What is Hamilton doing to improve the downtown areas?
Published June 20, 2023 at 12:27 pm
During a walk around downtown Hamilton, it’s not uncommon for people to see illegal graffiti, rundown or empty buildings and in central areas, homeless people begging or sleeping on the streets. One resident recounted seeing a man last month pull out a gun before police were called near Jackson Square.
The situation got so bad that some downtown businesses raised their concerns during Hamilton Police Service Board meetings about a spike in violent incidents and illegal activity. Police have also increased their downtown presence.
In an Instagram interview last week (June 16), inthehammer.com publisher Khaled Iwamura spoke with Mayor Andrea Horwath regarding what the City is doing about concerns that downtown Hamilton is not safe and not attractive.
Horwath said the City is partnering with the big players in the core, such as the Business Improvement Area and police, to help improve downtown areas.
“There’s a lot of pieces to some of the challenges that we’re facing,” she told inthehammer.com. “But the post-pandemic crisis that our downtown is facing is being played out in downtowns across the country and around the world.”
The pandemic and its fallout have “significantly exacerbated” some of the challenges facing the City, she said.
“So are we doing some things? Absolutely. Do we need to continue to work hard? Yes.”
The City declared a state of emergency on homelessness, opioid addiction and mental health in April.
“We need to deal with those crises,” she told inthehammer.com. “A lot of the folks who are on the streets are people with mental health challenges, people who have addictions challenges.”
Horwath pointed to the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference where she and Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann won support from the majority of municipalities to pass a resolution calling on Ottawa to increase investments, create a “comprehensive national strategy” addressing mental health as a national emergency, and make mental health a vital part of the universal healthcare system.
The City’s public health committee also approved the opioid action plan, which faces a ratification vote this Wednesday (June 21). “We put forward a motion that was successful to call on the other orders of government to work in partnership with us to to provide mental health supports,” she told inthehammer.com. “So yeah, there’s a lot of pieces that we’re working on that will make a difference.”
With new condos and other residential developments in the works downtown and other areas of the city, she said she expects “more people animating our streets in a positive way.”
“So I think there’s a lot to do to support people, to provide services for people and to create to environments that people feel safe in,” she said.
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