Posted December 30, 2019
We asked seven Hamiltonians what their three wishes are for the city in 2020. Here's what they had to say.
Veronica Gonzalez, an ACORN member and tenant on Hamilton Mountain.
1. I wish Hamilton city council protects tenants in 2020. ACORN (a tenants rights group) is calling on the city to bring in a no displacement policy that prevents landlords from forcing out families so that they can increase the rent.
2. That every tenant in Hamilton has a safe and healthy home. We need stronger bylaws and proactive enforcement from the city.
3. That more people talk to their neighbours and get involved in their building, neighbourhood and city. People power!
Sophie Geffros, activist and McMaster University research assistant
1. It has been a bad year for our LGBTQ+ communities, our black and Indigenous communities, our Muslim and Jewish communities, and our disabled communities, to name a few. Wishing that 2020 is better for marginalized people isn't enough. My wish for 2020 is that everyone, but particularly people who may hold positions of relative privilege, joins together with marginalized communities and acts.
2. This is not the time to be running austerity budgets – it's time to invest in people, in housing, in sustainable infrastructure and transit. Our time is running out, and in the meantime people are dying. My wish for 2020 is that our elected officials recognize that and act.
3. I wish for everyone to understand that change doesn't happen from the top-down, it happens when large groups of people organize and say "enough is enough." I want to shout out Hamilton ACORN, the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, Environment Hamilton, and the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion. They all need our time and our money in order to succeed. 2019 has been rough for so many people, and it's likely to get worse. Don't just mourn – organize.
Amy McKechnie, sister of man who died at Barton Jail
1. Better supports and communication for inmates and families. A family should NEVER have to be told of a loved one's death from friends! Inmates need more rehabilitation and preventative programs so they don't constantly re-offend. Release them better then you received them!
2. Hamilton has a serious problem with homelessness that needs to be addressed. We need more affordable housing and shelter, community supports. Everyone deserves to have a roof over their head and food in their belly. These are the bare basic human rights and necessities. Stop ignoring the problem and start doing something to help fix it. No child should have to ask why that boy is sleeping on the street and ask if we can bring him home and feed him. No child or adult should have to wonder if they will be safe or if they will wake up from the frigid weather because they have no shelter or wonder if and when their next meal will be.
3. Better school supports for those with learning disabilities. More EA's and one-on-one help. Children should not have to fall years behind their peers before they can receive any kind of extra help nor should they be pushed through grades if they are not at that level. Bring back life skills to elementary schools like home economics and woodworking class. Teach kids how to actually live a daily life.
Gabriela Roberts, co-president of the McMaster University Black Students Association
1. HARRC to come to a resolution that allows members of our community and vulnerable persons to feel included and heard.
2. For transit infrastructure to be better supported by our provincial government, allowing for Hamiltonians to have a transit system that is up to date with their needs
3. For McMaster students to achieve their academic goals, hopefully finishing the academic year strong
Tara Rezvan, chief financial officer of the Ontario Student Trustees Association
1. For the city of Hamilton to have 0 unemployment. I firmly believe that every individual has a strength to offer to the workforce!
2. For all Hamilton youth to have a safe home, and a positive school environment so they can feel appreciated and reach their full potential. So at minimum, everyone will graduate with a secondary school diploma.
3. For Hamilton to be the first city in the whole world where bullying does not exist!
Tys Theijsmeijer: head of natural areas, Royal Botanical Gardens
1. Clean water flowing to Cootes Paradise Marsh and on to Lake Ontario. Living on the shores of one the largest freshwater lakes in the world requires a much greater respect for water, and the urban areas and their residents need to step it up.
2. A Greenway for Hamilton and Burlington to allow local city residents to walk and cycle their way to local nature trails to experience the mental and spiritual rejuvenation that millennia of our ancestors naturally have imbedded into our DNA.
3. Let's put a real value on the tremendous natural assets we have in Hamilton and create A Biodiversity Action Plan, as part of the Hamilton and Burlington Climate Change approach. We are part of a global ecosystem that keeps this planet alive, but we are losing our biodiversity and must stop taking these things for granted.
Jesse Thistle, author and social activist
1. That Hamilton somehow find outside support to at least begin the LRT. This, despite the province's decision to squash the project.
2. That the city expands its safe injection sites and also implements a managed opioid program—both of these, which can be modelled off the MOP program Inner City Health Associates in Ottawa are already doing, are needed to curb the overdose rates in the Hamilton, which is far greater than the provincial average.
3. Housing stock given to the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre's "Endaayaang" program which serves Indigenous youth who are homeless and need a stable community and housing to get off the streets. The program is cutting edge nationally and could use an injection of municipal cash and property/housing to expand and become more effective, which, in the end, would save Hamilton taxpayers money in the long-run as homeless youth become adults who experience chronic bouts of homelessness and all the emergency costs associated with it.
Article source: CBC Hamilton