By Josh Tony, OPIRG McMaster
Defining municipal governance
As students, hearing the words “municipal governance” may sound like a distant or clouded topic that we don’t have much insight into. However, this topic is not all that difficult to understand. In simplest terms, municipal governance refers to a local form of government that makes decisions on behalf of residents of a particular region. In our case, municipal governance applies to the city of Hamilton. This article will cover the importance of municipal government, current plans and strategies of the Hamilton municipal government, types of governance bodies, and important names to know. Also, be sure to watch our interview with city councilor Maureen Wilson to get an inside look at the municipal government of Hamilton.
The importance of a municipal government in Hamilton
Hamilton, like many other Canadian cities, has a municipal government that seeks interaction from its residents so that they can best address resident needs and wants. This is intuitive, as the idea is to produce a government tailored to support the people of a particular region. Our municipal government is one that prioritizes having an accessible and transparent approach to city governance. This means that they want their progress and actions to be publicly visible to Hamilton residents so we can make informed decisions about what the city needs to work on. Moreover, the city government plays a critical role in communicating information about current programs and initiatives that they are part of.
Municipal government seeks interaction from its residents so that they can best address resident needs and wants.
A municipal government is also important because it can provide a source for jobs in the city. If you are interested, you can be recruited as a citizen member to serve on a City of Hamilton committee. Applications are currently open and anyone over the age of 18 can apply to join a committee, such as the “Accessible Transit Services Review Sub-Committee” or the “Advisory Committee for Immigrants and Refugees” among many others. This is a great opportunity to participate in municipal government and make a change for people in Hamilton.
Municipal governments also undergo election processes in which Hamilton residents can vote for their desired candidates. The most recent election was on October 24th, 2022 and the next upcoming one is on October 26th, 2026. For another OPIRG article on barriers to voting in Hamilton click here.
Current plans and strategies of the Hamilton municipal government
The municipal government plans for Hamilton’s future, which includes city projects, environmental assessments, and other strategies. City projects include expanding mobility choices for residents and visitors, developing a multi-modal transportation plan, creating a 10-year local transit strategy, and developing a light rail transit system. By being involved with the city council or the Hamilton municipal government, our input can influence future city plans, as well as current ones.
Types of governance bodies in Hamilton and names to know
There are two main governance bodies in Hamilton that are going to be covered in this article: City council: City councilors make up the city council and are elected by residents of Hamilton for a four-year term. Hamilton has 15 city councilors, and their information is publicly available on the official Hamilton municipal government website. Each councillor is responsible for a specific ward or area, and we have been granted the opportunity to meet and interview with councilor Maureen Wilson (watch for an upcoming post for this content).
Board of trustees: The board of trustees of the Hamilton municipal government is focused on educational needs within the city. They seek to find what decisions need to be taken in order to practically improve education for students. Elizabeth Wong has been elected the Ward 1 trustee for Hamilton-Wentworth’s public school board and she’s also the vice president of the McMaster Students Union. The Ward 2 trustee is also another McMaster student, Sabrina Dahab.
Municipal government is an essential part of the government because it addresses the needs of residents at a local level, allowing for the implementation of tailored plans of action. It is important and beneficial to be involved in the Hamilton municipal government as providing input can influence decision-making, which can in turn affect your life. Lastly, important governance bodies in Hamilton include the city council and board of trustees, which are composed of decision-makers like Maureen Wilson and Elizabeth Wong, respectively.