Comment 49452

By Martinus Geleynse for Ward 2 Councillor (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2010 at 08:12:16

Hi John! These are important questions which seem to be representative of many of the broader and systemic issues facing much of Ward 2.

I would like to note, however, that despite my age (I'm the youngest candidate in the race for Ward 2), I am pushing for a two-term limit for councillors. I have no desire to sit as a career councillor! I believe in providing a fresh perspective and fresh energy for a limited time, and then moving aside to allow new energy to move into the office every 1-2 terms.

To address your questions:

1. How will you promote the redevelopment of the former Cannon Knitting Mills building?

ANSWER: I'm so glad you asked this question, as I use this building as an example frequently when talking with people about the development process in our broader downtown. The CKM is selling for only $799,000, as you'd mentioned, but carries with it development charges of approximately $300,000. So, any developer looking at taking on the project loses the "great deal" they got on the property when the development charges are added. Suddenly it's just another warehouse with a lot of overhead.
As a councillor, I would push hard for expansion of the downtown rejuvenation districts (currently primarily composed of main traffic corridors) to include the full parking lot district (John and Cannon) as well as the CKM.
With the CKM, a recent offer on the building by a condo developer fell through, in part, due to the ridiculous parking requirements our development regulations require. This is unacceptable. In an age when we are pushing public transit, walkable/bike-able communities, how can we place such an emphasis on parking spaces to accommodate the unwanted traffic in our neighbourhoods? Again, this is something I have already included in my platform: to revisit and revise outdated and restrictive bylaws. This City must become a positive partner in the process of city-building. Interestingly, with the CKM, the structure of the building is so solid that another 3 storeys could be added on top of the existing superstructure (just like Core Urban's new Witton Lofts project). In order to add appeal to the property, a developer may consider using some of the ground floor as a parkade.
The CKM building could be a tremendous addition to the Beasley neighbourhood - offering increased pedestrian traffic, more eyes and security for the Beasley Park it overlooks, and perhaps even a cafe or two with a patio in the traffic loop on the southernmost side. This property is a prime opportunity for the City to demonstrate its willingness to 'make it work' for urban residential development.

With downtown revitalization, we can't debate which will come first any longer: the City needs to be the chicken that will produce the egg. The City must make downtown such an appealing investment that developers and investors simply cannot turn it down. Investing in residential urban intensification will pay off on the back end through taxes, increased spending base, etc. Waiving development charges is an obvious answer. Did you know that all of the businesses on the entire north side of Gore Park (between James and Hughson) provide approximately $340,000 in taxes per year? And that this is nowhere near carrying its own weight? Conversely, a recent high-density residential conversion in the downtown (Staybridge Suites) provides approximately the same amount ($340,000) of tax revenue to the City!

2. How will you ensure that the Hamilton Downtown Mosque is able to acquire the land behind their current building in order to construct their proposed school, housing complex, and mosque expansion?

ANSWER: I have already been in conversation with the president of the mosque and have had coffee with another one of the mosque's executive. I've been exploring this project with excitement for some time now! As you pointed out: the police plan is detrimental to the area. The mosque plan, however, is brilliant. This campus would include an affordable residential component, a library, a school, a mosque, and a community centre. All of these elements are planned to be open to public access! As my friend from the mosque pointed out: it's everything we no cost to the city. The mosque already has significant financing in place, and is all but ready to break ground on this project. Furthermore, the police storage facility is a non-starter as the mosque has made it clear that their current property is not, nor will be for sale. Bottom line: I am in full and active support of this project as it will provide incredible vitality, increased security, and enhanced community to the area.

3. Will you work to enact the measures listed below in order to make our streets safer and more liveable? If not, then what other measures do you propose?

ANSWER: Absolutely. In fact, you've hit upon another point already in my platform: making the city more pedestrian-friendly and less accommodating to car culture. As someone with offices on James St. North, I find it difficult to cross two lane, two-way traffic without a light. The idea of crossing 4 or 5 lanes of one-way traffic (frequently moving at 80 km/h) is simply not an option. How can we be best place to raise a child when we are more than willing to cater to the rapid movement of cars and trucks through our residential neighbourhoods?
About 3 years ago, Vancouver adopted a transportation policy that placed modes of transportation in priority. First priority is pedestrian/cycle traffic. Second priority is essential business traffic like delivery vehicles and couriers. Third priority is private vehicular transportation. It's a people-first approach to traffic, and it's something I would love to see Hamilton adopt.

So, on the record: I am in favour of more two-way conversions, reduced residential speed limits, acceleration of the cycling master plan, desynchronization of traffic lights on our urban [highways] roads, and the implementation of safe pedestrian crossings.

Again, thanks for posing these questions, John.

Our urban neighbourhoods need investment. Investment will come about if the neighbourhoods are viewed as a good investment. Livable, vibrant and safe neighbourhoods are a good investment.

If you'd like to learn more, or to talk further, head to:


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