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LRT Vote - April 2024

Light Rapid Transit Map

The Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada are funding a 14-kilometre Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project. Metrolinx is the provincial agency overseeing the project. Metrolinx indicated that they were open to input from the City of Hamilton regarding the role the City wanted to play in the LRT's operations. The final decision, however, rests with Metrolinx. Regardless, in all cases, Hamilton LRT will remain publicly owned.

City of Hamilton staff put forward several operating models for Council's consideration. I supported the staff recommendation, which called for the private operation of Hamilton LRT for a limited time. The purpose of this letter is to share why I took this position and to be accountable to Ward 1 residents for my vote.

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We must solve the housing crisis while also protecting the environment

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It seems everyone is talking about housing these days, and rightfully so.

Ontario’s housing crisis is on full display in big cities and small towns. But why a column about housing to mark Earth Day on Monday? Ontario’s fate and fortune depend on how we meet our housing needs without causing further harm to our wetlands, rivers, and forests, which are natural “infrastructures” vital to our individual and collective health and well-being.

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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.

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People Over Parking

You may have read or heard that half of Hamilton's City Councillors were blocking the City's efforts to allow for affordable housing on city-owned parking lots in downtown Stoney Creek, requiring the Mayor to use Strong Mayor Powers to resolve the impasse. These lots offer free parking, have been declared surplus for many years, and have been zoned for multi-residential use for 30 years.

To borrow from Edmund Burke, elected representatives, more than anything else, owe the public their judgement and not just their obedience to public opinion.  Citizens’ trust in government is frustrated when actions don’t match words.  

Any decision on housing affects everyone across the City.  Hamilton City Council unanimously declared a housing crisis in April 2023, followed by unanimous support for an action plan to bring focus and urgency to this crisis.  All of Council committed to action, not just words.

The action plan is called the Housing Sustainability and Investment Roadmap (HSIR)It is intended to be a "whole community" response, with the City of Hamilton partnering with community organisations to build affordable housing.

The sale or lease of surplus City-owned parking lots for a nominal price to not-for-profit housing corporations for affordable housing development is a tool available to municipalities and an identified action in the HSIR. The City and community partners can then use this land asset to leverage federal and provincial housing investments.

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Affordable Housing Actions - A Ward 1 Update

Housing Sustainability & Investment Roadmap

To bring focus and urgency to the housing crisis in our city, Hamilton City Council launched the Housing Sustainability and Investment Roadmap (HSIR) in 2023.

The HSIR is intended to be a “whole of community” response, with the City of Hamilton partnering with community organizations that bring different strengths, experiences, needs and resources to the housing table.  Although HSIR is an excellent step in bringing local resources together, ultimate success requires a fully engaged and committed federal and provincial government.

This Ward 1 update is to provide residents with the first annual update on the HSIR and the Housing Secretariat.

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The Rise of Homelessness in Hamilton

“Why are we seeing such a dramatic increase in the number of people living in encampments?”

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A Bump in the Road

Whether you drive, ride a bike or just cross a street, you’ll have noticed that roads in the older city are falling apart.  This Ward 1 letter will focus on some of the factors that have collided to create this bumpy ride. 

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Encampments and Institutional Responsibility: A Letter to Ward 1 Residents

Dear residents of Ward 1

In a previous letter to Ward 1 residents, I set out my position on the City’s abrupt decision to end the encampment protocol: https://www.maureenwilson.ca/encampments0921. The protocol was an agreement arrived at by the City of Hamilton and various health, housing and justice agencies to guide the municipality’s response to encampments. It was a housing-first approach. It set a time limit of fourteen days for tents to be in a City park and placed a cap on the number of tents permitted in any one place. It assessed the mental acuity of encamped persons. It also prohibited encampments in certain places such as near schools. I regret that City staff were not able to meet with their protocol partners to negotiate any amendments considered necessary before being instructed to terminate the agreement. As a result of Council’s decision, the Hamilton Police Service has been formally inserted into the City’s response to homelessness.   

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City of Hamilton Ward 5 Selection Process & Outcome

Dear Ward 1 residents

The purpose of this post is to account for my vote this past Friday, November 12, 2021, at a special meeting of Hamilton City Council to fill the ward 5 seat left vacant with the election of Chad Collins as a federal Liberal MP for Hamilton East- Stoney Creek. Mr Collins served as ward 5 Hamilton City Councillor for 26 years (1995-2021).

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My vote against ending the Encampment Response Protocol

 

Encampments are outside spaces where residents are living temporarily in tents or other makeshift arrangements. I have written about encampments in a previous letter to Ward 1 residents. 

The purpose of this Ward 1 letter is to account for my vote at the August 9, 2021, special meeting of Hamilton City Council, which concluded with the City's cancellation of the Encampment Response Protocol.  

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