Just What does citizen engagement mean

Hamilton claims to be the best place in Canada to engage citizens.  It used to be called public participation.  But when the invitation from City Hall goes out to the neighbours to attend a meeting and you show up to find the consultants already in the room, the drawings complete, the pictures mounted on the standard board, are you being engaged or manipulated? 

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The North End is a Target Today - Which neighbourhood is next?

The North End neighbourhood has suffered through decades of VISIONS for the North End and the West Harbour.  It looks like the attraction of the neighbourhood to City visionary planners will never stop.  After five decades of plans that went mostly nowhere, in 2014 the city launched six separate planning initiatives in the North End neighbourhood, including the Phillips Plan – a virtual plague of planners.

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The 2015 Planning Challenges

The North End neighbourhood faces an assault of planning initiatives by the City.  Partly because the City has accelerated the transfer of Piers 7 and 8 from the Port Authority, partly because the signficance of the Go station is sinking in, and partly because the neighbourhood is once again the focus of VISION planning with its focus on what it might be instead of what it is.  In the context of the approved Secondary Plan for the Neighbourhood, Setting Sail, here are the 13 key challenges to be resolved in 2015 as identified by the HWN planning team:

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Who can we believe?

Hamilton's mission statement is clear.   Our Council and City staff advertise that our common mission is to be the Best City in Canada to raise a child and the Best City in Canada for public engagement.  If that is applied on a daily basis rather than just in our municipal promotion, the planning for our city will start with what works for children and sincerely search out what the people who live in our city and really know about life in Hamilton today, what works, what doesn't work and what will work in the future.

We have looked at all the planning documents issued by the City for the North End neighbourhood in 2014 - six planning initiatives launched by the City on our neighbourhood in one year.  Here are the references to children:

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The Phillips Plan – Just not what was agreed

Our ten years of working with the City on Setting Sail helped us learn that planning for a family based residential neighbourhood means looking at what works for children.  If that is your starting point, all the rest flows naturally – pedestrians, seniors, persons with disabilities, compatibility, functionality, walkability – all work when you start with plans that work for children, for their health, their recreation, their safety.  The reports on the Phillips Plan show no connection to that principle.

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