Jason Thorne Debut Audio

Posted on Oct 15, 2014 In Audio Education & Training Latest Updates

Jason Thorne (centre in photo), the City of Hamilton’s recently-hired general manager of planning and economic development, was the keynote speaker at the Friends of Auchmar Annual General Meeting held last week at the Scottish Rite in downtown Hamilton.

Friends of Auchmar is a citizen-led not for profit focused on contributing to the conservation and adaptive reuse of the historic Auchmar Estate on Hamilton Mountain.

This was Thorne’s first formal presentation to the community in his new role and he used it to discuss the philosophies that inform his outlook and share his perspectives on growth in the urban age.

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Thorne – who is a planner by trade – has benefited from a range of experiences in the private sector (planningAlliance, etc.), public sector (Metrolinx, etc.) and not for profit arena (Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, etc.).  He’s inspired by the writings of Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities) and Peter Kageyama (For the Love of Cities), and is a keen proponent for the regeneration of historic urban centres.

As you listen to Thorne’s remarks, and his responses during a lively Q&A session, it becomes evident that Hamilton has recruited a progressive city-builder who is guided by clearly defined principles that align with the vision of Renew Hamilton and other organizations focused on urban innovation and sustainability.

Five standout themes discussed by Thorne in this recording are:

  • the positive impacts of community-led planning and co-created initiatives that involve “people who make things and make things work”
  • the benefits of leading an integrated municipal department that brings together economic development, planning, arts and culture, heritage conservation, urban renewal, etc. and is “responsible for city-building”
  • the value of celebrating Hamilton’s geographic and cultural diversity (e.g., distinct neighbourhoods, multiple downtowns, etc.) as opposed to fueling perceived divisions – “Hamilton is a single city with a common history”
  • the importance of protecting and re-animating what remains of our precious stock of heritage buildings and cultural landscapes – “heritage is a big part of the growth that is happening” (in Hamilton)
  • the need for intensification as Hamilton accommodates more of its growth in existing, built-up areas – i.e., achieving density targets set out in the provincial growth plan

Said Thorne on the topic of Hamilton’s development trajectory: “It’s our historic buildings, spaces, landscapes and urban places that I think are going to make our pathway to growth very different.”

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