On Sept. 27, city council approved spending as much as $500,000 on a bid to host Amazon’s second headquarters. The city will contribute $250,000 and private donors will contribute $250,000.
This was already a pipedream given competition such as Toronto, Vancouver and major US cities are able to spend $2 million on their bids and Hamilton fails to satisfy such Amazon preferences as “[m]etropolitan areas with more than one million people.” Since announcing their intentions, the city has also managed to demonstrate failure when it comes to other aspects of the bid.
Following the events of homecoming and the related street wide party on Dalewood Avenue, city council, with only ward 3 councillor Matthew Green and ward 15 councillor Judi Partridge opposing, passed a motion for additional bylaw officers be added to the Westdale and Ainsile Wood areas. These two neighbourhoods surround McMaster University.
This motion was forward by ward 1 councillor Aidan Johnson, who is the current representative of the boundries where the university and neighbouring areas are located. He argued that the program is necessary to improve the hygiene of the area and the enforcement of law in the area.
This knee-jerk reaction continues to pull at a few much larger issues. Instead of working with the student union for a non-punitive, educational and restorative approach to bylaw management, as proposed by vice president (Education) Ryan Deshpande and associate vice president of municipal affairs Stephanie Bertolo, the city simply decided that lip service to get students to pay more fines was better than actively working towards solutions.
With the issues about student retention in Hamilton coming up every so often, you would think the city would at least try to improve on this when this is a core part of the Amazon bid.
It explicitly states that Amazon has a preference for, “Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent,” and that, “A highly educated labor pool is critical and a strong university system is required.” Hamilton has demonstrated their intention to do neither.
Green stated that the bylaw management program unfairly targets students, sends a bad message for the city wanting to retain graduates and stigmatizes the population. He is right.
While I respect the fact that something had to be done, this particular effort and the way it was conducted disrespected the student body. Though our student representatives had strong enough points for city councillors to concede to, they were ultimately fruitless in changing the vote or even delaying it to find better solutions.
Hamilton had an opportunity to move forward in their efforts to retain students by at least pretending to care about the perspectives of the McMaster population, and could barely be bothered to try. The city has a significant way to go to even hope to compete for Amazon.