The New Hamilton: Not Your Grandpa’s Revolution


Alright, Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel had some choice words today for the New Hamilton Movement adherents, whom he largely characterizes as an unruly mob of belligerent zealots. That’s perhaps an unfair statement on the face of it, but considering the favourable amount of press the pro-casino lobby has been getting, particularly in the wake of the events of the last two months, can you blame us if some of our number are getting a bit testy. The die on a lot of these issues we’ve been fighting was apparently cast long before we became aware of them, and we’re having to organize and scramble to prevent Hamilton from making yet another of its classic backwards missteps into the 1950s.

Mr. Dreschel clearly feels that the infamous ‘silent majority’ is once again being silenced by the noisy New Hamiltonians, and yet the comment section of his article is three quarters populated by brash, crass, thoughtless people who have no conception that we’re doing anything other than opposing their easy commute or easy access to local entertainment. They won’t discuss the facts or the issues. They just hear uppity people speaking out of turn and assume we’re up to no good because they don’t see the problem.

And it’s true. They DON’T see the problem, because they drive through it at the speed limit and watch as the downtown core blurs by. How many of these people spend more than five minutes in the downtown core unless they have to pay a speeding ticket or parking ticket? How many of them have actually seen the changes and growth, the new developments, the revived buildings, the new businesses, the ‘flashy’ Art Crawl and Super Crawl events? Perhaps a few, but clearly not enough, and the old litany that artists and musicians can’t save the city goes around and around. Have none of you ever heard of ‘Gentrification’? Does SoHo ring a bell? The fact is, the most successful revivals of old, dilapidated neighbourhoods are ALWAYS lead by the arts community. We move into the cheap, run down buildings, we gussy them up, the well-heeled hipsters move in after us, followed by the lawyers and doctors, and before you know it, the artists have had to move to and improve a new neighbourhood elsewhere int he city. It’s called ‘organic revitalisation’ and despite what certain politicos and opinionated businessmen would like us to think, it happens everywhere. Except in small-minded, backwards cities that still think you need to put all of your eggs in one basket and give the keys to the city to a great white night corporation to save the day.

The Silver Bullet Theory. The Quick Win, as the city staffers like to call them. The path of least resistance, basically.

It’s understandable. If you’re cynical enough to believe that no good deed goes unpunished, and you don’t want to have to do any heavy lifting to fix a situation you prefer to ignore, why not bend over to accept whatever lousy deal some big corporation (who can smell desperation like the bad cologne it is) offers to take the problem off your hands? That’s been Hamilton’s M.O. for decades. We’re famous for it.

Lowest Common Denominator. Six-Pack Joe. Back seat full of Timmies trays and cartons. That guy doesn’t care about the environment, the economy or the losers who live and work downtown. He’s got tickets to the Ti-Cats and he wants sa good parking spot so he doesn’t get stuck in gridlock driving home.

Guess what else? He’s a straw man. The real Hamiltonian is a mishmash of all those things and more. Some of us are factory workers, some retail workers, some bankers, some lawyers, doctors, students, artists, athletes, teachers, shopkeepers, the works. We have every type of person with every conceivable taste and tax bracket in this city. Some of us go to galleries. Some go to the Opera. Yes, some go to the football games, but to hear the Ti-Cat’s management, not enough. So who’s right, here?

Well, it seems to me that there are a lot of truths in this city, but if you want to let the so-called majority rule over the needs of the heavy users of the Downtown core,simply because most of us are taxpayers and we all have a stake in what happens here, fine. We can settle it with a referendum. But let’s not be cute about it and insist that the vast majority don’t care or openly oppose the New Hamilton idealists. It’s the oldest flim-flam going in this town, pretending that the activists are nothing but unrealistic dreamers who are out of touch with the needs of the rest of the city. I’ve been listening to it my whole life in this city, and it’s as lazy and as baseless now as it ever was, and is squarely to blame for how far behind this city has fallen.

You gotta dream big and work harder to make those dreams come true if you don’t want to be left in the retirement home. Does Milton ring a bell? Ancaster? Mississauga? Toronto?

Read your history. This town used to be the biggest thing going in this part of the province, but we let it all slip away because we rested on our laurels. Now look at us, scrambling for scraps and throwing each other under the bus to get the best part of a bad business deal with a rapacious, parasitic crown corporation that produces almost nothing but losers. We can do better. In fact, we already are. Come downtown and take a walk along James Street. Really look at the changes.

And keep in mind, it’s the idealists, the activists, who are fighting for the soul of the city. That is, as it always was, our function in society.

Welcome to the Future.

Welcome to The New Hamilton. You’re living in it.

Lee Edward McIlmoyle,
native Hamiltonian.

Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.


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