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City of Hamilton 2024 Budget

Hamilton City Council passed its 2024 operating budget on February 15 with a tax increase of 1.64% for essential city services and 1.6% for housing/homelessness services.

An additional tax impact of 2.55% comes from the Government of Ontario's shift of infrastructure costs from land use developers to existing local property taxpayers. Premier Ford has promised to "make municipalities whole" and permanently alleviate the impact of this provincial policy decision, but this has yet to occur. 

The local and provincial impacts meant an increase of 5.79% overall.

The budget leverages the City's strong financial position to manage affordability while responding to the rapid legislative changes and insufficient funding to pay for the impacts of Provincial policy.

Unfunded Mandates

The coloured wheel sets out the distribution of your local property tax dollars. 

Of note is that 42% of the property tax collected goes to boards and agencies like the Hamilton Police Service, Conservation Authorities, education, and provincially mandated programs such as public health, long-term care, housing, Ontario Works, and children's services. These services meet the definition of unfunded mandates because the municipality is required to collect taxes to fund the programs without any authority over program cost and design.

Hamiltonians are legally required to fund Provincial social and health programs even when the Province cuts its contribution. Since 2019, the City's forced contribution has doubled, from $123M to $245M, while Provincial funding has flatlined.

Other highlights:

Housing and Homelessness

The 2024 City budget is responding to the housing and homelessness crises with increased funding to support the construction of new affordable housing and shelter spaces and to develop a Winter Response Strategy.   

The City of Hamilton is investing $158 million to increase affordable housing and reduce homelessness and $72.3 million from its reserves to support the City's Housing Sustainability and Investment Roadmap (HSIR) over the next three years. 

The housing investment also provided additional funding to protect tenants through new measures.

Last year, I reported that the City of Hamilton invested 33% more in housing and homelessness services than the Provincial and Federal governments combined. Regrettably, the gap between the City and senior orders of government continues to widen. This crisis requires all levels of government to be at the table.

Food Insecurity

Food bank use in Hamilton is rising, while community food donations have fallen 60-80% since COVID-19. 

A collection of 16 local organisations that operate 23 Hunger-Relief programs (emergency food banks and hot meal programs) throughout the Greater Hamilton Area delegated to Council asking for help. A municipal investment of $625,000 is included in the 2024 city budget to purchase food by Hamilton Food Share. 

Property taxes should not fund social services to people. As the name suggests, property taxes were created to fund "hard" services to your property, such as roads. Housing, social services, and emergency food services should be funded by senior orders of government who have access to elastic revenue sources, such as income taxes and sales tax. Regrettably, more of these human services are being downloaded onto cities and towns.

Asset Management - Back to Basics

Core assets like roads, particularly in the Lower City, are collapsing after years of underfunding. Since 2023 and again in 2024, the City has increased its level of investment in these core assets to address this deficiency. This level of investment must continue over the next decade.

Litter Control

Hamiltonians are not satisfied with the amount of litter across their City. The 2024 budget will increase litter collection, prioritise Hamilton's downtown, expand street sweeping in Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), including Locke and Westdale, broaden litter collection in parks and trails, and provide more significant support for volunteer clean-up programs.  


The 2024 budget will enable Year 8 of the ten-year transit plan to be realised, funding an additional 49,000 hours of transit service and 33 buses to enhance service and increase the time buses are on the road, improving frequency.

Climate Change

The City continues to prepare for our changing climate by investing in the new Climate Change Reserve and various other initiatives, such as greening the City's Fleet, developing an urban forestry strategy, and building Hamilton's bike network.