"Based on the draft financial strategy, the estimated total capital cost of the plan (including contingency, engineering and PST), as presented in May of 2007, is $81.5 million."
(Former) General Manager
Public Works Department
Report to Council, December 15th, 2008
Scott Stewart and friends at Public Works and a host of consulting companies have proposed to completely rebuild Harbour West, Hamilton's unique and highly successful recreational boating resource. Some ideas just never seem to die. This is the fourth or fifth time, since Urban Renewal died, that someone at Hamilton City Hall has proposed to spend tens of millions of dollars on turning the west harbour into a local version of Chicago's waterfront.
Before we even start to look at whether or not this is something Hamilton needs, we might ask if we actually have $81.5million to spend? If we do, should we look at different ways to spend it?
The Stewart report does not offer any consideration of alternatives ways to spend $81.5million.
If we actually had $81.5m, here are a few suggestions on how to spend it in a way that would really make a difference to Hamilton's future:
- Hamilton introduced the industrial electrification revolution to Canada, the consolidation of the steel industry to Canada, a unique medical school, and then went to sleep for fifty years. It totally missed the automobile manufacturing, computer, pharmaceutical, telecom, digital, and the internet revolutions. But there is hope. Hamilton is the perfect place to build alternative energy tools. Repeat: Hamilton is the perfect place to build alternative energy tools. We can lead the next revolution and make up for having missed so many opportunities in the last two generations. This will take intelligence, consistency, hard work, and lots and lots of money. What a great place to spend say, $10 million?
- Every major successful city in the world has great educational facilities and a successful sporting and cultural life. Success in sports and culture breeds success in business because entrepreneurs enjoy the flair. Hamilton's cultural life is on life-support. For an endowment of something like $10m, we could have one of the top two or three opera companies in Canada. What if we took some of that $81.5m and spent it on a new home for professional soccer, tennis and maybe even football? It boggles the mind on what we could accomplish with less than a quarter of the $81.5 million wisely spent on sports and culture.
- Changing the character of Hamilton from a place where people work quietly and effeciently in big factories that make steel to one where people work quietly and efficiently in new technologies and future trends requires a great educational system. If we took as little as $10m of the $81.5m and used it to create brilliance in our public schools instead of having teachers bring in pencils because the budget is broken, what kind of city would we have?
- Fill in the blanks with things we desperately need: Burlington Street rebuilt from Sherman to Woodward; protecting our children from the danger of lead water lines, sewers and water lines in the old city fixed right for once and for all; money to maintain what we already have. The list is huge. Fixing something that ain't broke is pure waste.