Elections

Steve Benson, Candidate for Ward 7 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2018

Details page for this candidate.

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Candidate Details (top)

NameBenson, Steve
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2018
AreaWard 07
PartyN/A
Votes0
Email campaign@stevebenson.ca
Website http://www.stevebenson.ca/
Home905-554-8254
Business
Fax
BioWe live in times where there’s discontent with political leadership worldwide,whether international, national, or on a local level.

While we may not be able to significantly impact international or national levels of government, we, as citizens of the great city of Hamilton, certainly have the power to help decide what’s happening on a local level.

At present, however, there’s too much going on behind closed doors; decisions are being made by a select few that affect the lives of all citizens of Hamilton. Because of the lack of information or the difficulty in obtaining it, most citizen adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude and let sleeping dogs lie.

However, if information on such important issues as speed limits, bike lanes, LTR, Zero Vision, population increases, low income housing, public transit, parks and recreation, shopping malls, city services, and on and on… were readily
available, citizens would and should take an active interest and be informed of these issues that concern us all.

Meet Steve Benson…

Like most Hamiltonians, Steve too is fed up with the present situation and ready and willing to do something about it and make everyone’s voice be heard.

Born and raised on the Hamilton Mountain, Steve is a father of three children and four grandchildren. Steve celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary this year. After graduating high school he went on to study Computer Engineering at Niagara College and continued his studies at the University of Toronto and the School of Architecture.

Why run for councillor?

Steve, like countless other Hamiltonians, is more than frustrated and disappointed with how decisions are being made on behalf of the people of his city and he feels strongly that some of these issues lie with City Council.

Steve’s approach will be entirely different.
He will listen, he will be available, and he will be approachable. Steve
will focus on the needs of the people in Ward 7.

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Responses to Questions (top)

QuestionBrief ResponseFull Response
Since the 1950s, most new residential and commercial development in Hamilton has been single-use suburban sprawl. Do you believe Hamilton needs to concentrate new development within the already-built area? Why or why not? No There have been studies showing new home owners want the suburban sprawl, young owners want to start a family and want their kids to play in a safe private yard. BUT the city directed by the Wynne government in 2013 has mandated Intensification. Intensification is allowing builder to pack as many houses/people into the smallest area possible. In theory these (mostly) three story town homes were suppose to be low cost to help young families get into the housing market. What we are seeing is the opposite currently. One only needs to look to the Stoney Creek Mountain where intensification is taking over. Complex after complex of tall thin town homes packed tightly together almost to the street. These so called low cost homes are selling for upwards of $550,000. This completely defeats the purpose. One the out skirts of the city you can buy single homes for in the $400,000. So young families are actually being forced out of Hamilton. WHY? Intensification was suppose to integrate with the neighbourhoods they are built in, intensification is not suppose to disturb the current infrastructure and cause havoc. The City is neglecting all their own rules for more tax money? and land transfer tax? This is a big problem and will get worse if allowed. If you look on the City of Hamilton’s website for Intensification you will see a nice city proposal describing how Intensification will be implemented. It seems they have forgotten to read it themselves. Look to the Sonoma Homes project on Upper Sherman and Rymal area it has caused increased stress on local residence and created uncertainty with the neighbourhood. The city should have forced developers to redesign and reduce the vacancy rate in the area and not just delay the vote and force the OMB to decide. City Council in my opinion failed the citizens of ward 7 and are failing the people in Hamilton by continuing to expand the city outwards by building intensification homes.
Should Hamilton be trying to attract more young people to live, work and start businesses here, including the 60,000 students studying at Mohawk College, McMaster University and Redeemer University? If so, what should we be doing? If not, why not? Maybe At first glance, the answer should be yes. But in Hamilton there are much larger issues to be dealt with that are limiting the growth of the city. Small business is the backbone of every city, but we seem to manage to stifle its growth.
Currently the Small Business Economic Development Office answered close to 100,000 inquiries last year of eager entrepreneurs.
However, even though the Development Office offers incredible support and resources, less than 1% of these enquiries ever result in success. WHY?
It seems that the system is designed for entrepreneurs to fail from the get go. For most entrepreneurs, the prohibitive fees for permits and rezoning are far too steep and their dreams of opening a small business are squashed. Or in some cases zoning has been approved by one zoning officer only to be denied by another.
At present, there are more than 40 different zone distinctions, each with their own set of rules:
The process is too lengthy, extremely expensive, and the fundamental reason why it is so difficult for individuals to do business in Hamilton. The result is a frustrating experience that many just give up on.

So yes, offering opportunities to 60,000+ former students certainly seems like a good idea to help grow the economy.
However, unless something drastically changes at City Hall, it’s easy to see that it’s difficult to do business in Hamilton.
Hamilton has been experiencing a slow-motion crisis in housing affordability. Do you support an expanded role for the City to provide more affordable housing? If so, what should Hamilton do? If not, why not? Yes The buzz word in Hamilton is Affordable Housing, however, what I support is affordable living for everyone!
A 2016 article in the CBC states that an independent company, hired to look into the Ontario Works program, found that employees were not doing enough to help people find jobs and get back to work.
This independent company actually recommended to release 40+ employees from Ontario Works.
Interestingly enough, the City kept this study under wraps and we now find ourselves in the predicament we’re in.
Affordable housing is not meant to be a lifestyle, it is supposed to be a temporary measure to help individuals and families get back on their feet. If the system was working properly there would be enough housing to support those who need it most.
The City has created a situation whereby is it encouraging whole generations to depend on social services.
What we need to do instead is get people back into the workforce, we need to change the narrative to encourage people back to work and to take advantage of some of the “back to work” programs and retraining available through the City and Province. The longer it takes to do so, the more complacent and dependent people will become and the problems will become insurmountable.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act mandates that cities must be completely accessible by 2025. What changes would you make to ensure Hamilton complies with this mandate? Yes I am somewhat discouraged by this mandate. I thought that it became effective in the early 2000’s. I fail to understand why this issue constantly seems to be swept under the rug. We need to do better.
So to answer the question, we need to make sure that all businesses are aware of, and have access to, available help. The government is offering grants to help make cities more accessible. We as a city need to enforce this mandate, Estimates could be as much as $150 Million to make City buildings compliant, but it needs to be done.
Although this issue may not be of major importance to many citizens, the ones that are deeply affected by it need our help to improve their quality of life.
Global warming is an existential challenge facing humanity. Do you think Hamilton should play a role in addressing climate change? If so, what should the city be doing? If not, why not? Yes I am concerned when it comes to the planet. However, I do not believe that people should be taxed for this issue. Having to pay additional taxes with no proof that these taxes will help reduce the carbon footprint, is hard to swallow.
Plus, the fact that companies with deep pockets can buy carbon credits to add to the pollution, negates everything this tax is supposed to represent.
With that said – the pollution generated in Hamilton has been reduced by 90% since the 1990’s. This in part Provincial governments recent new mandate of accumulative pollution taking into account air pollution moving in from the USA and not individual pollution as it has been. Obviously, working toward zero emissions is the ultimate goal.
However, within this framework, we should address the water quality, or lack thereof, in Hamilton.
Downtown Hamilton has over 600 km of piping, collecting both raw sewage and rainwater, mixing them together before heading to the Woodward treatment plant. Vulnerable to flooding and overflowing this summer beaches had to be closed due to blue/green algae and human waste floating in the Bay. Adding to this, years and years of toxic chemicals being disposed of in the area should give us, as Hamiltonians, serious cause to be concerned.
Do you support the "Vision Zero" goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Hamilton? If so, what specific actions would you take to implement this policy? If not, why not? No It goes without saying that I support “Vision Zero” but, yet again, the City has taken a different approach to what studies have shown.
If you take a look at the Zero Vision portion of the City’s website, it is clear that the majority of traffic related issues are not the fault of the drivers at all.
The majority of incidents involve bicyclists and pedestrians who do not obey basic traffic laws.
The City however feels that speed is the main issue and has reduced speed limits throughout the city and implemented a strategy called “Traffic Calming” whereby the traffic lights are timed to turn red at each intersection with the intent of slowing drivers down.
This is backward thinking since it creates increasingly dangerous scenarios with drivers being frustrated with the constant stop and go situation and vehicles clogging the streets in areas occupied by cyclists and pedestrians. Often times turning down residential sides street speeding to by pass the congestion. This causes yet another very dangerous situation. Not to mention the air quality of all these idling cars in a confined areas such as downtown.
The real solution is public education and allowing traffic to flow. We need to install proper countdown pedestrian walk lights and enforce this in congested areas and where needed pedestrian cross walks equipped with large cross walk and flashing overhead lights.. We also have to implement serious penalties for cyclists who feel they are above the law by dangerously weaving in and out of traffic and running red lights. With more and more cyclists sharing our roads, perhaps it’s time to institute an education/licensing program.
Hamilton has a legacy of multi-lane, one-way arterial streets dating back to the 1950s. Do you support accelerating the conversion of these streets to two-way? Why or why not? Maybe Yes, I support two ways streets. But there is a lot to consider before implementing an idea like this. It has worked for some streets now but we need to make sure it will have the intended results as more streets are converted.
Do you support improved public transit in Hamilton? If so, what changes do you propose? If not, why not? Yes Improving any type of service must the goal for City Council. HSR needs more money to operate to its full potential. HSR drivers are also asked to work under less than healthy conditions which needs to be addressed. Removing Area Rating will assist in creating more revenue which is needed to supply better service, purchase more busses, and help in providing more adequate working conditions for drivers, such as breaks required by law. We also need to look at the number of management vs drivers. Are we spending our current dollars for maximum results?
Do you support phasing out area rating for transit? Why or why not? Yes Removing Area Rating will assist in creating more revenue which is needed to supply better service, purchase more busses, and help in providing more adequate working conditions for drivers, such as breaks required by law.
Council has voted dozens of times since 2008 to advance Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) project, including voting to submit the plan with a full funding request to the Province in 2013, and voting to accept full funding and implementation from the Province in 2015. Do you support completing the LRT plan? Why or why not? Maybe If the LRT is to be built it is mandatory to plan for stop and go areas, meaning places people can drive to and park their cars to ride the LRT. We also need to build for future expansion.
Currently City Council, in its short sighted thinking, has not included Park’n Ride areas in their planning. So people who live on the mountain can’t drive down the Claremont Hill for instance and park off Victoria to ride the train. These people will still drive through downtown to get where they are going. It is literally proves city designers have no vision and do not think for the future.
In spite of everything the City says its wants to do to reduce cars in the downtown area,. they continuously ignore opportunities to do so.
This City Council seems to have no vision. No concrete plan. Some councillors are blindly following without actually looking for solutions.
I believe we have a serious lack of common sense and long term vision directing our cities growth. One of the biggest reason I feel is we are still following an outdated master plan created in the 90’s and I believe taken from the direction of the provincial government at the time. No wonder we are going backwards. Time for Change.
Bonus question: If LRT goes ahead, what will you do to ensure Hamilton receives the maximum benefit? Maybe If the LRT is to be built it is mandatory to plan for stop and go areas, meaning places people can drive to and park their cars to ride the LRT. We also need to build for future expansion.
Currently City Council, in its short sighted thinking, has not included Park’n Ride areas in their planning. So people who live on the mountain can’t drive down the Claremont Hill for instance and park off Victoria to ride the train. These people will still drive through downtown to get where they are going. It is literally proves city designers have no vision and do not think for the future.
In spite of everything the City says its wants to do to reduce cars in the downtown area,. they continuously ignore opportunities to do so.
This City Council seems to have no vision. No concrete plan. Some councillors are blindly following without actually looking for solutions.
I believe we have a serious lack of common sense and long term vision directing our cities growth. One of the biggest reason I feel is we are still following an outdated master plan created in the 90’s and I believe taken from the direction of the provincial government at the time. No wonder we are going backwards. Time for Change.