A shift in the way Hamilton operates, thinks and acts is entirely possible with enough people working together to make that change.
By Meredith Broughton
Published October 14, 2011
The principles of the Hamilton Civic League state:
Members of The Hamilton Civic League are passionate about Hamilton and the potential our city offers. We want to ensure all Hamiltonians have the opportunity to play a role in the exciting future that lies ahead. What type of city do we want? What is our city's long-term vision? Do we have the best people leading us to our goals?
Our mission is to develop an all-inclusive, non-partisan civic league representing Hamilton community stakeholders to encourage and inspire our community to become informed about local issues, to raise community involvement in local democracy, and to promote accountability, accessibility and transparency in our municipal government.
These principles have been at the core of the Hamilton Civic League's efforts for the two years of our existence, giving shape and direction to our activities. During this time, we've seen elections at all three levels of government and several major issues covered extensively at the municipal level.
From light rail transit, stadiums, velodromes and the West Harbour to the airport, there have been many issues of city-wide importance recently that have long-term implications.
Whether it's the findings of the Code Red series or subdivision construction starting without permits, there are many places the citizens of Hamilton have made their voice heard - while others have said, again, It's Hamilton, what can you expect?
While there are some encouraging signs (municipal voter turnout up from 2006 to 2010 is one), general participation in our own governance is hard work - and many have quietly decided that it's not worth the hassle.
This attitude of stasis, entropy, and an unchangeable city is firmly entrenched here, and to start momentum from nothing, it takes a lot of effort. Every single push is needed, and it's a welcome sight when we finally start to see movement.
Even more inspiring is when areas of this city begin to catalyze, to move faster, to actually see momentum build. For that to happen throughout Hamilton requires an engaged citizenry, and for many voices to speak. A shift in the way Hamilton operates, thinks and acts is entirely possible with enough people working together to make that change.
Last year, Town Halls Hamilton's founder M. Adrian Brassington began writing about "Increasing the relationship of engagement between residents and their Councillors" first on his blog 'My Stoney Creek' and now on his website. (As a point of interest, the prime inspiration came from a protracted email exchange between him and Raise the Hammer's editor, Ryan McGreal.)
While the Hamilton Civic League had been in touch with Adrian at various points, it was not until last month we met, also bringing Michael Borrelli of the Town Halls' Steering Committee to the table.
We recognize the continuity between our previous speaker series / civic meetings and the goals of Town Halls Hamilton, and we approach their activities with a spirit of full support and encouragement.
In the efforts of Adrian, Michael, and the others with THH, we've identified a shared passion for civic engagement. The end result could only be one of collaboration, combining forces between the Hamilton Civic League and Town Halls Hamilton to raise the bar and call citizens to participatory, effective dialogue and engagement with their city.
The result is a partnership between the Hamilton Civic League and Town Halls Hamilton, in which we will encourage and assist each other towards our common goals as laid out in our respective Mission Statements:
Town Halls Hamilton's aim is to create concerted, city-wide opportunities for increased engagement between residents and their Councillors. Providing the former with a better sense of consultation and contribution and the latter with a clearer image of what their constituents want, the result will hopefully be the forging of better links within more authentic kinds of support and service...thereby making Hamilton a much better place in which to live."
[The Hamilton Civic League's] mission is to develop an all-inclusive, non-partisan civic league representing Hamilton community stakeholders to encourage and inspire our community to become informed about local issues, to raise community involvement in local democracy, and to promote accountability, accessibility and transparency in our municipal government.
We at the Hamilton Civic League believe that this kind of strategic alliance provides more opportunities by which to effect change and to shift the landscape than simply 'going it alone'. We look forward to working with Adrian and his organization.
Their plans for the future and their execution are yet another push that will bring this city out of stasis. One step more towards momentum in Hamilton - moving this city forward, and harnessing Hamilton's primary resource, its residents.