BARC, the people who normally worry about the quality of the Bay and Cootes Paradise gave the City a great forum last night to pitch the current VISION for the North End neighbourhood. Primary Speaker was Chris Phillips, the City person responsible to carry the West Harbour vision forward. The other two speakers spoke about earlier VISIONs and VISIONs in other Cities. Chris Phillips is an outstanding advocate of the current West Harbour VISION. It all sounded so great. Hamilton can overcome its "bad image" as a place where people go to work in Dofasco and National Steel Car and Bunge and a host of other places on Burlington Street if only we would replicate downtown Chicago or downtown Toronto or downtown Burlington at the foot of James Street.
My first reaction was to jump up and grab the microphone and say stop dissing your own town. Hamilton does not need to be fixed. Unfortunately BARC had refused to permit an alternative perspective to use the microphones.
Here's an alternative VISION: Check out the options and work on finding the smartest way to accommodate the 5,000 or so new people who are going to live here every year because our Federal and provincial governments are bringing in 225,000 people to the GTA every year. That is not going to stop because those are the people that theoretically will pay the taxes needed to fund our health care and old age incomes, and we have to stop putting their houses on farms.
So where are we going to house them? What are the options?
Answering it with fuzzy VISIONs may be a dumb way to start.
As one of the speakers said, what is being planned for the West Harbour are condos beyond the reach of 90% of Hamilton's population. Why would we impair the ability of the waterfront to be a re-creational resource for the downtown residential population and threaten real harm to the adjacent residential neighbourhood? Why would we not ask how we can provide affordable housing?
I suspect these questions will play out this year.