Hamilton

As CBC Hamilton celebrates 10 years in the city, we ask: what should the next 10 hold?

To mark the 10-year anniversary of the Hamilton newsroom, we spoke to Hamiltonians about how they think the city has changed in the time they've known it and what they'd like to see in the next 10 years ahead.

We've been sharing stories from this city for a decade now. What's yours?

CBC Hamilton asked people in the city what they love about the area, how they came to be in Hamilton and their hopes for the city moving forward. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

CBC Hamilton has been sharing stories from this city for a decade now.

On May 9, 2022, we mark 10 years since we opened shop here and while we're looking forward to celebrating on a larger scale with the community later this fall, we're taking the day to do what we love most: sharing the journeys and perspectives of other Hamiltonians with you.

In the lead-up to Monday's anniversary, we spoke to residents about how the city has changed in the time they've known it and what they'd like to see in the next 10 years. 

We also asked: What do you love about Hamilton? What needs improving? Many people pointed to the abundance of nature in the city as a bright spot and the growing affordability crisis as an area in need of change. 

Do you have a Hamilton story to share? Email hamilton@cbc.ca or share on social media using #CBCHamilton10.

Hardik Sardhara

Hardik Sardhara, 20, said he came to Hamilton a week ago after moving from Montreal. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

The sun was shining down on Hardik Sardhara, who was sitting in Hamilton's Gore Park last Thursday afternoon.

The 20-year-old said he just finished a job interview with Concentrix, a company that hires customer service representatives, among other roles. "They're most probably likely to hire me, so I'm happy," Sardhara said.

It was just his third day in Hamilton after moving from Montreal. He immigrated from India to Montreal about five years ago and said he's applying for a work visa.

WATCH: Resident says city needs better transit

Hardik Sardhara says he likes Hamilton but would like better transit

3 months ago
Duration 0:29
Hardik Sardhara says he likes Hamilton but would like better transit in the city.

Sardhara said he finished his studies in the information technology sector and came to Hamilton for work.

Despite not living in the downtown area for long, he's already noticed something he'd like to change in the next few years.

"Personally I don't have a car, so I usually use public transportation, but the buses are very slow and it's a big city, so they should have a metro … compared to Montreal, it's very slow," Sardhara said.

But Sardhara listed more things he likes about the city than the things he thinks need improving. "Hamilton does have good food, I'm not going to lie about that … people are nice," he said.

Calla Churchward

Calla Churchward said Hamilton has a small-town feel. She'd like to see more affordable housing here. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Calla Churchward was in Bayfront Park on Thursday.

She said despite Hamilton being a big city, it can feel small.

"There's many pockets of communities that are interlinked and I really love that," Churchward said, adding she likes hamilton's grit.

WATCH: Resident says more affordable housing needed

Calla Churchward says Hamilton needs more affordable housing

3 months ago
Duration 0:46
Calla Churchward says Hamilton needs more affordable housing

The biggest change she's seen in the city since moving in 2015 has been gentrification.

"A lot more condos, a lot more homelessness and poverty," she said. "People getting displaced from their homes and having to move out, I'm noticing a lot of that struggle."

Churchward said she wants to see more affordable housing in the future.

Diana and Rimas Alshteiwei

Diana Alshteiwei and her daughter Rimas moved to Hamilton in 2017 to escape war in Syria. Rimas says they hope for two things for the future of the city: kindness and green space. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Diana Alshteiwei and her 11-year-old daughter Rimas say they moved to Hamilton five years ago to escape war in Syria.

"We wanted a peaceful life," said Rimas.

Rimas said people have generally been nice, but she has seen more racism since 2017, especially in the past year. "Some people are getting a little bit ruder. They used to be nice but I just think something happened," Rimas said.

Her anecdote aligns with local and national hate crime statistics. The Hamilton Police Service recorded 21 hate crimes last year — more than 2019, 2018 and 2017 combined. Data on reported hateful interactions also showed a sharp rise in incidents toward the Muslim community.

Rimas said she hopes people become kinder to each other. She also said she hopes to see more parks. "I want to see more grass, I feel like there are too many buildings."

Chris Lawrence

Though he is soon moving out of the city, Chris Lawrence, 65, says he has really enjoyed his time living here. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Chris Lawrence is 65 and retired. He moved from Oshawa to Ancaster about five years ago.

"We've really enjoyed it. The waterfalls in the area, the nature," Lawrence said.

He said he's spent many a day walking his sheepadoodle around the city, namely around Redeemer University where Lawrence lives.

"Before I came to Hamilton, you just thought of it as a steel town but no, there's a lot of nice countryside in the area. It's not a very long drive and you feel like you're out in the country," Lawrence said, adding he has started to notice more development in Hamilton.

Lawrence said he's moving soon to Parry Sound to be live close to family there and will miss eating at the Russell Williams Family Restaurant in Burlington, but if he does come back, he hopes local traffic is calmer.

"Especially later in the day, if you go through anywhere from 3:30 to 5 p.m. up the Red Hill, it's stop and go all the way up the hill," he said.

The other thing he'd like to see is the city continuing to develop the waterfront.

Sarah Zaharuk

Sarah Zaharuk, 40, says she loves the city's parks and local food scenes but the city needs to do a better job of addressing homelessness. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Sarah Zaharuk describes herself as an "economic refugee."

She said she left Toronto's North York area for Hamilton's Durand neighbourhood in 2019 right before the pandemic. "Since then, the rent has skyrocketed in the city," she said.

Zaharuk said she and her partner have a farm outside the city with 75 sheep and a market garden they run year long.

Zaharuk and her 21-month-old daughter were enjoying the sunny afternoon in Durand park on Thursday, but last year the park looked different. She said it was the site of an encampment that lasted for months and had over two dozen people.

WATCH: Resident says city needs better transit

Sarah Zaharuk says cost of living is a problem in Hamilton

3 months ago
Duration 1:27
Sarah Zaharuk says the cost of living is a problem in Hamilton.

"The cost of living is out of control, so the situation, of course, is people are literally moving into parks because there's nowhere to live," she said.

"I love to walk along the escarpment and there are people living in tents in the trees."

While Zaharuk loves the city's parks, the food scene on Locke Street and the Durand Market, she said the city needs to do a better job of addressing homelessness.

"Something I'd like to see change is absolutely access to low-income housing and some serious legislation around rent increases."

Shanice Foster

Shanice Foster has lived in Hamilton her whole life. The waterfalls remain a favourite aspect, she says. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Shanice Foster, 29, says she's lived in Hamilton her whole life. She lives on the mountain, but works downtown.

Foster, like others, said the parks and waterfalls are among her favourite things in the city.

Foster said the cost of living and the amount of homelessness have grown, and it needs to change. "These people live way below the poverty line and it's very sad, nobody can survive anymore."

Chantal Paquette

Chantal Paquette, 48, said she's happy to see a rise in immigration into Hamilton. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Chantal Paquette said she's been living in Hamilton since 2017 to be closer to family.

The massage therapist and security guard said she's lived in a few different areas in the city to find the best rent price and air conditioning.

Paquette, like others, praised the nature around Hamilton, as well as Peace Memorial Park and the shops on Locke Street.

She said she has seen the Durand area become more upscale over the last few years as more people come from Toronto. She's also seen more immigrants arrive in the city.

"It's a good thing," Paquette said. "I think we can all learn some new languages and learn how to live together with different cultures."

She has also said the cost of living is growing. In four years, she says, the cost of rent has increased by $500.

Paquette said there should be more supports for unhoused people and people living with mental illness. "They're not just crazy, they're not necessarily poor, they're just in a bad spot … they need resources, not to be left on the street."

Heurtha Thomson

Born and raised in Hamilton, Heurtha Thomson said she thinks the city will change for the better in future years. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Heurtha Thomson is another born-and-raised Hamiltonian. The 83-year-old has lived in different spots around the city but currently is in a downtown condo.

She said she spent most of her working life with Hamilton police as a dispatcher. She remembers city parades growing up that would bring neighbours together.

"I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."

Thomson said she wishes neighbourhoods around the city now would become more connected. "People aren't talking to each other anymore."

Her main hope for the city is they don't lose any more parks. "Keep the trees," Thomson said.

But she's optimistic and believes the city will change for the better moving forward.

"Because we're going to have to change too."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.

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