Change is difficult and scary, even positive change, and our leaders need to have the courage to lead and to explain the goals and benefits.
By Sean Hurley
Published April 06, 2017
My wife, Beverley Wagar, and I moved into the Crown Point neighbourhood in Hamilton's Ward 3 in 2012. As with our previous moves, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We took a leap with both feet.
It was easier for me as I was looking forward to city living after several years in the country. It was more difficult for Beverley who gave up an acre in the country which she had lovingly transformed into a garden-her personal work of living art.
Despite the change, we adapted and we invested in our home and our community. Hamilton is a unique place. I came here with every intention of staying uninvolved in civic and community engagement, but I failed. Hamiltonians have a way of pulling you in.
Today, I edit our community newspaper and I am co-chair of our planning team. Beverley, who has adjusted to our new home, now sings with the Bach-Elgar Choir, volunteers at the Royal Botanical Garden, tends to several community gardens, initiated the Crown Point Garden Club and partnered with others to launch the Monarch Awards that go city-wide this year.
I am relating this because I am not speaking only for myself when I say that the debate over Hamilton's Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, especially the failure to advance the Environmental Assessment amendment, is leaving many of us dispirited and demoralized.
I have spoken to friends who are active as volunteers in their communities and they are sharing the same misgivings. Like me, they are asking themselves: why am I investing time, energy and money into Hamilton when too many of those who are elected to lead appear paralyzed by the fear of change?
When I speak to my friends and neighbours, they question whether Hamilton's elected officials share their optimism for the future and their belief in Hamilton. They question whether Hamilton is the best place to raise a child and age gracefully. They question whether Hamilton is the city to set down and maintain roots.
This may come across as melodramatic to some, but it is sincere. When people invest their time, energy, emotion, and money into improving their communities they want to believe - perhaps need to believe - that the political leadership share their vision.
The LRT is more than just a transit project. It is an investment in the future and a statement by City Council that they share our collective confidence in Hamilton's future as a place to live, work, raise families, and spend our golden years.
The LRT is a transformative project that dovetails with the work of thousands of volunteers whose efforts are dedicated to preserving and expanding what makes Hamilton great-our neighbourhoods.
The LRT presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to weave neighbourhoods together in a continuous strand of accessible commercial and residential activity along the transit corridor rather than dividing neighbourhoods with forlorn pockets of blight and decay.
I understand change is difficult and that many people are resistant to it, even positive change, because they must surrender the familiar for something that may seem, at first, nebulous or even disruptive.
However, it is the role of political leadership to have the courage to guide constituencies through change and to explain the goals and future benefits. Leadership manages change because change is almost always about paving a new path.
All those volunteers working tirelessly - resisting burnout, putting in the hours to make our streets safer, our alleys cleaner, our homes greener, our neighbourhoods more vibrant, our neighbours more engaged, our newcomers more welcome, our children better educated, our seniors better served - are working for change not just for today but for the future.
We are engaged in an expression of hope, just as much as an act of immediate change.
The late U.S. president John F. Kennedy said, "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
If you can, please join us on Saturday, April 15 at City Hall at noon to express our support for an unprecedented investment in Hamilton's future. On a spring day on a weekend that, for many, marks both loss and renewal, we can stand up for Hamilton.
Let's not miss the future.
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