By Jason Leach
Published July 04, 2006

The following website is an amazing tool to guide cities in their growth and development towards success and sustainability:

(You'll notice that my college stomping ground, Portland, Oregon, just received the award as America's most sustainable city.)

There are several categories tallied up to determine a city's ranking and "economic development" is certainly one of them. Hamilton seems to struggle in many of these categories. Perhaps we are still trying to do things "backwards".

Economic development has changed and will continue to change. It's less about clear-cutting quality land, increasing pollution, health risks, noisy and dangerous trucks and sprawl as perhaps it was back a few decades ago.

Now corporations are concerned about the quality of life, health, environment, culture, arts, parks, clean water, transit and social interaction that can be had by them and their employees when moving to a certain city.

This is probably why Toronto has no problem landing new companies willing to pay incredible amounts of money to locate their. Perhaps we shouldn't be bragging so loudly 45 minutes down the highway that we're so much cheaper.

Most CEOs, employers and citizens would likely be concerned as to why we are so much cheaper. I want to see poverty erased, jobs come here, and the health of our youth improve.

Please take some time to browse through this website (visit Portland sometime and you'll realize that they have fun doing this stuff - the city is great and is prospering, healthy, interactive and a North American model) and get a vision for how we can turn Hamilton around.

We can become the envy of the Torontos and Ottawas of the world, just as Portland is the envy of so many larger cities across the U.S.

(Jason sent this letter to Hamilton City Council.)

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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