Building Resilient Communities in Hamilton


The Art of Resilience

On February 8, 2017, while Toronto battled extreme weather warnings and freezing rain, participants gathered on an unusually mild morning in Hamilton for a Resilient Hamilton workshop. Hosted by CLARION (Community-Led Action to Resilience in Our Neighbourhoods), Environment Hamilton, and Faith & the Common Good, the day’s project was to identify and support the social capital that’s critical to effectively responding to, withstanding and recovering from adversity.

Generous sponsorship from The BMW Foundation meant that participants were treated to the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s light-filled event room. Lined with prints and drawings celebrating the futuristic visions of the early architects and planners who dreamed of a majestic Hamilton—  Ambitious City—the exhibition was a fitting inspiration for the day’s work.

The City of Hamilton’s Emergency Manager, Carla McCracken and Air Quality and Climate Change Manager, Brian Montgomery, started the day off with the graphs, data and emergency plans that provided context for the role-playing game that followed. That exercise, Resilientville, asked players to think like the neighbourhood stakeholders whose decisions can enhance the well being of residents, even in times of extreme stress. One special guest was the Tamarack Institute’s Sylvia Cheuy, a leading expert on creating community change, who offered her experience of best practices from across Canada and the USA.


Once shared, that critical knowledge sparked vibrant conversations on creating a city of neighbourhoods that provide the best of what all urbanites hold dear: the places and people that deliver the social strength to weather all storms. In Hamilton, it’s a process that’s well underway with projects such as the Neighbourhood Action Strategy which, in partnership with the Hamilton Community Foundation, continues to seed investment for community action.

Rajah Lehal, BMW Responsible Leaders Chapter Head for Canada

The ambitious dreams of those early Hamiltonians energized a day of artful thinking and bright debate. Best of all, it led to new collaborations with others who share CLARION’s vision of emergency-prepared and resilient communities.