Building on Vision 2020

What’s your vision for the future of Hamilton?

Hamilton is a proud and vibrant city on the cusp of a great transformation. We see evidence of this every day - in our downtown, our waterfront, our vibrant arts and culture scene, modern recreational centres, engaged neighbourhoods and our educational and health institutions. But like many other municipalities, Hamilton faces complex challenges. Issues like growing infrastructure deficit, a shrinking tax base and poverty due to low incomes.

In 1992, we asked our residents what Hamilton would look like in 25 years. The result was Vision 2020, Hamilton’s current community vision. It’s time for Hamiltonians to once again look ahead, share their dreams for the future and discuss key community priorities that will define Hamilton in the years to come.

Building on the legacy of Vision 2020

With 28 goals and 14 themes identified in the plan, many of the recommendations of Vision 2020 have since been implemented. Vision 2020 helped our community make significant progress in the areas of arts and heritage, reducing and managing waste, improving air quality, improving water quality and protecting natural areas. It inspired collaboration in environmental protection, poverty alleviation, cultural and economic growth and leading edge planning in the integration of infrastructure and growth.

Fulfilling the human need for:
  • peace
  • clean air
  • water
  • food
  • shelter
  • education
  • arts
  • culture
  • employment
Maintaining and restoring the environment by:
  • ensuring careful management and planning
  • reducing waste
  • protecting nature
Inviting the public to identify problems and solutions.
Finding the best way to use today’s resources to meet both current and future needs.

This has been done by:

  • using Vision 2020 as a starting point for Council decisions
  • having all reports to Council identify how suggested plans will help them reach Vision 2020
  • having the Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy (GRIDS) use Vision 2020 as the foundation for growth planning

The original Vision 2020 goals were meant to be reached by the year 2020. This is only a few short years from away. It is now time to consider what we have done so far, and to plan for the next 25 years.

Hamilton plans to reach Vision 2020 through 14 key theme areas with goals within each of those areas. Indicators were selected to measure progress or lack of progress. Progress reports have been prepared regularly since 1992.  

The most recent Vision 2020 progress report shows progress in many areas but also shows where progress is not being made.  

Key Theme Area Sustainability Indicators Progress Rating
Agriculture and the Rural Economy Gross cash farm receipts Hard to say
  Agricultural land lost through op amendments Needs improvement
Arts & Heritage Number of artists Making progress
  Number of events held on City property Making progress
  Number of heritage buildings Making progress
Changing our Mode of Transportation HSR ridership per capita Needs improvement
  % of people taking alternative transportation Needs improvement
Community Well-being and Capacity Rate of Low Income Needs improvement
  Sense of belonging Needs improvement
Consuming Less Energy Average residential electricity usage Making progress
  Average residential gas usage Making progress
Education People 25 to 64 with at least a high school diploma Needs improvement
  Children vulnerable on 1+ domains of the EDI Hard to say
Improving Air Quality Air quality health index Making progress
  Greenhouse gas emissions Making progress
Improving Quality of Water Resources Ammonia/ phosphorus entering Hamilton Harbour Making progress
  % of days that public beaches are open for swimming Hard to say
Land Use in the Urban Area Changes in population density Hard to say
  Number of new housing starts Hard to say
Local Economy Labour force participation and unemployment Hard to say
  Cash value of building permits Making progress
Natural Areas & Corridors Amount of environmentally significant areas protected Making progress
  Amount of tree cover Hard to say
Personal Health & Well-being Rate of low birth weight babies Needs improvement
  Rate of people who are overweight or obese Needs improvement
Reducing & Managing Waste Waste production and diversion rate Making progress
Safety & Security Number of robberies Making progress
  Domestic violence occurrences reported to police Hard to say

What we are doing well

We have made progress on many of the indicators such as:

  • improved air quality
  • reduced greenhouse gas emission
  • increased amount of protected land
  • improved water quality
  • less waste being sent to landfills

What the indicators don’t tell us

The indictors don’t tell us is if we are doing enough to protect nature from harmful effects of climate change.

What we don’t have is a plan to predict future problems such as dealing with damage to trees from future storms or pests. Right now, we are working hard to deal with these issues as they arise, but is that enough? 

Little change so far

Several of the indicators have shown very little change over the past 10 years. 

One example is how people travel within Hamilton. There has been very little change in the past 10 or 15 years. While people are using the bus, walking, or biking to get around the city, there haven’t been as many people using these ways to travel as hoped for.  

Another example is that large amounts of energy are still used. Weather affects how much energy we use, as does technology. With the high need for energy and the costs to use it, we need to continue to look at this closely and find ways to lower our energy use.

Serious challenges

There are still serious challenges affecting the social and economic well-being of the people of Hamilton:

  • living with little or no income
  • needing higher levels of education
  • dealing with serious health issues
  • being overweight and obese
  • dealing with increasing amounts of domestic violence 

Important findings about our children

Hamilton’s effort to make this city the best place to raise a child is necessary. There are neighbourhoods that have:

  • low levels of school readiness
  • high levels of  child poverty
  • high levels of low birthweight babies
  • lower levels of high school completion

In summary

Vision 2020 presents a framework for planning that requires balanced decision-making so that all three outcomes – environmental, social and economic – are considered.  

The struggle for balance is real. There is the need for:

  • new housing to be built vs. the need to keep green space
  • new people coming to live in the city vs. the need to use less energy
  • the preservation of agricultural land vs. the need for land to grow industry and have jobs

It's hard to get the perfect balance, and we need to continue to find ways to work towards achieving our goals.

“What's your vision for the next twenty five years?”

Background information and reports

General Issues Committee, March 30, 2015 at 9:30 am
Item 7.1 Hamilton's Engagement Committee

  • Hamiltons Engagement Committee (PDF, 430 KB)
  • Appendix A - Charter (PDF, 4 MB)
  • Appendix B - HEC Vision Report (PDF, 1 MB)
  • Appendix C - Infrastructure Working Group Report (PDF, 3 MB)
  • Appendix D - Engagement Plan (PDF, 757 KB)
  • Appendix E - Convening Table ToR (PDF, 2 KB)
  • Hamilton's Engagement Committee Presentation (PDF, 1.7 MB)


Contact us

Invite us to attend your event or find out how you can host your own conversation.

Email: ourfuturehamilton@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext.1564 

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Project team

John Ariyo
Manager, Community Initiatives
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 1564

Allison Jones
Communications Officer
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 3810

Cindy Mutch
Senior Project Manager, Community Special Projects
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 4992