Getting Hamilton Unstuck: An Evening with Doug Saunders

Cities that get stuck experience significant inequalities of income, health outcomes, educational achievement outcomes and pockets of violence.

By Maureen Wilson
Published February 24, 2016

Doug Saunders, an international affairs columnist with the Globe and Mail, has been commissioned by the senior economist at The World Bank to look at factors that cause some cities to "get stuck" - and how they might get "unstuck". Doug has been travelling the world with this as his mission.

Cities that get stuck experience significant inequalities of income, health outcomes, educational achievement outcomes and pockets of violence.

In last Saturday's Globe and Mail he reported on some of his findings in a lengthy special feature titled "Unstuck".

We are so very pleased that Doug will be sharing the findings of his research to date with the Useful Knowledge Society this March 8. We would like you to join us in this discussion.

In keeping with our mandate, admission is free and all curious minds are welcome. Space is limited so please register.

We think his research will be instructive for a couple of reasons:

1. Hamilton is Stuck

While we talk about renaissance, Hamilton is still seeking to transition out of an industrial economy. Yes, we should trumpet are successes and learn from them. But despite our envied location in the rich GTHA, we have significant economic disparities, and as the Hamilton Spectator has revealed, significant health disparities.

Simply put, if you are poor in Hamilton, you won't live as long and in all likelihood you don't have a family doctor and stable, reliable medical care. The path out is a difficult one. We also have an educational achievement gap.

2. We Need to Shore Up our Middle Class

Transitioning out of an industrial to a post-industrial economy has not been easy. What do we need to do to shore up our middle class to ensure the city works for more people? How do we help more of neighbours move up and into a solid middle class footing?

What are the risks if we stall? What tools are available to help us in terms of how we build and manage our city?

3. New Citizens

In addition, Hamilton is becoming increasingly diversified. Hamilton has a higher level of refugees than most other Canadian cities. 20 percent of foreign-born children living in Hamilton arrived as refugees, compared to the national average of around 11 percent.

When my parents arrived in Canada, there were pathways available to move up and into the middle class. We got lucky with the time of our arrival. Do these pathways still exist?

How does the form of our neighbourhoods help or hinder the opportunities available to new Canadians? How does the way we regulate our small businesses with by-laws and zoning help or hinder pathways?

There is a lot to talk about. We can learn from what other cities are doing in their efforts to build healthy, more inclusive and prosperous communities. Please join us and join in the conversation.

An Evening with Doug Saunders and the Useful Knowledge Society of Hamilton

Wheelchair accessible and also accessible by public transit, bike and car. Free parking behind the building.

Admission is free but space is limited so please register.

Maureen Wilson is the Councillor for Ward 1 in Hamilton.


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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted February 26, 2016 at 16:54:26

Hamilton is still seeking to transition out of an industrial economy.

Huh? I work as a professional Accountant in the Hamilton factory of a world-class manufacturer. I strongly disagree with any assertion that we should transition out of manufacturing. People will always use stuff and there will always be good jobs for other people in making it.

I would suggest that our goal for Hamilton should be a mixed economy, "not all eggs in one basket." With manufacturing excellence being part of that mixture.

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By beancounter (registered) | Posted February 27, 2016 at 10:20:47

Thank you, Kevin! As a retired professional accountant with over 40 years of manufacturing experience I heartily share your point of view.

The reality is, however, that many products can be made more cheaply in other countries. Most of my former employers have closed their plants or downsized and moved the remaining capacity to other Canadian locations.

I could take you for a lengthy tour of Hamilton to show you the places that I worked during my career. Not all of them are now used for manufacturing; one was for a long time an actual hole in the ground. I think it is now a parking lot.

Perhaps I did not choose my employers wisely and should have looked for ones that are more viable under today's circumstances. I am pleased to note that you have found one of them.

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