Dear Councillors and Mayor Eisenberger,
City staff report that the proposed HSR bus fare increase will reduce transit use by 550,000 rides a year. As you contemplate the increase, I ask you to do so in the context of Hamilton's vision and goals.
It is clear from Vision 2020, GRIDS, and the Poverty Roundtable that a vote to increase fares is a vote to repudiate everything this city claims to support and advocate. It is a vote to dismiss our vision, ignore our goals, and abandon our obligations to provide everyone with the best possible quality of life.
Vision 2020, developed in a bottom-up process through extensive citizen input, has been Hamilton's official guiding policy since 1993.
The Vision 2020 goals are:
Quality of Life - "All of us achieve our full potential in a safe, non-violent environment. Everyone has adequate food, shelter, income and education. Everyone has a valued role to play in family, work and community."
The Landscape - "As a community, we cherish a clean, healthy environment. We work to prevent ecological degradation. Waste-reduction, energy-efficiency and respect for ecological systems characterize all aspects of community life and public and private decision making."
Our Communities - "Different kinds of compatible activities and land uses are mixed together, so that we can walk to meet our daily needs for work, recreation and other services. ... This gives everyone an opportunity to participate in all aspects of community life."
Getting Around - "We have many transportation choices. We are not dependent on automobiles and trucks. An integrated transportation system serves the entire city in an affordable, efficient, and accessible way. Our transportation system improves community health by reducing the need for automobile use and making it easy and attractive to walk, cycle, skateboard or roller-blade."
Livelihood - "Firms find a competitive advantage in being located in an attractive, safe and healthy community and operating at the forefront of energy efficiency, pollution prevention and control and material re-use and recycling."
Rural Communities - "Agriculture is supported as a community resource and a vibrant part of the local economy which makes a valued contribution to our overall quality of life. ... The farming community is in harmony with neighbouring urban areas."
Please ask yourself: does the proposed HSR bus fare increase support or hinder the Vision 2020 goals?
Does increasing the cost of transit serve the entire city in an affordable, efficient, and accessible way?
Does it give everyone an opportunity to participate in all aspects of community life?
Does it operate at the forefront of energy efficiency and pollution prevention?
Does waste-reduction, energy-efficiency and respect for ecological systems characterize this aspect of community life and public and private decision making?
Hamilton is also governed by the Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy (GRIDS). The Nine Directions to Guide Development under GRIDS are:
Encourage a compatible mix of uses in neighbourhoods that provide opportunities to live, work and play.
Concentrate new development within existing built-up areas and within a firm urban boundary.
Protect rural areas for a viable rural economy, agricultural resources, environmentally sensitive recreation and enjoyment of the rural landscape.
Design neighbourhoods to improve access to community life.
Retain and attract jobs in Hamilton’s strength areas and in targeted new sectors.
Expand transportation options that encourage travel by foot, bike and transit and enhance efficient inter-regional transportation connections.
Maximize the use of existing buildings, infrastructure and vacant or abandoned land.
Protect ecological systems and improve air, land and water quality.
Maintain and create attractive public and private spaces and respect the unique character of existing buildings, neighbourhoods and settlements.
These are Hamilton's official guiding principles adopted by Council in September 2003. Will you allow your decision on the bus fare increase to be guided by the city's official guiding principles?
Almost 20 percent of Hamilton's citizens live in poverty, and a multi-sector Roundtable for Poverty Reduction was formed in cooperation with the city to launch an initiative to reduce poverty and make Hamilton "the best place to raise a child".
Public transit is the only source of mobility for many people who cannot afford to drive and for whom transportation accounts for a large share of their income. Will raising transit fares help Hamilton to "tackle poverty" or become "the best place to raise a child"?
Please do the right thing and vote to keep growing our public transit system by keeping fares affordable. Transit is not a "subsidy" - it is an investment in stronger communities, affordable mobility, a cleaner environment, and a healthier economy.
Editor, Raise the Hammer
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