All Candidates Debate, squared.

The Durand Neighbourhood Association

There were two mayoral candidate debates last night, with a half-hour to get from the one to the other…maybe not the most considerate decision.  Every debate has its particular format, and last night’s Durand Neighbourhood Association Mayoral Candidates Debate time-limited nature has me wondering if starting earlier might not have been better.  After initially trying to jam too much information into the answer to the first question, given ninety seconds, I settled down to deliver solid answers to the remaining ones.  Here are the questions and my written answers:

Q1. Do you have specific goals for the city and how do you plan to bring about collaboration on Council to bring your ideas to reality?

My campaign is all about the LRT.  The “B-line” is a terrible idea that will lead to traffic congestion and the disruption of businesses along King Street and requires the cutting down of the trees all along the street.  That must be stopped.

Instead the North-South LRT should be built to connect the two higher order transportation hubs, namely the Go Train station on James and the Hamilton airport.  That will promote GO Train commuting and future airport traffic.  It can be done using streets that are wide enough to handle vehicular and rail traffic without cutting down trees:  Airport – Upper James – Claremont access – Victoria(northbound)Wellington(southbound) – CNR (right-of-way) – James Street GO Train station platform.  Utilizing inclined rail technology will give us the most ecologically sound means of transporting people up and down the escarpment.  Stop running buses up and down the hill, but use them to feed a North-South LRT.  That will reduce air pollution.

Given the provincial government’s de-coupling of the transit infrastructure funding from the current City Council plan, we can boot Metrolinx out of the equation, keep it public and use the HSR to run the LRT.  This is a golden opportunity to build infrastructure that is logical and green, and has a future.

 

Q2.Neighbourhood associations are often the first stop for developers who want to get input from the community.  In fact, they are often referred to associations by local councillors to get comments on the proposal.  Meaningful engagement requires time from volunteers who serve on neighbourhood associations, and sometimes money to engage appropriate expertise to review development proposals.  Without either time or money, community participation can be superficial at best, and highly imbalanced in favour of the developer at worse.  If you were elected mayor, how would you support neighbourhood associations with resources to reduce the power imbalance that exists between well funded developers and volunteer run organizations who are called upon for comment and input?

Congratulations to the Durand Neighbourhood Association.  I am really impressed with your efficiency and fiscal responsibility.  That being said, I am not interested in creating another level of bureaucracy.  I am not against neighbourhood associations, I think it is wonderful for citizens to get together and discuss local issues, but if your concern requires municipal funding, then it is your councilor’s job to pursue the issue and give satisfactory answers to constituents.

I would hate to think that councilors are so out of touch with their wards that they need to rely on neighbourhood associations to tell developers of the neighbourhood’s concerns.  Perhaps we need to revisit the requirements for City Councillor.  Currently they need not live in the ward which they represent.

 

Q3.Given the carnage on our roads in Ward 2, what will you SPECIFICALLY do to not just protect pedestrians/people on bikes, but prioritize all residents/children that are losing their streets, neighbourhoods and quality of life to this deadly speed epidemic we all face from a culture of driver entitlement?

I would advocate a return to a form of sanity in street design, and a requirement of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to be aware of their surroundings.

I agree that traffic volume is increasing and that is a problem.  What do you think the “B-line” LRT will do?  Whence will the traffic divert?  It’ll go right through here.  That’s why I say NO to the “B-line”.  The only hope of reducing traffic is to give a viable alternative.

Where is the traffic around here going?  -Up the hill and to the highway.  What will give relief to that?  -The North-South LRT.  I have a plan to change the paradigm of public transportation in Hamilton, up and down the escarpment and to the GO Train station to promote rail commuting, done in the most efficient and  environmentally friendly way.

 

Q4.The Durand Neighbourhood has incredible history and heritage as one of the oldest residential neighbourhoods in one of Canada’s oldest cities. Many residents of Durand were drawn to the area in part because of its rich heritage. How would you work to see that the City of Hamilton’s planning and zoning departments really recognize and best protect this heritage from the rampant speculation and development that we have seen returning to the city?

This question is about building heights and over-development, I think.  May I be so bold as to say that you have a friend in me.  Increasing density in this part of the city will only exacerbate the traffic problems.  I don’t think the building height restrictions should be loosened here, you have a beautiful neighbourhood.  The good news is that a North-South LRT would open up other corridors to higher density development in areas that would benefit, for example Wellington Street and Victoria Avenue, as Upper James Street.

 

The Flamborough Review and The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce

The Flamborough review and the FCC had a very professional debate which almost had me regret not rushing up to Waterdown and joining in, but I had already decided beforehand to meet and “gladhand” those in Durand after their debate.  I weighted the decision in the knowledge that any LRT would be a hard sell to those in Flamborough,  and from what I heard (by the time I got to Waterdown), I was right.

I went to hear what were the issues important to Flamborough, and heard what I had expected for the most part, including concerns over taxes and representation, and traffic congestion through Waterdown.  I also heard that city hall by-law and “red tape” were a concern, as well as policing.  The last point reminded me of the conversation I had with Gary (from Flamborough) who had told me that there were a very limited number of officers assigned to the area.

I’ll leave you with this bit of news.  Fred Eisenberger earlier quipped that the guns on HMCS Haida and those at Dundurn Castle could be trained on Burlington to stop the annexation of Flamborough, but later said he would move to Burlington if he has to listen to more of Edward Graydon (I think he meant from the mayor’s office).

 

 

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