Hamilton needs to review its wards, in spite of the pain it may cause

Opinion Apr 16, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

Few issues can make a Hamilton councillor shudder with fear or provoke outbursts of anger, but a proposed ward boundary review debate has the potential of unleashing the pent up frustration and years of disrespect and insecurities that both suburban and urban councillors have managed to internalize.

So with typical non-decision decision, councillors last week allowed a ward boundary review to take place even though politicians voted 8-8 to receive the motion. A tie vote means a motion fails, but in Hamilton’s suburban-urban political divide the review will occur because the last council had agreed to it.

The lack of democracy for a large section of Hamiltonians has been apparent to all. Hamilton Mountain councillors have complained for years they are representing mini-cities, with Ward 7 councillor Scott Duvall overseeing a population of about 60,000. In contrast, Flamborough’s Robert Pasuta represents the largest area by geography, but the lowest in population at about 15,000.

However, Hamilton is witnessing a surge in growth in many areas, such as Ward 11 with Glanbrook, and in particular Binbrook, mushrooming, and Winona is poised to add more residents in the coming years. A population boom is also occurring in Hamilton’s downtown, especially along the waterfront. Already, more people are relocating to the core — something politicians and city staff advocated for a decade — resulting in more condos, more activities and more people.

Remember, according to provincial calculations Hamilton is projected to grow to 780,000 people by 2048.

Hamilton’s demographic reality butts up against the political dynamics around the council table. Currently, councillors usually vote along urban-suburban lines. That demarcation has been even more stark this term over issues particularly sensitive to urban politicians such as transit. The mayor of the day has usually played peacemaker, sometimes siding with suburban politicians knowing full well the political votes are in the suburban areas. Restructuring wards, and possibility adding another councillor on the Mountain, would upset the carefully established political environment.

Regardless of today’s political environment, a ward boundary review is a necessity, if for nothing else to protect the democratic interests of all Hamiltonians. Even the review itself, which could take over a year to complete, would be therapeutic to Hamiltonian’s body politic. Politicians and residents themselves can hold in their anger and resentment for only so long before exploding. Putting off such an important democratic review of Hamilton’s political future any longer would be detrimental to the city’s fate.

Hamilton needs to review its wards, in spite of the pain it may cause

Opinion Apr 16, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

Few issues can make a Hamilton councillor shudder with fear or provoke outbursts of anger, but a proposed ward boundary review debate has the potential of unleashing the pent up frustration and years of disrespect and insecurities that both suburban and urban councillors have managed to internalize.

So with typical non-decision decision, councillors last week allowed a ward boundary review to take place even though politicians voted 8-8 to receive the motion. A tie vote means a motion fails, but in Hamilton’s suburban-urban political divide the review will occur because the last council had agreed to it.

The lack of democracy for a large section of Hamiltonians has been apparent to all. Hamilton Mountain councillors have complained for years they are representing mini-cities, with Ward 7 councillor Scott Duvall overseeing a population of about 60,000. In contrast, Flamborough’s Robert Pasuta represents the largest area by geography, but the lowest in population at about 15,000.

However, Hamilton is witnessing a surge in growth in many areas, such as Ward 11 with Glanbrook, and in particular Binbrook, mushrooming, and Winona is poised to add more residents in the coming years. A population boom is also occurring in Hamilton’s downtown, especially along the waterfront. Already, more people are relocating to the core — something politicians and city staff advocated for a decade — resulting in more condos, more activities and more people.

Remember, according to provincial calculations Hamilton is projected to grow to 780,000 people by 2048.

Hamilton’s demographic reality butts up against the political dynamics around the council table. Currently, councillors usually vote along urban-suburban lines. That demarcation has been even more stark this term over issues particularly sensitive to urban politicians such as transit. The mayor of the day has usually played peacemaker, sometimes siding with suburban politicians knowing full well the political votes are in the suburban areas. Restructuring wards, and possibility adding another councillor on the Mountain, would upset the carefully established political environment.

Regardless of today’s political environment, a ward boundary review is a necessity, if for nothing else to protect the democratic interests of all Hamiltonians. Even the review itself, which could take over a year to complete, would be therapeutic to Hamiltonian’s body politic. Politicians and residents themselves can hold in their anger and resentment for only so long before exploding. Putting off such an important democratic review of Hamilton’s political future any longer would be detrimental to the city’s fate.

Hamilton needs to review its wards, in spite of the pain it may cause

Opinion Apr 16, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

Few issues can make a Hamilton councillor shudder with fear or provoke outbursts of anger, but a proposed ward boundary review debate has the potential of unleashing the pent up frustration and years of disrespect and insecurities that both suburban and urban councillors have managed to internalize.

So with typical non-decision decision, councillors last week allowed a ward boundary review to take place even though politicians voted 8-8 to receive the motion. A tie vote means a motion fails, but in Hamilton’s suburban-urban political divide the review will occur because the last council had agreed to it.

The lack of democracy for a large section of Hamiltonians has been apparent to all. Hamilton Mountain councillors have complained for years they are representing mini-cities, with Ward 7 councillor Scott Duvall overseeing a population of about 60,000. In contrast, Flamborough’s Robert Pasuta represents the largest area by geography, but the lowest in population at about 15,000.

However, Hamilton is witnessing a surge in growth in many areas, such as Ward 11 with Glanbrook, and in particular Binbrook, mushrooming, and Winona is poised to add more residents in the coming years. A population boom is also occurring in Hamilton’s downtown, especially along the waterfront. Already, more people are relocating to the core — something politicians and city staff advocated for a decade — resulting in more condos, more activities and more people.

Remember, according to provincial calculations Hamilton is projected to grow to 780,000 people by 2048.

Hamilton’s demographic reality butts up against the political dynamics around the council table. Currently, councillors usually vote along urban-suburban lines. That demarcation has been even more stark this term over issues particularly sensitive to urban politicians such as transit. The mayor of the day has usually played peacemaker, sometimes siding with suburban politicians knowing full well the political votes are in the suburban areas. Restructuring wards, and possibility adding another councillor on the Mountain, would upset the carefully established political environment.

Regardless of today’s political environment, a ward boundary review is a necessity, if for nothing else to protect the democratic interests of all Hamiltonians. Even the review itself, which could take over a year to complete, would be therapeutic to Hamiltonian’s body politic. Politicians and residents themselves can hold in their anger and resentment for only so long before exploding. Putting off such an important democratic review of Hamilton’s political future any longer would be detrimental to the city’s fate.