Malaysia, Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland, Pakistan, Ghana, and Hamilton. From this sampling of Toronto's consulates, it's not hard to pick the odd one out. Cheekily wresting a place for itself among the 60-odd diplomatic missions in Canada's largest metropolis, the City of Hamilton's Economic Development Office is hosting a pop-up 'Consulate' of its own on Queen Street West in the coming week.
Some 70 kilometres west of Toronto, the industrial—and simultaneously post-industrial—city has become a hotbed of arts and culture in its own right. Among Toronto millennials, the notion of "moving to Hamilton" is no longer an idle consideration, but an established trend, driven both by Toronto's housing prices and Hamilton's increasingly vibrant urban core.
With expanding GO service, a newly announced BRT line, and an LRT plan, all set to to improve transit service and provide enhanced connectivity with the GTA, Hamilton's urban growth prospects continue to be fairly strong. In the Downtown core, the famously "good bones" of the city's industrial built form continue to lend themselves to adaptive reuse, with a growing concentration of creative business populating the core. And the city wants more.
Held at The Burroughs Building at 639 Queen Street West on May 31st and June 1st, the two-day Hamilton Consulate pop-up will feature a variety of presentations, panel discussions, and interactive events. Opening with a conversation between Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, a comparison of the two cities' transformations towards more diversified economies will set the stage for the events to come.
While there'll be no shortage of cheery boosterism and light-hearted programming—including what's billed as a speed dating event to meet the professionals 'reinventing' Hamilton—the event will bring together a number of prominent figures in real estate, urban planning, and the arts.
On May 31st, a discussion on investment and development opportunities will feature famously outspoken Toronto developer Brad Lamb, as well as Hamilton Chief Planner Jason Thorne, and Rob Zeidler, Erin Dunham, and Aaron Levo. For his part, Lamb—who is now working on developing multiple projects in Hamilton—will compare what he perceives as a Hamilton's "pro-development" attitude to the challenges facing Toronto developers.
For Hamilton Head of Economic Development Glen Norton, the event will highlight the city's potential to draw in new businesses and investment. "We already have people moving in," Norton notes, arguing that the core of creative professionals lends itself to greater investment. For that to happen, however, the lingering conceptions of the city as a hollow industrial relic will have to continue to be erased.
To help highlight the city's evolution, some 30 business and agencies will participate in the two-day showcase, including the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. If—like me—you're somewhat surprised to learn that Hamilton has a Philharmonic Orchestra, it probably just means you're from Toronto.
More information about the two-day event, including a full program, can be found on the Hamilton Consulate's official website, linked here.