A Toronto view of Hamilton

A story extolling the virtues of Hamilton published in a Toronto newspaper is generating a lot of reaction. Lisa Hepfner has the story.

Here it is by longtime Architecture and Urban Issues Columnist Christopher Hume. Title: ‘Hamilton rises from the ashes of its grimy past.” And in the first line Hume writes that the map remains the same, but Toronto and Hamilton have changed places.

When Christopher Hume’s latest urban issues column came out in the Toronto Star, saying Toronto and Hamilton have switched places. He got a lot of hate mail: “You can polish a turd, but it’s still a turd.” Q: What do you make of that? “There are a lot of stupid people in Toronto and Hamilton, who are out of touch with reality. Some of the stuff people say about Hamilton is truly vitriolic. It shocks me. But it reminds me Hamilton has a long way to go before people start to see it as other than being this horrible place west of Toronto.”

He says Hamilton’s advantage is that it’s an intact city, as opposed to a suburb: A city that is underused and underpopulated. But with enormous potential.

Hume: “Toronto has become a city full of self hatred. That’s what Rob Ford is all about. He’s all about anger and change. I see in Hamilton a new spirit which embraces change.”

Hume says he is encouraged by what he’s heard from Hamilton’s Mayor. Goals to make the city more bike, pedestrian and transit friendly.

Mayor Bratina: “He’s been covering this file for years. That’s what he does. So if people like Chris Hume are interested, it tells me something’s happening here, we’re not just whistling past the graveyard.”

Bratina says the generation moving into adulthood now can’t afford a new car, and is even putting off the driver’s license rite of passage: “And the more transit, cycling, pedestrian opportunities there are, the more they’ll put that off. And it will change the nature of the city.”

And young people now want to live in the core. Since Bratina moved to the Corktown neighbourhood in 2005, house prices have tripled.

Hume: “I see Toronto as a city that has peaked and is afraid of itself. I see Hamilton as a city that embraces the future, and is optimistic about itself.”

Although, not everyone sees his point. Hume reads a tweet he received: “Hamilton is still a hellhole, infested with terrible people. Everyone I’ve met from there has been a lowlife.”

Here James North has had its share of Toronto stories. Mayor Bratina told me that when the U.S. Consul General was in town a few weeks ago and the first thing he said was, boy you have a lively arts scene. Hamilton isn’t there yet, moving in the right direction. Chris Hume says Toronto moving in the wrong direction.