Amalgamate This

By Jason Leach
Published November 17, 2005

Bravo to Councilor Bratina for his comments regarding deamalgamation in Hamilton.

Too often we only hear about the discontent from the outlying suburbs, yet as a downtown resident I would fully support a complete and true deamalgamation. Many others in the core feel the same way.

The urban viewpoint on this issue is quite simple: inner city residents pay the highest taxes in the entire city and for the past twenty-five years much of that tax money has been used to fund suburban sprawl projects like the Meadowlands, south Mountain, Waterdown and Red Hill Expressway.

The city continues to spiral into debt while charging insanely low fees to the developers of these sprawl projects. A study of any city will clearly show that unabated sprawl is detrimental to urban neighbourhoods and downtown cores. In essence, us downtowners are having our tax money spent on the destruction of the very neighbourhoods in which we live.

To make matters worse, we have lost our voice in municipal politics. The massive suburban growth of Hamilton over the past three decades has relocated roughly 60,000 from the lower city to far flung suburbs.

As the last mayoral election showed, there was a clear difference in the priorities and minds of voters in the downtown area compared with the suburbs.

Unfortunately, Hamilton is mostly suburban now, which means issues relating to urban neighbourhoods, quality of life, pedestrian and cycling safety, transit improvements, air quality, and downtown revitalization are left in the background as our city council clamors around trying to appease the suburban vote with more highways, ultra-wide streets full of big box stores, drive-thrus, and strip plazas and more car dependent suburban sprawl.

Now there's even talk coming from the suburbs of using tax money to keep gas prices artificially low as energy resources slowly dwindle. Over my dead body will you take my tax money to subsidize Joe Cool in the Meadowlands with his gas guzzling SUV, five thousand square foot thermal slum and utter addiction to every useless gadget corporate America throws his way.

Deamalgamation would give urban residents a voice once again. We would use that voice to reinvest our tax money into our neighbourhood streets, business districts, parks, transit, air and water quality, arts, environment and recreation trails and facilities.

And when gas prices hit three bucks a litre I'll do what I do now ­- leave the car at home and walk to the best dining, parks, jobs and entertainment available in our city.

If only I had some say as to where my high taxes are spent.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By Yvonne Parsons (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2006 at 15:40:51

I am a new resident of Carlisle and just read Pastor Leach's November 2005 comment stating that the core of Hamilton subsidizes the outlying subburbs. He states that the inner city has the highest taxes, but does he put $500.00 a month away to pay his property tax? I do, and I can guarentee that I am not the highest property tax payer in Carlisle. He talks about developers getting tax breaks, well Mr Leach, developers do not necessarily live in Flamborough, it's the residents who are being charged so much tax. When amalgamtion was forced on us, property tax jumped 35% and has disproportionately increased every year since. You do not subsidize Flamborough residents, and our tax dollars which are more than outragous does not benifit us, so where are all our tax dollars going? It's not to Flamborough.
We have no sidewalks, inadequate street lamps, inadequate roads, it's not safe to even walk in our community because of these conditions, however, I'm willing to bet you enjoy sidewalks, street lamps and roads that are wide enough and well paved enough to be considered safe for motorists and pedestrians. If you think anyone is really going to subsidize gas prices, you've been sorely misinformed, that is something we all know would never happen, no matter who may start that kind of rumour. Perhaps Mr. Leach needs to get his facts straight before posting obsurd comments that have nothing to do with residents of Flamborough as well.

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