Steel to Gold: Reimagining the role of sport to create an overarching economic, social and environmental blueprint future for Hamilton

September 10, 2020
by Kristen Worley

The Commonwealth Sport Movement has seen a tremendous shift in the last three years in the research and role of sport in local and regional economies around the world. Acknowledging the role of sport has far more reaching opportunities to elevate individual lives and communities within the grouping of 71 nation states and territories that make up the Commonwealth.

Unique by design along comes with its challenges, the governance of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), works in two vertical streams in consultation with the Commonwealth Secretariati working on collaborative remedies utilizing the vehicle of sport that is the common thread between governments.

The unique strength of the CGF governance relationship compared to any other international sporting body such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is with national governments and stakeholders across six distinct regions across the globe, playing host to a 1/3 of the worlds population and diversity. It is a unique model and relationship, that lends to the opportunity to see sport beyond the spectacle and aspirations of a global games brings to a city or region of the world. Where we are able to take the values and aspirations from the ‘field of play’ and extend those same value, and align them to the individual lived experience, intersecting the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG’s) indicators ii with Commonwealth Games Federation Sport Impact Model. This thought leadership will directly impact the social, economical and environmental planning between 2020|2045 for the region of Hamilton.

In combination with the impact model of the Commonwealth Sport Movement, the Canadian Government iii has been working as a Commonwealth Secretariat partner of nations in a new sports movement on a global agenda, laying the ground work across the Commonwealth by developing the Kazan Action Planiv, creating a worldwide relationship, collaboration, expertise, resources and strategies designed towards health and wellbeing, and economic development.

No longer are short sighted infrastructure projects a legitimate method of urban planning with a focus on economic recovery enough. The research illustrates the focus needs to be a much broader integrated vision across shared practice areas. Re-evaluate the top down approach of ‘sustainability and inclusion’ as the foundation of the design and guiding principles, created to manage the status quo, which continues to reinforce a world of ‘accommodation’, proven not to be resilient in a post pandemic world that requires collaboration and accessibility; by applying a bottom up approach in social policy on how that transcends into the built environment, in civic and recreational space and at home.

In a post pandemic environment, by moving to a ‘human centred design’ approach allows us to move beyond these limitations, enabling us to move beyond current set standards in public health policy and building codes, construction methods and urban place to create active living environments – for individuals and communities to meet their true potential – increasing overall health and wellbeing, and economic development. The envisioned affordable housing development, aligned to the strategy will implore these recommended health, construction, environmental and accessible standards which will be cost efficient long-term, while gentrifying and advancing the living standards for individual and families in the community needing affordable housing.

A central theme to the Commonwealth Games and the field of play

The Commonwealth Sport Movement is a cooperative partnership and collaboration of nations focused on economic development and the health and wellbeing of regions. The Modern Commonwealth Games are the accelerant and visibility of the shared partnership with a focus on elevating lives and communities, with shared commonalities across the Commonwealth, embracing our rich diversity, knowledge and expertise in a shared common goals – ensuring a resilient and a sound economic foundation for generations to come.

Moving from Steel to Gold

Hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games is an unprecedented opportunity to harness the power of the Commonwealth Sport Movement to unleash our human potential and rebuild and regenerate the region.

Hamilton the curator of the modern Commonwealth Games starting in 1930, through the thought leadership founded by Melville Marks Robinson. The games were designed as part of the festival of the Commonwealth, a celebration of human ability, excellence and innovation. Ninety years later, the Commonwealth Movement, has pivoted – through technology and economic development, states have become more independent of the original British alliances, and conversely distilled economic development creating independence, utilizing the Commonwealth network to collaborate and aspire to uplift nations in areas of social and economic policy, health sciences, merging environmental and infrastructure development construction sciences and technologies, with a design approach of ‘human centred design’ and focus on individual health and wellbeing, by designing and planning for the future – ensuring that each individual is able to reach their true potential in their place of work and community.

Healthy and active community translates to resilient economic development and growth

Hamilton is ahead of the curve, as an example the outlying region continues to show its leadership in Health Sciences through McMaster Health Science Centre, ranking 3rd in for their research intensity in Canada. Through Canada’s innovation corridor between McMaster University and the University of Waterloo. The McMaster Innovation Park, is part of Canada’s innovation hub triangle which brings together community leaders, contributing thought leadership fostering in advances as well as in engineering innovations, renewable energy technologies and manufacturing in the region, steel reuse innovation and decarbonization of concrete.

Legacy, diversity and sheer grit and tenacity of the people of region, is the foundation of Hamilton’s resilient past and future. Where the values intersect with City, Commonwealth Sport Movement and the Commonwealth Games, is at the leadership and wisdom of local First Nations elders, especially on human and environmental stewardship, sustainability, resiliency and recovery, which is a shared common thread across the Commonwealth shared by First Indigenous communities.

The teaching and foresight of the elders’ is viewed over seven generations, broken down into specific learning streams; three generations of the past, the present generation and three generations into the future. As they teach is, we learn from the past and take those teachings and move into a better future.

These values and historical stewardship, is the underpinning of the Commonwealth’s foundation and are common links across the Commonwealth. Of which, the future of the Commonwealth Sport Movement and Secretariat founded modern principles. A unique position being the home to five First Nation territories and able to align in collaboration with leaders to elevate thought leadership and greater design thinking to elevate local economical development, in a shared capacity and stewardship across the region, Canada and the Commonwealth, on what a resilient future city plan looks like.

The City of Hamilton by using the Commonwealth Games Sport Impact Model as a guideline will create stimulus, accelerating economic development and recovery, accessing a surplus of expertise through this network across practice areas, with government, social responsible corporate and private partnerships, through innovation.

This is a transformational time for Canada and for Commonwealth countries. Hamilton by taking advantage of this opportunity, will stimulate regional to resilient economic development over the next decade, and as a leader through the cities stewardship, will guide Canada and other major cities in their recovery.

Steel to Gold September 2020 ~


[i] Measuring the contribution of sport to the Sustainable Development Goals,, THE COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT, September 2020.

[ii] UN Sustainability Development Goals,, UNITED NATIONS, September 2015

[iii] Commonwealth Ministerial Forum on Sport and COVID-19,, THE COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT, July 23, 2020.

[iv] Kazan Action Plan,, UNESCO, July 2017.

About the Author:

Kristen Worley, a team member of Hamilton 2026 BIDCO. Kristen a retired high performance athlete over 3 decades, in the sports of waterskiing and cycling, competing and the national and international levels of her sport representing Canada. Recognized for her work and commitment by the United Nations and International sport, as an international diversity advisor, ensuring safe access and participation in sport.

Kristen an author, designer, and public speaker with a focus on human centred design shares her experience helping to align public policy with built environment. Through thought leadership, utilizing the power of design and innovation to advance communities and lives around the world.