David Premi at Renew Hamilton Forum

Posted on Nov 12, 2013 In Audio Latest Updates

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:

  • Movement to complete streets
  • Emergence of car share programs
  • Effectiveness of tactical urbanism
  • Rise of social media and amateur journalism to drive community engagement
  • Introduction of participatory budgeting
  • Council approval (unanimous) of a design review panel

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.”


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