Comment 2737

By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2006 at 12:21:28

What a great discussion. I almost don't know what to add as so many great points have been made...

A couple of years back I interviewed the Leader of Leeds City Council for an article I was doing. He oversaw the most dramatic revitalization period in Leeds history. When I asked him if he had any regrets, anything he would do differently, he told me, "I regret the people we left behind"

He told me that despite the improved facade and economic vitality he had helped introduce, his measures had done almost nothing to improve the lot of Leeds' impoverished citizens.

A few years ago when we first started this site we talked about the analogy of the city's downtown as it's 'heart' Many of us felt that the people were more analogous to the town's heart, and if the urban revitalization solutions we proposed did not take into account the needs of ALL the citizens, then they weren't worth proposing.

I recall a comment to one of our articles where a reader said something like, 'we're talking about gentrification here right?...we want people with money to move in - yes?' It's unfortunate that this is the assumption of many readers - that urban revitalization is all about attracting the money crowd and ignoring the rest. Perhaps we at RTH really do need to articulate our vision a little clearer - it does encompass ALL Hamiltonians.

Solutions like improved transit and cycling/walking routes benefit everybody - especially the working poor. And no solution is going to work unless it ensures that nobody is 'left behind'

Another brief example comes to mind... a friend of mine was talking to a Hamilton cop one day, he was late for a meeting. "Why are you late" she asked him The cop explained how he had just stopped a guy for a missing licence plate sticker. By the time he had done with him he'd ticketed him for no licence, no insurance, no registration - you name it. The guy was up to a thousand dollars in tickets. The cop was upset though, because, "It was obvious the guy was destitute...he just needed a car to get to work. It will take him years to pay those fines off"

Taking a stab at transit is not a bad starting point in dealing with Hamilton's poverty issues. There are many other solutions we can propose (and I'm sure, after this discussion, we probably will), but in car-happy Hamilton, improved transit is as good a start as any.

I'm sure you'll be reading more about this on RTH in the next few issues.

Happy Christmas


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