Candidates describe the five most important actions they would take to improve Hamilton.
By RTH Staff
Published October 20, 2006
1. Develop an Energy Cluster component of the City's Economic Development Strategy. The City's Peak Oil strategy calls for a 75 percent reduction in energy and for the remaining 25 percent to be comprised of alternative energy sources.
A firm commitment to the strategy has the potential to attract alternative energy manufacturers to Hamilton. This is already happening with Cleanfield Energy in Ancaster, who will mount 150 of their vertical axis wind turbines on city buildings in 2007. City-owned Horizon Utilities Corporation should diversify into alternative energy sources as well.
2. Implement a Bus Rapid Transit System. The new Master Transportation Plan envisions a BRT system and this should be implemented through pursuit of special federal and provincial funding. Consideration should be given to a east-west electric streetcar system in the lower City, as noted in the Peak Oil strategy.
A comprehensive route rationalization must be undertaken to de-link upper and lower city buses as too many buses currently head to the downtown - buses must go where people want to go quickly if transit is to compete with the private automobile.
3. Alleviate Poverty in Hamilton. The City budget must be themed on this, specifically Making Hamilton the Best Place to Raise a Child with spending measured against the key investment areas of affordable housing, skills development, and school programs. A Fair Wage Policy targeting City purchasing to companies that ensure workers a minimum of $10/hr plus benefits should be implemented.
4. Ensure Success of James Street North Arts District: re-development of Tivoli Theatre complex and new Hamilton Artists Inc building. A strong arts economy is a key component of Richard Florida's Creative Communities approach. The City must work on facilitating further success for the burgeoning James St North arts district.
I am working on encouraging McMaster University's music school to play a role in the Tivoli Theatre complex redevelopment project. This project has the potential to anchor the district, bookended by the soon to be established Hamilton Artists Inc. new headquarters further north on James.
5. Develop a Community Economic Development Strategy. Recently, Environment Hamilton brought U.S. economist Michael Shuman to Hamilton to talk about a strategy where communities adopt a strategy of self-reliance with local production for local consumption.
His ideas of how credit unions, commercial banks and thrifts with community ownership structures, and local currencies can keep community wealth circulating in and working for the community must be investigated as a basis for Hamilton's economy, along with import substitution and directing City purchasing power to locally owned businesses, thereby keeping money circulating within the city - plugging the leaky bucket.
City Hall is a mess, to say the least. Why are we giving money out to every person who thinks he or she has a worthy cause when we all know Hamilton is on the brink of bankruptcy? We have children and adults literally starving and it's not getting any better.
We have some parents who would rather buy a pack of smokes instead of food. Why? If we're going to get results we need help not in the form of not just cash but participatation. I would like to see breakfast and lunch programs in the wards that need it with the permission of the board of course. I would like to get churches and schools opened after hours with the permission of the school board for kids programs.
Why is it that we have huge numbers of arts and culture and music people available in the communitty, yet there doesn't seem to be enough communitty work done by these people. what about free art and music lessons to people or children by these persons? What about if we pay them an hourly fee instead of grants or handouts? We need to get kids active, especially in these wards.
I will be voting no to new trucks, zambonis, cars, parking passes for City workers, or anything we don't need. Why is it that we have low attendance on buses yet we're giving out parking passes? Let's give out a bus pass instead. Find a parking spot at City Hall! You can't; they're occuppied by City employees.
I will be questioning holidays scheduled in the busiest time of year in the building department, which is the summer. Ever tried to get a building permit in the summer? Good luck. It's hard enough finding someone who knows what they're doing never mind just in the summer. The hours should be changed so that the public has access to the services. I would recommend 9:30 AM - 6:30 PM.
I would really like to know who is running City Hall because it certainly isn't someone with businesss sense.
Ward One is bulging with talent and we need to put that talent to work for the City. My plans are to get Dundurn Park and Castle busy every summer weekend with the help of our talented people: children's festivities and music, a place where neighbours can have fun as much as possible.
I would like to see every person who wears a police, securitty, fire fighter uniform, etc., participate in making Hamilton a safer place by volenteering to take public transportation to work and home. Sounds foolish, but it's happening in San Fransisco as we speak, and it works.
Taxes should be based on selling price not MPAC. Taxes should be from .75% to .1% when a sale takes place. Sound foolish? Well, it works in US States. E.g. 1m = 7k -10K per year taxes, and it's a simple formula.
We should be encouraging builders to build in existing neighbourhoods using and maximizing the infrastructure that already exists and is in major need of extensive repair. Utilize parks and schools, shopping centres. Not over-charge them on permit fees and repairs to roads which have not been replaced by the taxes which have been paid and yet used to build huge developments on outskirts of Hamilton.
Wards in downtown have been and are paying similar or more taxes than that of huge lots in other wards yet recieving no benefits. For example, an Ancaster home on a 60 foot lot pays $4,000 taxes and two homes on 2 30 foot lots downtown pay $4,000 - $5,000 yet get not even close to the services in Ancaster. Why? Why are we subsidizing AAA Hockey in the thousands of dollars to parents who can afford to pay these enormous fees and the children downtown can't afford to eat, never mind play AAA hockey?
Why are we allowing adults who would pay $300.00 for an hour of ice and are paying taxes to go out of Hamilton for icetime and subsidizing ice time for $70.00 to players who practice four times a week instead?
We need to encourage old out of date homes to be torn down and new ones built. That includes triplexes and duplexes for affordable clean, safe homes or accomodations.
We need to encourage safe and reasonably priced student housing around the university. If large student accommodations like the one going up on Main West are built then the student houses in single family homes in westdale will discontinue. We must promote multi-units, not discourage them. This will also promote the business community.
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