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The Spectator’s View: Hamilton and Burlington: Strength in unity

Written by Howard Elliott
Published in the Hamilton Spectator 

For years pundits have been talking about the importance of Golden Horseshoe communities — particularly Hamilton and Burlington — establishing a closer working relationship on matters of mutual interest. For example, an editorial in this space said in 2000: “… the future prosperity of Southern Ontario hinges on it operating as a unified economic force.”

That was true 15 years ago, but for the most part the truth was represented by words and slogans. There was some sharing, but for the most part municipalities in this area remained in their silos. We have argued repeatedly that needs to change, and now there is evidence that is happening. This week, for the first time, Hamilton and Burlington chambers of commerce jointly hosted an economic summit at which business and civic leaders talked about their shared future. This marks the first time strategic thinkers gathered for a day to think and talk about strength in unity.

It may seem obvious that our two communities are stronger united than operating individually. Yet with a few exceptions that is how we’re set up. We compete on many fronts, economic development, transit and senior government largesse to name but three. While some degree of entrepreneurial thinking should always drive public decision-making, the truth is we don’t have the collaborative part of the equation down, at least not yet. This summit could be the beginning of something, assuming a few things happen right.

Interestingly, Civic Action, a GTHA non-profit group with a mandate to facilitate healthier communities through collaborative action, was at the summit and has been pushing this agenda for quite some time. It makes sense. Regional rapid transit. Urban intensification. Regional transportation. Shared environmental concerns. Shared enthusiasm about waterfront development. In many areas the two cities have more in common than what sets them apart.

Read the full article here.