Comment 77639

By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted May 31, 2012 at 07:25:55

Here's my letter, such that it is. If there is feedback before it actually makes it to print and lands in the hands of Bishop, McHattie, Farr, then I would love to have it.

Dear Trustee Bishop,

I am saddened and angry with the poor faith in which the HWDSB trustees have acted regarding the changes to both schools available to residents of Hamilton’s lower city and the location change of the HWDSB Education Centre. A process was put in place to elicit public input but after the boondoggle of trustee meetings and in camera meetings, the whole process looks to have been fixed.

First, the trend of urban areas is to move from auto-dependent neighbourhoods to those that are walkable. There is an admitted crisis that our Canadian youth are not engaging in enough physical activity. Removing the option for several of them to walk to their neighbourhood school is certainly not going to help remedy the situation. A recent study reviewed on CBC Toronto talked about the link health officials will have with urban planners to build healthier cities. Education officials should also have a say but I believe the decisions you have been a part of will show you to be on the wrong side of history.

Second, the decision to, in camera, disband the task force to look at keeping the HWDSB headquarters in the downtown core was absolutely unconscionable and deceitful. I always hear about “optics” when it comes to our school board. It is a point of conversation that makes its way down from Director John Milloy all the way to those of us in the classroom. Trustee Bishop, the optics on this decision are not good. You and your fellow trustees have committed yourselves to abandoning an important part of our city...a vital, heterogenous, local, innovative area. You are abandoning an “easy” area for our most needy citizens to get to, especially without an automobile. Are you aware of how many bus transfers, and the delicate issue of timing, it would take a concerned parent from Stoney Creek to arrive at the Crestwood location by bus? The concern that the space require 480 parking spots at the expense of precious green space is a slap in the face to any teacher, community advocate, and parent that tries to instill in the children they work with that we need to be preserving and creating more green space, not paving it over. Also of impact is the economic spin-offs that the board employees provide to the LOCAL businesses in the downtown area. Now, a lot of that money may very well be spent at Limeridge Mall. I would imagine that those corporate entities aren’t interested in keeping money in the Hamilton area. So, at the behest of Councillors Mchattie and Farr, a task force was developed to look at downtown options. With the closure of the task force, with the abandonment of discussions about alternative locations, the trustees look to have engaged in a farce and simply went through the motions without any serious intent to engage in an honest discourse. The lesson that this serves to our students runs counter to any of the stated character education goals our board posits in schools.

I’d like to reference this document from the Ministry of Infrastructure;

It indicates that goals for smart growth in the Golden Horseshoe, of which Hamilton is a part, include: Revitalize downtowns to become vibrant and convenient centres. Create complete communities that offer more options for living, working, learning, shopping and playing. Provide housing options to meet the needs of people at any age. Curb sprawl and protect farmland and green spaces. Reduce traffic gridlock by improving access to a greater range of transportation options.

The decision you and the other trustees have committed yourselves to indicate that the group is out-of-touch and antagonistic toward the goals of our province.

I have read other letters to you over the past day. Many are written by writers more eloquent than I. Trustee Bishop, as a teacher, I have admired your support for schools in Ward 1 and 2 over the years. However, I feel that all of that good will you created over the years has been permanently tainted with the actions of the trustees over the past few weeks. As an employee of the board I am unable to run for a position of trustee. However, be certain, that I will actively dialogue with people to take the next election seriously and not be so quick to vote in the status quo. I will work hard to ensure that someone with a more progressive view of our city and of education will be voted in your place.


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