Yes, I’m against Light Rail Transit (LRT), but no, I’m not an angry suburbanite worried about “taxpayer” money or traffic or the effects of construction on small business. I live downtown, I work part-time jobs, I ride the bus every day, and I think the LRT is going to be terrible for me and my neighbours.
So much of the debate about the LRT in Hamilton has been the good urban progressives who care about the environment and public transit against the conservative suburb-dwellers who care about convenience and cost. The narrow terms of this debate hasn’t left us much room to talk honestly about a project that will physically reshape our city and open up our neighbourhoods. Continue reading Light Rail Trap: the LRT & Gentrification
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.
by Ann Turner
From the flashy headlines of national newspapers and the glossy billboards in the downtown core, to the enthusiastic proclamations of investors and the cheerleading statements of city politicians, much is being said about the “renaissance” of our city. Words like “revitalization”, “reinvention”, “renewal”, and “redevelopment” are thrown around to talk about Hamilton as an up-and-coming city of boundless possibility. Walking down the street, sleazy men on slick real-estate signs advise those that pass by to “Build the Ambitious City”. Commentators speak of budding community, artistic innovation, and economic opportunity. But what does it all mean? These phrases hide far more than they reveal, painting a rosy picture without acknowledging all those left behind and thoroughly fucked over by the changes happening in Hamilton. So, lets look at two popular slogans a little closer: Continue reading Slogans are the New Gentrification