Local(s) Extinction

Whoa…that’s a heady title..

I know this may not fall in the realm of ‘Crave-Life’ and what we normally post, but I felt the need to share my thoughts on something that is happening in my city.

I live in Hamilton, Ontario.  For most of our readers, they may not be familiar where it is.  Hamilton is about a 45 minute drive to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which mostly everyone reading has heard of in some context.  You may have family there.  You may be a sports fan and know of our Jays, Raptors, or Leafs.  You may have visited or may be some of our Canadian readers who know and love or loathe Toronto.  😉

I like Toronto…or the Six…or T-Dot (that one ages me).  But what ever you call it, I do enjoy Toronto.  I enjoy visiting and going to events like concerts or sporting events there.  I even like to go for dinner.

Hamilton was put on the map from its history as a steel producer.  Steel City.  The Hammer.  Those are just a couple of the nick names it was labelled with over the years.  I know there are few others that are more insulting but I won’t validate those by posting them.

I love my city and I wouldn’t do that to it.

Born and raised here, myself,  in the Hammer, save a couple of years of moving for work, we chose to raise our kids here.  I won’t go into a “why Hamilton is a great place to raise a family” rant so don’t click away yet.  There are enough of those articles around if you want to read them.

My city is changing and I am torn about this change.

As much as I want to be happy, I feel this angst welling up in me that wants to say “put on the brakes!” as we are careening towards the guard rail and off the escarpment.

I love to see people enjoying our city…finally.  For years we were the butt of many a joke.  We were seen as the smelly kid in the class that no one wants to invite to their birthday party.

Not now.

Now we are the preppy new kid that both boys and girls are vying for their affections.

We see you batting your eyes at us wanting us to pay attention to you now. You want us to invite you to the prom, don’t you?  We are eating at the popular kids table, and we are loving it.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about this.

I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about this.

As an admitted chronic worrier, add this to the list of many.

I worry that we will be unrecognizable one day, like the girl you called plain in high school that shows up at the 10 year reunion with a killer body and hair extensions.

I worry that our beloved locals who have called Hamilton home for generations through the neglect will be pushed out;  the locals that lived where no one else wanted, the locals that know their neighbours and knew their neighbour’s parents, the locals that kept neighbourhood businesses going for decades.

They will pay the price for this ‘progress’

Are we ok with this?

I honestly don’t know if I am.  Like I said, I am torn.

On one hand, with this progress comes a renewed sense of Hamilton pride, which is at an all time high.  People don’t wince when you tell them where you are from. (and believe me, they used to).  Many Torontonians are exploring Hamilton and some relocating to Hamilton because of the obscene price of real estate in Toronto.  We welcome you with open arms, truly.

On the other hand, the increase in our real estate here, mirroring Toronto’s, is pushing people out of homes where they built their lives. Some businesses are finding rent unaffordable as landlords find themselves in the driver’s seat, able to ask an ever-expanding increase in their monthly rental fees.

Perhaps this is naive of me to suggest that we owe it to the legacy locals to ensure they can continue to call Hamilton home.  It is their genuine love for the city and perseverance that gave Hamilton the confidence to undergo this transformation.  They were the ones living here, working here, and fighting for improvements long before the Tapas bars and Wine Lounges were lining the streets.

I recognize the complexity of this situation we find ourselves, with no simples answers to appease everyone.

My hope for my city is that as we emerge out of the rust, we ensure those who kept its heart beating can still call Hamilton home.

We owe them that.

I would normally apologize for the heady post, but I would be lying if I said I was sorry.

I leave you with a short poem that ended up with this post being written.

 

Rusty steel mills transforming,

Turning into Tapas bars and Wine Lounges

Encouraging the money to visit,

Leaving behind the legacy locals

To scurry from the rising condos.

 

I better get back to baking!

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11 comments

  1. You have done an excellent job of describing your situation, so I am able to feel some of your pain. What a quandary! To have the very thing that is revitalizing your community be what also is destroying it (driving away the original residents & businesses). So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for putting this into words. It’s a tough act to balance – wanting to facilitate (an appropriate amount of) revitalization and growth yet preserve character and charm. I think your city is not alone in that struggle. My city (Raleigh, NC, USA) is currently falling victim to quick development and cookie cutter apartment high rises. There are a lot of perks that come with increased growth, but a lot of headaches and uncertainty as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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