Hamilton Artist Update: #H24

Hamilton Artist Update 20 – a weekly review of art related activities by Chris Erskine.

This week:

  1. June 3rd – Open House for the Heritage Inventory Project held at Whitehern Mansion
  2. June 6th – Final demolition of the James Street Baptist Church
  3. June 7th – Hamilton 24 Hour Film Festival

 

June 3, 2014: Open House for the Heritage Inventory Project

Hamilton City Staff held an open house for the report submitted to City Council a few weeks ago.  The report created rationale for what should or should not be designated as heritage buildings.  This rationale will apply across different communities that once had their own systems.  As a test, the city staff examined the downtown core to determine what buildings might be recognized.  As a result, nearly 1,000 buildings were identified as heritage designated worthy.

 

June 6, 2014: Final demolition of the James Street Baptist Church

As reported earlier, the developer appeared to be moving quickly to complete the demolition process and this assessment proved correct when the balance of the building was demolished on Friday.  Friends and twitter traffic noted the demolition.  A co-worker took the following photos of the demolition around 8 am on Friday morning.

Raise the Hammer covered the story but the comments still focused on the merits of the demolition rather than the process of approval.  It is still my impression that this demolition was ok by a few community volunteers and city staff.  I am not aware of any politician actually voting for its acceptance.  Again, it is my understanding that community volunteers gave a partial alteration permit to do essentially a partial demolition.  This label allowed the permit to bypass the Heritage Committee, the Planning and Economic Development Committee, and City Council. Thus no elected officially actually approved the decision.  It is also my understanding that the decision to accept this process was ok by city staff.  There is also the question of the list of conditions.  The Permits Committee set a list of conditions, but where and when were these conditions addressed by the above committees?

James Street Baptist Church - Friday morning
James Street Baptist Church – Friday morning

 

James St. Baptist Church Demolition
James St. Baptist Church Demolition
James Street Baptist Church Partial Demolition on June 6, 2014
James Street Baptist Church Partial Demolition on June 6, 2014

 

June 7, 2014: Hamilton 24 Hour Film Festival

On Saturday morning, we got our marching orders for the 2014 Hamilton 24 Hour Film fest.  This year’s challenge was to use the following items in a 5 minute or less film.

Line: Carpe diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.

Prop: Watering can

Location: by Candle light

The kick off was held at the 41 King Williams on the 3rd floor.  It was very much twenties to thirties crowd.  I have since discovered that some of the other teams are very experienced.  I saw one photo of a team using a “Black Magic” 4K camera, these things are very expensive.  Also, some seemed to have access to professional editing equipment.  Meanwhile, I sat in Tim Hortons’s doing my film editing on my laptop.  I am very proud of my creative team and I believed we did a very good job, much better than I was originally expecting.  Hopefully we will make it into the top 10.  There were 35 teams at the start but only 27 submitted by the 9 am deadline on Sunday.  I can’t believe how tired I was from the storyboarding, filming, and editing.  Other members of the team felt the same way.  We find out the results this Friday.

 

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

 

 

5×5 James Street Baptist Church – June 6, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014 – the developer of the James Baptist Church began the final phase of the demolition.  They started around 7 am in the morning and according to friends, the process was complete by early afternoon.  Here are the sights and sounds of the site in the early evening, around 7:00 pm.

 

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

 

5×5 Hamilton’s Heritage Inventory Project – June 3, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 – Hamilton City Staff presented the results of their efforts to create a criteria for selecting important heritage buildings from different period of Hamilton’s history at an open house.  The event occurred at the 1850s Whitehern mansion, located just a block away from the partially demolished James Street Baptist Church.  Here are the sights and sounds of the late afternoon event.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

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

Hamilton Artist Update 19: James Street Baptist Church

Special thanks to the blogger of NotMyTypeWriter who flagged to my attention the start of the external demolition of the James Street Baptist Church.  She writes a great blog and I encourage everyone to take look at her postings.

Always amazed by the number of people who stop and comment on heritage when I do my filming.  It is too bad that I never have the camera on when they start to talk.

As I mention in the video, my principle concern with the partial demolition of the James Street Baptist Church is the process and the role the Heritage Permit Review Committee played.  I emailed the City Manager several weeks ago to ask him to look into the decision-making process.

At the rate that the demolition is going, I would suspect that most of the building will be demolished by the end of June. So, if you want to see the James Street Baptist Church you better do it now.

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.

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

Monday’s Update for April 7, 2014

A weekly update of art related activities with a focus on Hamilton, Ontario; by artist Chris Erskine. Updates are posted every Monday.

 Topics for this week:

1.)        Mastering Time

2.)        We Are Not Alone

3.)        Heritage List Goes to Council

4.)        Durand Letter Goes to Council

5.)        Printing Architecture

6.)        Kirk Cobain

 

1.) Mastering time

Time-lapse photography continues to be a challenge.  I am learning how to deal with bright sunny days that wash out the colours.  This means using neutral density lenses and learning how to do colour correction and colour grading.

I have provided raw samples of the work done over the past seven days.

The second challenge is learning how to tell stories with film.  How do you write a story that is interesting to the audience?  What are filming techniques for storytelling?  For example, when do you use wide, medium, and close-up shots?  How do you use sound and music to support the story?  How do you use editing bring everything together?

My goal is to create compelling visual stories Hamilton’s built heritage and thus make more people interested saving our history.

What makes history important is not what it says about the past, but what is says about our future.

2.) We are not alone

We are not alone is trying to save our past.  The Saturday’s edition of the Globe and Mail had an article about a condo developer demolishing an 1896 building in their heritage district.  What is particularly funny-sad about the situation is the situation is that the developer is going to copy the style of the 1896 building in the new building.

Heritage advocates are worried that the new condo project will weaken the support for the heritage district.  What is already sad is the 1896 building was filled with good paying tenants from the film industry.

 

3.) Heritage Inventory List Goes to Council

Last Wednesday, the Heritage Inventory List Project Report was accepted by Council.  The Report listed almost 1,000 potential heritage-worthy buildings in the down-town core.  Along with the list, the Project created a community statement that will act as criteria for determining what properties should or should not be included.  This community statement will vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, and hopefully capture how each area of Hamilton is the product of different histories.

Brian McHattie cited the example of Westdale and the pressure to build larger homes within a community mostly shaped by 1920s and 1930s architecture.

It will be interesting to see the list for the down-town properties.  While Westdale is largely shaped by one period, the inter-war period, others like the down-town are shaped by different eras that all have a valid claim for recognition and preservation.

 

4.) Durand Letter Goes to Council

Durand Neighbourhood Association Raises Questions
Durand Neighbourhood Association Raises Questions

The Durand Neighbourhood Association has expressed concern over the decision making process surrounding the partial demolition of the James Street Baptist Church.  The Heritage Permits Committee is a sub-committee of the Heritage Committee.  All Committees work for Hamilton City Council.  So, it is my understanding that the Durand folks are questioning why the approval for the partial demolition was not reviewed and approved by first the Heritage Committee and then Hamilton City Council.

The letter was addressed to City Council and Joey Coleman noted that it was addressed, but I could not find a discussion (if any) during the nearly six hour meeting of Council.  I do not know if the letter was merely accepted into the records or whether Council offered comments.

If anyone knows, please send me a tweet.

 

5.) Printing Architecture

I came across this amazing VEMIO video on using a 3D printer to create room with architectural features.  It was amazing and reminded me of “I Robert” where the home of the creator of Roberts is demolished because he was dead.  Like fake wood furniture, the home little value after the owner died.

If the home were built in a traditional manner, this would seem like a terrible waste but imagine if they a 3D printer built it.

 

6.) Kirk Cobain

Kirk Cobain dies 20 yrs ago
Kirk Cobain dies 20 yrs ago

Saturday’s was the 20th anniversary of the suicide of Kirk Cobain – it is amazing how time flies.  I remember buying cassette tapes of Nirvana from Sam the Record Man on James Street North.  The Globe and Mail had a good story on Cobain in the Saturday edition.