Sunday, August 15, 2004

Avenues and Hamilton

Allow me to join James Bow and Andrew Spicer in welcoming Avenues to the blogosphere. The owner, known as Hans, caught my eye quickly with his excellent title banner graphics (notably the use of the TTC subway font, including what appears to be the correct letter spacing) and his post on Hamilton. In last year's mayoral election, the controversial Red Hill Creek Expressway was a major campaign issue, but underlying it were the two main issues addressed in the Avenues column: sprawl, and Hamilton's dire fiscal situation.

The two primary candidates were Larry DiIanni and David Christopherson, and they had significant differences in how they planned to tackle Hamilton's growing and crippling debt. (The city's oldest infrastructure is crumbling, as residents of Locke Street who were subjected to flooding last year after a major trunk water main burst — twice — can attest. Hamilton's 1950's-era City Hall is falling apart, and last I heard Council was seriously considering moving into the relatively empty former Eaton Centre because there wasn't enough money to build a new one and fixing up the old one would be throwing good money after bad and might as well cost as much.)

Christopherson's view was that the Red Hill Creek Expressway was an albatross that the City could not afford to bear when it couldn't even maintain its existing infrastructure. DiIanni argued that the expressway should be built, because it would encourage more development (read: sprawl) on the east mountain in Glanbrook, which would in turn increase the tax base and would pay for the expressway and presumably fix the city's fiscal woes. (One of the reasons listed in the EA why the expressway had to be built, was the growing list of development on the east mountain that had been approved pending construction of the expressway.) Christopherson countered that the city had to invest in its core first, and that with the RHCE off the books, there'd be money to do that.

Anyway, Christopherson won the four main lower city wards (including Dundas, interestingly), but DiIanni won the outer ring (I know it's not a PR or electoral voting system, but just to illustrate the division along geographic lines). So, unfortunately we're looking at more articles like that referenced in Avenues, and Hamilton will wind up with an eastern version of the (ironically-named) Meadowlands. (Maybe this one will be called Shady Acres or something similarly idyllic.)

I haven't been keeping up with urban issues in Hamilton so much since I moved away from there last year (and since the Spectator made their website paid-access only). Maybe that's a good thing, though — it looks like Hamilton's repeating the typical hole-in-the-donut pattern. It was frustrating when I was living there, but probably more frustrating from afar.

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