By Daniel Carrasco, Frances Carrasco, Laura Carrasco, Jennifer Chase, Audrey Chong, Michele Craig, Kathy Dexter, Neeltje van Doremalen, Rachel Feldman, Andy Hughson, Shelane Hughson, Myndi Holbrook, Jacqueline Leung, Stacy Lewis, Mary Marsh, Brittany McKenzie, Terry Moran, Vincent Munster, Sujatha Nair, Vinod Nair, Laura Tally, Karin Peterson, Julia Port, Jyothi Purushotham, Jonathan Schulz, Cindi Schwartz, John Schwartz, Rick Thomas, Tara Wehrly, Brandi Williamson, Holly Winfree, Tom Winfree, Emmie de Wit
Please find below a letter sent to the Hamilton City Council.
Dear Hamilton City Council,
This letter is in reference to the resolution adopted at the City Council meeting on June 15, 2021. On the agenda for this meeting was the consideration of a policy defining clear guidelines for public art projects carried out on the pavement within Hamilton city limits. This policy was provided by the City Planner during the meeting on June 8th, at the request of the City Council. A vote to enact this policy was tabled in order to clarify additional details. However, at the subsequent meeting on June 15th, the City Council did not return to discussion of this policy as originally planned. Instead, without prior notice or indication on the agenda, a new resolution was put forward by a City Council Member. According to the resolution, the City does not allow any painting on public right-of-way pavement other than on standard traffic control devices and requires that any existing pavement painting be promptly removed at the City’s expense. A heated and prolific public comment session ensued, during which severe flaws in the resolution were highlighted by multiple members of the community. Nevertheless, the meeting ended with a rushed vote to impose the above restrictions. We strongly urge the City Council to rescind this hastily adopted resolution and reconsider the well-thought-out policy put together by the City Planner.
We request this revocation for the following reasons:
1) The resolution was poorly conceived and did not consider functional painting on pavement for local businesses or key town activities, such as the farmer’s market. The amendment to address this oversight was not presented clearly to the public or the City Council.
2) The resolution appeared to be crafted in response to pressure from certain members of the crowd at the current and previous City Council meeting. Indeed, the sole justification given for the hurried adoption of the resolution was that the City Council had more pressing matters to address and could not get bogged down in extended debate over the painting of city crosswalks.
3) Overall, the meeting set a dangerous precedent suggesting that the City Council is susceptible to intimidation and undue influence. A clear “cause-and-effect” relationship is evident between the inflammatory, threatening public comments made on June 8th and 15th, and the subsequent speedy acceptance of the resolution without debate or thorough consideration of the ramifications.
4) This resolution will have a detrimental effect on art throughout the city. How will the new restrictions affect local beautification projects? What about the high school students’ tradition of memorializing the names of graduating seniors? Or any artwork for festivities like Daly Days or Apple Days? With one broad stroke, the resolution essentially strips the city of all present and future art. Let’s not forget that art brings people together.
5) This resolution also mandates that the removal of existing paint on pavement be completed at the City’s expense. Is this really an appropriate use of our tax dollars?
6) Finally, the vision statement of the Hamilton City Council specifically states that ‘Hamilton will remain a friendly safe place that values diversity and a spirit of community’. Enactment of the current resolution will directly hinder achievement of this goal. We simply ask that the City Council upholds and acts in accordance with its own mission and values.
For the above reasons, we suggest that the Hamilton City Council repeal the resolution in favor of the clear and well-considered policy proposed by the City Planner. The heated responses to the initial proposal of a Pride Crosswalk on both sides of the aisle highlight the need for open discussion and debate on diversity and inclusion within the City of Hamilton. We acknowledge the challenges faced by the City Council members, but we firmly believe that expedient measures rarely result in impactful solutions. Surely, we can agree that there are certain issues worthy of conflict and persistence in pursuit of positive societal change.