Hamilton, Other

First blog

It’s hard to believe that it is 2023! This past year was one of great change for me on a personal
level. I put my name forward to run for Hamilton City Council, and I am glad I did it. While my
first attempt at public office was not successful, it was nonetheless a valuable experience as I
got to know my ward and my city better. I knocked on thousands of doors, and it was incredible
to see how many people care about the city we live in, and are willing to offer their opinions.
I appreciated the chance to hear from the residents of Ward 5, and to share my ideas at the
door as well. It’s the luxury of having the time off to focus on the campaign that gave me the
chance to go door to door and share ideas with people, but now that I am back to work, I need
to share my ideas through a different medium.

When I chose my campaign website address, I picked one that I can reuse in the future, or put
it to personal purpose for now. That’s where this personal blog comes in: from time to time, I will
share my personal ideas here. I will generally focus on politically-related themes, but I’m sure
other ideas will filter through, too.

My ideas here are my own, and don’t represent my employer or any other organization with
which I am affiliated. I will steer clear of ideas that are best suited for internal tools for
innovation; this space will be for big picture ideas: suggestions on how to improve institutions, or
to make significant change to the way things are done, and why I think change is warranted.
It often said that the only constant is change, and that has never been truer than today. Our
society is at a major crossroads, as we come out of the pandemic period and adjust to our new
reality. I believe that the Covid-19 pandemic will be looked back upon as a major catalyst for
change in how do things. Changes will be felt at all levels, and I think it is important to prepare
for that change, and adapt as effectively as possible.

Many historical events are viewed as major catalysts for change, either directly or indirectly. In
the 20th century, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was the spark that started World War
I, which in turn led to World War II. So much of the modern world stems from that gunshot in
1914. Would the Women’s Suffrage movement taken place without women’s involvement in
workplace during the World Wars? Perhaps, but I expect it would have taken longer to get the
patriarchal society of the time to change without their hand being forced.
At the start of the 21st century, the planes crashing into the Twin Towers on September 11
seemed to be that pivotal moment that would alter our lives forever. Driving to the United States
was so much simpler before we needed a passport to cross the world’s largest undefended
border. Airport security is a much more complex process now; it is a matter of course to take our
shoes off to make sure that we aren’t hiding anything suspicious.

I think that the changes brought about in 2001 pales in comparison to the changes we see in the
world now as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many aspects of life now are very different
than they were at the beginning of 2020. Technological conveniences like remote work, online
shopping, and apps like Uber and Skip the Dishes were there for a few, but widespread use
brought on by the pandemic brought them to the mainstream in a way that no one saw coming.
Like the advent of any new technology, the early adopters were already on board, but the
second wave of general use came much quicker than anything before. Change on a societal
level is usually slow moving, but we were forced to pivot rapidly to the unknown risks of the
pandemic. Working from home, lining up outside the grocery stores, and not being able to

attend public events like movies, concerts, and sporting events were the harsh reality forced
upon us to protect us from the pandemic.

My workplace started offering working from home as a pilot, for employees who met certain
conditions, in the fall of 2019. I met those conditions, but I didn’t like the idea of setting aside
space in my home for work, and being isolated from my colleagues in the office. To me, at the
time, the disadvantages at the time outweighed any advantages. Even when things started
closing down around us, it wasn’t until the question from management became “is there any
reason you can’t work from home?” that I started looking at it seriously. Looking back on it now,
the advantages have been more significant than I first realized, and the disadvantages aren’t as
big a deal after all.

When I worked in the office, my day started at 9:00 am, as did my wife’s, and since we both
worked downtown, we commuted in together. My wife works a shorter day, so when she left
work, she would pick up our daughter and I would take the bus home at the end of my day.
During the busy season, I would work overtime a couple of evenings a week, but that meant a
late bus ride home, which was less frequent than evening rush hour. I would also work the odd
Saturday, taking the lengthy bus ride to work and back.

As a result of working from home, we are saving on gas, parking, and public transit. Now, I can
work that overtime by simply going to my home office, and I don’t have to factor in a lengthy
commute to my decision to work extra time. Instead of only working a Saturday if I could work
the whole day, I can sign up for a four hours in the morning and then carry on with the rest of my

We don’t have to eat packed lunches anymore. Like many workplace lunchrooms, the
microwaves in the office were in high demand, so I would usually settle for a cold sandwich.
Now, I am able to heat something up, meaning that our leftovers don’t go to waste.

While I didn’t want to start working from home, I am at the point now where I don’t want to give it
up. I find it very convenient, time saving, and better for my productivity to work from home.
Some people prefer to interact within the office, but it’s not for everyone. All of my work is done
sitting at my desk, whether that desk is in the office or in my house. Virtual meetings are frankly
more effective than in person meetings. Being able to offer an opinion or insight in the chat
during the meeting means I don’t have to interrupt the speaker to support their message. Hand
raising features allow us to determine who is next to speak in an orderly fashion, and
collaboration can happen between meetings in a much faster format than they could before.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I would have never thought of the idea of ordering groceries
online. Even a nominal fee for someone to pick the items off of the shelves for me didn’t seem
worth it. Then, with wanting to minimize my time out in public spaces, the idea appealed to me.
Even with that general fear subsiding, I still find I prefer the convenience of online grocery
orders. I can choose what I want to purchase ahead of time, determining the best value for my
purchases, a convenient time to pick them up, and ultimately save myself a great deal of time.
I’m not usually one to order food for delivery, but I know many others have taken in the
convenience of services like Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, and others. The proliferation of these
services has meant that people are able to order a wider variety of food for takeout or delivery.
For me, I am more inclined to use the apps available for my restaurants of choice to pre-order
my food. I appreciate being able to save my time, and I feel that it is more effective to have my
food made for me while I am driving to the restaurant. Without the societal shift brought on by

the Covid-19 pandemic, I don’t think these options would be as available or as advanced as
they are now.

The way we work, and the way we live, has changed rapidly, in large part driven by changing

habits during the pandemic. While these new habits won’t become the standard for everyone,
there are enough that will embrace the change that we need to recognize that our society is
forever changed. The way we deliver government services, and interact with the public, has
been changing with the times, and will need to continue to change moving forward.
There is a greater expectation on information being available at our fingertips. People want to
be able to know real time data on when their next bus is coming, when their road will be plowed,
and what is happening in their community.
One change that I think has largely gone unnoticed has taken place within organized sports in
North America. Prior to the pandemic, cancelling or rescheduling games was done very
reluctantly, and was extremely uncommon in football, basketball, and hockey. With lost seasons
and lost games due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the leagues have taken a different approach.
During the worst of the pandemic, dozens of games had to be rescheduled and schedules had
to be adjusted on the fly. The leagues were doing this to demonstrate their effort to contain any
outbreaks, particularly since individuals travelling across North America could potentially spread
and multiply variants by having close interaction between players. It was better, they found, to
reschedule the games than risk making the situation worse in the long run.
Now, we find that professional sports leagues are moving or postponing games when there is a
potentially rough storm predicted to impact a region, moving the entire game to other cities or
rework the schedule. They have come to realize that, while there may be costs associated with
these moves, they will recover most of the revenue and avoid the bad publicity that may come
with pushing ahead with originally scheduled games. This has become even more apparent in
situations where a major injury happens within a game. In the past, games would be delayed
significantly when a player suffers a major injury, but the game would continue eventually. The
past approach, which was that “the show must go on”, is no longer required. Health and safety
are more important than the game finishing on a given day.
While the level of change we are seeing can present challenges to government, it is also an
opportunity to engage the citizenry more, to allow more people to be involved and active in what
is going on around them. Effective governments, just like effective companies, will be the ones
that listen to their target audiences and adapt to meet their needs and address their concerns.
It’s not easy for bureaucracies to adapt quickly, but adapt them must.
In 2022, the voter turnout continued to decline. While much of that may be related to voter
fatigue, I think part of it is apathy to the options available as well. We need to do more to reach
those audiences, to encourage people to participate in the process so that we can make it better
for everyone. By responding to the people, by reacting to their needs, governments can make
people feel that their opinions do matter, and better shape the government of the future.
Part of my drive for political office was to bring some innovative ideas to the way government
functions. I plan to use this blog space to put out some of the ideas that I have bounced around
for a while. I don’t profess to be an expert, by any means, but we can only bring about effective
change if we put our ideas out there, so I will continue to do that.

Many of the ideas I will present have no doubt been suggested by others, but I’m happy to build
on ideas of others towards a better future, just like others may take my ideas and build on them.
By working together and taking the best of everyone’s ideas, we have a better opportunity to
arrive at the best possible answer for all of us.
I look forward to sharing my ideas with you. Many of these I have discussed with friends in
person, but with a wider audience I hope that I can refine these ideas more, and perhaps put
them forward as policy suggestions in the future, either as part of my own campaign or to be
incorporated into political party concepts.
Some of the topics I will write about are things like Senate reform, the Ontario public education
system, public transit planning, and more. I hope you follow my journey as I flesh out my ideas,
and I welcome your input.
Thank you for taking the time to read this first blog, and I would appreciate your feedback. You
can comment on my Facebook page, or you can email me at info@bobhurst.ca.

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