Hamilton was built by newcomers. Let’s keep building together

Toronto investors are pricing Hamiltonians out of the housing market. Argos suck. Ecetera, ecetera, ecetera.

We’ve all seen the headlines and read the t-shirts. If something is going wrong in our city, it probably has something to do with Toronto or another outlying area.

Having lived in both cities, I don’t subscribe to this mentality. In fact, I think a little bit of outside ‎interest is healthy for our city.

Here’s why:

First, ou‎tside recognition creates internal value. There are many Hamilton natives and long-time residents who have been working for years to build our city into the desirable metropolis it always deserved to be. People who took risks and pushed the envelope for others to follow. The recent flock of new residents recognize this and want to be part of the next phase. As the old saying goes: imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

Second, many new Hamiltonians are investing in th‎e city. Housing aside, new businesses and initiatives are popping up all over the city to compliment existing enterprises. According to BIA leaders in the core, while most business owners are local, they’re increasingly receiving more and more calls from Torontonians and there aren’t enough properties to house the need for these new businesses. Newcomers bring fresh ideas…and money.

Similarly, fresh eyes see value where others don’t. Like all cities, many long time residents develop biases about their surroundings overtime. I regularly hear the phrase “north of Main” used negatively throughout the real estate industry.‎ Newcomers ‎don’t have long memories in this regard. For example, we recently profiled a coffee roasting business who set up shop on a block that has laid dormant for many years. The first question asked in that interview: why here? “Why not?” was the answer.

Finally, ‎dismissing newcomers is not in our nature. Hamilton has, and continues to have, a long history of attracting immigrants and newcomers. These communities have contributed to our economy, social fabric and identity for more than a century. Barton, James and Hess would be a fraction of themselves if not for the Polish, Italian, Vietnamese and Portuguese diaspora who came, settled and built.

The big takeaway here: everyone has a contribution to make and there’s still lots of room to grow. Once we’re blind to biases, we will all be able to see the opportunity.


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