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HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | May 2011 ~ DEBUT ISSUE | urbanicity.ca

WILSON + SKELLY + EISENBERGER + CHAMBERLAIN + McGREAL + LEAKER + ORMOND + COOKE + FORBES + SHAKER + GELEYNSE + FARR + COURT + DUYZER + CRAWFORD + BEAUDRY + LOOMIS + COLEMAN + CUTLER + TENNANT + MALLETTE + HAMILTON =

WELCOME TO URBANICITY P.2

CITY BUILDING REQUIRES RESILIENCE NO THANKS TO NUKES FRED EISENBERGER

PETER ORMOND

As Japan works to recover from a series of devastating natural and technological disasters, the difficult task of rebuilding the country’s shattered economy will begin in its cities. Like Canada, Japan is an urban nation with sophisticated municipal systems and a highly developed public realm. As many commentators have noted, Japan’s advanced level of preparedness – from stringent building codes to regular emergency drills - has helped mitigate the worst effects of both the earthquake and the tsunami. A hundred years ago, the population of the capital region around Tokyo was less than one million people. Today, its population is larger than that of Canada at 36 million people. The same qualities of innovation

City Hall | Hamilton ON | regbeaudry.com

artwork | Edward Whynton

Rebuilding | Hamilton ON | regbeaudry.com

BRAD CHICHAKIAN, B.A. | Sales Representative HERITAGE REALTY INC. 256 Locke Street South, Hamilton ON, L8P 4B9 Office: 905.522.2222 | Cell: 905.512.0009 haltonheritage.com | brad@haltonheritage.com

Neighbourhoods | Hamilton ON | regbeaudry.com

INCLUSIVE CONSEQUENCE OF INCONSEQUENTIAL THE DUCHESS of AUCHMAR NEIGHBOURHOODS How much money is too little to worry about? Time for a game changer

THE THE

PAUL WILSON

GRAHAM CRAWFORD

Japan’s tragic earthquake and tsunami have the country reeling. In addition, the nuclear nightmare unraveling at Fukushima threatens to virtually destroy the entire country, including many helpless earthlings. “This is not Chernobyl,” Japanese authorities have reiterated countless times, referring to the 1986 nuclear meltdown that toppled the USSR, resulted in the death of a million people and deemed vast tracts of land uninhabitable for the next thousand years. Recently, however, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown was finally upgraded from a class 5 to a class 7 disaster: the worst situation possible. Hundreds of thousands of displaced, disgruntled Japanese have been exposed to harmful radiation levels, food and water supplies are contaminated,

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Gwyneth Owen Young | Auchmar 1940

It’s budget season at City Hall, not exactly anybody's favourite season. Early predictions of tax increases start alarmingly high and usually end up considerably lower, both in comparison and by design. We allow ourselves to believe we dodged the big increase. Happens every year, just like other kinds of snow. There’s been some discussion about what amount of money is meaningful and what amount is inconsequential. Most citizens come from the "every dollar is meaningful" school of accounting. Some councillors went to a different school. Some say $33,000 for lunches is inconsequential. The mayor says he doesn't see what the big deal is. Some citizens have also questioned councillors’ discretionary budgets for fridge magnets with their

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TERRY COOKE

She is 92, one of Hamilton’s last old royals. She was born into a life of privilege, in a city sure of itself. A muscular city of factories that made products for the masses and fortunes for a few. She was born Gwyneth Owen Young and lived in what is Hamilton Mountain’s most historic home – Auchmar. We find her in another place today, reigning over a hundred-acre estate north of Burlington that includes a fine residence, a farmhouse, a cottage, several fishing ponds and a lake large enough to land a seaplane. Gwyneth is sound of mind, let there be no doubt of that. She just passed her driving test again, so will stay behind the wheel of her old station wagon. She still

We are separate and unequal. Over the past 40 years, Hamilton has become an economically segregated community, divided by income and geography. Concentrated poverty is now clearly the moral challenge of our generation. The Hamilton Spectator’s groundbreaking “Code Red” series confirmed that Hamilton is losing ground economically and compounding problems by limiting where our poorest citizens can live, go to school and work. Hamilton Community Foundation’s (HCF) “Vital Signs” report highlighted these depressing disparities. Our poverty rates range from less than three percent in some neighbourhoods to over 40 percent in others. The proportion of young adults

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{Heritage Halton Halton

REALTY INC. BROKERAGE


HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | May 2011 ~ DEBUT ISSUE | urbanicity.ca

DISTRIBUTION

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urbanicity [ur-buh-nis-i-tee] - noun 1. a monthly journal of ideas, issues and experiences in the bay city.

QUANTITY: 10,000 copies per issue | 12 issues per year DATE: First day of each month COST: Free

The paper you are holding is the first issue of Hamilton’s newest monthly journal – a journal of the ideas, issues and experiences of the bay city.

DISTRIBUTION LOCATIONS Downtown Hamilton International Village Ottawa Street Locke Street Westdale Village of Ancaster Town of Dundas Village of Waterdown Stoney Creek Concession Street District Selected Hamilton Mountain locations Greater Hamilton Area

Yes, we’re actually starting a brand new broadsheet paper in 2011. Does this surprise you? After all, aren’t newspapers everywhere gasping desperately for their for last, weary breaths of life? Yes. They are. It’s my belief, however, that the newspaper industry is a complacent victim of its own lassitude and indolent indifference. After all, our mass publications have continually increased their advertising content while decreasing their local reporting. Instead of printing local content by local writers, their pages are filled with poorly written stories of little relevance taken from the wire services. The once-proud daily papers have reduced themselves to the role of clumsy reprinting services; publishing content that anyone with a smart phone has already forgotten about. I would argue that in an increasingly globalized world, the value of local content is now greater than ever. Never has it been more important to provide a forum for the exchange of local ideas, issues, and experiences. Yet sadly, never has there been such a tremendous lack of such a forum. This is precisely the role into which urbanicity is intended to fit. Each month our pages will feature content written by some of the most influential and engaged citizens in Hamilton. Our advertising ratio will remain low, and our large broadsheet pages will remain in classic black and white – serving as an homage to the newspaper culture of years past, while boldly engaging our future with a clean, contemporary aesthetic.

PUBLISHER + EDITOR MARTINUS GELEYNSE Owner | MG International Director | Hamilton24 Festival martinus@urbanicity.ca

REG BEAUDRY Freelance | photographer Graphic designer reg@urbanicity.ca CONTRIBUTORS *PAUL WILSON Former columnist | Hamilton Spectator pwilson@urbanicity.ca MARK CHAMBERLAIN President | Trivaris Family of Companies Chair | Jobs Prosperity Collaborative mchamberlain@urbanicity.ca *FRED EISENBERGER Former Mayor | Hamilton, Ontario CEO | Canadian Urban Institute feisenberger@urbanicity.ca

MARTINUS GELEYNSE | photograph by Daniel Banko

LAYOUT + DESIGN

The title of this publication may strike some readers as familiar. This is because this title once represented a quarterly tabloid that covered life and culture in the lower city of Hamilton. Reg Beaudry, the layout artist for the current incarnation of urbanicity, was the man behind the paper. When Reg and his sister Deb opened Three16 Lounge, a chic little spot in the International Village, he had planned to eventually operate urbanicity from the lounge. Unfortunately, when Three16 closed, so did his publishing aspirations. However, after a series of conversations about reviving the urbanicity brand with a new mission and format, Reg has once again found himself as the layout artist of this cutting-edge publication. Reg's resilient nature and passionate love for Hamilton are reflective of the ever-hopeful spirit that continually fuels the revival of our city's downtown. Like Hamilton itself, perhaps, urbanicity is grounded in history, but finds great hope in embracing the future. I thank you for reading. MARTINUS GELEYNSE | Publisher + Editor Hamilton ON | photograph by Dan Zen

*GRAHAM CRAWFORD Owner | HIStory + HERitage gcrawford@urbanicity.ca *MURLINE MALLETTE Director | Liaison College Hamilton Campus mmallette@urbanicity.ca *TERRY COOKE CEO | Hamilton Community Foundation tcooke@urbanicity.ca PAUL SHAKER Director | Centre for Community Study pshaker@urbanicity.ca RYAN McGREAL Editor | raisethehammer.org rmcgreal@urbanicity.ca *ADRIAN DUYZER Associate Editor | raisethehammer.org aduyzer@urbanicity.ca *LAURA FARR Staff Writer lfarr@urbanicity.ca *JAMIE TENNANT Program Director | 93.3 CFMU jtennant@urbanicity.ca CHRISTOPHER CUTLER Manager | PATH Employment Services ccutler@urbanicity.ca JOEY COLEMAN Independent Journalist jcoleman@urbanicity.ca DONNA SKELLY Broadcast Journalist dskelly@urbanicity.ca KEANIN LOOMIS Chief Advocate | Innovation Factory kloomis@urbanicity.ca *PETER ORMOND Environmental Engineer Lecturer | Mohawk College pormond@urbanicity.ca RICK COURT Dean of Business, Media, & Entertainment | Mohawk College rcourt@urbanicity.ca *DON FORBES Manager, Specialist Advisory Services | Grant Thornton LLP dforbes@urbanicity.ca *ROBERT LEAKER Vice-President of Innovation and Emerging Markets | Meridian Credit Union rleaker@urbanicity.ca AD INQUIRIES ads@urbancity.ca | urbanicity.ca 905.537.5928 PRINTER Canweb Printing Inc. FORUM We welcome discussion! Each month, the FORUM section will display letters to the Editor. In order to be accepted, letters must include valid contact information and the full name of the writer. Send your letters to: editor@urbanicity.ca *denotes in this issue urbanicity 27 John St N | Hamilton ON | L8R 1H1 urbanicity.ca | martinus@urbanicity.ca 905.537.5928

continued from p.1 who have not completed high school varies dramatically by neighbourhood, from zero to over 65%. As Code Red shockingly uncovered, there is a 21-year life expectancy gap between our poorest and richest neighbourhoods. But beyond basic compassion, why should you even care if you are fortunate enough to live in one of our more affluent areas? Because North American urban experience and years of research confirm that concentrated poverty is insidious. It inevitably spreads; undermining economic growth, property values, health and educational outcomes across entire regions. So how did we get here? The rusting of Hamilton industry started the downward economic spiral for much of our north and east ends. Uncompetitive tax rates discouraged new private sector job creation. Working families who glued together older neighbourhoods left to escape pollution and to find careers elsewhere. One-way streets created virtual highways in older areas, moving large volumes of traffic quickly from downtown to the suburbs, with little appreciation for their negative impact on local neighbourhoods and businesses. The creation of Regional government in the 1970s further fuelled middle class flight by providing the financing and infrastructure for low-density suburban housing. Developers targeted “exclusive” middle and upper class buyers and local planning policies largely prevented smaller, affordable units or residential care facilities for people with lower incomes or disabilities.

Instead of trying to stabilize inner city home ownership and focus on brownfield remediation to create new jobs in older neighbourhoods, we mostly abandoned the north end to illegal apartments, absentee landlords and public housing. Tax dollars further subsidized suburban sprawl, building highway-based business parks that remain unreachable by public transit. These combined actions restricted housing options for people with low incomes and high needs in neighbourhoods that were already struggling. Suburban growth pressure was not unique to Hamilton, but it had more devastating results here than in more progressive cities that avoided segregating the poor. In his book Inside Game, Outside Game - Winning Strategies for Saving Urban America (1999, The Century Foundation), urban issues expert David Rusk tackles these issues head on, identifying three requirements for rustbelt city revitalization: 1) controlling sprawl with tough regional land use planning, 2) dissolving concentrated poverty by ensuring all suburbs take a fair share of low and moderate income housing, and 3) reducing municipal fiscal disparities with regional revenue sharing. Rusk provides convincing evidence that reducing concentrated poverty requires more than microinterventions that assist individuals and community development in poor neighbourhoods (the “Inside Game”). Success demands a larger policy commitment to managing sprawl while better integrating income levels regionwide in all neighbourhoods and schools (the “Outside Game”). Thankfully, Hamilton can take inspiration and

courage from places like Portland, Oregon and Raleigh, North Carolina that have transformed local economies and the health of their communities by courageous commitments to integrating schools and neighbourhoods with families of all income levels. Portland in the 1970s faced a rusting industrial base and concentrated poverty in the older parts of their city. So, its leadership set out to become the northwestern US centre of excellence for small business, focusing first on creating neighborhoods that would attract young entrepreneurs. They established strong regional planning controls that limited low density sprawl, and used a federal highway grant to build a light rail line. They tore down a four-lane freeway blocking the shore of the Willamette River to establish a waterfront park attracting dense, mixed-use development. Portland revitalized aging industrial districts with high-quality transit, safe sidewalks, bike lanes and mixed-use zoning. Today it is a stunning example of economic rebirth. Then there is Raleigh, North Carolina. In his book Hope and Despair in the American City, Syracuse University professor Gerald Grant contrasts the abysmal performance of neighbourhoods and schools of that city with Raleigh’s more positive experience. Raleigh integrated every school by family income and gave teachers the tools to innovate; Syracuse continued to concentrate poor kids in the inner city. Raleigh took this bold step because the overwhelming evidence shows that the biggest predictor of educational performance is not teaching quality, it’s the socioeconomic status of your classmates.

In 1998, Raleigh set a goal to have 95% of grade 3-8 students proficient in math at a time when a majority of inner city kids were failing. Today, a mere 13 years later, they are at 91%. There are lessons for Hamilton in the very different experiences of these three cities. Syracuse was unwilling to talk about the uncomfortable facts of neighbourhood and school segregation. Portland and Raleigh relished the clash of ideas and accepted the need for fundamental change to create more mixedincome schools and neighbourhoods. To end the cycle of poverty in Hamilton, we must be willing to have blunt conversations about the disparities within our community; about our neighbourhoods and our neighbours; about our schools and their performance; about the health of our citizens and the magnets we need to glue modern-day investment into place. Hamilton Community Foundation is committed to continuing our highly successful community development work in Code Red neighbourhoods, working with local citizens and groups to strengthen existing assets. But to change the overall trajectory of our city, we must do more to assist neighbourhoods that remain economically segregated “poverty traps”. We need to find the courage to confront our past planning mistakes and commit to a future where our neighbourhoods, workplaces and schools integrate people of all incomes to begin reversing the devastating consequences of concentrated poverty. We need to play the outside game. TERRY COOKE is President & CEO of Hamilton Community Foundation. tcooke@urbanicity.ca


| IDEAS HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | May 2011 ~ DEBUT ISSUE | urbanicity.ca

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York Blvd, Hamilton ON | regbeaudry.com

continued from p.1 | CITY BUILDING

and resilience that supported such rapid growth will clearly be needed in the months and years ahead. The reputation of global brands like Sony, Hitachi and Honda is synonymous with these attributes. Although Japan is in many ways a closed society, it has a long history of seeking out new ideas and “best practices” from other countries regarding how to build and operate successful cities. For example, the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) has been working with the Tokyo-based Council for Local and International Relations (CLAIR) since the 1990s, and has pledged its ongoing support to colleagues there. The commitment to knowledge exchange was one

DON FORBES

There is momentum among the young entrepreneurs and professionals of Hamilton that is growing stronger with each passing day. How will this momentum, and this group of people, have a tangible and positive impact on the city of Hamilton and, more specifically, our downtown core? Let’s start with some facts. Hamilton’s young entrepreneurs and professionals, generally aged 25 to 40, are finance professionals, lawyers, insurance brokers, investment advisors, real estate agents, commercial and retail bankers and business owners. Some are a part of the creative class, owning a web or graphic design company, some have a focus on the not-for-profit sector and others work in the public sector. Basically, they come from all walks of life. According to a recent report by the Centre for Community Study, of the over 20,000 workers in downtown Hamilton, over 50% of them are under 45 years of age. That’s right, more than 10,000 workers in downtown Hamilton are young. Couple that with the fact that nearly 35% of all downtown jobs are in

of the founding values of the CUI over 20 years ago. This commitment is realized by exporting local expertise in urban affairs – and bringing ideas back. This includes undertaking applied research and strategic engagement assignments on a fee-forservice basis, as well as organizing educational programming designed to accelerate progress on urban issues. The common denominator is the CUI’s reputation for objectivity and impartial commentary. Working with a variety of partners in government, the private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations in Canada and abroad, the CUI focuses on four inter-connected areas of practice. These are: 1. Re-urbanization – seeking new approaches for rebuilding and reinvesting in our cities. 2. Adapting to demographic and climatic change –

looking ahead to challenges such as those associated with an aging population. 3. Stimulating regional competitiveness – creating partnerships that assist with economic development. 4. Supporting cultural regeneration – working with civil society and municipal leaders to create plans for leveraging local assets. As the world knows only too well, one of the most daunting challenges facing Japan is the rebuilding of its energy infrastructure. Here in Canada, the CUI’s contribution to helping cities better understand how to plan for a more sustainable energy future has been the development of an innovative new concept called “energy mapping”. Hamilton is one of four cities where this technique is being piloted. There are many benefits to this approach as it creates a way to

investment and land use policy is an idea that many preach but few practice. One of the best examples of a jurisdiction where decision makers have grasped this simple but elusive concept is in the larger cities of Japan. CUI researchers have studied the methods and approaches used in Japanese cities and see the benefit of applying similar principles here in Canada. The rebuilding of Japan will begin in its cities, just as Canada’s economic future is tied to supporting reinvestment in ours. FRED EISENBERGER is the former Mayor of the city of Hamilton and is now the President & CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute. feisenberger@urbanicity.ca

HAMILTON’S YOUNG GENERATION of LEADERS

Why do they matter?

business, finance and administrative occupations, and we are talking about approximately 3,500 young entrepreneurs and professionals in downtown Hamilton every day. (Centre for Community Study Urban Insights). How do these numbers translate into something tangible for the city both now and in the future?

a group of “current leaders”. The difference is, while these young people boast energy and passion, they lack the experience of the established leadership in Hamilton. It is critical, therefore, that constructive connections between individuals and organizations are built. This is currently happening in a number of ways including the inclusion of (and focus on) young professionals at the Hamilton Economic Summit, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce YEP Executive Roundtables, and through informal events like the Hamilton Club “After 5 Martini Nights”. I’m putting out a challenge to the established leaders of this city: seek out a young leader – at an event, on a common board of directors, or within your own organization – and teach them, mentor them and learn from them. These connections will pay dividends for the city, quite possibly sooner than you may think.

1. Viewpoint. A good portion of this group is classified as “Generation Y”. There are many negative stereotypes associated with “Gen Y” – they are lazy, disloyal, entitled. However, there are many positive characteristics of Generation Y, which I see as being beneficial in shaping the future of the city. They are socially responsible, loyal to people (though not necessarily to big corporations), and open-minded. The Generation Y way of thinking is already starting to ffect positive direction in the public and private sectors, from green initiatives and work-life balance programs to the drive to create dense, walkable cities. Eventually, this group will start to become leaders of

companies, chairs of boards and senior civil servants, taking their idea of “a better Hamilton for everyone” along with them. 2. Energy. This is an active group. In addition to the organizations created under their leadership (AGH’s “Clic”, United Way’s “GenNext”, Hamilton Health Sciences’ “FUSE”, all corralled under the “Hamilton Hive”), members of this group are actively joining the governing boards of established community organizations. Hamilton’s young urban professionals are also frequently out and about at local events for young and old. They are rising through the ranks of the companies they work for and increasing the success of their own ventures. The young professionals of our city haven’t adopted the jaded attitude of “tried that, didn’t work”, which seems so prevalent in the previous generation. Instead, they are eager to try new things, even if it is something that didn’t work twenty years ago. They show up to make a difference, to have their voice

heard and to work hard. There are a number of established leaders taking notice of this new energy – people who had the same vibrance and passion when they started out, and it is having a reenergizing effect. 3. Investment. Promoting the fact that Hamilton has a very real, tangible base of young entrepreneurs and professionals will help on the provincial and federal stage from a public funding and private investment standpoint. On the public sector front, investment in public transportation, including LRT and all day GO Service to Toronto, will have an improved chance of receiving funding - especially since they are located downtown. In the private sector, condo development, hotels and nightlife-related investments will be (and already have been) attracted. This investment has already started, and it is continuing to grow. Looking forward, it is critical to support Hamilton’s young professionals by building relationships with them. This group is not a group of “future leaders”, but

DON FORBES is a Manager of Specialist Advisory Services at Grant Thornton LLP. dforbes@urbanicity.ca

HERE I AM, HAMILTON

LAURIE CATTARI GUEST WRITER

It is not every day that you get to read about a Reform Jew hearing a calling. Discussion of voices in our heads and burning bush aside, a calling involves one special characteristic, which is difficult to achieve, and is often overlooked. That is, in order to hear a call, one has to be prepared to receive it. “Hineni” is a Hebrew word which means “Here I am” and is reflective of that preparation. Answering “Here I am” shows we are ready and willing to answer a call to action. In the case of Reform Judaism, it is a call to social action. Social action is the core of my faith. It is the message of Old Testament prophets, not only to adhere to law but also to know it fully in our hearts and

visualize where the sources of energy demand are today, where they are likely to evolve, and how best to select energy solutions that will be economically and environmentally viable long into the future. Drawing on research and exchanged knowledge, the CUI has also worked collaboratively with municipal officials in Hamilton to identify where the best return on investment is to be found in terms of investing in “necessary infrastructure”. Necessary infrastructure is a term coined by the CUI that encompasses everything from rebuilding sewer systems and water pipes to investments such as higher order transit. It also refers to schools, hospitals and other key civic assets such as community centres. Acheiving the right balance between infrastructure

minds. When we understand and accept this message, the end result is a call to action. This action is shaped by the concept of “Tzedakah”. Commonly translated as “Charity”, its root implies justice. It is not benevolence, but an opportunity to address a wrong. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides astutely pointed out that anonymous giving is only the second highest form of giving. The highest form of giving is a partnership, enabling an individual to become self-sufficient. “Tzedakah” gives more than funds; it gives dignity and re-establishes citizens as equals in our community. This partnership is embodied in the concept of “Tikkun olam”, or “Healing of the world”. It applies

globally, but is felt most keenly when we engage locally. In addressing and advocating for the issues of basic human rights, economic disparity or environmental justice in Hamilton, we accept accountability for the state of our city in partnership with those we assist. Yet standing and saying, “Here I am, Hamilton” can be daunting. When we acknowledge the truth that something needs to be done, answering how, what or where to do it can be overwhelming, stifling even the best impulses. The Talmudic sages counter this psychological block by saying that, “We are not called upon to complete the work, but neither are we exempt from it”. In order to make a start, listening to a “small

still voice within” can lead us to say “yes” spontaneously to opportunities that present themselves. Temple Anshe Sholom fosters many such opportunities for me. Shalom Community Teaching Garden is a wonderful example. It is a straw-bale gardening project operating in Churchill Park with support from the City of Hamilton and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Founded by Temple member Paula Baruch, it serves the community on many levels by providing environmental education and volunteering opportunities for children in four local schools, and access for elderly and disabled individuals. It even provides fresh produce to local

food banks. This innovative start-up project has been so successful that the group is planning to double its number of bales in the coming season. Inclusion, sustainability, and a dynamic, multifaceted approach to problem solving are just a few lessons I have learned at Temple Anshe Sholom. Saying “yes” to the opportunity for social action is probably the most important one. Here I am, Hamilton. LAURA CATTARI is a resident of downtown Hamilton and attends Temple Anshe Sholom.


HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | May 2011 ~ DEBUT ISSUE | urbanicity.ca

continued from p.1 | CONSEQUENCE

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names and faces on them, uniforms for soccer teams, flowers sent in sympathy, tickets or a table at a community event, etc.. If the single donation amount is under $350, this kind of self-promotion is permitted. And many of the councillors make use of the budget. So, how is the budget process being managed at City Hall at the moment? Let's just say it's the old-fashioned way: top-down. The Senior Management Team (SMT), led by City Manager, Chris Murray, sets a budget target based on a tax increase percentage established by Council. Council passed a motion put forward by Sam Merulla setting a goal of 0% increase in taxes. Councillors know a zero increase is a popular number with the folks who vote. Some councillors push a zero increase in order to look fiscally responsible and to say they're standing up for the little person. It shows up during presentations made by senior staff during budget season. Some councillors flex their political muscles by asking questions such as, "Are we getting highest and best value for our investment?" The question is a good one, but as a stand-alone comment with no recommended actions, it's practically useless. If puns are the lowest form of humour, posturing may be the lowest form of leadership. As the annual city budget process moves forward, our elected officials and senior staff are looking at every department and division budget for ways to trim costs, either by cutting or delaying projects, cutting management positions, and possibly, although not yet, front-line staff. Trimming a budget usually means someone or some group will end up not getting or doing what they feel is important. One way to cut back on spending is to set a target

p.4 and take a top-down approach, telling people to cut budgets; in some cases telling them exactly which projects will be stopped, mothballed or cut. A bottomup approach begins by articulating a common vision and a target and then ensuring employees understand the focus and engaging them by asking them to find long-term savings themselves, even if it’s $100 here and $300 there. Top-down cost cutting usually results in retrenching by employees at all levels. Rather than offer up savings, often they’ll try to hold onto what they’ve got until senior management finds it. Bottom-up usually results in greater teamwork, a better organizational culture and a greater sense of control or influence by all employees. You ask employees for help versus telling them what they're going to do, or worse, what you're going to do to them. The difference isn’t subtle. Neither is difference between a deferred cost and an eliminated cost. Both may help hit your target, but deferring simply delays the agony. Many people say front-line employees have no control over cost savings. Consider this question: "If you wanted to cost the organization more money by doing something slower, or with more mistakes, or using more resources to do it, could you?" Of course you could if you were so inclined. Second question: "If you wanted to save the organization some money by doing something more efficiently, or with fewer mistakes, or using fewer resources to do it, could you?" If each employee saved $200 per year, the organization would save money while promoting a culture of creativity, teamwork and engagement. The higher your position in the organization , the greater your level of financial accountability. If a frontline worker can find $200 a year in savings, managers or directors could find $2,500.

We have approximately 7,600 employees who work for the City of Hamilton. Management represents approximately 10% of the workforce. If each of the 6,840 front line workers saved $200 a year, we would see annual savings of $1,360,000, or $5,550,000 over a single, four-year term of Council from our front-line workers. If each of the 750 supervisors or managers delivered $2,500, the annual savings would be $1,875,000, or $7,500,000 over a single term of Council. If the remaining 100 directors and general managers found $20,000 each, that’s $2,000,000, or $8,000,000 over a 4-year term. That’s a grand total of $21,000,000 over a four-year term of Council. And that is anything but inconsequential. This isn't fanciful thinking. Many organizations have done this. Admittedly, the annual savings get harder to find, but people are innovative. Not only that, but the more people are engaged in a well-understood common cause with measurable results to which each individual contributes, the greater the likelihood they’ll work together to achieve it. At the risk of being blunt: save money. Save jobs. I'm very supportive of the efforts made by Chris Murray and his team. I think Chris has opened himself up to employee input and ideas. For that, he deserves our support. But, I think he could do more to foster an organizational culture of engaged, adaptive and innovative employees who are asked to make a direct contribution rather than waiting in fear to see what cuts senior management will make. I think councillors could do their part by viewing every dollar, including the dollars they spend, as consequential. Every. Single. Dollar. GRAHAM CRAWFORD owns and operates Hamilton HIStory + HERitage, Hamilton’s ?rst storefront museum. He is also the 138th Chairperson of the Hamilton Club. gcrawford@urbanicity.ca

“This isn’t fanciful thinking.” - Graham Crawford

Hamilton City Hall | regbeaudry.com

Scenes from the film THE BATTLE of CHERNOBYL

THE BATTLE OF CHERNOBYL dramatically chronicles the series of harrowing efforts to stop the nuclear chain reaction and prevent a second explosion, to "liquidate" the radioactivity, and to seal off the ruined reactor under a mammoth "sarcophagus." These nerveracking events are recounted through newly available films, videos and photos taken in and around the plant, computer animation, and interviews with participants and eyewitnesses, many of whom were exposed to radiation, including government and military leaders, scientists, workers, journalists, doctors, and Pripyat refugees. The consequences of this catastrophe continue today, with thousands of disabled survivors suffering from the "Chernobyl syndrome" of radiation-related illnesses, and the urgent need to replace the hastily-constructed and now crumbling sarcophagus over the stillcontaminated reactor. As this remarkable film makes clear, THE BATTLE OF CHERNOBYL is far from over. - YouTube caption

continued from p.1 | NO NUKES

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and the former economic engine has nowhere to turn. Although located on the other side of the world, diluted radiation from Fukushima has already enveloped the northern hemisphere, with detectable levels found in Ontario. If you watch the film “The Battle of Chernobyl”, posted on YouTube, you may begin to grasp the scope of the challenge at hand. Hundreds of pilots, thousands of miners and a half million reservists knowingly or unknowingly sacrificed their lives in 1986, thereby preventing a second explosion that may have deemed Europe uninhabitable and plunged the globe into chaos. Authorities couldn’t do anything except calm the public, underestimate the risk and slowly increase the evacuation zone amidst a shroud of secrecy. Since 1986, birth defects, leukemia and cancers of the thyroid, breast and testicles have proliferated as radioactive particles began their cycle through countless generations for millions of years. In Fukushima, a painfully similar scenario now unfolds. Heroic workers absorb lethal doses of radiation in efforts to cool volatile nuclear fuel rods. Authorities mumble what few condolences they can, the world watches helplessly and the truly desperate situation remains clouded in apologetic regret. This considered, it is no wonder that in Canada nuclear facilities can only be insured for $75 Million. If

and when an accident occurs (and the public is told about it), the impacts are beyond measure. Hence, incidents go unreported, the industry is secretive and numerous umbrella organizations are established in attempts to oversee the institution. In Canada, there are the Nuclear Safety Commission, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and the Canadian Nuclear Association, to name a few The Nuclear Waste Management Organization currently has plans to build a storage facility for low and mid-level nuclear waste in southwestern Ontario. The cavern would be one mile below the ground, and require a design life of 500,000 years. Considering how significantly the world has changed in the last 100 years, is this a responsible legacy to leave mankind? And what about the high level waste? There’s no solution for that yet. Imagine the Fukushima scenario in Ontario – at one of our many outdated nuclear facilities. Whatever the reason, be it terrorism, human error, mechanical failure, sabotage or force majeure, the engine of North America would be devastated, Great Lake water would be rendered unfit for consumption and countless metropolises would be deserted for thousands of years. Clean and green nuclear? Not if you read between the lines: it’s integrated with the largest business in the world: the corporate military. For this reason, the industry remains secretive and corrupt. Canadians have seen what happened to Linda

Keen, the head of Canada’s nuclear watchdog, when she order the Chalk River facility closed since the backup system was not in place. She was ditched. The cries for an end to nuclear use are growing worldwide. Helen Caldicott, a physician and a global authority on the topic, has been calling for an end to this madness for years. As Einstein said, "Nuclear power is a hell of a way to boil water. Right now, Ontario is planning a $35 billion investment in nuclear refurbishments. With that money, we could transform our province through conservation projects, solar systems on every roof and wind farms where feasible. In so doing, we could solve our energy dilemmas and create local jobs. Finally, pick up your hydro bill and observe the “debt retirement charge”. That charge is slowly chipping away at the $20 billion in cost overruns from Ontario’s existing nuclear reactors. So far we’ve paid $20 billion into the account but only about $5 billion on the principle. The other $15 billion from our pockets has just covered the interest fees. To provide some context, the City of Hamilton’s annual budget is just over $1 billion per year. PETER ORMOND is a car-free vegan with solar panels on his roof. An engineer now teaching at Mohawk College, Peter is the nominated Federal Green Party candidate for Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough and Westdale. pormond@urbanicity.ca


| ISSUES HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | May 2011 ~ DEBUT ISSUE | urbanicity.ca

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123rf.com

ROBERT LEAKER

"Our economy is built on millions of everyday financial decisions by Canadians. Recent events have shown us that there are major risks and that financial literacy is an important life skill. Whether it is a question of saving for retirement, financing a new home or balancing the family cheque book, improving the financial literacy of Canadians will add to the stability of our financial system and make our economy stronger." — The Honourable James Flaherty, Minister of Finance

We Canadians are not individually empowered to make our own financial decisions. We are dependent

FINANCIAL LITERACY IS CRUCIAL FOR HAMILTONIANS on others to provide financial advice, and all too frequently, the advice we are given is intended primarily to earn a profit for someone else. As a result, Canadians are missing the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest, and as Minister of Finance James Flaherty points out, this can impact the economy. For example, buying a home is the most important investment decision most Canadians will make. However, many put it off because they think they cannot afford it. In reality, it is still possible to buy a home with little or no money down, and to start building wealth immediately. This is good for the individual and good for the economy. (Provided of course, that the individual understands his or her cash flow and budgets accordingly.)

Building a strong economy, whether it is nationally, provincially or even municipally, depends on people making sound financial decisions and investing in their communities. Building a strong Hamilton requires local investment, pride of residency and smart financial decision-making. A critical first step to becoming financially literate, however, is to understand one’s current financial situation. Recent research has revealed that 80 per cent of Canadians don’t even know their credit score. When looking to borrow money for a house, an investment or a car, an individual’s credit score is the most important number that lenders consider. And for those who have been reckless or even just apathetic with their credit in the past, a bad credit score may

ADRIAN DUYZER

Hundreds of millions of people use Facebook every day. In Canada, its use is ubiquitous. Not being on Facebook has become an anomaly - not quite as unusual as lacking a television or an email address, but close. Facebook has had a major impact on the way people use the Internet. It has changed the way people keep in touch with one another. It's played a role in political uprisings, it’s been the subject of books, and was recently the topic of a major film. It has unquestionably had an important cultural and societal impact. But what impact does it have on the recorded history of individual people and their families? Family photo albums are many people's most valuable possessions. If their homes catch fire, most people try to save their kids, their pets, and their photo albums. In the aftermath of natural disasters, it's not

permanently affect an individual’s credit rating. Finally, it’s important to make sure that no lost or forgotten cards are being used in fraudulently and affecting one’s credit. These sites can also help Canadians understand how to manage and improve their credit score. Taking charge of our credit worthiness is an important step towards improving financial literacy and while that is good for the individual, it is also good for Hamilton. ROBERT LEAKER is the Vice-President of Emerging Markets and Innovation at Meridian Credit Union. rleaker@urbanicity.ca

FORGOTTEN ON FACEBOOK uncommon to see poignant pictures of the victims paging through the tattered remains of their albums. Journals and diaries are also prized heirlooms. Although their writers may not always intend them to be read, they become an important part of a family's historical record, and sometimes, as in the case of Anne Frank, they may form an important piece of the history of an entire era. Ironically, although we are currently taking more photos and writing more text than anyone in history, the descendants of many people today will have limited or no access to their ancestors' photos and recorded thoughts, because of the way they were stored. A hard disk has an average life span of about five years. Recordable CDs and DVDs range in lifespan from a few years up to a claimed 100 or so, but assuming that technology will still exist to

conveniently read a DVD in even 50 years is a stretch (I can't even watch a VHS!) That said, burning photos to a DVD does not a family photo album make. That's where Facebook steps in and provides an easy way to upload photos for friends and family to share, enjoy, and comment on. It's also the place where people share their hopes, fears, joys and irritations. But how likely is it that future generations will be able or willing to look up these Facebook photos and postings? Consider the fate of GeoCities. Founded in late 1994 and acquired by Yahoo! in 1999, GeoCities was a free web hosting service that hosted at least 38 million user-created pages before it was shut down by Yahoo! in 2009 (the Japanese version still survives). Portions of GeoCities remain on sites run by Internet archivists and on Bittorrent, but the site is effectively

gone. Facebook is not immune from the phenomenon of changing Internet fads. As popular as it is now, a future without Facebook is not difficult to imagine (just as a future without MySpace looks likely). The longer that people actively use Facebook, the bigger the loss to future generations of the recorded history it contains. Facebook's impact on the personal history of friends and family is not limited to the potential loss of this history. Another effect that every Facebook user is familiar with is the dishonesty of its participants. People portray their lives on Facebook as happier, more interesting and more exciting than they really are. In fact, this has been suggested as one reason that frequent users are more likely to be depressed, feeling as though their mundane lives are the exception.

The solution to this problem at a personal level is straightforward: print your photos and put them in albums. Record your thoughts honestly in a paper journal, and store full journals in a safe place. Make sure that if your thoughts and memories are recorded digitally, you're in control. That's no solution at a societal level, however. Until people recognize they're granting ownership of their memories to an American company that just happens to be running the latest and greatest site on the Internet, we may experience a future with a forgotten past. ADRIAN DUYZER is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of raisethehammer.org. He still believes that Hamilton can be the Ambitious City. Adrian lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. aduyzer@urbanicity.ca

ACTIVISM + APATHY: The Changing Tide in Hamilton

LAURA FARR

Hamilton is a community of over half a million people and growing. In the last municipal election, only 40.5% of the city voted. Throughout the city there was much talk of needing change at City Hall to “stop the downward spiral”, yet only one council position was won against an incumbent. Some elected officials might think that voter contentment breeds voter apathy. Or perhaps the reverse is true – the apathy stems from a belief that nothing will ever change anyway. Or maybe it’s just election hangover after seven trips to the polls in the last ten years. Sadly, citizen apathy in Hamilton is not unlike that in

haunt them for years to come. Checking credit scores isn’t difficult. In fact, it’s free. Equifax Canada (www.equifax.com ) and Transunion Canada (www.transunion.ca) are the two main credit bureaus in Canada, and both offer free reports by mail. (Of course they want people to purchase the online report for $14 - $25). Knowledge of one’s credit score is not only the best place to begin the journey to financial literacy, it is also key to avoiding identity fraud. Only a credit report will show if anyone else is using a stolen identity. Additionally, accidents happen. Sometimes a payment might have been lost or an account may have been miscredited. Checking one’s credit report can help to correct these mistakes before they

other cities. Both Councillors Brian McHattie and Tom Jackson have different approaches in engaging their constituents, but agree that the majority of the time, if it isn’t directly affecting the person’s quality of life or isn’t an issue that is controversial (which will typically receive more sensationalized mainstream media coverage), most people won’t seek the information out on their own. Councillor Jackson recalls that when the city bought Peace Memorial Park, the engagement level for the planning was low. “We sent out 3000 letters inviting people in the neighbourhood to an information

meeting. 40 people came out. Of that, 10-12 people joined staff and myself in the planning of the park. I’m reminded of an old saying: “It’s always 20% of people doing 80% of the work. That being said, hundreds came for the ribbon cutting.” Is it just human nature then – to complain vociferously but not act? As we witnessed this past summer during the stadium debate, it seemed that the same people attended every council meeting, wrote articles, held rallies, and tried to engage people they knew. However, everyone had an opinion about where that building should go. “It’s amazing,” says Councillor McHattie, “you see

people get involved and become empowered when they realize they can make a difference in their little part of the world. If you fight, perhaps, and feel ignored, it can be disempowering, so we try to be that bridge between [city] staff and citizen.” Councillor Jackson agrees, but has noticed that once an issue comes to a satisfactory conclusion that’s normally the end of it. “The way of life in Canada – if nothing is altered, we’re comfortable and have little motivation... As a councillor, we can be visible, approachable and help - whether the person voted for us or not. “ Both councillors agree that there is a positive trend in

Hamilton, and more people are becoming engaged: an almost indefinable “something” changing in the air, with more progressive viewpoints being aired. The onus lies with the citizen. “Don’t give up,” urges Councillor McHattie. “You can make a difference and it’s a waste of time and money that you’re paying the city when you do that. It’s frustrating for us too – if you don’t come forward, how can we know?” LAURA FARR is a civically engaged, community-minded downtown resident. lfarr@urbanicity.ca


HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | May 2011 ~ DEBUT ISSUE | urbanicity.ca

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Gwyneth Owen Young today at 92 | Photograph by Paul Wilson

Gwyneth took lessons from renowned Hamilton painter Frank Panabaker when she was young. She did this painting of Auchmar.

continued from p.1 | ACHMAR smokes, about four cigarettes a day. She still has a whiskey at cocktail hour. She’s not one for publicity. “The family never believed in that,” she explains. But she will tell us about Auchmar. The city bought those 10 acres of fragile history at Fennell and West 5th a dozen years ago, but there’s never been the money to properly restore the empty mansion. There is fresh hope, however, with fundraising now underway. And this year - after a furious clean-up effort by volunteers – the main floor of Auchmar is open to the public on Doors Open weekend, May 7 and 8. As for Gwyneth, it is a lifetime since she has walked through those castle doors. Years since she has even driven past. She hopes to visit now.

Auchmar, built with cathedral-like arches, had a long hall in the shape of a Roman cross and stairways at each end with bright, large windows.

Her father was Alan Vernon Young, who owned the Hamilton Cotton Company. Her mother was Edna Greening, of the Greening Wire family. Their first home was Edgecliffe, a handsome clapboard place at the top of the Queen Street hill. Three children were born there – James, then Gwyneth, then Suzanne. At that time, Auchmar was still in the hands of the family of Isaac Buchanan, merchant and politician. He built the home in 1855 and Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, was his frequent guest there. Gwyneth was about eight when her father bought Auchmar. She believes the move had to do with horses. “My mother loved horses and my father would have done anything for her.” The Auchmar estate then stretched from Fennell to the Brow. So there was plenty of room for riding and

The library at Auchmar was well stocked in the 1930s. Gwyneth still has some of the books, as well as that work on the wall by British portrait painter John Opie.

Gwyneth inherited her mother’s passion. She began with a pony named Gypsy. “I have a strong memory of riding my pony over to our new house on the day we moved. It was a very traumatic time.” She soon learned to love her new surroundings. Her bedroom was at the eastern end of the house, looking south. She had a fireplace, with little china figurines on the mantel. She looked out her window to the lands that are now Mohawk College. That acreage then belonged to what everyone called The Asylum, which ran a farm worked by patients. “We were allowed to ride our ponies over there,” she says, “and see the cattle and pat their noses.” There were many parties at Auchmar. Gwyneth spied on events from the top of the stairs. “You could see the ladies in long dresses. There were orchestras too.”

Gwyneth loved ponies and horses, something she inherited from her mother. The fact that the Auchmar estate provided plenty of room to ride and keep horses has much to do with why the Young family bought the property.

The gothic-revival Auchmar was Gwyneth's home in the 1920s and '30s. Her bedroom was upstairs, window to the right, where she could look out to fields that today are the site of Mohawk College.

It took a team to run Auchmar. Outside, there was Harry Embleton, stable master, and Mr. Scott, the gardener. “We were frightfully afraid of him and his wriggly eyebrows,” Gwyneth says. “We raided his strawberry patch and he’d come after us.” A high and massive stone wall – crumbling today ran around the garden. An apple tree for her ladder, Gwyneth would scamper along the top of that wall. Inside the house there were a couple of nannies. But Gwyneth’s fondest memories are of cook Nellie Ewan. “She had a sitting room with a couch and a stand-up Victrola. She played Harry Lauder and you could hear her sing along. Oh, we loved her.” Nellie’s kitchen is where Gwyneth often ate, because her parents were away a great deal. Father had a business to run. “And mother had a great many interests,” Gwyneth says. “She was not really affectionate, a little bit remote. She was so

PAUL WILSON blew into town 30 years ago to work at the Hamilton Spectator and learned to love this place. For most of his career at The Spec, he wrote a three-times-aweek column called StreetBeat. He recently stepped away from that to become a citizen at large. pwilson@urbanicity.ca

A TALE OF TWO BREAKFASTS

MURLINE MALLETTE

COURTYARD CAFE HARBOUR DINER

We arrived at the Courtyard Café at noon. We said yes to the wine list. I had never had wine with my breakfast; this would be a first. I selected the Courtyard Eggs Benedict, and my husband, Gene, chose the Farmer’s Breakfast. Since we eat with our eyes first, I was very impressed with the presentation. The “double smoked bacon” was a real treat. Too ften we are served bacon so thin that you are sure the pig didn’t miss it when it was sliced. My plate also included fingerling roasted hash browns and a fair serving of fresh fruit. If I had a small complaint, it would be not enough freshly made Hollandaise Sauce. Of course, I can eat it right from the bowl so my comment of “not enough” is really unfair. Gene’s Farmer’s Breakfast had an addition of lamb

busy.” Was that a problem? “Not at all. We were having a lovely life in the kitchen with Nellie.” Gwyneth left Auchmar for a time, for finishing school in Paris. “We were supposed to learn how to dress properly and have good manners. I never could learn French.” She married in the summer of 1940, the war just underway. The service was held at Auchmar. “I don’t remember being very happy that day,” Gwyneth says. “It was going to be a complete change of life for me. I knew I was leaving something very lovely.”

sausage as well as the double smoked bacon. I knew I had selected the right breakfast quest when he all but licked his plate clean. Caitlin, our server, always kept our coffee fresh and delicious. Eating out is an event for us, so after brunch we continued on to the Hamilton Theatre Company to see the “Spelling Bee”. I enjoyed a lovely brunch, a fun play, catching up with theatre friends and sharing it all with my husband. What more could I ask for on a Sunday afternoon?

I had heard a few good words about the Harbour Diner on James Street North, so my daughter Nicole and I

made plans for breakfast. We arrived at the Harbour Diner at 2:00 pm. I must admit that our first impression while finding a parking spot was not favourable. However, always searching for different culinary experiences, we ventured in. “Hi! Come on in!” What a great welcome. The small but comfortable dining area with the old fashioned counter and stools took me back a few years. The room was toasty, though it was raining and miserable out. Most of the seats were filled with people eating, talking, laughing and generally having a great meal together. No sign of a lap top or cell phone anywhere! I decided I was in heaven! The waitress who had greeted us made certain our

regbeaudry.com

coffee cups were full all the time. I ordered a full breakfast, but Nicole gave in to the “Pulled Pork Poutine” (I started to dislike my table partner). My “Harbour Breakfast” arrived, and once again I was impressed with genuine hash browns that clearly did not arrive frozen in a large bag. Bacon was thick and not over-cooked. I love a kitchen that can produce eggs “sunny side up”! My rye toast was hot with real butter. I saw Nicole’s pulled pork poutine before she did, and I knew we would require a take-out bag before she even started. Again: real, fresh potato wedges. The pulled pork was savoury with a bit of a tang and punch to it, and enough cheese to clog your arteries. In retrospect, I enjoyed both breakfasts immensely. I shared a couple of hours with family over great food,

conversation flowed easily and we solved a few world problems. Great food doesn’t need to be expensive, it just needs to be fresh, prepared with love and shared. So, invite family or friends to join you in a meal out this month. What’s up next? Jack de Keyzer at Stonewalls on a Sunday evening. I love Jack’s band; he plays my kind of music. Perhaps I’ll even get a chance to take in some jazz at the Corktown. Jesse says he’ll “always find a seat for us”. Bon Appetit. See you next month. MURLINE MALLETTE is the Executive Director/Owner of Liaision College of Culinary Arts Hamilton Campus. mmallette@urbanicity.ca


| EXPERIENCES HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | May 2011 ~ DEBUT ISSUE | urbanicity.ca

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THE VINYL REVIVAL

JAMIE TENNANT

What’s old is always new again, whether we’re talking about flared skirts or Pabst Blue Ribbon. When it comes to music, what’s new again isn’t a genre, but a format: the vinyl LP. The market for vinyl is a mixture of hipsters who think it’s cool, middle aged folk who have always loved the format, audiophiles who value the sound, teenagers who enjoy the novelty and consumers across the board who simply appreciate receiving a physical product when they purchase music. What they give up in iTunes convenience, they gain in collectability, artwork, and sound quality. Furthermore, if the record company is smart enough to include such a perk, they often receive a free mp3 download with the vinyl anyway, giving consumers more portability for their buck. Are vinyl sales really making a difference to retailers? Mark Furukawa, who has run the Dr. Disc store on Wilson Street for 20 years, says that it does. Dr. Disc never stopped selling vinyl, despite the major

label effort to kill the format in order to make way for the shiny new compact disc. Unlike the majors, the independent labels kept producing vinyl, and Furukawa kept stocking it. “That created a little groundswell,” says Furukawa. “Some people like vinyl better – it’s larger, the artwork’s great, there are inserts and posters, and some people say it sounds warmer. Eventually the majors started reissuing stuff too.” Over time, interest grew, and soon most major label new releases started to appear on vinyl too. Stores like Cheapies Records, who had stopped selling new vinyl, took note. “It got to the point where we just couldn’t ignore it anymore,” says manager Scott Bell. “We racked a couple of new items, and boom, they sold.” Bell says that although the alternative acts sell the most, the likes of Bieber and Rihanna move as well. Overall, vinyl has been a boon to them. The oncerobust used DVD market is the most recent to lose

sales to downloading, but the upsurge in vinyl sales has taken the edge off the losses. “I’m still making money off them, but it’s not enough to keep us afloat,” Bell says. “Weirdly, the vinyl sales are kind of making up the difference in our sales. We can’t believe what people are buying.” Will McRobb, owner of The Beat Goes On in Guelph, recently took over the Hamilton store on Upper James Street. Demand in Guelph was high enough that he wasted no time in making new release vinyl available in Hamilton as well. “Sales are almost on par with an average week in new CD sales,” says McRobb. He finds that it isn’t even the older, nostalgic demographic making the purchases. Instead, he sees 25 – 35 year olds buying both new releases and collectable reissues; possibly buying vinyl for the first time. Douglas Middlemiss has seen his share of first-time buyers, too. He opened his James North shop, Books & Beats, primarily as a way to sell off his own vinyl

collection. Ten years ago, such an idea would never have flown. “A lot of the shops that closed up - if they were able to stick around, they would probably be reaping a lot more,” says Middlemiss. “The same with the pressing plant in Mississauga – they would have been the only ones in Canada making vinyl.” That may be true. It’s hard to deny the empirical evidence – vinyl records are appearing on shelves after a long absence. Even so, the numbers can be misleading. Reports suggest vinyl sales were up 33% in 2009 – a huge surge, faster growth than that of digital sales, which increased only 16%. Yet only 2.5 million vinyl albums sold in 2009, whereas 76.4 million digital albums were downloaded. At only 0.7% of overall music sales, vinyl is almost negligible by industry standards. To the indy retailers and their clientele, however, vinyl is crucial, and not necessarily because of profit. McRobb sees the resurgence, whether a passing

fad or prolonged trend, as just beginning. “I think the popularity of vinyl is still starting to climb,” he says. He also believes that vinyl has brought back the importance of the independent record store. Furukawa agrees, citing Record Store Day - when independent shops offer special items not found on the WalMart racks – as an example of how much vinyl has revitalized the spirit of the business. “Once, you’d get a big release and there’d be people lined up to buy it,” Furukawa says. “Over the years people stopped caring – they could download it whenever. Now, with things like Record Store Day, there’s an excitement in the business again, and it’s happening 100% because of vinyl.” JAMIE TENNANT is the Program Director at 93.3 CFMU FM, the campus-based community station at McMaster University. jtennant@urbanicity.ca

BELOW: Inside Dr. Disc, Wilson + James Streets | Hamilton ON | regbeaudry.com

RIGHT: Partial mural, Dr. Disc at Wilson + James Streets | Hamilton ON

Ben Ayres inside the production line of Coppley Apparel on York Blvd | Hamilton ON | regbeaudry.com

LAURA FARR

There are many mysteries housed in the historical buildings in our city. One such building is the Coppley Apparel building at 56 York Boulevard, originally built in 1856 and known as the “Commercial Block”. In 1883, G.C. Coppley, E. Finch Noyes, and James Randall purchased it and established what would become one of the oldest menswear lines in Canada. The current design head at first seems as enigmatic as the building. Ben Ayres is quite unlike most designers living in pop culture,reality-television infamy. He believes that good work, as his mother told him growing up in Binbrook, should speak for itself. In other words, the difficult and intricate art that is

PROFILE | BEN AYRES Coppley Apparel Group tailoring quality menswear is his focus – not seeking fame and building himself as a brand. Ben started out like many young men, not sure what he wanted to do. Ending up at Sheridan College at the age of 16, he began studying women’s fashion design. He admits that at that age, he envisioned his future as a stereotypical “fashion designer” – a life of backstage craziness and models strutting on the runway followed by applause and lavish accolades. When the head designer at Coppley asked the Dean at Sheridan to graduate him early so that he could begin to work for them at age 17, the stark reality of work contrasted his idealistic vision, and Ben soon

quit. For a time, he had a women’s line with a few friends. He tried DJing, taught ballroom dancing and then went into hair design. Years later, Ben felt older, wiser, and was having “too much fun to keep going like that”. Coppley was advertising for an assistant designer. Ben applied, and went to work on the short-lived women’s line. Within six months, he was transferred to menswear. He thought tailoring would be boring; no more rhinestones and sequins. However, there was more to tailoring – the challenge and “art form” of achieving a high end fit. Professional success followed him and within two years he became the Manager of Design,

then the youngest president of the International Association of Clothing Designers and Executives. He has won competitions against designers from Armani and Hugo Boss, but shrugs and humbly says, “Some years I won, some years they did.” When asked about his modesty, he references his upbringing, “I like to do good, and hope people recognize it.” For him, it’s about balance and quality of life. Whereas designers that are more “famous” may never know what time zone they’re in, Ben gets to go home at the end of the day, to travel on occasion and yet be able to do what he loves. “Coppley is an established Canadian brand, with an

established labour force. When I started [working at Coppley] there were about 900 employees in Hamilton. Most people know someone that worked there. Other industries could move, but our labour is specific, difficult and not always easily learned.” Coppley is a piece of “hidden” Hamilton, one of those places you might pass every day without really noticing it. Ben, and what he does, is one of those hidden pieces - the awesome factor hitting you when you slow down and really take a look. LAURA FARR is a civically engaged, community-minded downtown resident. lfarr@urbanicity.ca

FREE PARKING * PRIVATE LOUNGE for 60 PEOPLE * PATIO 191 James Street North }{ Hamilton, Ontario }{ L8R 2K9 }{ 905.523.7269 }{ acclamation.ca



URBANICITY - May 2011