Comment 89536

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 14, 2013 at 06:59:14 in reply to Comment 89532

Respectfully, you may wish to refine your wording a little further. I'm having trouble with the black and white notion that the southwest is a 'quiet, moneyed, well-treed neighbourhood', whose only benefit from complete streets will be aesthetic.

There are a couple of myths at play here that I would like to address: one, that wards 1 and 2 are 'moneyed', and two, that city hall bestows goodies on them because of this.

First of all, west Hamilton is very socio-economically diverse. While the poverty rate may not be as high as the 'code red' neighbourhoods, it is nonetheless higher than the city average. I don't have specific stats on the southwest, through my involvement in school issues, I have a very good idea of the socio-economic makeup of Central and Strathcona schools. Many low-income families live in these neighbourhoods who will derive just as much social and economic benefit from complete streets there as families living in code red areas.

While I don't have specific stats on the southwest, a recreation study of Ainslie Wood/Westdale a few years back revealed that 19% of families in those areas live below the poverty line - 5% higher than the city average (the study did not include students in case you are wondering if the student population boosted the poverty numbers). In addition, 17% of students at Westdale live below the poverty line - only 4% fewer than Delta. Again, I realize that this is lower than code red, but I fear the needs of the many low-income families in these areas may go unserved if their neighbourhoods are stereotyped as being privileged. (I dare say, there are lots of quiet, moneyed, well-treed neighbourhoods in Ward 3 as well. Ward 3 is also a lot more socio-economically diverse than the stereotype suggests.)

As for myth two, while the relative 'privilege' of Wards 1 and 2 may confer social capital that allows their citizens to organize and work for positive changes to the infrastructure in their neighbourhoods, we cannot overstate the role that the councillors of those wards have played in this. The fact that some of the changes to street design we have seen in Ward 1 lately haven't spread to ward 3 yet, has more to do with lack of action on the part of Cllr. Morelli than any conscious decision on the part of the city to deny those benefits to poorer neighbourhoods. Ask yourself this, would we even be having this conversation if Ward 3 had elected someone like MacHattie or Farr in the last election?

Comment edited by highwater on 2013-06-14 07:05:31

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