The Hamiltonian Asks: How Can Hamilton be the Best Place to Raise a Child?

By RTH Staff
Published May 14, 2012

RTH associate editor Adrian Duyzer and editor Ryan McGreal were honoured to contribute responses to the latest Perspectives Virtual Panel over at The Hamiltonian. The question is:

To meet the goal of being recognized as The Best Place to Raise a Child in Canada, what do we need to: Continue doing, Start doing, Stop doing?

The panel also includes responses by Herb Shields, Larry Di Ianni, Graham Crawford, Herman Turkstra, Mark-Alan Whittle, Marvin Ryder, Laura Babcock, Michael Baldasaro, Paul Tetley, M Adrian Brassington, and Tom Cooper.


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By zontar (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:30:17

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By mark (registered) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:35:08 in reply to Comment 76879

I for one welcome our markov chain generator overlords!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:39:56

Considering the city is in the midst of the largest number of concurrent ARCs ever attempted by any board in the province, it was disconcerting to see only two contributors making a reference to the vital role schools have to play in making our city a great place to raise kids. It was also unfortunate that no trustees or senior staff from any of the local boards were invited to contribute.

I've been focusing my ire on the public board's refusal to engage with the city on planning issues over the last few months, but it's a two-way street, no pun intended (ok, it was intended). Clearly there needs to be more awareness on the part of the city and wider community as well. For the last year, it seems the only people talking about the vital social and economic role that local schools play in their communities are the parents and students directly affected by closures, and we've often been vilified as 'selfish' and 'entitled' for our efforts.

It suits the board's ends to marginalize the voices who are pointing out their larger responsibility, and for the most part our local media have been aiding and abetting them. There was lots of great commentary in this piece, but the elephant in the room in any conversation about improving our city for children and families, is the board's heedless, blinkered planning decisions and closed-shop processes. Parents and individual school communities can't do it alone. It is long past the time for city, business, and community leaders to insist that the board include them in its planning decisions. In fact it may already be too late.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-05-14 12:42:50

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 20:26:04 in reply to Comment 76881

Well, as someone on the panel, even if you put aside the crux of my response (that it's absurd to make the claim about being the best place to raise a child), I approached the exercise as being from the point of view that it's the City of Hamilton that has that as its motto, so I would have focused on elements of governance that fall under the direct purview of the city. And (not wanting to start a fire here), education isn't one of these. I had considered it, but really, I didn't want to go down the path of 'lobbying the provincial government for more education funds'. (Ditto for bringing up the subject of LRT).

To me, acknowledging and accepting that there is a vast assortment of areas that the municipality is meant -and indeed, best suited- to deal with is perhaps the first step in maximizing our resources. It often seems to me that we reduce our potential by not taking proper ownership of these elements to the extent that residents fully understand them, too. For example, given some of the discussion I've witnessed over the past six months, the impending HWDSB school closures and the relocation of the Board's headquarters are certainly issues that haven't been understood as fully as they could have been.

As for the disappointment in not having as broad a spectrum of contributors on the panel... I think you should cut Teresa & Co some slack. They've been building this endedeavour for not that long a time now, and I'm sure that they will take the observations to heart. I think the article is a great contribution to increasing quality discourse in the city, helping to raise the overall level of debate.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 14, 2012 at 19:50:55 in reply to Comment 76881

Given the recent decision to close every high school between Westdale and the Valley, I just can't help but scoff at terms like "best place to raise a child".

I can't believe how little discussion has emerged from this, or other similar decisions.

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By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:07:38 in reply to Comment 76893

I believe you have a blog up under your username and I read a piece about school closings. I thought it was well-written. I think there's an equity issue at play as well. How are students from the periphery going to get to this new megaschool? Transportation isn't always easy east to west. With all of this talk about walkability and what it means to neighbourhoods, creativity, community climate, eliminating a cultural hub such as a school can be damaging, I assume. It seems that the outrage is only being heard directly from the communities most affected.

Comment edited by HamiltonBrian on 2012-05-15 13:00:38

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By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 20:13:49 in reply to Comment 76904

Lo and behold, I was just thinking about this very thing the other day; too bad that it might be too late for Hamilton but maybe some injunctions and court work can delay decisions long enough to get these principles into place.

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By why"best"? (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 18:02:30

Why does the town have to say "best"? As the slogan, sure, but what would be wrong with excellent; very good place; fine and nourishing; and a bunch of other admirable attributes And "best" compared to what? Some years ago Mohawk College had an expensively bought and silly slogan--to be the best post-sec inst. anywhere. Hi mom and dad in Saskatoon: I got a full scholarship to Princeton/UBC/McGill/UofT/UofAlberta etc., but I'm Going to Mohawk!! For Hamilton, yes: as good a place as possible to raise children--which means great place for adults too. But this BEST business, I don't know--a bit silly.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 18:32:25 in reply to Comment 76890

True, but let's be honest. They can say whatever they want. Action is what really matters. I'd be completely thrilled if Hamilton's reality was a 'half-decent place to raise a child' and we were headed towards 'good' or 'pretty good'. It would be a heck of a lot better than what we have right now through most of the city. Best or Excellent?? Sorry, but that's not happening in our lifetime unless there is a massive tidal wave of change at city hall through all departments and council.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-05-14 18:32:51

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 20:36:58 in reply to Comment 76892

"Best or Excellent?? Sorry, but that's not happening in our lifetime unless there is a massive tidal wave of change at city hall through all departments and council."

...and none of *that* will happen unless it's mandated by those people who in the main, have traditionally abrograted their responsibilities and duties.

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By recreation facilities and green space (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 21:17:05

Stop doing: Allowing professional sports teams to hijack the injection of funds to renovate or create new recreational facilities in the city

start doing: upgrading and enhancing recreational facilities and parks for our kids to play. Convert parking areas in the core to parks.

Imagine how many parks and facilities Hamilton could have created in the core (our code red communities) if the money we are spending on a stadium for the Ti-cats. What a shame.


stop doing: expanding the urban border.

start doing: create agricultural parks around the periphery of our city int he green belt. Create a partnership with farmers to enhance the trail network to create a 'green ring' of trails around the city.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted May 14, 2012 at 22:16:57

In the context of secondary school education, Hamilton is presently a below average place to raise a child. According to the Fraser Institute academic testing results for Ontario secondary schools 2010-2011, fourteen of the seventeen Hamilton secondary schools are ranked below the provincial median ranking. Equally concerning is that the rankings of thirteen of the seventeen Hamilton high schools have declined over their previous five year average:

What factors are causing Hamilton high schools to fall back relative to secondary schools in other Ontario municipalities? This disturbing decline in the performance of Hamilton secondary schools and how to reverse the trend needs to become an urgent priority at both local school boards and at city hall.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-05-14 22:17:48

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted May 16, 2012 at 09:31:53 in reply to Comment 76900

If you wanna know what's happening in Hamilton's high schools, spend the day in one ~ it'll be an eye-opening experience for you, to be sure.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2012 at 15:38:06

This "best place to raise a child" is such nonsense. The services exist within this city: schools (at all levels), hospitals, recreation centres etc etc.

Parents need to take responsibility for their kids not municipal councillors.

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By zontar the munificent (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2012 at 10:30:30

maybe just level absolutely everything and infill it with a big sandspit into the harbour cant be worse than whats going on there untill now everyone passing by qew can gladly remark that hellhole theyve had to endure the sinus numbing aftertaste at the back of the throat hazard that most people are paralysed to refer as whats holding us back sink it bury it all everything in our world that should be flushed down the toilet is in hamilton its here not to be found in above comments spineless no vision not even possible acceptance of the quintessential unknowable leaps and trials we make sacrifice for a sustainable return glorious pheonixs i know lies dormant under the surface of "the hammer" canada looks down with searing gothic gated prophecy and say steel town with no steel ? unmentionable dreams of a crooked demon right? insteadof a smoldering smoking pit of human hazard transformed before the commuters eyes as we finally reveal the background oasis of hamilton to the forefront where it justly belongs pride

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By Gastro (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2012 at 16:24:20

Possibly course-correct on that whole overweight/obese residents making up 74% of our population thing.

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By Ex Pander (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 06:29:49

Recognized by whom? And to what end?

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