Candidates describe the five most important actions they would take to improve Hamilton.
By RTH Staff
Published October 20, 2006
1. Create a Climate Change Policy across the city in consultation with local experts, environmental organisations such as Environment Hamilton, residents, local scientists, TUG transportation group. We must do something about reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and the first place to start would be updating Greater Hamilton's Carbon Count, which has not been assessed since amalgamation. Until we know how much we're emiitting, we cannot possible set ourselves a target for reduction.
My Climate Change Policy would include:
2. Improve our bus service and increase ridership. We need to reassess where and when our routes run to see if they need changing to adapt to residents' needs. Many routes assume people still work 9-5 and do not take new leisure or shopping areas into consideration. We need to:
3. Support small businesses and attract 21st Century business to Hamilton. I would like to see a moratorium on Big Box Stores. We have enough of these complexes, which severely affect small local businesses and provide low-paying part-time jobs with little career prospects.
Our small businesses give back most to our community (try getting a charity donation from a big box store; your local store is much more invested in the community). We need to nurture local businesses by promoting them more and enticing people to shop locally. Shopping in your area makes our local economies vibrant and keeps them healthy. I would like to bring in an "I Buy in Dundas" incentive scheme and members of my local BIA like the ideas I've brought to them. This could be something that is adapted to other parts of the city.
We need to stop thinking we are an industrial city and recognize that the future lies in knowledge industries, such as design, medical instrumentation and innovation. Young Hamilton entrepreneurs, many of them McMaster students, are showing up at conferences held regularly in Waterloo where they are introduced to University Departments, financing groups and city representatives who are part of teams established to entice businesses to set up in the area. Competition is fierce: many of these companies can set up anywhere they wish, so we need to decide what Hamilton will become a centre for, and work all-out to redefine ourselves.
We're lucky to have McMaster and Mohawk College in Hamilton - we need to create a synergy between the two institutions - one to create the entrepreneurs and innovators, and the other to provide a highly trained specialised workforce to complete the team. Right now McMaster is taking the lead with its Innovation Centre, but this has taken place with little leadership or support from the city itself.
4. Really Tackle Poverty. Our Tacking Poverty initiatives have made a good start, but from my experience in the career counselling field, I see that the employment centre model we keep duplication is not working as well as it could. The current format is:
The return rate is high - many may get jobs but lose them, and many give up part way in the process because they are not given the guidance they need.
I personally took several high profile leaders in our community down to Pittsburgh a couple of years ago to see a different model. Here, industry is asked what employees they need. Then suitable trainees are found, they are given the right training (partly funded by the corporation that will be hiring them). Their computer skills are upgraded and any other skills they need are taught. Finally in case they do not own them already, they are given office clothes, donated by local clothing stores and companies. The graduates are also given a bus pass and a loan to get them through till their first pay cheque.
The retention rate is extremely high and this successful program has won several awards. I see this as a smart and enlightened way to bring people into the workforce and to restore their self-esteem, which is so important.
To escape poverty children need education. We need to run attractive after-school programs, and invest in the best facilities and bring in the very best people to provide them. It's cheaper to invest in needy neighbourhoods in this way than to deal with crime and poverty in the long-term. Studies show that kids who are in after-school programs stay in school, and we need all our students to have the chance of a higher education so that they can take their place in a highly competitive employment market.
Food bank gardens where food bank clients garden their own plots, is another simple and successful way to restore a sense of accomplishment and supplement food bank diets with fresh fruit and vegetables.
5. Bring Vision 2020 and GRIDS to the fore. We already have Vision 2020 and GRIDS, the Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy, a made-in-Hamilton balanced growth strategy. These should be our guide to sustainable growth and to protect our environment. It's been largely forgotten and ignored when planning decisions have been made. We need to dust them off, laminate them and post them in all city council chambers and meeting rooms to serve as a reminder when decisions are made.
We need to look at an overall picture that includes the area's streams, rivers, animal and plant life ? as well as what makes sense for city residents when it comes to travelling to work. Hamilton has such a high commuting rate; when people commute they have less time for their families and to devote to their community.
1. Strategic investment is needed for the renewal of the city's aged and deteriorating infrastructure i.e. water, sewers, transportation, etc. The other levels of government are finally recognizing that failure to assist Canada?s communities in the rebuilding of their infrastructure forces those same communities to divert monies away from their other responsibilities. My personal involvement has brought over $50 million in support to our City over the past five years.
2. We must aggressively forge a partnership with the other levels of government to significantly improve the lives of Hamilton's most challenged. We must continue to lobby for our rightful place in the pooling of social services within the GTA and its environs.
3. I will advocate for Dundas' rightful share of the City's budget and ensure that Council continually strives for a dollar's worth of value for a dollar's worth of taxes.
4. I will support the efforts of and work with the Hamilton - Niagara Waste Management Initiative to deal with our pending waste crisis.
5. I will encourage increased investment in economic development opportunities. We must attract new and enhanced commercial development for the Greater Hamilton area.