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Lately, there’s been a lot of controversy over the boom in condominium development downtown. Concerns about height, neighbourhood character and shady land deals have dogged the Tivoli Condos, planned for James North. Others have raised concerns about affordable housing and the risk of repeating past generations of “disastrous” downtown redevelopment policies.

While these might be valid concerns, I prefer to look on the lighter side. The real estate boom Hamilton is witnessing right now represents one of the fastest-growing markets in Canada. The “renewal” people talked about for so many years is finally happening, and it’s transforming the city before our eyes. Streets which used to be clogged with sad and hungry faces are now populated by cheerful and trendy young professionals. The old and dirty shops and restaurants of “little Portugal” are being replaced with the same upscale delights you might find on Queen West in Toronto. Our city has finally become hip.

Looking out at the many cranes which now hover over our downtown, I can’t help but ponder where this new renaissance is heading. Might we, too, be able to erect a sea of glass towers like Toronto and Vancouver? Line King, Main and Barton with upscale clothing shops and trendy ‘gastro-pubs’? What could we make of the waterfront, once all that “Setting Sail” nonsense is shredded and the last steel mills close up shop?

The massive influx of capital we’re seeing will spread far beyond the shadows cast by these towers. It will buoy house prices, increase tax revenues, create jobs and provide an opportunity to finally fix up some of the lower city’s vast tracks of slum housing. This rising tide really will lift all boats, so what if a few people get evicted? Recent history has shown that real estate speculation is the safest, most stable investment we can make, and our town’s history has shown that we never really can go wrong with cranes and bulldozers. Our city simply cannot affort to miss this opportunity.

Condos are our future. Glass is the new steel. However rapid or scary these changes might be, we might as well embrace them, because you can’t fight progress, right?

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