Leadership and Resiliency in Hamilton, Ontario

February 18, 2013

Despite the notoriety of being the site of Canada’s first Tim Horton’s in 1964, the latter part of the 20th century was a decades-long, painful process of deindustrialization that hit the people and economy of Hamilton, Ontario hard. 

But in recent years, there seems to be a remarkable leadership that is turning things around. 

I suspect one of the catalyzing influences in these efforts was the remarkable mix of engagement and action that went in to Hamilton’s development as one of Vibrant Communities’ trail builders. 

The municipal government got on board, striving to achieve community prosperity and sustainable services through a vision that included making Hamilton the best place to raise a child, promoting innovation, better engaging citizens and providing diverse economic opportunities.  Paul Johnston, Director of Neighbourhood Development Strategies with the City of Hamilton, presented Hamilton’s strategies for aligning investments and activities to better support healthy neighbourhoods at CCEDNet’s Ontario Connections for Community 2011 conference.  You can listen to the recording of his presentation on the conference webpage.

Last December, Hamilton’s Planning and Economic Development Department proposed a 3-year CED pilot project

Now, many indicators reveal that Hamilton is in a period of economic growth not seen for decades, even while other communities in Ontario are still suffering the effects of the last recession. 

To better understand this, Hamilton’s Social Planning and Research Council is publishing a series of bulletins looking at the city’s social landscape, analyzing its economic strength, examining how benefits are distributed across the population, and making recommendations to further improve the economy so that all residents share in the prosperity.

Here are two of the key findings from the first bulletin on unemployment:

  • A diversified economy, affordability, skills development collaboration and a focus on poverty reduction have contributed to Hamilton’s low unemployment rate.
  • Hamilton’s economy could be further strengthened by increasing investment in childcare programs, focusing on attracting a greater share of Canada’s immigrants and making Hamilton a living wage community.

Congratulations to the shared leadership that is making Hamilton the best place to raise a child.

What other cities or towns are showing similar leadership?