Saturday, March 25, 2023

Hamilton Arts Vote 2022: Ward 1 (Chedoke-Cootes)

It’s election season in the City of Hamilton. Nine candidates are vying for the mayoral seat, and a further 81 are vying for 15 City Council seats. It is not unreasonable to expect that the political landscape in Hamilton is about to shift significantly. 

According to the City of Hamilton, Ward 1 is an urban ward, situated in the West End of Hamilton below the Niagara Escarpment. Its borders are the Niagara Escarpment (south), Queen Street (east), Hamilton Harbour and Cootes Paradise (north) and a green corridor running from Cootes Drive along the border of what was formerly the City of Hamilton and the Town of Dundas. 

In a joint partnership between the Hamilton Arts Council and Beyond James, a nonpartisan candidate survey was sent to these prospective leaders to map out their vision for our city. Just three questions have provided a window into what those running for office in Hamilton would do to invest in creativity. 

The Hamilton Arts Council will utilize survey responses to continue conversations with elected councillors following the election.

Ian MacPherson

Ian MacPherson.

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

I believe every Art Crawl is an event that all Hamiltonians should enjoy, but the must see for not just Hamiltonians but people from all around is the Super Crawl. I have attended this event many times myself and am very much looking forward to enjoying this year with my daughter.

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

I would have loved to see Tim Hortons field down by the bay so it could have joined in the Art Crawl events by having a Tiger Cats game or concert the same night of the Art Crawls or Super Crawl weekend, but that ship has long sailed unfortunately. Looking towards the future we have now though I would love to see a weekend developed where we could connect all our major district areas. So maybe we could use some of the HSR transit busses as free transportation and connect James St., Ottawa St., Westdale Village and Locke St. to have a major event throughout the city for one weekend a year. It would kind of be like the Fringe festival but on a bigger scale. It would encompass live music, food trucks, art, etc. this would not only be good for all Hamiltonians to enjoy, but it would bring a lot of people to Hamilton if advertised properly. This in turn would create Hamilton to be known for its arts but also generate economic gains for the arts community to put back into Hamilton and the Arts, so we could renovate a few old buildings into theaters or galleries etc.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

I would use the leverage I have to help fund such projects as previously mentioned and to help expand are entertainment districts throughout the city by renovating older buildings into theatres and venues. The old CHCH studio on King St. is a great example of how a little money invested into it, would once again make it an amazing venue. I know parking in that area is an issue but if the city could work out a deal with the parking lot across the street, it would solve that issue. I would also suggest that the city entertain the idea of building up the area around Tim Hortons field, could use the Dominion Glass area as a perfect spot to do so.

Campaign website

Maureen Wilson

Maureen Wilson.

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

I am a lover of the built form. I would recommend Hamilton’s Open Doors weekend as a must do for Hamiltonians. I believe Hamilton was the first Canadian city to have an architect on staff whose role it was to advise on urban form and design.  Mr. Stan Roscoe’s legacy is visible throughout Hamilton including a beautiful public washroom on the far west end of the Chedoke Golf Course. At one time, our public works, schools, libraries and public spaces were designed to inspire and serve as examples of the importance of art, detail and what could and should be built.  As I have written previously, beauty is critical to successful city building.  Because beauty is hope and people are drawn to beauty.  And when people are drawn to beauty, we are drawn to each other in a shared space.  When we value the built form, we can extend that value into all art and culture.

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

I think accessibility is important in any effort to expand arts and culture. For example, the West Hamilton Artists Tour enabled residents to access art in different homes throughout Ward 1 and connect with artists in peoples’ kitchens, living rooms and hallways.  I think the placement of art exhibits in public places like the Hamilton Public Library or throughout the grounds of the RBG is also a great expansion opportunity.  Municipalities need to either get out of the way to enable expansion or do what is possible to enable expansion.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

I think I have significant learning to do about the realities facing artists in Hamilton.  The cost of dirt and rising rents are displacing artists and art performance.  I realize that the conditions brought by COVID-19 were devastating to many artists including musicians.  Arts and culture must be included in our pathway to recovery.  I support reviewing the city’s Enrichment Fund as I don’t believe that it has kept pace with need and impact.  I believe the municipality has to make it easier for people gather and enjoy each other, often buoyed by art and culture.  For example, the closure of Locke Street for pedestrian access only is costly for the Locke St. BIA to do, but it provides valuable space for arts and culture. Permits should not be a barrier to this kind of initiative.  I have been advised that live/work development needs to be encouraged and enabled and the availability of live performance space is critical.  You can’t be a music city without an appropriate and economically viable place to play music.  In short, I need to lean into this, commit to listening and support action that will support artists.

Campaign website  

No Response Received

John Vail

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