I dare Hamiltonians go for what others may shy away from. The idea I am proposing is to trade steel town for a city of healthy living. Steel was the past while healthy living should be the future. Located next to Canada’s biggest city and a short distance to one of the world’s seven wonders, Hamilton is well positioned to capture the championship for healthy living in the digital Canada.
Let’s start with a makeover of downtown. Close or relocate Stelco and Dofasco in order to clear the waterfront of industrial installations for the development of a beautiful waterfront for all residents to enjoy. Develop a network of dedicated bike paths for riders to go anywhere within city limits safely. Restrict downtown roads to public transit and service vehicles. Reconfigure the city centre into a town square for pedestrians, relatively traffic free.
The next phase involves turning the mountain area into highly livable and environmentally sound communities where residents would enjoy neighbourhood strolls and meeting neighbours face to face. Do away with motor city. Community events will be organized regularly to strengthen social bonds. The purpose is to facilitate doing things together in groups, drawing out residents, who would otherwise be captivated by TV and digital gadgets and become voluntary shut-ins, isolated and alienated.
At the same time, the city will attract producers of healthy foods to set up shop and to work with the city’s research institutions on food product safety and development. Hamilton will become known as a showcase of eating right. Restaurants in the city will offer healthy choices in the menu. A successful implementation will dramatically reduce healthcare cost.
The city will also work with McMaster medical school, healthcare facilities and professionals to develop preventive medicine. The focus will be placed on working with the young in the population to minimize health problems that would emerge later on in life. Make this a success and the system could be a hot item for export to other populous regions around the globe.
The city will make a concerted effort to develop the retreat and rehab industry. At this point, the stage will have been set for providing facilities and services to help people deal with city living woes—stress, burn-outs and addictions. Toronto will be a prime target market for such an industry. Success in the domestic market will lead to expansion into foreign markets. The potential is as great as the collective talents and dedications of Hamiltonians.
The way I see it is that Hamilton must get out of living in the shadow of Toronto. The city needs to nurture a strong identity. Its residents need to know what the city stands for and what is good and special about living in Hamilton. The city will measure its success not by the rate of economic and population growth, but by a health and happiness index. The Hamilton story will be talked about far and wide. The future belongs only to those who are willing to explore and experiment, and learn from trials and tribulations.