Living Downtown is a Source of Comfort and Support
From the Nest, Issue 11
by Deanna Allain
Heading into the holiday season, and after the very recent success of Hamilton Day, I’m sure many of us find that supporting local businesses and our communities are top of mind.
When looking for ways to connect with our communities, support local businesses, and give back this year, I’m grateful to live in the the Kirkendall neighbourhood. As someone newer to the downtown community, I want to share some of the things that have helped me to feel welcome, supported, and connected since I arrived.
One of my absolute favourite things about living downtown since moving from the mountain is the easy access to so many amazing coffee shops. I recently made an abrupt move for my personal safety and well-being, and I’ve found being so close to community, and my favourite coffee shops, to be a genuine source of comfort and support.
Friendly faces on the street, carefully navigating around fellow dog owners, and taking time to deeply consider my donut selections for the weekend, have quickly become new traditions.
Living on the mountain was absolutely different from being downtown, in many ways. I’ve really noticed the close proximity to many local shops, and the walkability to just about everything, have been excellent advantages since I moved! Don’t get me wrong, Concession Street on the mountain is a beloved Hamilton hub for unique local shops and eateries, not to mention their incredible seasonal events.
I miss being closer to Concession Street to grab brunch, coffee, or to enjoy the sidewalk sounds music on summer evenings. But living downtown, I’ve found, is a treat in its own way. There are just as many events, sometimes enjoyed right from my window, but I can also walk to get groceries or spend time in neighbourhood parks.
It’s the proximity and more accessible pedestrian infrastructure that has really helped me to connect to my community. Being able to take a short walk to incredible cups of coffee and tea from Relay Coffee Roasters, Trueshot Coffee, Democracy on Locke, and Durand Coffee, to name a few, has made for a wonderful reason to go out and see friends on the weekends.
And being so close to living wage employers like Cake and Loaf Bakery and Donut Monster also makes it so easy (and sweet!) to support local businesses that invest in their employees.
The Locke Street BIA and the businesses on the street do an incredible job promoting, decorating, and coordinating great community events. Saturdays Un-Locked was a huge success over the summer, making for fantastic weekend plans to visit the seasonal Locke Street Farmer’s Market, eat on the patio at a restaurant, and browse in so many unique shops down the street.
Modified and distanced Halloween activities and the tree lighting have made it possible for families to safely celebrate the holidays. The beautiful seasonal planters, banners, and decorative lighting make it a favourite street for so many to walk at any time of day. It will be very exciting to also see the locally organized Winter Windows in the Kirkendall neighbourhood as the holidays approach!
These aren’t the only things that make neighbourhoods feel like communities, especially when it comes to supporting our neighbours.
In addition to the incredibly successful fall food drive held by the Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association, which totalled 15,796 lbs donated, Locke Street recently welcomed a community fridge in the parking lot of Blessings Christian Church (corner of Locke Street South and Stanley Avenue).
The community fridge accepts donations of packaged pantry items and canned goods, and has a freezer and fridge for fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, pet food, and hygiene products, among other things.
Much like the other community fridges in Hamilton managed by Community Fridges HamOnt, this independently organized fridge is made possible by volunteers and donations of food by neighbours in the community. If you haven’t been by to see it yet and are thinking of dropping off some goods, picking up some fresh produce from the Dundurn Market or Hamilton Farmers’ Market is a great way to shop small and give back.
The last couple years have been trying for so many of us, with the ongoing pandemic, housing crises, unemployment, increased risk for domestic violence, and the systemic factors that have led COVID-19 to disproportionately impact women and Black, Indigenous, and people of colour in Hamilton. Giving where we can, when we can, however we can makes it possible for our communities to meet needs that existing systems don’t.
Buying a locally brewed coffee, thinking local when shopping for gifts for the holidays, adding an extra item with our groceries to leave at the community fridge, donating to a food bank, shelter, advocacy organization or grassroots group dedicated to supporting our neighbours are just a few ways we can have meaningful impact and truly embrace the holiday spirit.
Deanna Allain is a lifelong Hamiltonian, engaged politico, and avid local coffee drinker