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Vital Signs highlights progress, but also troubling disparities in Hamilton

Hamilton Community Foundation President Terry Cooke hopes their latest Vital Signs report sparks a conversation.
Hamilton Community Foundation President Terry Cooke hopes their latest Vital Signs report sparks a conversation. CHML

The president and CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation says there continue to be “troubling” disparities, but also “remarkable signs of progress” in the city.

Terry Cooke was commenting on the foundation’s latest Vital Signs report which offers a snapshot of 10 aspects of community life — including arts, economy, education, health, safety, housing and environment.

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In terms of progress, the report highlights strong job growth, increased post-secondary completion rates and a booming arts and culture scene, as well as a drop in violent crime and better air quality.

READ MORE: Hamilton economy on pace for ‘impressive’ growth in 2017, slower 2018: report

The challenges include longer wait lists for social housing and decreased affordability as rising home prices far exceed average household incomes in Hamilton.

15 per cent of residents reported experiencing food insecurity in the past year and visible minorities, recent immigrants and Indigenous people are twice as likely to live in poverty as other Hamiltonians.

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Cooke says the report is an opportunity to create a “vital conversation in this community” and to open our minds to the question “are there better ways of doing things?”

He adds that we must also “be hard about the evaluation and honest about what’s working, and more importantly maybe, what’s not and what we need to change.”

Cooke stresses what he calls an “emerging challenge about increasingly segregated neighbourhoods based on race and income.”