Its no wonder the same people who are pushing LRT in our community are also pushing to eliminate area rating. They’re desperate to raise taxes on the suburbs and rural areas of Hamilton to pay for their urbanist agenda. Eliminating area rating for transit will cost a household in Ancaster or Waterdown or any of our suburban communities, thousands of dollars in new taxes over the next four years. The property taxes in our community are already becoming unaffordable. They’re pushing seniors out of their homes and making it difficult for renters to find affordable places to live. I’m not willing to cave into special interest groups to make our suburban communities pay for services they’ll never use.
If you live in one of the 8 wards of the old city of Hamilton you may notice a special infrastructure line on your tax bill. That goes directly to a special account that is supposed to be used to pay for hard infrastructure. For the most part this is working, but sometimes things end up being funded by these accounts that shouldn’t be. Council needs to do better to ensure that money is being spent correctly. Secondly, The infrastructure cash collected by this fund is supposed to be spent in the ward that its collected in, but for some reason this is being averaged out. This means that the old wards 6 7 and 8 were actually paying more into the fund than their taxpayers were getting out. I’d like to see that imbalance fixed.
Every year new enhancements are brought forth during the budget process that add on new costs to our taxpayers. While some of these enhancements are necessary, nobody seems focused on looking back on what the City is already doing to find out if we’re still getting value for existing programs. Hamilton needs an independent provincially appointed auditor general that can provide value-for-money audits to help find savings on programs that are not delivering that we can use to fund the infrastructure repairs our city needs.
I really feel for the residents who lived near, and in some cases, not so near to the composting plant that had the early months of their summers ruined by a stench that just wouldn’t stop. I’m relieved that a fix is in the works, but I was frustrated when I learned that a large contributor to the problem was that yard waste deposited in the green bins was a major contributor to the odour. Why didn’t the City stop this years ago? We could have collected and composted yard waste separately and completely avoided the problem in the first place.
I have worked on many political campaigns and in recent years I have assisted many diverse candidates. It goes without saying, that we need more female representation and people with diverse backgrounds in elected office. We need to assist new candidates in the critical areas of financing and organization. I will strike a committee with campaign expertise and experience tasked with developing a training program available to newcomers.
With regard to youth, who often feel disconnected from politics, I would form the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee to advise regularly on issues critical to youth. It is important for youth to have a sense of the tremendous potential they possess if they choose to become more involved in the electoral process..
In 2016 Council voted to spend $50 million from the dividends we receive from Alectra over the next several years to reduce poverty in our community. But at $250 thousand per unit, even if we spent every last penny on affordable housing, we’d only increase our affordable housing stock by 400 units. With more than 8000 people on the waiting list, that’s just not going to cut it. We need to partner more effectively with the private sector and encourage more inclusionary zoning to leverage our scarce financial resources and actually create real affordable homes for people to live in our community.
Under Fred’s leadership we’ve seen our transit ridership drop year after year. By stopping Fred’s billion-dollar boondoggle LRT we’re going to have money to actually invest in conventional transit. I am supportive of many of the things in the City’s 10-year transit strategy, but Fred has been so focused on his train to that the most important parts of the strategy get completely ignored. Once the LRT is cancelled, I’ll be working with the HSR to infuse new cash into the system and finally start to grow our ridership.
I’m interested in starting a dialogue with council about a new way of electing councillors that would use provincial boundaries to determine the geography of the wards. This model could help better represent our growing suburban areas and ensure that we don’t lose the important rural and agricultural voices in our community around the table.
As Mayor of Hamilton, I will donate my salary as a member of the Alectra Utilities board to assist seniors in Hamilton who are struggling with the rising cost of hydro.
With the rapid growth of some of our formerly rural suburbs we need to ensure there is an appropriate level of police coverage. We need to ensure that the Police service has sufficient resources to meet this need. At the same time we need to ensure that the police service budgets, as with other city departments, fall under the higher standard of oversight that we are recommending through the auditor-general position.