Comment 998

By Schooley (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2006 at 16:44:35

Sorry to read that Ben has slid back to Toronto. Especially since so much of his experience of Canada seems to be limited to our two cities.

Hamilton's new waterfront is indeed a delight and city administration deserves credit for getting so much of this right, where so much of earlier attempts at urban renewal in Hamilton's north end went wrong. But I would like to say that the James St. North of my memory, from the CN tracks to Burlington Street, did not contain anything that anyone would call beautiful. My memory may be faulty, but in that particular strip I remember only dilapidated housing, wooden structures leaning on each other for support.

And while the waterfront access is lovely, it is not unique. On a recent trip east it was apparent that many communities are spending on waterfront renewal in the hope that tourism will make up for the loss of industry. Yes, Halifax is honkey-tonk while many smaller towns and cities are more authentic, but Quebec City's waterfront is probably the least commercialized area of that tourist town (though built up to handle the cruise trade) and Montreal has an interesting mix of activities. Ottawa has long capitalized on it's canal, and parts of Toronto away from the city centre are more natural. Consider the islands, and the parkland at the old psychiatric hospital in the west end. Peterborough, Oakville, Burlington all have nice waterfront areas, not to mention Niagara Falls and the river parkway.

This is not to knock what Hamilton has done, by any means, but more to point out that if tourism is to play a significant part in the city's economy, as I've heard many say it should, then the city still needs to develop a unique focal point.

The waterfront, the art gallery, renewal on Locke St., James St. North and King St. East, are more by way of infrastructure. There's a need for something truly unique for this part of the city's economy to flourish.

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