Unprecedented, challenging, scary - these are a few of the words used to describe the consequences of the novel coronavirus known as the COVID-19. While the virus is defining what we can do, the residents of Ward 1 are taking hold of how we can do things for each other.
I am grateful to the residents who keep an eye on their isolated neighbours, the residents who continue to gather food, clothing and other necessities for those in need and for a level of kindness and care which is a trademark of the place we call home. Let us gather our resolve to follow the public health restrictions that have been set out for us so that we can keep our families and community safe. One day we will gather together on our streets, in our parks and in our parlours and remember the many lights that guided us through this historic time.
THIS EDITION OF THE WARD 1 NEWSLETTER INCLUDES:
- Hamilton in LOCKDOWN (Control) stage
- Upstream thinking and affordable housing
- Living Advent calendar walks
- Westdale South road work update
- Support local business
- Ward 1 office closed until January 4, 2021
On Friday, the Provincial Government announced that Hamilton would enter the lockdown stage. What does this mean, and what can we do?
The objective of the “Lockdown” – Grey category is to implement widescale measures and restrictions, including closures, to halt or interrupt transmission.
In Hamilton, the latest weekly rate of new cases per 100,000 population reported is 116. The average number of cases (7-day moving average) reported per day is 98. The percent positivity among tests has also risen again to 3.9%.
Moving into the Grey – Lockdown category also includes a number of closures and restrictions for municipal services. These include:
- The cancellation of all recreation programming and the closure of all municipal recreation centres (except those that provide childcare)
- The closure of all municipal museums.
- The closure of the Gage Park greenhouses.
- City Hall and all Municipal Service Centres are closed to walk-ins. Appointments are required for in-person transactions; active health screening will be required.
- Make an appointment at 905-546-CITY (2489)
- Residents are encouraged to access municipal services online where available: www.hamilton.ca/coronavirus/online-city-services
- Marriage ceremonies are unavailable. Marriage licenses are available by appointment only.
- The Provincial Offences Administration Office is closed to walk-ins. Appointments are required for in-person transactions; active health screening will be required. Make an appointment at 905-546-CITY (2489).
- Animal Services service counter is closed to walk-ins. Appointments are required for in-person transactions.
- Licensing service counter at 77 James St. N. (open Wednesdays only) is closed to walk-ins. Appointments are required for in-person transactions.
As per the Province’s COVID-19 Response Framework, under the Grey – Lockdown category:
- No indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same households. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation
- Limit for outdoor organized public events and social gatherings is 10 people, and physical distancing can be maintained
- Indoor and outdoor service at restaurants, bars and food/drink establishments is not permitted. Take-out, drive-through and delivery are permitted.
- Most facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities are closed.
- In-person retail shopping is not permitted.
- Personal care services are closed. Categories in the Provincial COVID-19 Framework and changes for the city of Hamilton can be found in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. Changes impacting local public places will be updated on the City website at www.hamilton.ca/publicplaces.
Locally, the Reopening Ontario Act will continue to be assertively enforced by the City’s COVID Enforcement Team. As the city enters the Grey – Lockdown category, the COVID Enforcement Team will be responding to complaints as well as proactively enforcing all the applicable regulations throughout the city.
- Trips outside of the home should only be for essential reasons (work, school, groceries/pharmacy, health care, assisting vulnerable individuals or exercise and physical activity).
- Virtual gatherings or events are the safest way to visit or recognize occasions with people outside your household.
- Work remotely, where possible.
- Wear a mask or face covering when around others from another household, out in public places, or outdoors when unable to stay physically distant.
- Wash your hands often.
- If you have any COVID-19 symptoms or are not feeling well, stay isolated at home and get tested for COVID-19.
Upstream Thinking & Supportive, Affordable Housing
by Maureen Wilson
In public health, upstream thinking means focusing on the causes of illness to improve health outcomes. Standing beside a river, a person keeps jumping into the water to rescue a steady stream of distressed people floating downstream. Eventually, the person stops to consider “who is chucking these people into the river?” To get to the root of the problem, the helper must travel upstream. This VIDEO illustrates the point.
The sobering message we hear from almost every hospital CEO is that their hospital is ill-equipped and incapable of dealing with what is presented at the emergency room door day after day with people who are inadequately housed or having no home at all. In Hamilton, the situation is compounded by rising rates of mental health and addiction:
- Suicide and substance overdoses are among the leading causes of death among Hamiltonians under age 45.
- In 2015, there were 2,753 hospitalizations for mental illness in Hamilton
- The rate of opioid-related deaths in Hamilton increased by 326% between 2005 and 2018, making it one of the highest rates in Ontario
- Self-harm among female youth in Hamilton has tripled over the past decade.
With appropriate housing interventions, we move upstream to improve health outcomes while decreasing health care costs which continue to balloon, squeezing out needed investments in housing, education, and the environment.
Progress of the human condition is born of demonstration. The rights I presently enjoy as a privileged white woman are the result of active women who organized and agitated generations before me. The necessary work continues in extending these rights and more just conditions to all women.
There was a demonstration, with tents, outside of Hamilton City Hall in November of this year. Demonstrators were calling for action on affordable supportive housing and to draw our attention to the heightened risk of spending the winter outside without appropriate shelter. Protests are legitimate and bear witness to what can be overlooked and what is unjust. I support the right to protest. What I do not support is an action which sees the extension of a protest to the personal home of an elected official. It also distracts from the important issue of housing affordability. Case in point, I was called by a member of the local media to comment on a coffin, not housing insecurity.
I’ve heard criticism from some about the term “defund the police” and the practical implications of doing so. Call it what you will – a realignment of municipal resources to address community safety and well being - but upstream thinking is at its core.
In the late 1990s, the Government of Ontario under the leadership of Premier Mike Harris made a historically ill-advised decision that has affected the financial health of cities and the state of affordable housing in communities like Hamilton. Premier Harris downloaded the responsibility of affordable housing onto municipal property taxes. For older cities with higher poverty rates and ageing public housing stock, the financial hit was enormous and has created an unsustainable situation for many cities. The cost of new affordable housing is significant. Add to the ledger the inventory of ageing public housing stock that was built in the 1950s, 60s and 70s and there are reasons as to why the supply of affordable units has not kept pace with demand. Additionally, Canada was the sole industrial nation without a national housing strategy until 2017.
More and more policing will not eradicate homelessness nor address the mounting mental health and addiction crises befalling too many of our neighbours.
There is an urgency to act. It will require all levels of government coming together and acting in partnership with the private sector, our health services sector and all community housing agencies to address our housing crisis. It will require the fast-tracking of secondary dwelling units, bringing back inclusionary zoning and a greater commitment of our own city resources to leverage additional monies from senior orders of government. And, it will require the sustained support of voters.
Historically, social change rarely happens without a fight. It usually takes years of painstaking organization and activism to drive change and to convince others why change is necessary. There have been many agitators in the trenches, raising the alarm about our growing housing crisis over the past number of years. They foresaw the consequences of downstream thinking and the impacts of underfunding. As an elected official, I must listen to all voices, including those who are critical of me, as part of my commitment to our city and a more just future. Because Hamilton is worth our very best efforts.
Living Advent Calendars & more
This year Westdale is joined by Strathcona and Kirkendall in presenting living advent calendars. Starting December 1 neighbours will decorate their window in a festive theme. One window is opened each day until 24th (or beyond in Kirkendall). These neighbourhood projects are a beautiful way to share the holiday season and to offer a reason to get outside. You may come across a few surprises as well.
Remember to adhere to the recommended public health measures.
- Westdale Living Advent Calendar Facebook Event MAP
- Strathcona Living Advent Calendar Facebook Event MAP
- Kirkendall Living Advent Calendar Facebook Event MAP
Westdale South Road Work Update
The remainder of work commencing in April 2021: Concrete curb repairs, milling & resurfacing and restorations
i) Oak Knoll Dr– Dalewood Cres to Dromore Cres
ii) Paisley – Dalewood Cres to Oak Koll Dr
Support Local Business
Maureen participated in a shop local campaign with the Locke and Westdale BIAs. The Ward 1 elf has made daily showing on social media since December 1.
As we are now in lockdown, many of these businesses cannot open their doors to direct contact, but they can still fulfil orders for curbside pick-up or take-out. Please consider local businesses whenever possible.
And finally ... the Ward 1 Office is closed until January 4, 2021
Urgent requests may be directed to the good folks answering the City's call centre at 905-546-2489.
- Email: [email protected]
- Tel: 905-546-2416
The City of Hamilton is situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas. This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, which was an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We further acknowledge that this land is covered by the Between the Lakes Purchase, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Today, the City of Hamilton is home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island (North America), and we recognise that we must do more to learn about the rich history of this land so that we can better understand our roles as residents, neighbours, partners and caretakers.