By Nina Gaind
Walking through Supercrawl felt different this year. I felt weird about the presence of five Toyota cars positioned directly across from an art installation. I also felt a bit out of place, as many local faces and businesses from the past had disappeared, replaced by shiny new coffee shops and boutiques. The unoccupied lot beside CBC Hamilton was empty, where in past years it has been populated by local artists selling their unique DIY crafts and teenagers hanging out in the back (do you know what I’m referring to?).
Despite these changes, the thing that made me the most uncomfortable was the couple comments I heard from Supercrawl goers, referring to Hamilton and the space they were occupying. I heard people making jokes while in a long time standing James Street North shop, laughing about how outdated and cringe it was. I heard people snickering at the presence of homeless folks, and making a joke out of the poverty in Hamilton. These deeply unsettling comments symbolize a larger problem with the changing scene in Hamilton, and the language people use causes further harm to the people being pushed out of these social spaces.
Growing up in a town on the edge of Hamilton, I noticed ways in which people spoke about Hamilton. People talked about the city’s poverty with disdain, associating low-income areas with crime, rather than compassionately understanding the drive behind the perceived danger. With the recent wave of gentrification, more people from outside of the downtown area have been spending time in in the downtown core, changing how the city is perceived. This is exemplified in streets like James Street North and Barton Street being described as “up and coming”, while not even 2 km away there are some of the highest poverty rates in the country. With this rapid gentrification, Hamiltonians who have historically occupied these spaces are being pushed further and further away from these areas. For example, an affordable housing project in the North End was recently bought out by investors, leaving people who relied on this without homes. As a student who spends time in these spaces, I listen as the language used to describe people of low-income neighbourhoods becomes increasingly harmful and offensive. Local Hamiltonians are spoken about in ways that stigmatize their lived experience calling certain areas “sketchy”, “ghetto” and “ratchet”. These terms are highly racialized and classist, and do nothing but further the marginalization low-income people face throughout the development of Hamilton.
This issue is highly complicated and has many layers to it. Gentrification is not a simple concept, as development in the city has positive and negative consequences. As a student, I want to use my voice and privilege to acknowledge the power I and my peers have when we occupy spaces downtown. Students are positioned in a very grey area when it comes to gentrification and development. On one hand, we are not the people directly investing and developing land in Hamilton, rising rent prices and pushing low-income folks to the margins. On the other hand, we engage and spend time in these new coffee shops and stores, supporting local businesses and enjoying these spaces. While we might think our presence as students is trivial, our identities as students give us social power. Our identities as educated individuals give us more mobility to access physical and social spaces than local Hamiltonians. It is important for us to be mindful of this fact and reflect upon how and why we perceive others to be different from us. This being said, I recognize that university students come from diverse backgrounds and experience oppression in many aspects of society and this should not be ignored when talking about this issue.
This city belongs to the very Hamiltonians we ridicule. As we continue to spend time in gentrified areas in Hamilton, we should be aware of the language we use when talking about others, specifically marginalized folks who are being negatively impacted by the cities changes. Using divisive language feeds the narrative that people who live in poverty are bad and dangerous, which physically and socially separates people more in society. When we start to change the tone of how we describe others, it can help to create more respectful relationships between people we may deem different from us. We must respect the history of Hamilton and recognize presence of poverty, looking to the root causes of inequality. I am hopeful that we as students can continue to enjoy Hamilton while being mindful of our identities and interact more positively with local Hamilton community members.
By Owen Angus-Yamada
It’s back to school and outlooks for the 2018-2019 semester are sure to be varied. As the masses wait in line at the campus store for freshly pressed textbooks or shuffle through the McMaster University Student Centre crowds, it can be assured that many are already preoccupied with their grade point standing, the bane of their existence or, other side of the coin, questioning the real purpose of their classes and distancing themselves from their academics.
We are in a society that is afraid of failure and drawn to convenience. When we are faced with a challenge we often take the one of the two previously mentioned approaches: stress out — not the kind we get before a presentation or performance, more of the mind crimpling, time consuming variety — or give up; both leading to the same result: under-performing and having contempt for the initial challenge. This, however, is a choice and does not always have to be the case.
When we are positive and passionate about a problem we invest more time and energy into it. We may fail often but have the enthusiasm to learn from those mistakes as we move forward. This is what happens when, for example, you play guitar and want to learn a new song. You may butcher the same riff over and over and over, but you aren’t biting your nails and freaking out about not being able to do it right now or smashing your guitar and yelling “What’s the point? Life is pain.”
Although the latter is pretty edgy, both stressing out and giving up yield little results in the learning and development department, but by taking the failures and continuing to try, eventually you learn it.
I’m not saying that school is the same as guitar, or that you even practice guitar to begin with, but learning lecture material and learning a new song are both challenges that require you to be persistent with your approach and are affected by your outlook of the situation.
If you are pumped up and prepared to do some serious work this year then keep on rolling and let me get the heck out of your way but if you’re stressed or pessimistic already about the year than hears some suggestions.
If you’re stressed about your marks, try changing your approach and make getting a deep understanding of the material the priority. Get involved outside of the classroom in a way that you can apply what you are learning for better material understanding and retention. If you are resenting class because it’s boring or too easy, then maybe its time you step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself with additional extracurriculars or try new classes where you are excited and interested in the material being taught. Change your approach to become passionate about your education, learning and development and the rest will fall in line.
McMaster allows for plenty of opportunities to vary how you approach your learning, development and overall university experience, even going as far to offer a new Personal Interest Course which allows you to try different, potentially more difficult electives, without fear of them penalizing the ever-precious GPA. It is also a hotbed of clubs, groups, competitions and societies available for the people who want to become more involved or those who want to explore other interests. It may not be easy and you may even mess up or fail a few times but that’s sort of the point.
So, if you find yourself pulling hair over midterms or endlessly binging the ever-alluring Netflix because you just can’t bring yourself to study or go to class, remember that you have a choice. You can take the red pill and keep taking the path of least resistance and subsequently the path of least results, or take the blue pill and find out just how deep this whole concept of trying a new way to approach for your learning and development really goes.
The Original Downtown Secondary Plan, “Putting People First: The New Land Use Plan for Downtown Hamilton”, was the first formal plan developed for the downtown core developed in 2001. This plan was intended to foster a dynamic mix of urban residential, commercial and institutional activities.
Downtown Hamilton has experienced significant changes since the plan’s initial draft 17 years ago. Signs of downtown Hamilton’s economic and cultural “renaissance” have become increasingly evident, and the plan has been drafted to ensure that downtown will continue to be a key destination within the city for business, entertainment and cultural activities.
Private sector investment has been leading the transformation with support from public investments, such as McMaster University, in infrastructure and the city’s urban renewal incentive programs. These developments have been reshaping the urban landscape of downtown, particularly in recent years.
These trends have encouraged a rise in tall building development and higher order transit, which led to the need to review the initial plan.
This review of the Downtown Secondary Plan has resulted in a renewed land use plan. Jason Farr, Ward 2 city councilor, argues that this review builds upon the vision and policies of the 2001 plan while providing a new direction for the city that will guide development and change over the next 20 to 30 years of planning.
“It sets the stage for the future growth of downtown Hamilton,” said Farr. “Making the downtown core as ‘development ready’ as possible with clear expectations in place with respect to design, protection of existing built heritage resources and the creation of a complete community.”
The reviewed plan presents an opportunity to address new provincial land use policy, updated land use directions as set out in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan, the expansion of the Plan’s boundaries to include the Downtown Urban Growth Centre and other city initiatives and studies underway that will impact the core.
“The updated plan ensures that the planning direction for the area responds to current needs and is appropriate to guide future growth and development, while ensuring that the people remain at the heart of the plan,” said Farr.
We're hoping that council will begin to take seriously things like sustainability, heritage and affordability, which frankly, has not been taken seriously up to this point as far as we can tell.
People's Plan for Downtown Hamilton
The Proposed Downtown Secondary Plan became public on March 19 and will be presented at the city’s planning committee next month.
Entering its third and expectedly final revision, the vision for the plan sees downtown to be a “vibrant focus of attraction where all ages, abilities and incomes can live, work, learn, shop and play… combining the best of heritage with new concepts and designs while linking together the Downtown, surrounding neighbourhoods, the Waterfront and the Escarpment.”
Bound by Cannon Street to the north, Wellington Street to the east, Hunter Street to the south and Queen Street to the west, the area for the proposed plan contains parts of four prominent downtown neighbourhoods, including Beasley, Central, Corktown and Durand.
The objectives within the plan, in addition to zoning by-law changes, will be accompanied by a set of guidelines that will be used to evaluate new development to ensure that the urban design objectives of the downtown are met. This includes how high structures can be built and the kind of design requirements they must meet, such as setbacks and shadow impacts.
Citizens will have a chance to review and critique the meeting on April 17 during a planning committee meeting before it goes to council the following week. There have previously been nearly 30 public consultations around the project.
Some major changes to the initial plan include requiring builders to include appropriate noise measures in the design of residential developments that are near live music venues to prevent issues with neighbours and allowing rental housing to be demolished or redeveloped, but only if those units can be replaced at the same site.
One of the biggest changes within the plan is the proposal to lift the current height limit on buildings, which stands at 12 storeys, to pre-approve the development of 30-storey buildings. A large area west of James Street could be home to these towers, with the exception of some land including the block surrounding City Hall and the Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School property.
The only sections that are guaranteed to stay under six storeys are Whitehern and a section of land bordered by Hunter Street West, Caroline Street North and Jackson Street West.
Many fear that increasing zoning bylaws and lifting the height restriction will result in major hikes in property tax for affected neighbourhoods. These 30-storey buildings are expected to be primarily residential units, which are hypothesized to be priced above what the average downtown resident could afford.
Thomas Allen, a Hamilton blogger behind Rebuild Hamilton and the Inlet, has participated in the conversation surrounding heritage properties and the DSP. Allen notes that lifting the current height limit would affect the city’s infrastructure.
“There are not enough guidelines covering tenant rights and inclusionary zoning or trade-offs for public amenities if developers do propose over 30 storeys,” said Allen.
“A sustainability practice we need to implement is limiting the amount of sprawl we continue to see throughout the periphery of the city. It’s spreading at an unchecked rate and greatly exhausting our infrastructure, while we’re all too busy bickering about height.”
Based on the feedback received and reviewed of the plan, the updated version incorporates revisions related to building heights to ensure that new development occurs in a sustainable manner, protecting and planning for a range of housing options, supporting a wide range of commercial uses and protecting the core’s rich architectural heritage.
In the proposed DSP’s current state, several citizens and organizing groups see the plan as a tactic to build financial relationships with developers, rather than with citizens who will be facing its effects.
On March 6, nearly 200 citizens arrived to the Central Branch of the Hamilton Public Library to listen to presentations about the proposed plan and its implications. Organized by the People’s Plan for Downtown Hamilton, the public event served as an opportunity for citizens to become active within the planning process and to discuss the City’s proposed plan.
The People’s Plan for Downtown Hamilton was organized by a small group who reached out to leaders who are involved in various sectors within the city. These sectors, ranging from social areas including the arts, heritage, environment, immigration, small business owners and building tenants, are directly impacted by the proposed plan.
After the presentations, the event merged into themed breakout sessions with themes aligning with various sectors within the city. Each group saw anywhere from 10 to 15 participants at each, who contributed their ideas and concerns to the PPDH position statement.
Shawn Selway, the media contact for the People’s Plan for Downtown, is hopeful that these concerns will be addressed by city council.
“The biggest takeaway was that people have a lot to say. There is a lot of interest from people who are wanting to participate in the planning that occurs in the downtown,” said Selway. “We’re hoping that council will begin to take seriously things like sustainability, heritage and affordability, which frankly, has not been taken seriously up to this point as far as we can tell.”
This position statement is attached to a petition that has, at the time of publication, 396 of 500 signatures. This further encourages the City to do broader consultation with communities that are impacted by the plan to ensure that their views are presented accurately.
Farr, however, noted that community input played an important part in shaping the proposed plan.
“As for very recent concerns heard from a community-led meeting, many of the issues highlighted at that meeting were already in the draft planning stage for the final draft that at the time was imminent and of which some of those organizers may have been aware of,” said Farr.
If the proposed Plan moves forward, the Downtown Secondary Plan will pave the way for development in the core through 2031.
Prior to the April 17 Planning Committee meeting, there will be an Open House with the final draft of the Downtown Secondary Plan, Downtown Zones and Utility Zone (Wards 2 and 3).
“We think that the planning department certainly has the capability of delivering something more balanced,” said Selway.
“What they bring forward is limited by what city council will accept and unless there’s some political pressure being exerted on council, you’re not going to get the best out of the Planning Department and you’re not going to get this balance that I think we need at this point.”
The People’s Plan for Downtown is hosting various workshops and gatherings to discuss the plan in its final form. On April 3, the group will be hosting a delegation and letter writing workshop to teach attendees successful delegation and tips on how to make an impactful presentation to the planning committee.
By: Abdullah Elsayes
For years, the Hamilton population has been growing below the national average growth rate, but things are about to change for this underrated city.
Hamilton is investing in long-term developments that will bring in more residents to this city and enhance the living conditions for current inhabitants. Ultimately, this will better the city’s average population growth rate.
First, it is important to acknowledge Hamilton’s history since we all have a role to play in the city’s contemporary development.
From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, Hamilton was recognized for its industrial production, specifically, its steel production.
In the late-twentieth century, other aspects of the economy took precedence, especially the technology we take for granted, and Hamilton was reckoned a post-industrial economy.
Its image failed to match the growing economic sectors of the modern era. This, of course, contributed to a slow city population growth.
Earlier this year, Hamilton founded the Our Future Hamilton initiative with a focus to further enhance the city in the next 25 years. This proposal concentrates its priorities on community engagement, economic prosperity, public health and safety, environmental responsibility, built infrastructure and culture and social diversity.
As of the 2017 budget, it is evident that the city has begun its investments towards their future planning. City council has allocated $2.2 million towards downtown and commercial districts, $14.5 million towards recreation and $27.2 million towards West Harbour development.
It is clear that the city is devoting its finances for a more convivial Hamilton atmosphere, which is something we will all benefit from.
In the late-20th century, other aspects of the economy took precedence, especially the technology we take for granted, and Hamilton was reckoned a post-industrial economy.
Moreover, this initiative also makes Hamilton residences one of the most affordable in the Greater Toronto Area. For instance, the average cost of Hamilton city centre real estate is $4,165.10 per square metre, much cheaper than its neighbouring cities such as Toronto with $7,525.11 per square metre. This alone is attracting people, and potentially students, to the city hence increasing the population growth rate, which is great in terms of Hamilton’s economy and urban development. As Hamilton continues to develop, we will be exposed to a tremendous city that sufficiently provides community engagement, public health and safety, environmental responsibility, and social and cultural diversity.
As a result, more students will have the opportunity to engage in their community off campus and commit themselves to activities and livings they enjoy. Over 55,000 community members have pledged their opinions for the Our Future Hamilton initiative. It is clear that this development is for the residents of Hamilton, and the students of McMaster University. All of us have something to enjoy from this city’s planning. We’re in for a bright future in the years to come.
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This past weekend, the CIS no. 1-ranked McMaster Marauders took a road trip to Toronto and beat the Varsity Blues and Ryerson Rams in straight sets.
It looks good on the surface.
“If you look at it from a pure results point of view it looks awesome,” said Marauder Head Coach Dave Preston. “But from our standpoint it was far less than awesome. We played average against Toronto. We served poorly, passed okay and hit alright. But from a gameplan and defensive point of view there were certain things that we wanted to accomplish, and I don’t think we did that.”
McMaster’s performance against Toronto on Saturday, Nov. 14 was graded “okay” by Preston, but the team’s win on Sunday, Nov. 15 against Ryerson received more praise. Despite only having a film session between the Toronto and Ryerson game, the Marauders rallied around each other and made sure they didn’t allow a one-game problem to stretch into a second game.
“Sunday’s improvement was 100 percent due to team leadership,” said Preston. “Alex Elliott, Danny Demyanenko, Stephen Maar and Andrew Richards are our leadership council right now. During our film session preparing for Ryerson those guys really spoke up and got other guys engaged. That came from within. It wasn’t me harping on the team.”
The experience that this Marauder team has is one of its greatest strengths. The majority of players on this team have played on big stages like the OUA and CIS championships, and a number of them have national team experience. Eight of the seventeen players on the roster have been with this team for three or more years. Leadership is not measured on the boxscore, but locker room conversations and influences in team huddles play a big role in what appears on the court. It’s one of the vital intangibles in team sports.
McMaster responded to the call from their locker room leaders with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-13) win over Ryerson, hitting a solid .400 and committing only 12 errors, while racking up 42 kills. They also had five service aces and 21 digs.
“Our attention to detail in terms of our gameplan about what we wanted to do in certain situations when they had certain players on the floor was better against Ryerson,” said Preston. “Our defense, serving and offensive schemes were exemplary. By the end of the first set Ryerson had to adjust because we exposed them.”
Earlier this season I introduced the concept of the performance standards that this team uses as a benchmark for their success. Although the box scores and raw stats communicate “easy” victories, Head Coach Dave Preston believes that there is more beyond the surface to be considered. “Happy, but not satisfied” were the words he used to describe his thoughts on his team despite two victories, 19 consecutive set wins, a 7-0 record and a top national ranking. There is more to be done.
Those sentiments aren’t unfamiliar to the McMaster community. After last year’s Yates Cup victory, McMaster football Head Coach Stefan Ptaszek was quoted as saying, “It’s okay to be proud. It’s not okay to be satisfied.” We’ve heard this before and it is a shared attitude among McMaster coaches regardless of sport.
You could say the bar is high at McMaster.
But realistically, where else should it be set?
The Marauders Men’s Volleyball team has medaled at three consecutive CIS national championships and has been ranked no. 1 for all of this season. One thing that has evaded them, however, is CIS national gold. If you want to get something you’ve never had, you’re going to have to do some things you’ve never done. So yes, you can leave the bar that high for this team because their potential demands that.
“It’s not just about wins and losses,” said Preston. “It’s about maximizing your opportunities and playing at your potential. We didn’t do that against Toronto, but we did that against Ryerson. The Toronto game was a little bit uncharacteristic of us. We have a couple more gears that we haven’t reached yet.”
This week the Marauders have big conference games against Windsor and Western on Nov. 20 and 21, respectively. Both games start at 8 p.m. in Burridge Gym.
Photo Credit: McMaster Athletics
Early this summer, McMaster announced that based on what students voted on, the Student Life Enhancement Fund would be footing the bill for a series of MUSC renovations. This includes changes to Compass, a permanent sound system, and the expansion of Starbucks to include additional seating and a more café-like atmosphere.
Overall, it’s been great having Starbucks on campus. There’s another coffee option for early mornings and late nights, I can keep up with ever-changing pastry trends, and every upper-middle class person on campus can now feel comfortable in a city that greets them with a familiar logo every morning.
With the recent additions of international franchises to the university campus, it’s clear that the current wave of gentrification coming over Hamilton is not ebbing away from campus and its surrounding area. Starbucks is just one of the big name franchises to come to campus over the past few years. Booster Juice and Williams have both also solidified their names at the university, and it’s safe to assume that with the open arms given to a Starbucks expansion, other franchises will be opening up shop on and around campus soon.
While it is exciting to welcome these often already-loved businesses to campus, this does have consequences for students. They may not be present now, but they are on their way.
Hamilton is the “up-and-coming” city of Ontario. As more large-scale companies start to invest in it, the city’s value has gone up, and consequently, so has its prices. It’s easy to think that as a student who isn’t invested in the city or a true “Hamiltonian,” these changes won’t affect us, but all of these new developments in the city are often close to and on campus.
As larger, wealthier businesses and people begin to enter the city, poorer sectors of the community will be pushed aside to make room for the city’s new money. The “poor” can refer to those paying low rents, making minimum wage, attempting to pay off large debts, so in short, students.
As the Student Centre and other spaces on campus become camp grounds for new wealthy investors, it is only a matter of time before rent costs start going up and MUSC is an affordable space for fewer vendors. More inexpensive venues like Taro and Union Market will eventually need to up their costs in order to keep up with growing rents.
And this change to costs is not something exclusive to campus. Investors have already started to revel in the idea of off-campus facilities located in student neighbourhoods. As more thriving businesses come into the Westdale and Ainsliewood areas, so will more thriving citizens, and that could potentially lead to a raise in stable student rents, and a need to mail even more tears to OSAP begging for increased funds.
While I am potentially guaranteed to be one of the first people pulling up a chair at Starbucks’ new café space, inhaling the company’s latest caffeine-cocaine hybrid, it is important to remember that as we advocate for these big names on campus, we are also promoting an all too fast turnaround from a humble, struggling city to a fully franchised capital. This transition can be fine and help the city’s economy get the boost it needs (this past year Hamilton was one of the only cities in the GTHA to see a drop in industrial vacancy rates), but if it happens too fast, we as student consumers will be pushed aside for new ventures before we even have the chance to pull up a chair.
Photo Credit: Square
The event became standing room only as a crowd gathered outside the chambers to peer into the proceedings.
Inside the Council Chambers there was a sea of black and red signs representing the “Say NO to Downtown Casino” campaign, with sparse pockets of the yellow and black signs of the casino supporters.
Several speakers opposed plans for a downtown casino, and they were met with loud applause.
Robert Murray from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health discussed how close proximity to a casino aggravates problem gambling habits.
Hannah Holmes, a professor in economics at Mac, conducted an economic analysis of a downtown casino and discussed the pros and cons at the event. Her ultimate conclusion, that the negative implications outweighed the positive economic benefits, was met with applause.
“A Hamilton casino could only be a success if it could become a destination casino, attracting tourists,” said Holmes.
“This is not likely to happen. I think local businesses stand a possibility of losing out if locals spend money at the casino instead of in their communities.”
Bruce Barbour, representing Flamborough Downs, Hamilton’s only current large-scale gaming operation, spoke about the 400 direct jobs provided by Flamborough Downs, and how slots and horse racing will cease to exist there as of March 31.
While Barbour sought to inform the audience about the issues facing Flamborough Downs and its staff, Paul Burns, from the Canadian Gaming Association, took a much clearer lobbying approach to address concerns over a downtown casino in Hamilton.
Despite heckling from the audience and clamour that erupted multiple times throughout Burns’ speech, he remained adamant that a casino would be profitable and not detrimental to the community.
“The question tonight isn’t ‘should casino gaming be allowed in the greater Hamilton area.’ That’s already been answered in the affirmative, with facilities in the Hamilton-area for the past decade … Gaming is an entertainment choice, a choice that is enjoyed responsibly by the overwhelming majority of people who choose to play.”
These remarks were met with open opposition from the audience, with one attendee exclaiming, “It’s more than a choice; you’re marketing to the poor.”
The Carmens Group, managed by the Mercanti family, has announced its interest in bidding for the casino development, and have said they are partnering with the Hard Rock Café.
The group plans to publicly announce their partners and plans on Feb. 6.
Site Selection Magazine in Atlanta reports that Hamilton generated the highest number of expansion projects during the past year that have drawn at least $1 million, created at least 50 new jobs, or made use of at least 20,000 square feet.
Analysts ranked cities based on new projects mostly in the private sector that would attract potential investors.
Norm Schleehahn, manager of business development at the City of Hamilton, says the university’s main contribution to Hamilton’s 2012 ranking is its new automotive resource centre (MARC) at McMaster Innovation Park (MIP).
The federal government has injected $11.5 million into the new facility, which will cover approximately 80,000 square feet of space in a former industrial warehouse across from the MIP Atrium.
For the most part, MARC will be a laboratory facility to accelerate research in the automotive sector, focusing on hybrid vehicles.
The project costs $26 million in total and is expected to employ 120 to 150 people.
McMaster’s downtown health campus, to open two years from now, will make the list of projects for 2013, Schleehahn said.
Nick Bontis, professor in the DeGroote School of Business, says the City is pushing forward with downtown renewal and McMaster faculty and students are leading the charge.
Bontis said facilities like MIP offer researchers a bridge between doing research in the lab and finding opportunities to commercialize ideas in the marketplace.
“That’s why McMaster University acts as an engine of growth for the manufacturing sector,” he said.
“We’re sitting on a large supply of potential commercialization projects,” he continued. “But we don’t have enough horsepower or capacity for faculty to both do the research and commercialize the research. That’s where we need the community to get involved.”
MIP, a $69 million off-campus facility used mainly for conferences, is in the midst of discussions with private developers to build a hotel at the park. Plans haven’t been finalized but the hotel would accommodate researchers, entrepreneurs and the general public.
In addition, the federal and provincial governments have invested heavily in the university’s health and engineering research facilities.
A grant announcement in early August revealed the province would provide $4.6 million for 14 projects in the research sector.
Over the past two years, McMaster has received $38.5 million through the Knowledge Infrastructure economic stimulus program for post-secondary infrastructure enhancements across Canada.
$22 million will help create new research space and stimulate increased production of medical and industrial isotopes at McMaster’s nuclear research facilities. The remaining funds will help build two new centres for cancer and spinal cord research.
“Hamilton has been a leader in the manufacturing industry but our economy is diversifying. There are a lot of businesses in the city that are thriving,” Schleehahn said.
He added that the city’s new status as an investment hotspot provides a reason for students to consider staying in Hamilton post-graduation.
A survey conducted by the McMaster Students Union last year concluded that only 24 per cent of total students polled (of which 24 per cent were originally from Hamilton) would look for a job in Hamilton after graduating.
37 per cent said they would take a job in the city only after looking elsewhere.
Previously ranked second and fifth, Hamilton beat Quebec City (16 new projects), Toronto (15 new) and Montreal (13 new) for the top spot in the ‘Canadian Top Metros’ annual ranking.
Among the 20 new projects that emerged in Hamilton this past year are: Maple Leaf’s new meat processing plant, expansion of Activation Labs in Ancaster, expansion of facilities at Hamilton pier and new grain handling facilities built by Parrish & Heimbecker and Richardson International.
In late August, Hamilton was also named the ‘top location in which to invest in Ontario’ by the Real Estate Investment Network of Canada (REIN).
REIN Founding Partner Don Campbell said in a news release that the city intends to work in tandem with the growth occurring at McMaster University in order to “spark an entrepreneurial spirit in the city.”
Criteria that REIN used to evaluate cities include: the average rate of growth of income, population and job creation as compared to the provincial average. Other factors were: number of major employers, economic growth atmosphere created by political leadership, ability of infrastructure to handle growth and major transportation improvements.
Assistant News Editor
Home to some of the best minds in the country, McMaster University has grown to be a leading global figure in research initiatives. Whether it be through McMaster’s various Canada Research Chairs, a $300-million annually funded governmental program designed attract the world’s most promising researchers or it’s world-renowned teaching programs and departments, McMaster’s reputation for both discovery and innovation is certainly merited.
The 2011/2012 year was no different. Currently, McMaster is home to more than 70 research centres and houses a faculty of 1300 members. This year alone, this staff has garnered $395 million in grant funding.
This research year began with the unveiling of the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC), a $26-million project partially funded by the Conservative government’s Prosperity Initiative, meant to accelerate economic development in Ontario.
The MARC calls for an 80,000-square-foot building that will be constructed in McMaster’s Innovation Park.
Professor Ali Emadi, a leading U.S. de veloper of electric powertrain technology and a Canadian Research Chair, is one of the many who will be making use of MARC. Most of his work will focus on the next generation of hybrid electric cars, with projects ranging in electrified powertrains to hybrid battery/super-capacitor energy storage systems.
This was soon followed by an open invite to the global village: the International Research and Development (R&D) Conference in early September. The first of its kind conducted by a Canadian institute, delegates from Brazil to China and everywhere in between came to LIUNA Station in Hamilton to discuss issues, both contentious and trivial, in R&D.
The international forum focused mainly on the global participants – from industry, academia, government and the private sector – and their critical role in the dissemination of knowledge and discoveries in a volatile global economy. With some two hundred guests representing nearly a dozen countries, McMaster stood steadfast in the hopes of cross-sector international partnerships so as to address the most urgent needs in society.
“Research universities must position themselves to seize the opportunities and respond to the challenges related to internationalization and globalization,” said Mo Elbestawi, Vice-President of Research and International Affairs.
And in October, these challenges of “internationalization and globalization” were realized by a joint sequencing of the Black Plague led by Hendrik Poinar, Director of the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster.
With a team of international researchers from Canada, the U.S. and Germany, the ancient epidemic that killed millions within Europe during the 14th century was tracked and sequenced – an arduous and painstaking process that allows researchers to observe how humanity has evolved with disease and vice versa.
“With research projects, it takes quite a bit of time to get it moving,” Nick Markettos, Assistant Vice-President of Research Partnerships. “But once it starts moving, because it attracts attention from others, suddenly you have more projects coming towards you.”
He added, “That’s what happened this year. We’ve had a lot of inquiries from industry, including international players, such as many from Europe.”
But research is not solely restricted to faculty. The benefits stretch to undergraduates as well. Whether USRAs or NSERC research grants, undergrads are given ample opportunity to contribute to University.
The Associate Vice-President of Research at McMaster, Dr. Fiona McNeil, stressed this: “There is a strong link between education in research. Students are given USRA and NSERC. As we go forward, we’d really like to strengthen that link with additional funding.”
As successful as the year been, the question arises whether research funding is worth the millions. To those outside of academia, what does it matter if a researcher can do something like synthesize a methylene-glutaric anhydride monomer?
While the understanding of research may be beyond the comprehension of some, it is the whole that comprises the sum. Without such specific understandings, general knowledge would useless. Only because of such specific research can people understand generally.
“We are all citizens of the world,” said former American president Woodrow Wilson. “The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this.”
But on March 10, over 70 members of the McMaster community embraced their global citizenship and gathered in Hamilton Hall to attend the 7th annual McMaster Global Citizenship Conference.
Shawn Cheung, the founder and executive director of Raising The Village, kicked off the day’s events. In his morning keynote address, he shared his story and advised the audience on how to pursue activism, in keeping with the conference theme “Activism is not dead.”
“But I’d much rather talk about ‘action-ism’,” he said, referring to how change will not come about without a significant effort. His advice rested upon Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule: the idea that to master anything, it takes 10,000 hours of work.
Following the opening speech were a number of short workshops with perhaps a more practical outlook, geared toward fueling change at McMaster. The Mac chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) offered a session about fair trade and the process of attaining fair trade certification on campus, while workshops were held to address electronic waste and promote sustainability in Hamilton.
The panel discussions later in the morning offered a chance for local experts to share their insights on global issues. Three sessions, on water governance, the Arab Spring and indigenous rights in Canada, were moderated by Mac students.
The Arab Spring panel appeared to be the favourite of the morning. It featured McMaster professors Dr. Atif Kubursi and Dr. John Colarusso, as well as former Arts and Science student Amal Abuzgaya. It began with a lecture from Dr. Kubursi, who introduced such key issues as unemployment among youth in the Arab world.
“Human rights in the Middle East begin with breakfast,” he said, quoting Senegalese poet Leopold Senghor, noting that the Arabic word for bread—aish—also means “life.”
Colarusso, a professor of mythology and linguistics who has also worked in politics, brought a historical perspective to the discussion. “The transition from mythology to politics was smooth,” he chuckled. “Both have their monsters.”
He compared aspects of the Arab Spring to the Soviets’ policies in governing the USSR. Meanwhile, Abuzgaya, who grew up in Libya under the Gaddafi regime, had much to say about how the people took action, including how social media facilitated the process.
The afternoon saw a number of guest speakers and panel discussions, on topics including the Occupy Wall Street movement and the meaning of the sustainability.
McMaster engineering graduate Boris Martin delivered the final speech of the day. Appropriately enough, he was one of the organizers of the first GCC in 2005, which spanned three days and saw over 600 delegates. He shared some wise words about pragmatic and principled approaches to activism, drawn from his experiences with EWB.
The entirely student-run conference was led by co-chairs Alessandra Robertson, Shanthiya Baheerathan and Siobhan Stewart. The co-chairs were pleased with the success of the conference, noted Shanthiya Baheerathan.
Despite its success, the conference may undergo revision next year, according to one of the directors of programming. It will likely be shortened, and may be rescheduled to February. The goal will remain to inspire students to take on their responsibilities as citizens of the world.
The conference was sponsored by the School of Nursing, the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program, the McMaster Science and Humanities Societies and the Student Services Program Support Fund.