Here’s a 25 minute audio recording of David Premi speaking at the inaugural Renew Hamilton Learning Forum on October 18, 2013. Premi, a local architect, urbanist and building restorer, spoke on the history of urban renewal in Hamilton and the ingredients of community regeneration.
The top takeaways from Premi’s talk are:
1. Urban renewal is not an event – it’s a messy, linear process that evolves over time and involves far more than the built form (i.e., cultural landscapes are equally important).
2. Downtown Hamilton has suffered from a “rip it down” mentality and the construction of “super blocks” that destroyed the original road grid.
3. Early top-down renewal strategies were utopian by design and called for the separation of land uses – a failed approach that has given way to bottom-up city building that values diversity and subtlety.
4. Successful urban renewal delivers a broad mix of economic, social and environmental benefits.
5. Renewal needs to be planned and managed in a transparent manner with resident involvement.
6. The litany of positive renewal activities now happening in Hamilton include:
Premi closed his talk by encouraging Hamiltonians to stay engaged, welcome difficult conversations and remain optimistic, while acknowledging that renewal is a “messy, political and inevitable process.”