With all of the positive developments in Hamilton’s downtown, it was inevitable that there would be pressure to ‘ clean up’ some of the ongoing concerns in the core.
But let’s not be naive in thinking that passing a new bylaw or enforcing existing laws is going to make the problems go away.
A crackdown on drug traffic is a no-brainer, but addressing the concern of people who are ‘ just hanging around’, well that’s a more complex issue.
A number of social service advocates pointed out that many of those who are said to be loitering, may have no where else to go because of a lack of affordable housing or assistance programs .
When New York Mayor Rudy Guilliani wanted to solve similar problems in New York’s Times Square, the City did enact and enforced behavioral bylaws, but they also spent millions of dollars on affordable housing and support programs and a ton of money to increase police and bylaw patrols in the area.
And, it worked; midtown Manhattan is prospering and residents and visitors feel safe walking the streets.
But the solution involved addressing the needs of the disadvantaged and that cost a lot of money.
The lesson to be learned , is that , if Hamilton wants to address these very real concerns, we need to address the underlying causes of the problem, or we’re just wasting our time.