Why write 28 reasons I love Hamilton?
1. Hamilton is a CITY.
2. The Location
3. The size (population)
4. The scale
5. Creativity and the arts
6. The buildings
7. The nature
8. The film industry
9. The markets and restaurants
10. The trails, paths, and running routes
11. Gore Park
There's a plethora of Hamilton parks. There's a small one almost in my backyard, three more within a 2-minute walk, and dozens more within a short trip.
This is about my favorite one.
In 1860, Edward, Prince of Wales came to Hamilton to open Gore Park.
In 2009, I was walking home through Gore Park on a Friday afternoon.
It was a gorgeous, sunny day: with a slight breeze, a jazz band playing in the middle of the park, and I was heading home. So I stopped for caffeine at the local restaurant's patio, and flipped through my notes for that Sunday while the band played on. And it was perfect.... (well, except for the buses screaming by through the middle of the park every five minutes.)
Ah, Gore Park. Already, I know... I can hear the cries of protest already. Maybe you've had experiences like this. Fun fun fun fun fun.
But that's not all there is. Gore Park itself is still pretty amazing.
And it's the centre - symbolic and geographic - of the entire city.
It's a great size and a great location, is across from the Right house and near a few amenities like banks, clothing shops and restaurants. The ones I can vouch for are definitely Mahal and al Centro, and the landmark Victoria Hall (Foster Hall) and Mackay Building. Not to mention the office towers surrounding it, the statues and history in the park itself and of the name "Gore" - remarkable.
And I hope we can make it a better space. The city can plan redo after redo, and I'm sure some of those changes will be great. But at the bottom line, you need to change the mix of people using the park to be more diverse and a better balance - not get rid of anyone, but give new people things to do, and give productive activity for some already present.
And to do that you need to make sure there's (a) quality destinations around the park and (b) multiple activities to do at those destinations as well as (c) improving the park itself
Because right now there's a big disconnection between those who work downtown and live downtown, and those who use Gore Park. (I know, because I take the bus with both types of "commuters" every day...)
And that disconnect is the killer, when it's only the users are those who default into Gore Park and don't have a positive reason to be there. There need to be more positive reasons to be around the area, and it needs to be a park that all types of people can feel comfortable in.
If I could see just one thing, we really need a decent coffeehouse in the Gore - for an extra two quarters, I'll pay for a better coffee and better atmosphere. Or two coffeehouses, but one decent chain to start, to draw in some of the cubicle dwellers who are a ready-made market. I know... they'll buy 2-3 cups a day, Monday to Friday... I've worked in chains near offices. People all over want an option besides Country Style and Tim's... Williams was rumoured to want a spot in the Foster Building... it's a shame that didn't work out. Second Cup beats any other chain for coffee quality, and the only one downtown is at the hospital. Yeah...
Not to mention I really want a space I can work in downtown, plug in a laptop, and not be interrupted by social Mac kids or an impromptu grassroots revolution (and you know I love ya both, Westdale Second Cup and Bread and Roses ;))
Events and attractions held there also help balance the equation (whether that's the Christmas attractions in the winter or Music in the City in the summer). Markets, festivals, theatre, public art... this has to happen too, an intentional filling of the space. Removing the buses means that the restaurant patios will become a better experience, and there's possibilities on that road for markets and other things.
In the meantime, I'm a firm believer in ordinary people enjoying what's there and being present... just there... and the incremental but real change that brings.
So I walk there.
Or read there.
Or head there on a cold night when few others are out... but the ice and the lights combine to make the entire park into a gigantic, brilliantly faceted diamond.... like last Tuesday. Amazing.
I'm thankful for the very fact this space exists. And I'm hopeful for what it may become.
I love Gore Park. And that's another reason I love Hamilton.