Hume in Hamilton

By M Adrian Brassington
Published November 18, 2011

I'd long been an admirer of Toronto Star Urban Affairs columnist Christopher Hume. I like his sensibilities, his perspective, his gentle way in stressing a point, even one that he's got a lot of personal energies attached to.

I especially appreciate his video segments. They offer up nicely-crafted, studied takes on issues and situations in Toronto.

Because I'd viewed so many of these online offerings, last evening's talk was pretty much what I'd expected it to be: a long-form take on him expounding on Planning the GTA: The Next 25 Years (although because it was unscripted, it admittedly didn't have the punch his video clips do).

His are informed observations, not made from any sort of promontory of presumed wisdom provided by certain initials after his name. They're the stuff of someone who's actually a part of their environment, someone who's living amongst the change. Reasonable. Seasoned. Arising from the erudition of Everyman.

While he had some solid policy critiques and suggestions, I was compelled to jot down some of his more general thoughts. Here are three of my favourites:

"It would be great to get some people into office who are smart."

"How do you go from 'knowing' to 'implementing'? That's the great challenge."

"I think we have a culture of coming up with reasons why we can't do things."

After he'd provided his opinions on Toronto's waterfront development, it was suggested by an audience member that Mr. Hume make a return trip to Hamilton to see ours. He was quite enthusiastic about this prospect.

I'd take that suggestion one step further and propose that we need to get him back to talk about Hamilton. I'd like to hear what he'd have to say about our travails.

M Adrian Brassington is a Hamilton writer.


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By JM (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 09:13:53

i enjoyed his chuckles about Rob Ford - too bad he didn't know much about Bratina. he kept on noting that we are stuck on planning the 1950's, which is basically what Bratina is all about (his "platform" - "i remember what Downtown used to be..."). and that's what he still thinks it should be, rather than moving forward sadly...

at least he did bring up the stadium issue, which was bang on - what a joke that was (and an embarrassment. but i think it was the poster child for our "visioning" of this city (sadly) of our politicians at this time, and what was really important to them

he is 100% right on the municipal governance issues. we need to follow the Vancouver model and rid ourselves of this ward based system so we can start thinking about the future of the city as a whole... and not just satisfying the "constituents" of ward 8, Mr. Whitehead (i think he's the prime example of this system)

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 13:15:27 in reply to Comment 71394

Honestly, I'd prefer the Downtown of the '50s than what we've got now... but either way, it is no longer the '50s and we can't magically bring them back by using policies that no longer apply to the modern world.

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By JM (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 09:29:47 in reply to Comment 71394

let me correct myself here, can't blame council on the east mountain stadium idea - they reinforced their support of the west harbour and ultimately rejected the EM. THAT should be commended as a good example... too bad it didn't stick

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 13:49:43

His are informed observations, not made from any sort of promontory of presumed wisdom provided by certain initials after his name. They're the stuff of someone who's actually a part of their environment, someone who's living amongst the change. Reasonable. Seasoned. Arising from the erudition of Everyman.

I suppose when I finish my four years of training and have the opportunity to affix letters to the end of my name, my time as a useful contributor to conversation and debate on this website and in other forums will also come to an end. What a shame, I do enjoy throwing in my two cents from time to time.

Comment edited by transitstudent on 2011-11-18 13:49:52

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:44:36

Anyone planning on writing an article that summarizes the discussion? I'd enjoy reading it.

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By Island Lady (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2011 at 00:26:57

As A planning student at Mohawk and a Hammer born and bred native , i now see why we have such a poor image in the Golden Horseshoe.
WE HAVE NO POLITICAL LEADERS. the mayor and councillors are stuck in the 50's. no vision
And that is the reason come spring graduation, I will look for a job east of here where things get done

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By jacob (registered) | Posted November 22, 2011 at 17:16:04 in reply to Comment 71505

You will get a D on your next assignment if you write this. What exactly do you mean? What planning decisions or not have our political leaders made that you disagree with? And where exactly 'east' are you planning to go where the planners and leaders and, presumably, populace, work together in better harmony? I would argue that we have exactly the same problem as any other non built up community in terms of curbing sprawl, and we do better than most: Mississauga or Brampton as two examples. We have a very good set of planning documents, a strong planning staff, and some excellent statutory frameworks. Arguably municipalities are inherently unable to combat a number of our problems, for instance our electoral system is not conducive to strong executive functions and we have very bad financial tools for raising revenues. We also continue to pay the cost of provincial policies from the Harris era. Finally we are scourged by suburbanites, a voting bloc of immense power which hates inner cities and feels that it is subsidizing the city when in fact it is directly the opposite.

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By Head Scratcher (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2011 at 21:43:52

Hard to believe we still invest a lot of time and energy debating the whole stadium location issue. I was in favour of the WH location, however with that said the stadium offers little to the community as it relates to City Building benefits. It's basically used 12-15 times a year, generates little to no employment and contributes nothing to the local tax base. It's a head scratcher that with the collective community energy we have in many corners of this City that we continue to focus on issues that do little to move the urban affairs yardsticks. Collectively we need to adopt one or two major issues and get everybody rowing in the same direction. Instead of lamenting the loss of the WH stadium, we should be looking for ways to expedite the approval and implementation of the City's Watefront Plans (Setting Sail and the Recreational Master Plan). Alternatively, we could get behind the downtown and work with all levels of government, NGOs, private entities, etc... to work on the very issues people identify as contributing to the slow growth of the core. General statements from developers that the fees are too high in Hamilton, or "it was impossible to navigate through the red tape", do nothing to solve our problems. Detailed specifics, coupled with suggestions to resolve would go a long way to address the real problems preventing or stalling all of the issues that fall under the umbrella of "urban affairs". My question: What are the top 5 issues preventing progress in the Downtown? Be specific, give clear examples. I bet we'd get dozens of good ones. Compile the list, then work with people like Christopher Hume (and our local visionaries like the Bill Curran's and David Premi's of the world) to compile a list of suggested changes to our current plans, bylaws, etc... Food for thought.

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