Of all the many people I’ve spoken to about Hamilton only two have made a face indicating their horror at the idea. In the one case it was a relative who pretty much makes a face at everything I say (so it didn’t bother me much) and in the other case I likely had it coming because I did re-enact a dramatic slow death from poisoning when the word All-Bran was mentioned. It’s not a bad statistic since up until a couple months ago I also thought of the place as an industrial wasteland of nightmares.
So perhaps I post this because I’m still trying to convince myself that moving there doesn’t suck but also to say, I’ve carefully measured the risks – I’m not a friggen moron.
The one big point that has been troubling me about Hamilton is the air quality and other environmental degradation caused by the steel industry there. Well, guess what? These are the same concerns that people living there have already had for years and remedial efforts are already well under way.
In terms of air quality, inhalable particulate matter is slightly higher in downtown Hamilton than in other Ontario communities. This is obviously partially due to industry but Hamilton is, unfortunately, also downwind of the Nanticoke coal-fired generating station which has the dubious distinction of being Ontario’s worst polluting source of energy. Levels of respirable particulate matter will likely improve in 2009 when the plant is slated for closure, unless the Province delays it again. Levels benzene and benzo[a]pyrene (cancer-causing pollutants) have been significantly reduced over the last ten years and will continue to improve as environmental laws are tightened. Ozone on the "mountain" is fairly high but comparable to other southwestern Ontario communities that are heavily affected by transboundary air pollution (like London). Levels of nitrogen dioxide in downtown Hamilton are fairly high but are similar to those in downtown Toronto and have remained constant over the last decade. Since I already spend the vast majority of my time in downtown Toronto and will continue to do so even after we move, this does not concern me. In addition, levels of sulphur dioxide are LOWER in Hamilton than in Toronto, Sarnia, Windsor and Sudbury.*
In light of Toronto’s emissions, I can’t see how I’m any worse off in Hamilton. Honestly, you Toronto people are so blind to what’s in your own backyards!
As for the other environmental issues, Hamilton is working on those too. You can swim in Hamilton Harbour now and fish population is increasing. Despite Blue Flag designation, there isn’t a lot of swimming going on in Toronto’s beaches and if you’ve ever seen a photo of the Humber plume you know why. Toronto’s beaches can be monitored here and as the summer goes on most of the green dots will turn red. Hamilton’s beaches can be monitored here and I will be interested to see what happens to those over the course of the summer.
So these things give me a bit comfort about being lured in by the real estate. See Exhibits A-D, four houses we can easily afford in Hamilton that would be completely out of our league if they were located in Toronto. (I think these would be in the $400,00 to maybe even $700,000 for the last one).
Exhibit A (El Cheapo #1):
As a little girl I never really dreamed about a big foofy wedding dress or a white picket fence or any of that other stupid shit that little girls are taught to dream about (clearly, my parents are awesome). But I did always want to live in a Victorian, and I still do. ($125,900).
Exhibit B (El Cheapo #2):
I’m not a huge fan of stucco exteriors, but the interior of this house is adorable. ($139,000).
Exhibit C (The Arts and Crafts Porch):
Arts and Crafts ties Victoriana as my favourite movement. ($169,888).
Exhibit D (Overall Awesomeness):
Actually, there are no interior pictures on this listing so I don’t know if the interior is, in fact, awesome. However, there is vine growing on the back of the house which I am a huge sucker for even though my father, who is infinitely practical, will remind me that vine destroys brick and the only purpose it serves is to give insects a home. Well, yes, but it’s pretty! ($179,900).
So in conclusion, if you are one of the people who’s asked me in the last couple weeks if we’re still thinking about it, then the answer is yes. But let’s just keep in mind that as a Gemini, this could easily turn into just another project on my gigantic list of things to do.
* Source of facts in this paragraph (unless otherwise linked): Clean Air Hamilton