Hamilton as a city has made many advancements and is setting itself up as a modern, healthy, progressive, and advanced community. Here are some of the encouraging and constructive changes coming and ongoing within the city.
Shift in the Job Market + Health & Science
One of the more dramatic trends in Hamilton has been the decline of industrial jobs. This had created a major unbalance among many middle-class families, especially those heavily affected by ongoing disputes (such as the US Steel pensions fiasco.)1 There are however, many positives to be observed. A continuing trend in Hamilton has been an increase in jobs relating to health care, science, and research. While there is still a massive problem in funding for healthcare, (a problem nation wide), undeniably there has still been an increase in the specialty focus within the city. Hamilton’s largest employer is the Hamilton Health Sciences; the city is by far one of the leading areas in Canada for health care and research including massive new facilities for cancer and mental health. There has been an intensive development in research institutions which will propel Hamilton even further as a leader in healthcare and science.
The downtown core in recent years has gathered a massive injection of funding and progressive city planning. The new MacNab terminal created an efficient place for public transit while also opening a new opportunity in Gore Park for it to act as a more solidified public space rather than simply a transit terminal. Jackson Square, and many surrounding buildings, as well as historic sites, have all gotten massive upgrades and restorations. Coupled with this construction boom has also been a significant increase in Condo development and focusing on bringing new demographics back into the downtown core. While a serious consideration needs to be paid to the consequences of gentrification, this revitalization of the downtown core / refocusing on quality, modernity, and upkeep is a positive development.
The Arts Are Flourishing
Along with the physical construction of the city there has also been a flourishing energy within the arts community. With the growth of massive renowned festivities such as Supercrawl, to the electronic music boom occurring throughout Hamilton’s electronic dance community, and with many new visual galleries and studios popping up throughout the city; a clear renaissance in the arts is occurring. The public is attending many local concerts and productions, as well exhibits such as the James North Art Crawl. The city is collecting artists from across the country and has even seen a significant migration of artists from Toronto to Hamilton.2 This arts boom has been radiated by local music and talent, such as The Arkells, and has lead to a surge in creativity and public interest.
Growth of McMaster & Mohawk
A highlight of Hamilton is the education system. McMaster University and Mohawk College are both elite institutions in Canada. Mohawk College has won for the 5th year in a row the best college in the GTHA. Both schools have grown in size, expanding programs, campuses, and ambitions. McMaster has been revving its engines yet again with many more new facilities and programs planned including a massive new location for the Humanities, as well as a new $120 Million 12 story “Better Living Centre”.3 The two schools amplify the development initiatives in the city both by engaging the present world and actively making it a better place, and also by educating and nursing the minds of future generations.
A huge change coming to the city skyline will be an influx of Condo developments scattered throughout the city. Many will not feature parking on site; shifting very considerably how Hamiltonians will live within the downtown core. Condo development and focusing on revitalizing the downtown core is a healthy step away from Hamilton’s exhaustively large suburban sprawl. This focus on urban living, public transit, restoration of historic sites, and renovation of iconic public spaces is a positive and encouraging step especially in a downtown core which for many years has felt abandoned / stuck in the past.
Light Rail Transit
Another major upgrade coming to the city if all falls according to plan is the new LRT system. The LRT will run upwards of $1 Billion+ but with it will bring a massive new public transit installment and a restructuring of the entire downtown core. With additional expansions covering a vast region of the city, the LRT is a significant step to unifying the city space for convenient, efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation.4
Hamilton is Evolving.
Hamilton as a city has consistently in the past decade refused to limit itself in its scope. While serious critiques of the city are warranted, praise and acknowledgment of accomplishments and goals are also clearly deserving. Hamilton as a city has many issues facing its future development and growth; however, many platforms within the city are being raised to truly build a modern, sustainable, and thriving 21st century metropolis. A focus on rebuilding the downtown core, strengthening the educational institutions, funding and advancing health science research, connecting the city with sustainable public transit, encouraging the growth of the arts community, and creating meaningful and iconic living spaces for the city’s citizens are encouraging goals and reasons to be proud of this city.
The future of Hamilton is bright.
By Daniel Govedar (Feb 2016)