Engaged neighbourhood leaders are helping define the future of Barton Street and Kenilworth Avenue in downtown Hamilton. It’s a hyper-local approach that’s turned conventional top-down planning on its head. And early signs show it’s working.
Neighbourhood planning teams from the Gibson and Landsdale Area and Crown Point Community have joined other partners to craft a comprehensive game plan to re-energize these two historic commercial corridors. It’s all laid out in a document prepared by a consulting team led by The Planning Partnership with support from the City of Hamilton’s Planning and Economic Development Department through senior planner Alan Waterfield.
The plan – based on a year-long study that generated 50 recommendations – was presented to the Mayor and City Councillors at City Hall in early September. Neighbourhood volunteers (pictured) kicked off the presentation and set the stage for a conversation about the rich opportunities and deep challenges that co-exist in this part of Hamilton.
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They pointed to a range of good things happening on their doorsteps – from new shops and restaurants to Tim Hortons Field and the redevelopment of Gibson School. Equally, they emphasized the need to tackle the big issues hindering broad scale renewal, including absentee landlords, obstacles to financing and insurance, and degraded streetscapes.
Quick wins identified in the plan for early action include strengthening community networks, enlisting landlords as partners in activating change, and providing additional funds for the Barton Village Business Improvement Area coupled with a push to establish a similar organization in the Kenilworth Avenue corridor. These and other recommendations recognize the value of harnessing the knowledge and creativity of local leaders, residents and business operators.
The Chamber’s Renew Hamilton Project is a keen supporter of this neighbourhood-led redevelopment strategy. “It’s an enlightened approach that’s sparked indigenous regeneration along and around James, Locke, Ottawa and other key commercial corridors,” said Renew Hamilton director Richard Allen. “Now it’s time for Barton and Kenilworth to again flourish as complete communities.”