Halloween and Scarecrows

Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec
Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec

 

Happy Halloween or all Hollows Eve

Oct 31st – Some people like skeletons, other vampires; but for me the scarecrow is the essential halloween symbol.

The tall and skinny figure with a pumpkin for a head, maybe stuffed with some hay, strikes the right note of spooky and the fall harvest.

Walking past a scarecrow you never know if that looming creature may jump out at you.

And history backs up your unease, because at one time scarecrows were living creatures. Walking pass a farmers field could easily stir a sleeping scarecrow.

In pre-industrial Europe and North America, farmers would often place scarecrows in the middle of their modest fields.

To keep the birds away, farmers would hire either the very young or the very old to sit in the fields.
Children too young for other work could easily sit in the middle of a field and swing a wooden clapper to scare the crows.

Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec
Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec

The work was also ideal for the old. Nolonger to perform maunal labour, the aged worker could walk to the field and still keep an eye on the crops. The small compensation might might the difference between eating or starving the days before a social safety net.

So, walking past a scarecrow could easily provoke a reaction from a sleeping senior citizen or a extremely bored child, particularly at dusk.

Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec
Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec

There are also tales of the trouble these little scarecrows could cause if they dropped by your house asking for food or walk. Refusing to provide some small treat might result in mud being jammed into you key hole or the farm gates suddenly opening in the middle of the night.

The spooky nature of scarecrows should never be under estimated. So, that is why I like scarecrow. They provide the perfect balance of history and scariness

5X5 Update 1: James St. Baptist Church

Five different shots, each lasting five seconds, using natural sounds.  James Street Baptist Church on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Letter to City Manager – Re: James St. Baptist

May 21, 2014

Attn: City Manager

I wish to express my concern over the recent approval process for a partial demolition of the James Street Baptist Church.

It is my understanding that the Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee recommended the granting of a demolition permit based on the Developer fulfilling a number of conditions.

This Committee (made up of community volunteers), then directed City Staff to ensure that the conditions were fulfilled before allowing the partial demolition by the Developer.

It is also my understanding that the Director of Planning approved the permit without the decision coming before the Heritage Committee or City Council.  Apparently, there is a committee bylaw that allows for minor alternations to heritage designated buildings to be addressed by City Staff.

It is my view that recommendations by the Permits Sub-Committee (an advisory committee made up of community volunteers) should have their decision reviewed and approved by the Heritage Committee, the Economic Planning Committee, and then by City Council. I believe my view of the decision making process is supported by the mandate descriptions of each of these committees.

If my information is correct, then a bylaw intended for minor decisions was used to make a significant impact to a heritage designated building.  I do not feel volunteers and city staff should be placed in such a decision-making role.  Such decisions are the responsibility of elected city leaders.

Finally, I am concern that no elected officials reviewed the efforts of City Staff to ensure that the conditions were addressed.

While I support the James Street Baptist Church project, because the City deemed the building to be unsafe, I am concern over future demolition requests.  Elected officials could easily be bypassed by City Staff on such important issues as the Hermitage Ruins or the Kerr Buildings.

I would appreciate you looking into this situation, and if required, ensured that good decision-making procedures are established.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Drawing at the Hermitage – Part 2

After a winter of working inside my studio, I just love getting outdoors and drawing or painting from life.  Time pressures and the changing weather conditions creates a certain amount of tension – almost like a game show.  Will he get it done in time?  How bad will the results be?

The other advantage of drawing on location is the people.  I am always surprised by the number of people who will stop and look at your art.  The feedback is always positive, and for someone who works in the isolation of the studio, this is very rewarding.

While it doesn’t show much, here is part two of my efforts to capture the soon to be reduced Hermitage Ruins in Ancaster, Ontario.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Save the Hermitage Ruins

On May 27, 2014 – the Heritage Permits Sub-Committee will be deciding the future of the Hermitage Ruins located in Ancaster.  The Hamilton Conservation Authority wants to demolish the ruins to a height of 3 feet.

 

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Hamilton Artist Update for April 21, 2014.

A weekly review of art related activities by artist, Chris Erskine.  Updates are posted every Monday.

This week:

  1. Heritage Decision-Making Questioned
  2. Another Demolition in the Works
  3. Historical TH&B Bridge Prepares to Come Down
  4. Putting Hamilton into Updates
  5. Sounds Better – new equipment

 

  1. Heritage Decision-Making Questioned

The Durand Neighbourhood Association questioned why the Heritage Permit Review Sub- Committee’s decision to allow the partial demolition of the James Street Baptist Church in Hamilton Ontario was not reviewed and approved by the Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee and Hamilton City Council.  The Heritage Committee argued that the Permits Committee had the authority to delegate decision-making to staff.

 

  1. Another Demolition in the Works

The Hamilton Conservation Authority is seeking the partial demolition of the Hermitage Ruins in Ancaster, Ontario.  The HCA wants to demolish the surviving walls to a height of three feet.  The request goes before the Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee this Wednesday (April 23, 2014).

 

  1. Historical TH&B Bridge Prepares to Come Down

The City of Hamilton is preparing to demolish the last surviving TH&B Bridge.  The Bridge was built in 1894 and provided street access over the railway line that cuts through the Durand and Corktown neighbourhoods.

 

  1. Putting Hamilton into Updates

To make the Updates more unique, I have changed the title of the Updates from Monday’s Artist Update to Hamilton Artist Update.  Hopefully, this will make it easier to locate within Google and Youtube searches.

  1. Sounds Better – new equipment

As anyone who follows my blog knows, good quality sound has been a challenge.  This past week, I started using the Rode shotgun microphone with a dead-cat wind screen.  The results seem fairly good and will help with outdoor location shootings.

 

Hamilton’s Heritage Committee Gets Ear full From Voters

James Street Baptist Church, is a heritage designated building in the City of Hamilton, Ontario.  It is the oldest surviving Baptist Church in the City of Hamilton, Ontario.

Declining church membership and increasing repair costs caused the congregation to sell the building. The Developer, who purchased the building, wants to build condos on the site and save as much of the heritage designated building as possible.

After taking ownership, however, the Developer says he found structural problems that posed a safety risk to the public and sought permission from the City to demolish part of the building.

A sub-committee of the City’s heritage committee (the Permits Committee) agreed to the developer’s request for a partial demolition.

Since the granting of the demolition permit, the Durand Neighbourhood Association, within which the Church is located, has questioned why the demolition permit did not come to the City’s Heritage Committee and then City Council for review and approval.

On April 17th, the Heritage Committee received presentations from the neighbourhood association and the developer.

Local and Independent Reporter, Joey Coleman, provided live video of the meeting.  This video coverage is now posted to his Youtube site.

Below is the video and a time line guide to the two presentations and the questions from the committee.  This is only a guide, for exact wording of questions, answers, and comments, please refer to Joey’s video of the meeting.

Many thanks to Joey Coleman for covering the meeting and his excellent reporting of City Hamilton business.

Video of the Heritage Meeting of April 17th, 2014

 

Timeline Guide to the Meeting

 

Janice Brown, Durand Neighbourhood Association (about 18 mins long)

Presentation starts at about the 11:20 mark.

 

13:26 – discussion of the memorandum on the delegation of Council authority to staff

 

16:10 – Brown has concerns over why the memorandum was not made into a bylaw

 

16:50 – Brown asks several questions of the Heritage including

 

–         Why did the staff and representatives not recognize that James Street Baptist was an extraordinary application?

–         Why was the application not flagged

–         Why did it not go to full consideration by the heritage committee?

–         Why did people not realize that this is a controversial issue and should have been forwarded to planning and economic development committee and Council for final approval?

 

18:45 – questions continue

 

If you disregarded this statement (memorandum) then how did you make the decision to not forward to planning and economic development and Council?

 

–         Don’t know your criteria is?

 

Brown explains the importance of the delegation of authority to staff on the Durand neighbourhood.

 

Brown notes that the Durand neighbourhood may have the most of the heritage designated buildings in Hamilton.  The neighbourhood also has two conservation districts. In the future, any of these buildings might come down without clear criteria.

 

20:00 Brown reads a letter to the Heritage Committee

 

24:00 Chair of the Heritage Committee

 

Chair notes that the procedures put in place were followed.

 

25.00 Questions by Paul Wilson, member of the Heritage Committee

 

–         Bump-up procedures (memorandum) were never made part of the bylaw?

 

25:45   – Comment is made that this should be looked at.

 

26:45   – Jason Farr comments on the Durand Presentation

 

–         Farr notes that he respected the process that was in place

–         This situation provides an opportunity to address this process for future decisions

–         We do this every 5 years, so it is time

 

29:00   – The Durand Neighbourhood Association’s Presentation is received by the Heritage Committee.

 

Louie Santaguida, Stanton Renaissance Presentation (about 16 mins)

 

29.00 – Starts immediately after the end of the Heritage Committee votes to receive the Durand Neighbourhood Association

 

–        Have worked hand-in-hand with the City

–        The City has worked very hard to ensure that every policy and procedure has been keep

–        Have gone beyond (what is required??)

–        One of the very first buildings where you got a letter of credit so that the preservation is maintain

–        View this as a community changer

–        Jason Farr has been kept abreast as far as we can

 

32.00 – Update on the Project

 

–         The hoarding has gone up (the temporary fencing)

–         The road has been closed off

–         Looking at how much can be saved

–         A structural (support wall is being built to protect part of the structure??)

 

32.56 – Update continues

 

–         we are in the design links of the project

–         we are (in a position of) not knowing what we can be built

–         this is not typical

–         being done because of the structural integrity of the building

–         working on issues of parking

 

34.15 – Update continues

 

–         trying to maintain more strain glass

–         trying to incorporate more public space

–         concept plans (should be ready) in about four weeks

 

36.00 – there was an alternative and we decided not to go down that route

 

Questions by Paul Wilson

 

Wilson expresses concern about a heritage building being knotting down without a plan being in place.

 

Is the City telling you that it needs to be torn down now?

 

They gave you a demolition permit, it wasn’t the City’s order that you tear down the building?

 

38.00 – Questions continue

 

Why does it (James Street Baptist Church) need to come down now, before we know what’s going in its place?

 

Can you share a little more about what will go in there?

 

39.49 – Questions continue

 

What is the status of the north wall?

 

When do you hope this project will be completed?

 

Do you have any concerns (regarding completing the project)?

 

40.40 – the Chair of the Permits Committee (who is a member of the Heritage Committee) comments that he has read the original engineering report and is surprised that a demolition order wasn’t put out by the City.

 

41.20 – Rather save some of it than none of it

 

41.29 – Another member of the Heritage Committee cites other buildings that had serious problems and were able to be saved, asks the Developer if there other possibilities for the James Street Baptist Church?

 

43.43 Heritage Committee votes to receive Louie Santaguida’s, Stanton Renaissance Presentation

 

Committee moves onto other issues.

 

Chris Erskine, @erskinec