Revitalization

Not only Dismissive but Derisive of the Downtown Core

By M Adrian Brassington
Published June 22, 2012

At this week's General Issues Committee [GIC, formerly committee of the whole] meeting on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, downtown renewal manager Glen Norton gave a pretty nice presentation [PDF] on a staff-generated a request for "an amendment to the Downtown and Community Renewal Community Improvement Plan, as per the Planning Act, for the purpose of implementing a Hamilton Downtown Supermarket Development Incentive".

The proposed incentive is a $650,000 forgivable loan/grant to entice a supermarket to open in the core.

I've dealt with my immediate reaction here, but I feel compelled to express stuff that's clearly rooted much more deeply, something that goes beyond this initiative, to the heart of the matter: the state of our downtown core.

I laughed at some of the session's exchanges, because, with Mr. Norton's illumination, the reality is clear: we created this situation, these circumstances that necessitate providing added incentives for potential grocery store/supermarket proprietors to come in and set up shop, when we haven't reached the required critical mass population-wise. (And given the state of the downtown core, is it any wonder?)

We created a situation where the downtown, east of James - although there's a case to be made for 'east of Bay' - was allowed to fall apart. In concert with the downloading of social services by the province and the resultant concentration of facilities (and concomitant presence of those using these facilities), as peripheral development got the lion's share of interest and support, the downtown crumbled.

To listen to the general tenor and tone of so many councillors' responses was to hear an awkward mélange comprised of discomfort and detachment.

In retrospect, what was additionally fascinating to me was to realize that it's not like the rest of the city suffered throughout this time-frame. We're not Flint, or any other locale where the economy took a dive and everything went to Hell in a hand basket across the board. (Although there is the supposed reality that prior to amalgamation, the City of Hamilton was, effectively, sprinting towards bankruptcy.)

My point is that Nero fiddled while only *parts of Rome* burned, the 'fire' pretty much restricted to the downtown and the north end.

If we consider 'the downtown core' to be from Main to Barton, from Queen to Wellington, it's pretty striking that all the while it wasn't exactly thriving, outside this area - especially to the south, but surely to the west and east - things have been relatively fine.

I've lived on Market Street, on Stanley, and on Bold. I've ventured through Beasley, Durand, Central, Corktown, Kirkendall and Strathcona. So I've known these neighbourhoods going back decades. They were never decimated. Yes, they've had their challenges, their travails. But they didn't suffer the indignities that the downtown core has.

Note here that I'm not personalizing things. I'm not talking about 'the downtown core residents'. I have chosen not to. I'm not being dismissive. In fact, though it may appear odd, I'm attempting to transcend the 'personal' by framing things in a much more pivotal way, by looking at the area rather than those who move through it.

Mostly because we're talking about a process that's unfolded over decades In a way, perhaps it would have been better had this to be a more 'personal' situation, where entire neighbourhoods had been under attack.

Maybe if that had been true, things wouldn't have gotten to the state we find them in currently. And I guess a case can be made that residents were under attack, within the context of 'benign neglect'.

This is our downtown we're talking about. This is where our City Hall is located. This is where our art gallery is, where our premier entertainment complex is, where our heart used to be before the city expanded south.

Argue as you may against the notion that 'downtowns are fundamental to a city's psyche' - and Lord knows that suburban sprawl and the 'mall mentality' have promoted this mindset to the max - the fact is that to ignore the importance of a downtown core is to give the finger to the organic truths attached to cities going back thousands of years.

Things spring up in one place, other things grow around them, people congregate, put down roots, requiring that more things spring up, and so on and so forth.

I'm no urban planner, and I certainly don't have a grasp on all the complexities, of the symbolism of the cause-and-effect of buildings and architecture and layout on residents and how they see themselves as citizens-of-place.

However, to allow a situation to be created wherein you have people from outside the downtown core being not only dismissive but derisive of their downtown core is to me, not just unacceptable, not even unconscionable, but abominable.

And yet 'the locals' notwithstanding (and I'm referring to those 'aware-and-energized' who support and participate in such events as Art Crawl), many Hamiltonians avoid the downtown core. They pass through it en route to somewhere else. In many ways, I don't blame them.

As I've said previously, I remember two previous post-WWII iterations of vibrancy in the downtown core. The 1960s and the Stelco Tower/Jackson Square '70s and '80s.

What the strip of King Street from James to Wellington looks like now in comparison to 'before' is enough to flatten out a good mood whenever I'm walking it. It is a shit-pit. I don't care that some would take offense to this label, councillors included.

While I'm heartened by the pockets of change that have been created, what I still see is clear evidence of systemic abuse and abandonment, political bafflegab notwithstanding.

When you see what's currently there and place it over 'what used to be', it's very difficult not to feel a profound sense of disgust: the bingo halls and cash outlets and parking lots and beauty supply stores and vacant buildings, versus the vibrancy of a consistently-packed Sam the Record Man and The Right House and Mill's and The Palace theatre and the Royal Connaught bring on frustration and anger.

So back to this week's GIC meeting.

Putting aside the stunning comments about people taking transit to get to the Dundurn Fortinos, my gob-smackedness had less to do with the fact that the motion was sent back to Glen Norton et al. for 'tweaking' and more with with realizing that on so subtle a level, so little genuine regard is offered for our current state of affairs, so meagre consideration as to deflate hope, however naïve that hope may in fact have been.

But I'll say one thing for our leaders at City Hall, our visionaries at 71 Main Street West: they're consistent.

M Adrian Brassington is a Hamilton writer.

37 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Runout Groove (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 09:37:25

There were of course not just one but, incredibly, two Sam the Records Man locations downtown up until the mid-1990s.

The Snidermans did not lack for bravado. But as bullish as they were, they were also neglectful property owners: The former McDonalds at King/John and the eviscerated Tivoli were/are among their holdings.

Permalink | Context

By Runout Groove (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 09:40:11 in reply to Comment 78806

Between the Dominion in Terminal Towers and the Barn at Hess/York, there were also two supermarkets downtown until that time.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By FP (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 10:58:26

Most amazing was the fact that they thought that everyone has a Costco membership and goes there for their groceries

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jay Robb (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 11:25:42

Don't have any answers but more than a few questions....

1. Is there a vision & strategy in place for revitalizing downtown Hamilton? Seems to be a lot of ideas and 11th hour proposals and grand plans that don't quite knit together. What do we want downtown Hamilton to be known for?

2. Who do you want working, living and shopping in downtown Hamilton? This may be different from who's currently there. How much residential? How much commercial? Given demographics, how do we make the downtown senior-friendly? How do you entice the downsizing boomers to live the suburbs and relocate to the core? What services and amenities do they need?

3. What are the odds of turning downtown Hamilton into a dining, arts & entertainment district? Downtown retail is a challenge that lots of communities are up against and haven't solved. Entire blocks jammed with pubs, ethnic restaurants and fine dining would be pretty cool. Is it doable?

4. How do we get more destination shopping in the core? Right now, there's very little there that you can't find somewhere else. What would draw folks with discretionary income from Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek and West Hamilton?

5. Why aren't established brands setting up shop in downtown Hamilton? Why isn't there a Starbucks? An 8 a.m. to midnight Shopper's Drug Mart? A stand-alone LCBO? Love 'em or hate them, the presence of these kinds of businesses is a good way to measure the health and vibrancy of a neighbourhood. Their absence is hard to miss.

6. Why are landlords letting their buildings sit vacant? Is there no demand? Rent too high? Too much red tape with setting up shop downtown? Why aren't landlords trying to poach the best retail and restaurants from other parts of the city like Locke Street, Westdale and Ottawa Street? Imagine taking the best from these areas and putting them side by side on a street of James St. North.



Permalink | Context

By Lolo (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2012 at 16:02:07 in reply to Comment 78812

Also, there IS a Shoppers downtown - its near Main & Caroline.

Permalink | Context

By Lolo (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2012 at 15:54:23 in reply to Comment 78812

Just some random thoughts on others' comments/question:

* What passes for destination shopping in this city, is all at Limeridge Mall.

* Brands have tried to set up shop at Jackson Square: most recently Yves Rocher left its prime mall spot near the King & James entrance. They weren't making money.

* To be more than blunt about it, if you want to encourage the elderly (or anyone else) to spend their commercial and leisure time in the core, you need to get rid of the peep show, the bingo, the gold selling/cash shops, and that shop on King E where all the wanna-be thugs hang out smoking pot. That's a relentless stream of threat and erosive behaviour that no one wants to deal with.

* I, too, remember the vibrancy of the James to Ferguson corridor along King back in the 80s - shops everywhere, and all doing business. I miss Book Villa mightily at times. But we all got caught up in malls, then big box stores, then Wal-Mart, and those cancers ate away at small-scale commercial ventures, then the urban rot set in.

* If you want people to spend their commercial time in Jackson Square, try installing businesses that actually stay open past 6 p.m. I went to the mall around 7 on Thursday evening, and the only things open were Dollarama and the LCBO. That's not a particularly encouraging set of options for a leisurely mall stroll. Grand & Toy closes even earlier, right when folks are leaving their office jobs. That makes no sense at all.

* We do have corridors of pubs: Most notably Hess Village and Augusta St - King William had a stretch that was bar-oriented, but it got run-down and seedy and seemed to involve a lot of thug-oriented knife-fights. Is that still the case, or have those bars moved out? Hess is also a less than attractive option since the incursion of dance clubs.

* Augusta St does a one-day mini-festival every year now - music, food, chili cook-off - maybe if more areas were encouraged to do something similar, as the Art Crawls do, and Locke St has, there'd be more incentive for folks to come.

* Part of the problem with downtown has always been parking - it's not that easy to get. Who wants to stop and shop, or stop and eat, when the first impression on passing through the core is that there's no parking?

Permalink | Context

By Emerald Light (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 09:46:58 in reply to Comment 78812

Let's look at a twofer, a supermarket that many suburbanites get all lathered up about: Whole Foods, which opened in Oakville in 2005.

At that time:

An average value of a home in the Whole Foods area code in was $875,718, more than twice the average value of a home in the Toronto CMA, more than twice the average value of a home around the Hamilton Golf + Country Club, more than three times the average value of a home in the Hamilton CMA and more than four times the average value of a home in downtown Hamilton.

Median census family income the Whole Foods area code was $150,690, compared to $69,321 for Toronto CMA and $69,156 for Ontario. That was more than twice the median census family income in the Hamilton CMA and almost five times the median census family income in Beasley (38,600).

Tract population was 3,860, 1,865 (48%) of whom held a university certificate, diploma or degree (Beasley: 585 or 24% of tract population), while 2,560 (66%) had completed some form of PSE (Beasley around 50%)

Median income of all persons aged 15+: $47,397 (Beasley: $16,244). Percentage of population in low income before tax: 4.5 (Beasley: 56.5, or 12 times higher)

Of course, this Whole Foods is not located in Downtown Oakville.
It is located well north of downtown. The parking lot looks like a Lexus or Mercedes Benz dealership most of the time; clientele drive there (WF Yorkville may be a different matter, but if you need an explanation of the differences between Yorkville and Downtown Hamilton you really need to get out more). Aside from Oakville's established wealth, WF Oakville also taps prosperous neighbours in Mississauga, Milton, Halton Hills and Burlington. And those demographics are dominated by drivers. They are not universally looking for walkable urban environments. In fact, some don't seem to mind being a little isolated if it means peace, quiet and a bit of land: For years, residents in Burlington's easternmost ward have had only one supermarket, the Longos near the QEW/403 juncture, which is also the site of the only Starbucks in the ward. Pretty sure they don't have a Beer Store or an LCBO at all. Sometimes prosperity and amenities don't go hand in hand.

Permalink | Context

By Trente (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 13:11:58 in reply to Comment 78870

If you're a senior moving into the new complex going up at Plains + Waterdown, you'll be around 5km from any of three supermarkets nearest to you. And still the area has more condo construction than downtown Hamilton.

Permalink | Context

By son of senior (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2012 at 07:52:58 in reply to Comment 78875

The goals of seniors looking to move out of the house are
1. decent sized apartment
2. full time medical staff
3. cleaning service
4. close to friends family
5. close to home church (not downtown)
6. seniors complex activities
7. shuttles to shopping (no desire to have to walk to shop because frankly many can't)
8. large quiet outdoor recreation area ( not downtown
9. safe quiet neighbourhood (not downtown)
10. clean air (not downtown)

As you can see there really are no good reasons for seniors to want to move downtown when leaving their homes for a senior centre. As long as they are able to drive there is no reason they even want to leave their homes in most cases. I'm not sure that attracting seniors to the core is even possible, the majority of my parents friends don't want any part of living in the city

Permalink | Context

By Trente (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 12:53:49 in reply to Comment 78870

Isn't there a Starbucks in the Indigo on Brant North? Or is that a different ward?

Permalink | Context

By Emerald Light (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 09:53:48 in reply to Comment 78870

BTW, is it just me, or is the only supermarket in Downtown Burlington a No Frills?

Permalink | Context

By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 03:30:19 in reply to Comment 78812

  1. No, because the councilors who may have that vision are easily shouted down by the suburban Councillors. The plan that is needed to stop the urban boundary from expanding even an inch further and subsidizing downtown density (like 10 story or greater projects) and focus on redistributing social services throughout the city instead of clustering them in the core.

  2. You want downsizing boomers and young working professionals there. However both are scared away by the rampant presence of low income earners and a swath of people who are utilizing the social safety net to it's fullest, because those social services are clustered in the core instead of fairly distributed throughout the city. Also property values that are overinflated in the core, simply by merit of being in a city core.

  3. Only doable if you can attract a large amount of people with money to live in the core (IE: Downsizing boomers and young professionals). People from outside the core have these services within closer distance to them without paying for parking, bus fare or utilizing large amounts of time with other methods. Why shop at the Denninger's in Jackson square when there is one on the mountain and I live on the mountain?

  4. See answer 3. There is already facilities that exist, closer to these locations. The only draw is unique events or cultural institutions, which the core lacks the proper infrastructure and tenants to attract. A lack of an NHL team for Copps which is too large a venue for an AHL/OHL franchise and incredibly aged and ugly convention center and Hamilton Place whose investment potential is limited without more density or a high degree of undesirable subsidy.

  5. It's no secret, large chains typically target areas where they have either A) High population density to maximize potential customers by foot/public transit or B) Large malls/box developments that offer ample free parking and major arterial roads to maximize people getting to their business. Downtown lacks sufficient density and cannot offer free parking or large developments due to it's structure or without bulldozing entire blocks (at great cost).

  6. Overvaluation and speculation. As stated, property values downtown are higher based solely on the merit of "being downtown" thus owners want full value for property that isn't appealing enough to really warrant it's listed worth. Thus "idling" the property until it is sold is seen as a way to lower tax costs and maintenance of keeping it in working rentable order until a buyer comes along. Speculation is another reason we can't get rid of these pay parking lots and build density. The land could be worth a lot more if developed, but once again, they want more value based on it's potential worth vs it's current worth. Also red tape is rampant for higher density development in the city vs lower density sprawl, as is getting a demolition permit for buildings of little historical worth, but are simply old. This is another reason why the costs for suburban expansion must become drastically higher and urban development subsidized.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2012-06-23 03:39:36

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 25, 2012 at 10:15:53 in reply to Comment 78867

However both are scared away by the rampant presence of low income earners and a swath of people who are utilizing the social safety net to it's fullest, because those social services are clustered in the core instead of fairly distributed throughout the city. Also property values that are overinflated in the core, simply by merit of being in a city core.

If only there were some kind of rule keeping those kinds of facilities further apart. Just go by raw distance between them - by radius to determine how much they must be separated. A "radial separation law", if you will.

Wait... nevermind.

Permalink | Context

By D. Shields (registered) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 00:10:25 in reply to Comment 78812

Maybe start with basic amenities first, like Supermarkets, banks, places to buy necessities, & something to do..that is enjoyable, family friendly, & legal. ;)

If you have to travel a long way to have a nice night out, that is a huge strike against any area that wants to sell to families, singles & seniors.

There are 2 Starbucks in Ancaster, & 1 in Dundas. (I don't know about you, but I really don't need or want a $6.00+ cup of coffee.)

Starbucks won't invest in areas that are not interested in purchasing over priced beverages, & neither will other 'high end' stores & services. The Money has to move in 1st.

Comment edited by D. Shields on 2012-06-23 00:19:18

Permalink | Context

By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 19:31:25 in reply to Comment 78812

1. Is there a vision & strategy in place for revitalizing downtown Hamilton? Seems to be a lot of ideas and 11th hour proposals and grand plans that don't quite knit together. What do we want downtown Hamilton to be known for?

I'm no expert, but I believe there's been a fair amount of paperwork done and proposals presented and stategies agreed-to over the years. I'll leave that for others better-versed to provide the details. I guess the connecting questions to 'What do those plans consist of?' is 'How are we doing?' and 'Why does it seem we're stuck in neutral?'

2. Who do you want working, living and shopping in downtown Hamilton? This may be different from who's currently there. How much residential? How much commercial? Given demographics, how do we make the downtown senior-friendly? How do you entice the downsizing boomers to live the suburbs and relocate to the core? What services and amenities do they need?

The simple answer to your final question is 'Everything they're used to.' The problem is that when you're a suburbanite, you don't demand that everything be 'right there'. That's what cars are for. (Sorry Ryan, but this is the paradigm we've had, just not the one you crave for a more intense urban setting.) How do you entice them? Well, I think you've partially answered the question with the word 'entice'. There's nothing enticing about our downtown core as it stands. How can there be? It's in a state of disrepair. As for the mix... In a way, the downtown core is this incredible opportunity. I don't know of any major metropolitan centre that has as much 'available space' in its core as Hamilton does. As for 'who we want there'... Again, back to a mix. But I can pretty much guarantee that any 'influx' will be people who are not 'struggling financially'. (If we want to focus on areas of pure revitalization, rather than 'working with a blank canvas', then let's talk about the North End; *that's* the land of golden opportunity for everyone else. (Yeah, I'm gonna get blasted for that comment.)

3. What are the odds of turning downtown Hamilton into a dining, arts & entertainment district? Downtown retail is a challenge that lots of communities are up against and haven't solved. Entire blocks jammed with pubs, ethnic restaurants and fine dining would be pretty cool. Is it doable?

Can't see that happening. You'd have to have this tremendous shift to something that downtown Hamilton has probably never been, except maybe in wartime. Certainly within my memory, it's never been a 'mecca' for the high life. Even in its last iteration of vibrancy, when there were thousands of people working downtown in office towers, spending money every day in Jackson Square, the place was dead in the evenings. And given that there's just not sufficient 'locals with money' right now, it's not like you could parachute in businesses and they'd turn the place around. If we had a uni campus downtown...like U of T or Ryerson (or a Mac Liberal Arts campus, hint, hint)...then we might be able to accomplish something. But what's necessary is to develop the core from King to Cannon, James to Mary, getting some *real* development in there, bringing life to an area that's been dead for decades. (Bringing the distillary district in Toronto mind...but I think I'll let that one go for now.)

4. How do we get more destination shopping in the core? Right now, there's very little there that you can't find somewhere else. What would draw folks with discretionary income from Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek and West Hamilton?

Go back to when Jackson Square opened. It was the premier mall in the area unil Limeridge opened. The mall as it stands now, sucks. (I used to work there, I saw it at its best.) Unless you were to reboot it at that level, forget about capturing those customers; that train has left the station. To me we have a most-invidious situation on our hands, one that the mall's owners don't seem to have a farkin' clue as to what to do with. (Um...how about a *supermarket* for starters?!?) And the reality is that as I said in the piece, the downtown core is a shit-pit, it's not a draw for anyone who doesn't have to be there...or doesn't have an attachment to it.

5. Why aren't established brands setting up shop in downtown Hamilton? Why isn't there a Starbucks? An 8 a.m. to midnight Shopper's Drug Mart? A stand-alone LCBO? Love 'em or hate them, the presence of these kinds of businesses is a good way to measure the health and vibrancy of a neighbourhood. Their absence is hard to miss.

Nobody wants to risk opening in a ghost-town. Unless there's promise. (Please, let's not inject the LRT element into this discussion. Seriously.) And there hasn't been promise in *years*. Shoppers doesn't do 'small' anymore (witness the impending makeover of the Dundurn & King location), especially without parking. There *are* lots to be bought, but without the critical mass of population... *sigh*

6. Why are landlords letting their buildings sit vacant? Is there no demand? Rent too high? Too much red tape with setting up shop downtown? Why aren't landlords trying to poach the best retail and restaurants from other parts of the city like Locke Street, Westdale and Ottawa Street? Imagine taking the best from these areas and putting them side by side on a street of James St. North.

These are fantastic questions. Ones I'm going to be working on providing a forum for getting some answers to, once I'm back in town. Stay tuned; we're in for some interesting conversations.

Permalink | Context

By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 16:10:25 in reply to Comment 78812

Jay, in response to your question #3, I just read Ken Robinson's Walking Home book in which has a section focusing on the problems of "entertainment districts" as a solution to urban re-development. The problem is that nobody wants to live in such areas due to loud, late nights, so the neighbourhood economy becomes unbalanced. Better to have a mix of housing, commercial, and employment uses for long-term sustainability.

As a footnote, I once visited the entertainment district (mall) created in Flint, Michigan, and it was totally depressing.

Permalink | Context

By Sanatorium (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:39:20 in reply to Comment 78812

What it takes to lure a sympathetic resident from, say, Garth & the Linc to Bay & Herkimer is ineffable. It could be that some people simply like their suburban sedatives more than they realize.

Downtown is already quite senior-friendly, from the engineering of sidewalks to the profusion of clinics and amenities in the city's most dense and walkable environment. But seniors tend to be fixed-income and daytime-intensive, and those are already demographics amply represented in the existing mix.

Over all, if the retail/residential market is moribund, I don't know how you restore it without piling in loads of cash.

Considering the noise and nuisance complaints around Hess Village and the anathemic relationship between nightlife and condos/hotels in Toronto's Entertainment DIstrict, it's far from a quick-win. And what is the saturation point? Hint: Ask Tailgate's/Slainte/London Tap/Seventy-Seven/Embassy/Fev... uh, scratch that last one. Ask the cool kids in the back of the bus who loudly complain about how lame Absinthe is since it moved into its new digs at King WIlliam and Hughson. How do you engineer an urban experience that is patently unnatural and not compromise the essential qualities that make the city appealing as an authentic urban ecosystem? The costs of the experiment might be higher than what appears in the spreadsheets.

Downtown square-footage is already ridiculously cheap in many quadrants, certainly when it comes to independent business. People will shop around, but as to strategically strip-mining the city's functional neighbourhoods, as much fun as that would doubtless be I sense that it is another problematic gesture.

Permalink | Context

By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 16:12:13 in reply to Comment 78822

Good comment, but couldn't resist noting that the patio outside the new Absinthe is amazing and wish it could see more use.

Permalink | Context

By WreckDev (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:17:58 in reply to Comment 78812

Downtown is home to young adults. Compared to Hamilton as a whole, Downtown has a greater proportion of residents in household forming years (20 to 34), fewer children and a similar proportion of seniors.

Downtown residents tend to be single people. 25% are married, 49% have never married (city-wide, the population is 50% married and 32% never married).

Downtown families are smaller. 49% of downtown families are couples without children at home (city-wide, that percentage is 35%). Average number of children at home per family: Downtown 0.9, City 1.2

Downtown households are smaller. Average persons per household: Downtown 1.7, City 2.5

Downtown housing is dominated by rental apartments. 86% of dwellings are rentals, compared to 32% city-wide.

Downtown is home to 2% of City’s population but 7% of City’s recent immigrants

Downtown incomes are lower than average. 64% of Downtown residents aged 15 and over have incomes below $20,000 per year, compared to 43% for the City

Downtown has 10% of all jobs in Hamilton. Over 20,000 people work Downtown, one quarter of those in Public Administration. One quarter of Downtown workers earn $60,000+

=
http://www.investinhamilton.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/DowntownProfile.pdf


Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:32:08

"Six hundred and fifty thousand dollars might not seem a lot, but it can sure build a lot of roads that people have been waiting for over the last fifteen years and have been neglected..."

Councillor Duvall
GIC Meeting, June 20, 2012

"We do have public transit. We do have stores just outside of the core of the city. And that option is there to use public transit. But (maybe we should ask Councillor Farr how much calls he's got for a request for a grocery store downtown... I understand the need, I want the downtown to thrive, and grow, we need that, we have to change the landscape downtown, both physically and financially, but I'm on the fence right now about this. It's a lot of money..."

Councillor Robert Pasuta
GIC Meeting, June 20, 2012


To go along with these (and yes, I am the author of this piece), was the consistent theme of 'Hey; they have a supermarket at Dundurn and one at Barton!" and the connotation that there was transit, they could get to both locations...

*still shaking my head*

I'm willing to bet that none of our councillors have ever had to shop via transit. So they -presumably-don't know what it's like to have to a) lug four bags, b) get from the store to the bus stop, c) deal with getting on, being on, getting off bus, d) walking to wherever you live. I've done this far more times then I have plunked my shopping in a car. (In fact, I've done it via transit in NYC, London and I've walked a good half-mile in Collingwood.) It is a *grind*, and I'm a sizable and fit guy, thankyouverymuch. THIS is what pissed me off enough to write both posts in the past 24 hours. Not the action to send the notion back for 'tweaking'. (God bless Councillor Farr for his humanity even in this moment on Wednesday. And no, I'm not being glib.) This 'Let them eat cake' equivalent. And I'm not speaking from the vantage point of someone who is disadvantaged, merely as someone who recognizes that within this catchment area, there *should* be a solid, primary, not-teeny-independent choice. (Sorry to all those who cobble together their eating supplies, but that's *not* how I shop and it's not going to be how people purchasing new condos, etc in a revitalized downtown core will, either. Boutiques and indies of all genres and accents are great, but I want the freedom to make the choice *I* want to make, not the one that 'conscience' says I should.)

It's not City Hall's job to provide us the basic elements of living beyond the expected infrastructure. That's up to a free market to provide in reaction to free market demands. But it *is* the role of City Hall to provide proper stewardship of neighbourhoods, to go the distance to fight for the needs of said neighbourhoods, be it some peripheral development, or our downtown core. And frankly, anyone who's participated in the mess that's been made of the downtown core going back to the late-80s, with the dearth of vision as exagerrated by being distracted by the 'coolness' of accelerating sprawl ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Our city...the *entire* city...deserves much, much better than what it's been given. And this interlude on Wednesday is proof that our 'legacy malaise' is in fine shape. Ugh.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:37:37

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.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 20:12:26 in reply to Comment 78821

Hey Smith,

Is the buying power of $1 more, less, or the same than it was in the 1950s in your opinion?

Permalink | Context

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 02:39:43 in reply to Comment 78851

Each dollar buys far less than in 1950. Then again, GDP/capita is 40x more than it was in 1950.

1950($'s)

US GDP/Capita = 1,936
New house (1000 sq.ft) = 8,450 (4.36X)
New car = 1,510 (0.78X)
1000 Gallons of gas = 180 (0.093X)
American Cheese = 0.45/lb
Porterhouse Steak = 0.95/lb
TV B/W = 250
Clock Radio = 60

2012($'s)

US GDP/Capita = 48,373
New house (>2000 sq.ft)= 235,700 (4.87X)
New car = 30,748 (0.64X)
1000 Gallons of gas = 3,470 (.072X)
American Cheese = 5.57/lb
Porterhouse Steak = 31.7/lb
TV Colour LED = 230
Clock Radio = 25



Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 06:34:52 in reply to Comment 78866

So, taking GDP out of the equation (since globalization really didn't exist in the 1950s), is this why Canadians have less $ in their pocket at the end of the day than they did years ago? Is this why we make more but have less?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jay Robb (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 16:31:38

One other thought...

Is downtown Hamilton hampered by the lack of a public square / park? Roof of Jackson Square is not it.

I grew up in London, ON which has Victoria Park. I remember going to Friday night concerts and festivals.

Spent some time in Peterborough before moving to Hamilton. Little Lake, on the outer edge of downtown, had free Wednesday and Saturday concerts. Would draw thousands of people.

There's nothing that draws comparable numbers to the core on a regular basis and nowhere for them to go for outdoor events beyond concerts and sporting events inside Copps and Hamilton Place.

Aside from a handful of very good restaurants, there's not much reason for folks to head downtown.

Still think a solid block of ethnic restaurants, pubs and jazz clubs would be a good addition, closed off street during summer nights. Like Bourbon Street minus the beads and balconies.

Permalink | Context

By Plateau (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 23:27:00 in reply to Comment 78845

Downtown has a wealth of enthic restaurants, far more than anywhere else in the GHA. You'll find them in areas like the International Village and James North. Downtown has four blocks of pubs in Hess Village and another two in Augusta Street.

Downtown had a number of jazz clubs until people stopped giving a toss about anything but Smooth Jazz. Hamilton's best jazz talents rarely play here because the city likes the idea of live music but is generally not great at supporting it. Especially a premium product like jazz. Piano techs don't grow on trees.

Hess Village used to have a handful of street festivals every year. They were hugely unpopular with the neighbours, who basically made it impossible to have events like the Hess Jazz Festival, Hess Blues Festival, what have you. Bourbon Street, as you say. And this was before the street narrowing and the club-ification of Hess. The City is shit-scared of the possibility that the Village would take on a life of its own. And $100 million-plus in new residential and hotel development one block east won't improve the situation.

Destination identity is already a problem for downtown. People have good-paying career jobs there, and then take those earnings to the south Mountain, Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek, Carlisle, Burlington... Anywhere but downtown. They could live downtown and help lead change, but they don't and so to some extent they can share responsibility for the status quo.

And as has been said before, the failure of our city's post-secondary institutions to establish meaningful footholds downtown is a huge disservice to the health of the core. (Maybe you know someone you could talk to on that count.)

Permalink | Context

By Lolo (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2012 at 16:08:57 in reply to Comment 78861

What always raised my eyebrow regarding the residents of the Hess area, is why did they move to a known bar area in the first place, if they were going to whinge about the noise? The residents have themselves to blame for some of the deterioration of that once very vibrant spot.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 20:13:52 in reply to Comment 78845

Um, what's Gore and Gage park then?

Permalink | Context

By Lolo (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2012 at 16:11:16 in reply to Comment 78852

Gage Park isn't part of the core. It's too far out to be a destination for anyone concentrating on the downtown. And Gore Park, as the article-writer pointed out, is part of the shit-hole of downtown. No one wants to hang out in it.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By the gore (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 17:00:06

Downtown Hamilton has an ideal public square. Its called Gore Park. The problem is that the park is occupied by undesirables because its not used as you suggest is done in other cities. I've been to New Orleans, great place but it cannot be replicated due to liquor licensing laws among other things

Permalink | Context

By Lolo (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2012 at 16:05:10 in reply to Comment 78846

I snagged a prime park spot the other day, but didn't get to keep it long - I was driven out by the noxious pre-noon booze breath of the guy who sat on the other end of the bench.

I remember when the fountain in Gore Park was actually a usable wading pool. I played in it many times as a child.

How do you encourage the undesirables to locate themselves elsewhere, without making everyone feel unwelcome?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted June 23, 2012 at 00:39:04

Does anyone know how much in subsidies that have given to Maple Leaf for their plants in Glanbrook??
I didn't hear councillors complaining about 'too much money' for the Clappison Corner improvements, or the multi-million dollar round-a-bout in Ancaster. Shouldn't Lloyd Ferguson be chaining himself to the roadway instead of allowing council to spend millions on a useless roundabout??

McHattie got it right - we've been in the sprawl business for years and have shelled out millions in subsidies....it's time to turn some attention to the city core.

The downtown residential loan program is actually paid back and has a tremendous ROI when taxes and development fees are factored in....all the sprawl subsidies over the years never have a payback financially, yet council doesn't bat an eye.

Even more mind-boggling is the letters of support that were sent to council about this grocery store initiative from high end condo builders who are developing downtown and want to develop more downtown.
I don't remember reading letters of support to council from anyone encouraging them to give Maple Leaf huge subsidies, yet they did it because of the 'public good'.
We're always in bed with developers....until they want to develop downtown.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-06-23 00:41:32

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Lolo (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2012 at 16:19:33

Part of the problem with certain areas, like Hess, is that they have garnered a reputation that wards people off - people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, still like the occasional night out, or afternoon beer with a friend - but the places in Hess where they could go, people won't go to because Hess is seen as "only for the young". I know that's not true, and so do lots of others, but that's a prevailing attitude. I once got my noodle chewed off by a lady on another forum over that - once you pass a certain age you're not supposed to want to go anywhere outside the home, in her estimation.

The current element of Hess, and I am not directing this at the age of the patrons - merely the attitude of those patrons, has made it an unwelcome place for many.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds