By Jason Leach
Published August 05, 2010
The upcoming agenda for the Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting on August 9th at City Hall contains items that really make me wonder about our ability to compete with other cities that truly understand twenty-first century urbanism.
This document (PDF) shows some fantastic transit oriented development guidelines that could reshape Hamilton and take us by the scruff of the neck into the twenty first century. Great images of cities that are well ahead of us to provide inspiration of what could be here in the Hammer.
On the same agenda, we find this document.
It outlines a fantastic plan for an old home on Strathcona Avenue between King and Main to be completely rebuilt and converted into 5 condo units. Staff are recommending that the application be denied.
For all the talk of intensification and re-urbanizing downtown Hamilton, it is perplexing to see city staff deny this application. I'll have to make a mental note of this as a reminder to staff the next time a new homeless shelter or youth hostel is proposed for my neighbourhood - they approve those with regularity at the drop of a hat. Perhaps our downtown neighbourhoods aren't allowed to house middle class condo owners?
Reading the report you'll see great initiatives such as bike parking and a green roof. The only neighbourhood objections involved the parking access that was proposed off of Edison Street. The building owner agreed to remove this part of the plan in order to appease Edison St residents.
You'll notice many letters of support from neighbours regarding this plan, yet the application is still being recommended to be denied by staff.
Why is it that one sole person can prevent the Courtyard Cafe from getting a liquor license for their patio, yet all of these letters of support for this condo project don't mean anything?
Once again, we are our own worst enemy.
Transit oriented guidelines and talk of mixed-use 'main streets' are worthless if we deny small infill projects and courtyard patios.
Any exciting city I've been to is full of infill projects like this Strathcona one. It's one of the most common ways to increase density without adding large towers into residential neighbourhoods.
Choose your path Hamilton. Old, 1970's development, or forward thinking 21st century development?
Please stop advocating both. If we're going to move forward, let's go. If not, throw out transit oriented guidelines because we'll never develop the need for them.
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