How to Plan a City: Revitalizing a City's Downtown, Part 1.
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How to Plan a City: Revitalizing a City's Downtown, Part 1.

Examing the Downtown Master Plan of Hamilton, Ontario.

Cities like those of Hamilton and London, Ontario, are seeking to breathe new life into their stagnating downtown cores. In order to ensure the success of such projects, each city has devised its own Master Plan.

In this post, we will be taking a look at Hamilton's "The Streescape Master Plan for Mobility Streets". The intention of this project is to increase the vibrancy & pedestrian-friendliness of the city's Downtown core.

In order to achieve this lofty goal, their city council intends to do the following:

  • Guide public realm improvements within the city core
  • Assist with on-going and future streetscape planning
  • Define specific streetscape implementation linkages and projects which can be realized through capital projects over the next 10 to 15 years

All improvements were derived from a 10-year study that ended in 2002/2003, being adopted in October of 2003. With this information, they were able to develop "The Downtown Secondary Plans: Putting People First" principles, which are as follows:

  1. Use public outdoor space improvements as the catalyst for downtown revitalization
  2. Strengthen the connection to neighbourhoods, the Waterfront and the Escarpment
  3. Build on the existing strength of the city, such as adaptive re-use of heritage structures and highlighting the natural geographic context of the city
  4. Make Downtown living attractive by initiating streetscape improvement and encouraging private investment
  5. General retail and commercial activities within diverse neighbourhoods

Hamilton city council also includes things like wider/safer sidewalks, full accessibility for all age/pedestrian groups, better light standards and more trees in their Downtown Master Plan. They would use of art and design themes to  enhance public spaces.

In terms of Ontario city downtowns, Hamilton's can be considered one of the more successful examples. Though parts of it continue to stagnate, other areas grow and remain relevant to the city's economy.

Other North American urban areas, like Boston's North End, have been able to offer vitality and diversity without the aid of any Master Plan. Cities like Hamilton and London, however, have struggled to make themselves as a place that is conducive to a rewarding urban experience.

In my next post, I will be talking about London, one of Southwestern Ontario's largest urban areas, and its attempts at reviving a dying downtown core.

All information for this post was provided by the city of Hamilton's Planning and Development page, which can be accessed through this link:

Additional resources:

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Comments (1)
Ranked #1 in Architecture

Excellent discussion of a subject rarely dealt with on Factoidz. My interest is architectural history, but town planning is also fascinating.