Supplement to Light Rail Trap: The LRT & Gentrification
Some of the most visible groups involved in the LRT debate are actively cheerleading gentrification and displacement. The storefront at 294 James is a particularly disturbing example. An initiative of Evergreen, it presents itself as a space for discussion, and they offer it free to local activist groups. However, Evergreen, through their project CityWorks, is actually acting as a consulting company for the City of Hamilton and building support for the city’s West Harbour redevelopment plans (which involves the LRT, as well as possible condos on pier 4 and the Barton-Tiffany lands). As they say on their website, their goal is to gather information from communities and transmit it to city staff and also communicate city plans to residents.
The scale of the projects in the West Harbour are immense and will reshape the city. Evergreen is there to produce a comforting fog of dialogue and to create an illusion of participation to undercut any of the more serious resistance Hamilton is sometimes known for. They’re cozying up to local activists by acting as though they’re a grass-roots project rather than a consulting initiative launched by a group whose CEO earns $200,000 a year.
Evergreen is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as their rhetoric about “cultural renaissance” and “transforming neighbourhoods” makes clear. These alliances between pro-development interests and local activists make it hard to have a serious conversation about the negative impacts of the LRT and other development projects.