at 21:12:44 in reply to Comment 66844

It is truly a car-centric culture we live in, is it not. You may wish more people to use transit but that sure is not reality.

Of course it isn't a reality. Right now.

And it has nothing to do with how suburbs were planned. It has nothing to do with the fact that transit as a whole is pretty lousy. It has nothing to do with acres of parking being available almost everywhere you need to go.

I know a number of people in Toronto who don't have a car due to the fact that it simply isn't necessary due to the transit options combined with zip car services. When I have a meeting in Toronto I always check to see how accessible it is to transit prior to driving. Can you honestly say you'd prefer to own a car if you had similar transit options available to you?

It is always surprising to me when people say "that's just the way it is" without any consideration as to how or why it became that way.

Comment edited by Brandon on 2011-07-24 21:13:32

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By R2D2 (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2011 at 15:17:43 in reply to Comment 66844

Written by you 'The Redhill was finally finished 5 years ago and for 7 Km of some of the toughest highway to build cost 100 million.' You can't count or can't read [even the Spec] or were dead or not born in 2003-2005. I guess you are jesus style resurrected out of thin air.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2011 at 19:49:45 in reply to Comment 66844

If he gets elected that will be one of the major reasons why. I know that you and many others on this site do not want to hear it since you live in a different reality but the vast majority of people, not only in Hamilton but in most of the peninsula, have a car as their primary mode of transport. Cars and highways are the dominant force. Why do you think the mayor you guys all love to hate, Ford, won. He is all about what most of the population is about. I wonder if we can get him for a couple of terms after he is done with Toronto.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 17:43:06 in reply to Comment 66845

I wonder if Hamilton's expenses are 80% labour too?

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By if who? (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 15:06:11 in reply to Comment 66845

If who gets elected? The Linc + Red Hill exprsway cost nearly half a billion altogether. Red Hill for $100 million was something even Di Ianni didn't say? $$matter, espclly 100% or more errors.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 17:21:45 in reply to Comment 66816

Well said, Bob. It will be a very sad, sad day in this region, if that highway happens. There are two people I have a hard time listening to and that is Stephen Harper and Tim Hudak. I really hope he is seriously damaging his chances at being elected, by having that issue front and centre in his campaign.

I never have a problem using highway 20 and it's actually a nice fairly quiet country drive from Hamilton to Niagara via Smithville, Fonthill, etc.

Hamilton doesn't need ANOTHER expressway filled with tractor trailers. Throw those trailers on trains and have someone pick them up at the other end.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-07-22 17:37:16

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:01:01 in reply to Comment 66813

I just figured that we are paying for a stadium that I'm seldom going to use, why not focus on something that I would use?

Comment edited by RightSaidFred on 2011-07-22 16:08:58

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 17:16:41 in reply to Comment 66815

RSF, this isn't a dig. This is an honest, sincere question: What would it take to get someone like yourself into IWS? What kind of event (big or small)? Seeing as though at this point, the Cats are the primary tennant, is there anything 'they' could do that would get you to attend say even one game a year?

Is it about ownership/bad taste from stadium debate? Not a fan and never went before the debate? Don't like the area? Not enough parking? Hate sports in general?

What one or two things drive you away?

I try to write about different ways to enjoy a game on the A Beautiful Night For Football site, including talking about games I attend and end up chatting with old friends I haven't seen in eons over a drink or two and sometimes, I don't even catch any of the game. A real expensive cover charge for an evenening social I guess but if you love being around a lot of people and the roar of a crowd, it's fun just being in the vacinity of that energy.

With the stadium debate over the past however month taking up most of my writing time, I didn't write much on the ABNFF site, but comments like yours (and once again this is by no means a dig), made me remember why I started that site - trying to think of Ivor Wynne and the franchise of the Tiger-Cats itself (not ownerhsip or even the game of football itself), as an important part of Hamilton's fabric; a valued part of our east-end commmunity.

I'll admit once again, that $35 avg to get in, plus $6 drinks and over-priced food, is a hard pill to swallow when you think of family or even just singilar entertainment options - or an expensive option for a sociable night out.

So money is surely tops on a lot of peoples lists but there are 500,000+ people in this city which means for a lot of folks, money isn't the issue. That stadium should be sustainable from within when you figure it only holds 30,000 people every other week during the summer and fall months. (maximum 11 games a year)

When I interviewed Ivor Wynne's son Bob last year, he stated how IWS (Civic Stadium of course when his father was alive), was once the place to be. Where doctors and lawyers and the like, all hung out. I know there is a lot more to do these days, but is there a way to bring that nieche back?

How do we attract not just the sports community, but the arts, business folks, the young, and the old?

For all those that have never played team sports, they surely don't understand the attraction the game. Or you have the hockey fans or the NFL fans or soccer fans. What's missing for this latter community in this game or that venue, to make you want to be amongst that energy every other weekend?

Last game Hamilton won their home game by the largest margin of any other game that weekend, yet had the lowest attendance in the league at just over 22,000 I believe it was and it was a beautiful (albeit very hot), Saturday afternoon/evening. Why wasn't that place packed?

I myself enjoy sitting on the north side and gawking out into the Hamilton afternoon at the tree-lined escarpment or the lights of downtown later in the evening. It's a nice place to sit and have a drink and take a break from life. The bench seats aren't the best I guess but I especially don't mind them now knowing that that will all be addressed in the next few years.

Why don't you (broader audience being addressed with this question), go to the games? What would get you in the stadium if not for the first time, for the first time in some time?

And I just noticed you said seldom RSF. Sorry, then why seldom?

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:06:58 in reply to Comment 66820

In terms of reclaiming the golden era of Ivor Wynne Stadium/Civic Stadium, you'd be asking an awful lot. Back then there were precious few social environments or large-scale community events – Hamilton Place didn't open until 1973, for example, and Festival of Friends didn't launch until 1975. Entertainment options were greatly reduced, as was stay-at-home entertainment: this was an era of a handful of TV stations, and the largest movie theatres (The Palace, The Capitol) were closed/ demolished by 1971. That and the pro sports universe was considerably less complex: unless you crossed the border, there was only the NHL and the CFL. That and the home team was a legendary powerhouse – habitual division leaders that managed regular Grey Cup appearances and wins – that even managed to topple the Bills. Season averages were above 30K a game. That's obviously not anywhere close to the reality of the modern era, and it's probably the most fundamental reason the appeal of IWS has changed. Concerts and special events extend the appeal, but the core reason for coming to IWS will always be the Cats and if the on-field product is poor, it doesn't matter what sort of amenity-rejuvenation program you're running. And the standard of excellence that was commonplace on the Civic Stadium gridiron has been elusive for almost 40 years. IMO, fielding humble champions matters infinitely more than clever branding.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:32:44 in reply to Comment 66873

Back then there were precious few social environments or large-scale community events...

Excellent, poignant summary. Tons of truths in there. It's hard for many who weren't there to truly understand how much the landscape has changed, because to do so requires a concerted effort to imagine differences that boggle the mind. I remember the Garney Henley, Angelo Mosca years. I remember the Capitol and the Palace. I remember Downtown Hamilton. And it really was a different world.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 09:50:24 in reply to Comment 66820

Seeing as though at this point, the Cats are the primary tennant, is there anything 'they' could do that would get you to attend say even one game a year?

Get a new owner.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 16:57:19

No parking at our major train and bus hubs,

Let's go back a little ways. The old train station used to be where Liuna is; plenty of parking.

The old bus terminal at John and Rebecca always had plenty of parking lots in the vicinity.

But Hamilton was traditionally a 'we do it here' city. You know, the industrial strip and other self-contained portions of the city that featured manufacturing? While there have always been 'commuters', the idea of Hamilton being a feeder-zone for 'places elsewhere' really only began to become a factor over the past 40-45 years. Its history in this regard is so different from 'bedroom communities' such as Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga.

I guess you either have to be old enough to remember, or take the time to do some research to really appreciate Hamilton's waxing and waning personality in respect to Toronto, an inferiority complex that has manifest itself in numerous ways.

I believe that while Hamilton has had some visionary thinking going on over the past century (and here's where we could have a fascinating mud-wrestling match), the truth is that 'progress' got away from the-powers-that-be, the focus eventually became peripheral development (despite what was developed in the downtown from '65-'85), politicians and developers fell in love with 'starting from scratch' (utilization of greenfields)...and all this was exacerbated by the city's industrial identity being castrated, a traumatic process that has undoubtedly sustained this 'legacy-malaise' of ours. (If things were so bad at the conclusion of the millennium that it was felt to be necessary to 'salvage' Hamilton by forcing an amalgamation with financially better-off, smaller communities, then surely to God this is proof of how badly the city's best interests had been both hijacked and neglected.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-22 16:58:07

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2011 at 19:21:06

Throw those trailers on trains and have someone pick them up at the other end.

Some people don't know that before the petroleum/automobile/rubber industrial complex got hold of North America, this is very much where we were headed. A rail-centric culture. (If I had the resources, I'd pay a futurist/novelist to properly show what this world would now look like.)

Unfortunately, on this timeline, we ended up where we are. Short of the cataclysmic changes associated with peak oil, it's here to stay. At least in one form or another...in our lifetimes...

"Learn to choose your battles well; you can't fight every fight and hope to survive." A man much smarter than me

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By Chris L (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:59:51 in reply to Comment 66823

It would probably look something like Germany.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2011 at 08:36:09

In our lifetimes cataclysmic changes are bound to occur mystoneycreek. How do we make plans for our city's survival by not accepting this fact?

Just as Mark Chamberlain took the time to ask some different questions in today's Spec article ( http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a... ) I think the real question here is 'How many Hamiltonians have taken the time to consider the possibility that such changes are bound to occur?'

Contrary to the regular proof here on this site that an often-sizeable number of brain cells are being used in this task, my response would be 'Not many.'

So in a way, while your point is well-taken, and deserves a considered response, given the context of the past year, what with the Pan Am Games Stadium Selection Process Débacle and 2011's now-unfolding version, I'd say the notion of both accepting and addressing such a dilemma is well beyond our general ken...rendering 'planning' a moot discussion.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-23 08:37:32

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By Flett (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2011 at 19:52:44 in reply to Comment 66829

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:22:14

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 24, 2011 at 05:48:10 in reply to Comment 66846

Mark Chamberlain lives in Burlington. As such, I don't give a f--k what Mark Chamberlain says.

Because, or couse, nobody from outside a family could possibly understand their travails...or have any objectivity to suggest informed solutions. Riiiight...

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By just me (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 07:18:32

not sure why it matters, but mark chamberlain lives in hamilton(dundas).

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By JP (registered) | Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:50:14

Its quite clear, as you move about Hamilton, that it IS indeed missing 'something'. But to be honest, I'm not sure what that something is. And I'm definitely not convinced that building the LRT is going to be the answer. We don't even know what the problem is. We can see the symptoms (the horrible urban planning, the maze of one way streets, the crumbling infrastructure, the over-representation of individuals requiring social assistance of one form or another, the crappy downtown, vacant buildings) but we as a community can't come to a consensus about what the underlying cause of all of that is. And if we can't figure out what's causing the symptoms how can we honestly debate about whether or not the LRT is going to 'fix' anything.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 23:03:36

We need our Board of Control back!

People like Ryan, Mahesh and lawrence would be perfect fits.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2011 at 07:50:50

Here's a question I asked Lawrence directly, and though it deserves its own space on this site, I'll nevertheless offer it up for all to consider:

What do YOU think Hamilton should want to be when it grows up? Specifically. From top to bottom. East to west, north to south. What's YOUR vision of the city?

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-28 07:51:23

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:13:31 in reply to Comment 67006

For now, Hamilton should want to be pretty. Nice things/places attract nice people.
It cost money to make this city beautiful. So people should continue to work hard here or elsewhere, but spend and invest here in Hamilton.
If Hamilton really wants to be beautiful, work hard.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted July 28, 2011 at 22:08:36

A poem by Bill Mahoney, retired USW1005 Steelworker:

City of Waterfalls

There's hardly any jobs at all, but come and see our waterfall; I'm not quite sure just where it went, it's somewhere under the cement.

Ignore our closed down factories and growing welfare lines; Just look at our waterfalls, everything is fine.

If the hungry children cry, our mayor says diversify; We don't make things here anymore, all our plants have moved offshore.

We'll just become a tourist trap, and sell each other foreign crap.

You can work in a coffee shop, or sell tourists hot dogs and pop; And maybe be a tour guide, and take the tourist for a ride.

But don't show them where the homeless lie.

I question the wisdom of these calls, that base our future on waterfalls. The mayor should give his head a shake, this line of thinking he must break.

Jobs with dignity for all, that should be our battle call.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-07-28 22:09:00

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By Hooray (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2011 at 22:16:43

Welcome back Mr Janitor. Your insight has been sorely missed on this site. We need an everyman champion to stand up to the elitist ramblings of Butani, MyStoneyCreek and the assinine stuff from WRCU2. Your take on the historic buildings in the city and Mr. Jelly's posts would be greatly welcomed. IMHO.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2011 at 06:53:38 in reply to Comment 67076

...We need an everyman champion to stand up to the elitist ramblings of Butani, MyStoneyCreek...

In the way we need non-judgemental, non-generalizing, non-victim-mentality, non 'Us vs Them' commenters, yeah?

I'm constantly astounded that on a site predicated on the notions of shared ideas, engaging discourse that there's this default setting for so many of presumption based on supposed divergency of stances, on demonization based on apparent insecurity, and on pure animosity based on...Lord-knows-what.

In the case of Mahesh alone, to accuse him of being 'elitist' is proof-undeniable that you haven't got a clue as to what you're talking about.

Think before you declaim. It's embarrassing.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-29 06:54:00

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2011 at 20:16:40 in reply to Comment 67081

... or read a little book "Who moved my cheese", then think, then think again.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 29, 2011 at 13:17:23

Pretty sad when anyone stereotypes someone. I would suspect the above poster is commenting based on the intellect level shown to write the comments they do. I've gone through their comments and they seem progressive, does that mean elitist? And when did elite become a negative thing?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2011 at 15:58:19 in reply to Comment 67086

It's Friday afternoon, so I don't mind getting my hands a little dirty...

The term 'liberal, intellectual elite' is used by certain parts of the American political landscape, mostly out of insecurity. It's become a pejorative. Which is funny, because I remember the days when the right had some mighty intellectual behemoths of their own.

It's sad that looking at things from a more introspective way, and expressing these observations in complex sentences using polysyllabic words with a dash of élan and maybe some oomph thrown in for good measure can upset some people. Especially when they haven't met you.

But I would ask this question: 'What the Hell does an 'everyman' look like in Hamilton?'

Methinks we're talking about a class demarcation...and if we are, then we're wading through some very troubling waters indeed.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:28:56 in reply to Comment 67089

I find American political life really fascinating for this reason. It's unlike any comparable country. The American "left" has embraced elitism and middle-class aesthetics wholeheartedly, alienating a huge chunk of the working class. The conservatives, on the other hand, are very good at appealing to 'common folk', even though they hold an ideology which is much more elitist in terms of belief.

It's a colossal PR failure for the American "left". By relying constantly on arguments and attacks which paint their opponents as "uneducated" or "low-class", they've alienated a lot of the people they claim to be fighting for.

I don't know that I'd single out anyone on RTH as an "elitist", but we certainly tend to converse in fairly middle-class terms (academic, technical, economic etc). It's certainly a favourite complaint of trolls. In a city like Hamilton, that means we have to be mindful of how we come across to others who don't. This isn't to say that there's something wrong with using verbose language or "big thinkin' words" - just that we should be careful not to do it in a way that excludes or belittles people. Not everyone's had the chance to take urban economics classes or read Jane Jacobs - that doesn't mean they're stupid.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 29, 2011 at 21:07:30

It strikes me as "we don't need yer book learnin types around here, see!"

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By What does Hamilton want to be when it gr (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:10:03

Good article. Thing I love the most is the concept of a vision to contain sprawl and reinvest in the communities we have already. LRT and regular GO service (with ammenities like parking) are components of this reinvestment which can't be ignored. They attract people and encourage reinvestment along the LRT lines. Where is Hamilton going? If our leadership knows, they need to do a much better job of communicating it.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2011 at 12:06:02

Anyone see the editorial piece by Herman Turkstra in The Spec?


Anyone have any thoughts/comments?

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 00:29:44

I would love Hamilton to head the advice of world travellers who come here and can see our follies with fresh eyes.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 06:53:56 in reply to Comment 67131

How do you define 'Hamilton'? Its leaders? Its citizens?

I agree with what you're saying, but I can tell you as someone who lived somewhere else for a long time and therefore qualifies as a 'world traveller' that many people in most situations take umbrage at such 'observations'.

Putting a fine point on it, we have an eminently qualified 'world traveller' in our midst, someone who knows of what he speaks in terms of precisely what you're talking about regarding a 'fresh-eyed perspective' and many here don't want to hear what he has to say, slam what he says and generally haven't got the time of day for his contributions. This is a member of our community; does he have to leave here to gain some kind of cred?

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 08:25:03

Well, I get exactly gist your point about outsiders not being welcome in the lodge. That attitude is very similar to the above posting against elitists. Everywhere is different and have unique issues. However, very simple things I.e. Transit are universal. To get somewhere in Tokyo is as important as getting somewhere in StoneyCreek. I guess I would like to see minds embrace new ideas and not deem anyone as carpet baggers who just don't get Hamilton.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2011 at 03:04:33 in reply to Comment 67134

After about 16+ years of 'carpetbagging' in Hamilton, I find my bag is a lot emptier than when I got here..
I think I do sometimes 'get Hamilton', & it scares the Hell outta me. Can we really be doing this to ourselves? & Why?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 08:59:33 in reply to Comment 67134

I guess I would like to see minds embrace new ideas and not deem anyone as carpet baggers who just don't get Hamilton.

-puts on his Cap of Cynicism-

I'm not so sure that 'Hamiltonians' get Hamilton.

Often responses are so fuelled by emotion and are missing context, perspective...and an historical grasp of the city.

Here's something offered up in a connected (private) conversation:

"But then that (solution) would require planning, not missionary zeal."

I posited a question earlier on in this thread, and nobody seemed interested in responding (and should be an article in itself, or the topic of an RTH-sponsored salon or town hall meeting). It ties into what you've brought up here, the 'fresh eyes' notion:

What do YOU think Hamilton should want to be when it grows up? Specifically. From top to bottom. East to west, north to south. What's YOUR vision of the city? Let's hear some visionary suggestions as to how YOU'D like to see the city look.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-08-01 09:01:05

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 14:11:45 in reply to Comment 67135

What do YOU think Hamilton should want to be when it grows up? Specifically.

I tried my hand at writing this up, but it's hard enough to stay under the article word-count limits (I'm already well over a page, dusting off an old article idea from the fall). This town is enormous, populous and diverse - is there really a single idea/vision we could aspire to? And if so, what would set that vision apart from other cities?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 14:34:43 in reply to Comment 67140

Well, I'd be very intrigued to read what you've come up with. If you don't feel like putting it in point-form here, I encourage you to send it to me via my blog.

But who said anything about a 'single vision'?

And why should any vision have to set it apart from other cities?

Pick a part of the city. Re-imagine it. Pick several parts, offer up synergistic imaginings. There are no rules.

The other day, I was sitting with a friend talking about RTH and one of the things he pointed out was that very few people seem inclined (courageous enough?) to post specific ideas. For fear of getting downvoted, or just plain ridiculed.

I think he's right, and I think it's a shame, because it takes something huge out of the 'discourse' formula, leaving us with hardly more than 'thumbs-up' or 'thumbs-down' options.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2011 at 21:40:03 in reply to Comment 67142

I tried to sum up my feelings with a single sentence, by Yeswecan seems to have managed it far better than I.

My vision would be for Hamilton to embrace it's working-class side in an economic sense. Large-scale manufacturing may be on it's way out (of the core, country, continent etc), so why not embrace smaller firms? If we can't compete at mass-producing low-quality goods, why not turn the army of un/underemployed skilled tradespeople toward local, custom, on-demand production of high-quality goods?

The "innovation" wouldn't necessarily be in the skills or technology, but with the organization. Networks of small firms (ideally co-ops) could share resources, collaborate on contracts etc. This would allow them to trade goods and work in kind, allowing them to work even when cash/capital is scarce. Open-source hardware would provide a wealth of products available to all firms, as well as the techniques and machines needed to build them.

Real ambition and innovation for our city would mean aspiring to be something other than the rest of the region.

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By Downtown Downer (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 14:09:11

I nominate TnT to sit on this board too. I think you will get very frustrated running into the NIH crowd. Front yard and back yards people, that is where it is at.

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By yeswecan (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2011 at 19:32:09

Hamilton has been a city of mono-vision for too long. It's time for a city with many visions - we can be more than we think...

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 06:41:55 in reply to Comment 67146

And some of those visions are...?

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By yeswecan (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 08:05:25

arts - education - green industry - eco tourism - DIY - heritage restoration - food - alternative transportation - innovative ideas - youth engagement - independent businesses - etc.

the list can go on - the city is large enough to accommodate all these ideas and more.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 11:57:50 in reply to Comment 67158

I agree.

But I'm actually not referring to 'genres' so much as actual ideas. How a street might look. How a neighbourhood might be revitalized.

In specifics.

People tend to talk in generalities. In 'genres'. As kids we imagine building things; castles, towns, cities. Why can't we do that as adults?

RTH as a whole needs to loosen up. Learn to play a little more freely. : )

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 03, 2011 at 00:51:14 in reply to Comment 67201

Well from my own life I can say honestly I was trying to revive Ward 3 by running a backpackers hostel. I think everyone know how that panned out


We may have failed, but hopefully we’ve opened to door for atleast a discussion about adaptive reuse. I would love to see more houses turned into Rebel’s Rock or The Pearl or a bakery or a camera shop or friggin anything that would create interest. Interest = people coming

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 13:41:43 in reply to Comment 67201

When you asked me MSC, street by street, house by house was the path my visions started to take. My mind, needless to say, quickly started to go a little numb and short circuited.

Perhaps as a collective, we can start venturing through this city and jotting down some notes that could be shared on an Open Data map, that outlines how we see this city shaping up for the future?

It's a big project. One that shouldn't be stepped into softly or lightly or with quick off-the-cuff thoughts and suggestions. We would be talking about 'other peoples back yards'. about houses and buildings we feel should go. About business parking lots that should look at alternatives to pavement, or about converting streets to two way or LRT paths or about adding more bike lanes, or adding/removing schools and social services and all of these requiring proper input from area citizens and so much of this process will surely open up some serious debate. All good things I believe but if we take say 4km radius's at a time for example, take a long hard look at them and figure out ways to engage the local citizens and business owners and the ward represenative(s), I think we can get some wheels turning and forumlate our own solid and hard thought, business plan for the whole of the GHA.

I added more to this part of the discussion on Kevin Somers piece about People.

It seemed to all tie in, in a round about way.

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By yeswecan (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:13:46

Those are pretty big visions - if anything Hamilton needs to DREAM more. A city that doesn't dream tends to have nightmares. We've had our share...

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:18:57 in reply to Comment 67204

Or you could say that because rank-and-file Hamiltonians have traditionally disassociated themselves from the process of local governance, they've surrendered their dreams to a bureaucracy that fails them at most turns.

Town halls, anyone?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 13:49:23 in reply to Comment 67206

Town halls, town halls, and more town halls. I'm in.

As far as revitalizing neighbourhoods goes, it's effectively illegal for most in our city. By-laws and zoning codes prohibit a huge range of activities and tightly regulate most others, at huge expense. If we want to see an interesting, diverse and widespread range of new ventures, we're going to have to loosen those rules. At the same time, we can't deny that there are many kinds of businesses which we don't want in our neighbourhoods, often for good reasons.

Our by-laws don't protect communities. I could wander from my chair to the closest known illegal stockpile of toxic waste before you finished reading this comment. What we need is an actual means for voicing concern, as communities, about the matters that affect us, which isn't mediated by city bureaucrats.

Did I mention town-halls?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 14:04:42 in reply to Comment 67230

I think we could keep Joey Coleman and CO very busy with Open Data solutions and statistical maps.

There should be a open database/Google Fusion table, where all complaints, concerns, and ideas that have been brought up to the councillors, is input into and I should be able to type an address I have complained about or am thinking of complaining about, to see if there is already a complaint that has been sent through and where that issue is in the process. Who has it been forwarded to? What steps have been taken for it to get there, etc.

This would both be more efficient time wise, but it enables us all to check-in and make sure every complaint, concern, and idea is accounted for. Every voice is heard and adressed.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-08-02 14:15:36

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2011 at 03:20:32 in reply to Comment 67232

I think that Town Hall Meetings would be excellent, (unless there is a by law against them. ; P

At the end of it, new people have to be convinced to run for office, butt heads with the status quo, & our citizens need to get out & vote.

Many people here seem to have been so divorced from local politics for so long, & City Council has made things difficult for people who wish to be heard. (Too much secrecy, & often disrespect is shown to citizens who ask to speak, etc.)

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 16:31:58 in reply to Comment 67232

Developing methods and systems for conflict resolution isn't easy, but it goes along pretty well with the notion of town-hall meetings. Even if it weren't binding (ie: mediation, counselling etc), it could certainly go a good way toward resolving neighbourhood tensions.

The current complaint-based system has a bit of a tendency to inflame these tensions. Ask any beat-cop or bylaw enforcement officer how often this kind of thing happens, and how much they hate dealing with it.

The one fear I have is that such a system would end up targeting certain complains and populations more than most. An online database of home addresses raises some ugly possibilities. The squeaky wheel gets the grease in these sorts of cases, and some people complain more than most, especially on certain issues. This is why it's important that we reach out to all different kinds of people, and have a good dialogue from the start.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 02, 2011 at 13:42:29 in reply to Comment 67206

I have more on that Town Hall line to come. Yes!

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By yeswecan (anonymous) | Posted August 02, 2011 at 12:49:55

Even though it made me cringe - perhaps we abandoned "Reach-Dream-Rise-Shine" too early. Hamilton could stand a tiny bit of new-age like thinking. Just a bit.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2011 at 14:32:07

Anyone see this re Walmart and the Centre on Barton? It's not the Hamilton I invision. Not at all!

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 09, 2011 at 16:46:42

What does Hamilton want to be when it grows up?
1) A do-nut. (a big empty hole in the middle with all the goodies on the outside.)
2) The World's largest parking lot.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2011 at 14:51:50

Even though this thread is no longer current, I think I can see what Hamilton is 'shooting' for.
After looking at the Parks dept criteria for Leash Free Areas, aka Dog Parks, I'm reasonably sure that no more will be created, since no existing parks can meet these weird criteria. ("An area of 2 to 5 acres is required...??!!" I thought this was about Dog Parks, not horse or elephant parks.)
The 2 pet limit for citizens of the GTA. (smallest pet limit I've ever heard of for Any City, Anywhere!) Not only does this make a large number of citizens into criminals, it also will put those already reprehensible & very embarrassing GHA euthanasia stats through the roof!
If I'm reading the laws correctly, assisting any animal, pet or wild that become injured or in trouble, without calling Animal Control will also make you a criminal.
So the Future of Hamilton is to phase down to a Zero Pet Zone, & make a big profit by selling expensive real estate to animal haters & militant Vegans.

"If you get rid of them..They will come."?????

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2011 at 04:47:30

I kind of thought that my above comment might not resonate very strongly with readers here, when placed next to topics like: LRT, jobs, & revitalizing areas of the City, etc.

However I think it's an important issue, especially when you consider the rest of the legislation that came with it. Pretty Heartless! (& useless!) I had considered staying in Hamilton for the future, in spite of the foolishness that goes on with regard to the future of our City. But not now. If a City decides that it officially seems to see animals, pets & their owners as 'A Huge Problem' most of the time, that's good enough reason to leave it.

"I wouldn't want to be a burden to Hamilton!" :(

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2011 at 16:29:46

Some great comments, CityJoe. Love this one:

Many people here seem to have been so divorced from local politics for so long, & City Council has made things difficult for people who wish to be heard. (Too much secrecy, & often disrespect is shown to citizens who ask to speak, etc.)

Are you sure that bit about animals isn't a 2 dog limit and not a two animal limt? If that is the case, Hamilton is most definately and surely, a bunch of hooligan's. :) And the bit about calling Animal Control, not likely. They have a 72 hour holding limit for Cats in specific. Than -----. They do call the SPCA first to see if they have space, but the number of cats turned in each day is sadly quite substantial. :( There are many local volunteer run agencies who will help you. Our resdient stray came to us with a sore paw. The one agency had the paw fixed, and then had him fixed and microchipped and released him back into my care until he was safe to go back outside.

My Hamilton would also see animals more as part of our society than it currently does - including many more leash free parks and yes, that 2-5 hectre thing is redonkulous. We'll see how far the plan I am sending to my councillor for a dog park close to my home goes. It most definately doesn't fall under the space guidlines or close to residential homes guidlines but those criteria would leave me to believe dog parks can only exist in the forest far away from where people live or public transit. Not that you are aloud to bring your dog on the bus which should be challenged in itself, because of our lack of public leash-free spaces. Me going up to the SPCA leash-free is environmentally backwards.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2011 at 02:38:09

Here's a lovely article about an initiative that could teach us all some lessons about engagement:


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By RadiatorSteve (registered) - website | Posted April 23, 2012 at 02:19:27

Hamilton is far from being a designer city, but it is slowly being molded by modern needs and city planning. Placing business and commercial needs before others transformed it into the city it is today, and there is actually very little that we can do to stop it.

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