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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hamilton, here we come

So we're moving to Hamilton.

And not because The Grid recently highlighted the trend of Torontonians fleeing west. Or because Rob Ford is the mayor — at least for now. (On a side note, he was elected about three months after I moved back to Toronto, and the judge gave him the boot not long after we made the decision to move.)

It's not that Hamilton's politics are problem-free, which they aren't. And don't think I haven't noticed that Hamilton's beloved Tiger-Cats — which I was looking forward to loving too — will be playing home games in Guelph next year.

Truth is, we've had our eye on the city for quite some time. It was just a matter of making it happen.

Admittedly, our main motivation to be there is to buy a home, as we've been priced out of our neighbourhood. That's not a knock against Toronto, it's just the truth.

But while we'll be investing in (very reasonably priced) property, we'll also be investing in a community. As I walk through even the more shadowy areas of Hamilton, I see the blossoming cafes, I see the art, I hear the music.

Street music in Hamilton
As for the claims that Hamilton is too rough and gritty — anyone who has approached me on the street so far hasn't asked for any money, only for a few moments of my time, a smile and a handshake. Sure, I'm aware there are areas of Hamilton best to avoid. But that's true for any city I can think of.

Looking out the window of the second floor of my new workplace in Hamilton, I don't just see plumes of smoke rising; I see open green spaces, I see beautiful architecture, I see promise.

Yes, this is in Hamilton!

Don't get me wrong, I respect the steel mills that the city's history is built on, and I actually find the industrial sector quite beautiful. I hope the industry survives and thrives. But you'll probably hear the tagline "art is the new steel" from someone.

There's magic in the air during the regular art crawls (and Supercrawl) in the burgeoning James Street North area, with thousands taking to the streets to enjoy art of all kinds, right down to the tribal belly dancers.

There's also something very honest about Hamilton; it knows what it is, and it's not trying to be something else. Some other cities could take a lesson from that.

Toronto will always be my hometown. And while Hamilton is smaller, there seems to be something bigger happening there.

In the meantime, we'll continue to enjoy Toronto's Junction neighbourhood, which has come a long way itself.

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