MEDIA RELEASE September 21, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATTN: Addressing Changes towards Transparency at Hamilton City Hall
Transparency Improvement Initiative: Designate a Transparency Officer and Create an ‘Open Records Policy’
Progressive leadership changes and action are long overdue.
Hamilton City Council must lead with the well-being of all people and the environment first.
I support a strong, thorough and extraordinary push to improve city transparency. People’s health and well-being are the primary importance for leadership to look after, and building trust again with our community is vital.
As this election year will bring new councils around the table, many who advocate for a transparent city council we must implement change. The atrocities that unfolded from Cootes Paradise and The Redhill Valley Expressway must not happen again. We can support accountability and transparency by implementing this initiative.
A Transparency Officer would be able to set up comprehensive systems of accountability to ensure the city consistently complies with Hamilton’s open records and ethics laws.
As another proponent of this initiative, I support an open records website that would provide timely, comprehensive information about records requests, their disposition, and how to contact those responsible for fulfilling them. The transparency initiative can also promise to hold the city accountable for doing more to create a comprehensive plan for best-in-class protocols and procedures for achieving compliance.
Transparency includes reasonable access to public officials’ email records, which the city currently defines as “transitory records,” allowing for both Councillors and staff to decide what they will delete and what they will release. In addition, permanent archival storage of all email communications must be policy.
Additionally, I support removing or limiting unnecessary barriers to FOI (freedom of information) requests, including filing requests and search fees, which can amount to hundreds of dollars.
Now is the time for the new Hamilton City Council to separate themselves and look forward to empowering all members of our community, leading with compassion. It’s time for a change; and for Hamilton to move forward.
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MEDIA RELEASE September 4, 2022
Attn Ward 2 Residents
Re: 124 Walnut Street South, Hamilton Signage
Communication is essential to establish clarity. I will always seek answers first to understand a situation before reacting. My deep care for our houseless neighbours matches my deep care for creating a unified community.
I have reached out to the property owner, Mordi, and he recognizes that his message became lost in translation. He is deeply apologetic that the poem was taken differently than how it was intended, as it does not align with his philanthropic work. The poem will be taken down.
He shared that he cares about the houseless neighbours and has advocated to the city for solutions. Language can be a difference, but the way we bridge that is we work to understand how one communicates and the misinformation that may form around that.
For clarity, my conversations with Mordi were all informative to understand his city dealings concerning the property. I was never personally sent or offered a donation from this property owner. I shared my enthusiasm and optimism for a city that can be progressive and look after all of our residents.
He asks the public to contact and reach out via their website directly. He is happy to engage in discussion and answer any questions from the community.
We are all residents of this community, and I will continue to advocate that every resident be treated with dignity and respect. We must share the truth about what experiencing homelessness is like and erase the stigmas surrounding homelessness.
To truly help adults and youth experiencing homelessness, we must understand the stigmas they face daily and how those stigmas affect them. We are all being called to work together as a community, and only then can we make real systemic change. Changing our approach to neighbours experiencing homelessness begins by changing our collective attitudes about homelessness.
Growing together means we all belong. It also means that we help all people grow, even those with opposing views and differences. Unity, teamwork and change can only be achieved if we can work through negative experiences and replace them with positive solutions. I will work to be a part of the solution to build a thriving community where we can all work together.
I will continue to listen to all stakeholders to solve our housing crisis. As councillor, I will continue to advocate that housing is a human right and part of a healthy community.
Let’s continue to lead compassionately and with love.
Small business owner, mom, coach, artist, Hamilton born and raised, Cathedral High School alumni, houseless neighbours advocate, a continual learner, growing and compassionately leading.
For more information, visit my website: www.raquelforward2.com
Love is Louder
MEDIA RELEASE August 11, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A response from Ward 2 Candidate Raquel Rakovac to Councillor Jason Farr motion to install CCTV cameras in John Rebecca Park in the public works committee meeting
CCTV is not unusual; I do not believe it is a deterrent.
Surveillance cameras do not deter individuals from committing acts of violence. Instead, what is essential is how the cameras operate, how humans watch the monitors, relay information, and get the police to the scene. Therefore, it is not enough to put up cameras; you need human eyes on the subjects at all times. The crucial question is, is the staff who watch this surveillance a part of the projected budget?
It is, however, essential to maintain public safety and property.
We need temporary, short-term solutions while creating long-term solutions to get people in permanent integrated supportive housing throughout the City.
Continuing to criminalize those in poverty will only continue to divide our community. The main concern is poverty, lack of housing and adequate support.
Where are the solutions to establish safe dwellings to prevent the need for unsafe and unsanitary encampments?
Programs and employment for youth are equally necessary. In addition, harm reduction, safe injection facilities and mental health specialists are needed immediately.
The root of the systemic problem is poverty, and we must create housing and provide support solutions immediately. From personal conversations with those experiencing homelessness, people are staying in encampments as a safer option than staying on their own in an unsheltered location or an emergency shelter for fear of experiencing violence and bullying.
We must connect our neighbours experiencing homelessness with short-term and permanent housing opportunities with the right level of services to ensure those housing opportunities are stable and prosperous. As sourced in my platform, we can look at similar models, such as the City of Kitchener, that provided property to create a temporary location for ‘A Better Tent City.’ A small part of the city’s snow storage site lot was used as a short-term solution to house people.
In addition, the city partnered with a not-for-profit organization called the ‘Working Centre,’ where they worked on a ‘Good Neighbour Plan’ to maintain a safe, respectful and inclusive community.
We have a local group working with this exact model and has expertise from the ‘Working Centre’ team. In addition, I have engaged with a local organization, HATS (Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters), to discuss solutions that will serve and be mindful of everyone in our community. HATS understands the safety needs of constituents and the support needed for neighbours experiencing homelessness. HATS can provide an effective short-term transitional housing response as we work on long-term solutions. As well, the shelter can be used effectively to provide immediate safety.
We have opportunities in Hamilton to source the land from the city’s current inventory and partner with groups that have solutions; it is a question of whether our City Council is inviting these conversations and actions to begin effectively.
Our community deserves a City Council that cares for all of its residents. Compassionate leadership is imperative and is a quality I imbue and will continue to advocate for. Leading with compassion imparts hope to our community and exemplifies the purpose of a City Council that represents and takes action for the well-being of all its people.
Please see my platform for further details: https://raquelforward2.com/