You deserve to know what is affecting you as a student when it comes to decisions the city is making. When it comes to informed decisions, we have generally kept you covered about topics like the LRT, the HSR, the additional bylaw officers in Westdale and trans health equity.
In the future, we will continue to cover these topics and more such as the city council’s decision to change the ward boundaries and the appeals filed with the Ontario Municipal Board, which includes the potential for student neighbourhoods to move into other wards and split the student vote.
The purpose is to help you make an informed decision. That comes with the assumption that you will make a decision in the first place.
In the 2014 Hamilton municipal election, ward 1, encompassing the west end of Hamilton where a significant portion of McMaster students lived, had 21,770 registered voters. Only 8,870 votes were cast. The current councillor, Aidan Johnson, won by 640 votes.
The mayoral election had a total of 122,756 votes with Fred Eisenberger winning by 10,314.
Students at McMaster have the capability to rock the vote and radically alter the results for the wards they are in and the city as a whole off of numbers alone. A motivated student base would be able to demand any changes the city could provide and continuously put pressure on city council to fix any number of things about Hamilton that negatively affects McMaster.
As time goes on, I become more and more pessimistic that this will not happen. The assumption that McMaster students will not vote, likely an accurate one, has resulted in decisions that do not cater to McMaster students. I fully expect that we will be spending the next four years reporting on issues that could easily be solved if students bothered to care about the city they will be in for part or all of their post-secondary education.
The closer we get to next year’s elections, the more promises and policies you will see out of the city and other hopefuls to cater to demographics that they want voting for them. If you have been paying attention, you should have noticed this starting to increase long ago.
While the student union has become increasingly engaged in Hamilton advocacy over the course of the last year, it will take far more than that to get councillors to make promises to you and follow through with them.
There is plenty of time before the next election, but not a lot of time before candidates finalize their campaign strategies and policies. Act now, vote later or risk waiting and complaining about it when no one in city hall is listening anymore.