First, let me apologize for some recent email issues. Due to some issues with the server, not everyone has been receiving email notifications. (Emmy, I know, this never happened the way you did things – feel free to say “I told you so” the next time we meet).
I am hoping this is straightened out, but feel free to let me know if you experience any issues. One side effect of this issue is that if you previously asked to be unsubscribed, you may be subscribed again.
My sincere apologies to everyone for the inconvenience.
Before I get into the substance of what I’d like to talk about in this post, I’d like to update you on a few of items that were discussed at the last KNA meeting on January 17.
- Trees in Kirkendall. Grant Ranalli gave an interesting presentation where he outlined the benefits of a healthy tree cover and made some suggestions as to how the KNA could help in this regard. Grant, if you’re reading this, feel free to contact me if you’d like to post some more details about your ideas on this website.
- Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods (FUN) membership. Our membership in this federation is up for renewal. This was not voted on as we lacked quorum; however, I recommended against renewal because it appears that FUN is inactive, as a glance at their website will reveal. The last news item was posted November 15, 2006. The next “upcoming meeting” is the 2006 Annual General Meeting, which is set to take place Saturday, May 6, 2006.
- Dundurn construction. The construction on Dundurn is causing a number of headaches for residents, including increased traffic and difficulty for pedestrians. Please feel free to post your concerns here on this website or contact the office of Brian McHattie using the information on our contact page.
Hamilton’s Poverty Problem
The remainder of the meeting was spent talking about poverty in Hamilton, a discussion that was led by Brian McHattie. Brian is a member of The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, a multi-sector organization that was created in 2005 “out of concern for our community’s poverty challenge”.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of how many people in this city live in poverty. I sure wasn’t. The numbers are astounding: almost 20 percent of Hamiltonians, or 95,650 residents, live in households with incomes below the poverty line.
Many of those living in poverty here can’t work (41 percent are too old or young) and so are unable to lift themselves out of their situations. Many are in extremely difficult situations to begin with, such as female-led, single-parent families, 81 percent of whom live in poverty.
And contrary to many negative perceptions of the poor, many (26 percent) are working but still can’t get ahead. With the minimum wage at $8/hour, someone working 40 hours per week at minimum wage only grosses $320. Could you get by on only $640 every two weeks, before taxes and deductions?
Faced with the magnitude of Hamilton’s poverty challenge – the Roundtable takes care not to say problem – it can be hard to see what what we can do about it. The key is to narrow the focus.
The Roundtable has taken the first step by deciding to focus on Hamilton’s children and youth, because:
- It reflects the voice of the community: in our consultations, the Roundtable heard many
different views and approaches to poverty reduction but the common theme was invest-
ment in the success of children and the economic and social conditions that support their
- It targets a significant poverty demographic and encompasses other poverty
“hotspots”: More than 25,000 Hamilton children under age 18 are living in poverty today,
and half of Hamilton’s estimated 100,000 poor are families with children.
- It is grounded in best practices: Across sectors and at both the grassroots level and the
policy level, best practices point to the crucial role of investing in the development of
children at strategic points throughout their progress to adulthood.
- It supports Hamilton’s strategic vision: Hamilton has adopted a vision of an economi-
cally, socially and culturally diverse city where citizens are able to achieve their full
potential through safe access to food, shelter, education, useful employment, clean air and
water, spirituality and culture; a community where we weigh economic, social/health and
environmental costs, benefits and risks equally when making decisions. Child poverty
blocks that vision.
- Children are the future of our City: If we are to focus on prevention of poverty we need
to break the poverty cycle and give our next generation the conditions they need to succeed.
[From their website, slightly edited for brevity.]
The second step is up to us. What can Kirkendall residents do to help?
Brian’s idea is a simple one: adopt a school. He even has a school picked out. Ryerson Middle School at 222 Robinson St. educates many students from households below the poverty line. Brian suggested there were many ways that Kirkendall could help, from volunteering time for workshops to fundraisers for breakfast programs and clothing drives.
My belief is that taking on a project like this would not just help some of Hamilton’s most vulnerable children and youth, it would also think help the Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association, and by extension, all of the neighbourhood’s residents. Only by tackling challenges like poverty can the Association build an effective team that is ready to tackle whatever other challenges may lie in our neighbourhood’s future.
With a project like this under our belt, is there really anything we couldn’t tackle next?
Your comments and ideas on this, expressed here and at our next meeting (February 21, 2007, at Aberdeen Gardens) aren’t just appreciated. They’re needed.
Treasurer, Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association
(Please note that this particular post represents my personal views and not necessarily those of the Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association.)
The Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association is meeting this Wednesday, January 17, at 7:00 pm at Aberdeen Gardens.
Aberdeen Gardens is located at 330 Dundurn Street South, just north of Aberdeen. Click here for a map. Enter the facility at the rear door. There is also parking behind the building.
The agenda includes an update from Councilor McHattie, who will also be speaking about a Kirkendall response to Hamilton’s poverty crisis. Construction on Dundurn Street as well as pedestrian walkways over the railway in the Kirkendall neighbourhood will also be discussed.
We look forward to seeing you there!