Chris Behrens, Candidate for Ward 6 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2010

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Candidate Details (top)

NameBehrens, Chris
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2010
AreaWard 06
Email c.behrens@hotmail.ca
Website http://www.chrisbehrens.com
BioA former Cadillac Technician, now an Ontario Certified High School Auto teacher. Additional teaching qualifications in Comm Tech, Construction, Co-op and Special Education. Represented the Tech. Ed. Teachers at Queen's University. Won an award for political and social activism from the OSSTF. Running for city council to help this city move on with a fresh outlook on things. I feel that we are at a low and we need to get pride back. Infrastructure and taxes are the two largest issues that my constituents express to me. Another concern is that they call the incumbent Tom Jackson and never receive a call back. I plan on staying close to my constituents with the use of instant messaging, e-mail, social networking (Facebook), and the good old telephone. The constituent will have a close link to City Hall.

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Responses to Questions (top)

QuestionBrief ResponseFull Response
Should we spend the Future Fund to build a Pan Am / Ticat stadium on the CP Rail Yard lands? Why or why not? No Hamilton's future fund should not go towards a new stadium. The funding for the stadium should come from those who have a keen interest in building one, and investing in it. If the Tiger Cats feel that Ivor Wynne is not working for them, then they should fund it and own it.

Hamiltonians really want improved infrastructure; in fact most feel that the city is ignoring their calls for improvements to our infrastructure, and would be satisfied fixing our flooding issues, our broken water mains and roads before we build a stadium.
Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this? Yes I agree that council meetings should be more respectful and professional. Councillors constantly come and go during the meetings. This is unavoidable at the moment, because there are no structured breaks. When they get back from their breaks, they waste time by asking for the information to be repeated to them. We all have needs for breaks; we should look at the way the meeting is structured to eliminate this from happening. I believe that a 40 minute on, and a 10 minute off structure would serve council much better. The media, who have to stay with their equipment, would appreciate this as well. I feel that this would be a significant first step to bringing about a more professional council meeting.

I feel that if a councillor misses a meeting and does not have a legitimate excuse, then they should be docked pay. As for the characters, personalities, and their behaviours, well that is clearly up to the electorate who elect them in. As a Certified Teacher, you just need to deal with those situations as they come.
Do you support Hamilton's LRT proposal? If so, what will you do to ensure Hamilton's success in building LRT? If not, why do you oppose it? Yes I am definitely a supporter of Hamilton's LRT proposal. LRT will improve the quality of life for our youth, up to our seniors. It will also encourage Hamiltonians to leave the car at home, decreasing air pollution and traffic congestion. Unlike how we have dealt with the Pan-Am games, we need to work together with great leadership to keep the LRT in Hamilton alive.
The City of Hamilton has committed to doubling transit ridership by 2020. Do you support this goal? If so, how would you realize it? Yes Yes, I do support this goal; I feel that this commitment is not out of reach. First of all, we need to make public transit more affordable to those who need it most. Seniors and students; as a teacher, I see firsthand students who go hungry throughout the day because they need to spend their lunch money on transit for school. While canvassing senior housing apartments, many seniors expressed the need to make public transit more affordable for them. By 2020, we will have many more seniors than we have today, we really need to assist them in public transit fares. Shorter bus wait times, increased buses during peak hours, and a restructured bus route plan will also help with this goal. In order to afford this, we could replace large buses on low-ridership routes with mini-buses, use of gas taxes to subsidize transit, utilize bus and shelter space for advertising. We also need to pump up the benefits to the average person who drives to work every day. We need to educate the general public that they can relax and enjoy a newspaper and a Timmies on their ride home or to work, instead of a white knuckle drive through the city. Lastly, we see what smog looks like on a hot summer day in 2010, what will our air quality be like ten years from now if we continue to ignore the warnings about the environment? This is a great goal and I hope that we do achieve it.
Some cities have committed recently to publishing their public data in an open format that citizens can directly access. Should Hamilton pledge to become an "open source city"? Why or why not? Yes Hamilton should become an open source city. First of all, this could be a big step for Hamilton towards an honest and transparent municipal government. Information Communication Technology could provide a means for the constituent to communicate closer and more efficient with City Hall. Hamiltonians with accessabilty issues, special needs, care givers, disabilities, seniors, and those who simply cannot make it during business hours would be able to communicate with City Hall, without the inconvienence of trying to get there.
Council is poised to vote on the Airport Employment Growth District, a 3,000 acre plan to expand the urban boundary around Hamilton International Airport for employment lands. Do you support this plan? Why or why not? No I do not support the urban sprawl around the airport. However, as we all know, we do have a huge poverty issue in this city, we need jobs and a lager tax revenue that does not come from the home, or business owner. If there is an alternate solution, perhaps building upwards, opposed to outwards, that would be great. I would support that.
Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan has Council approval. However, the implementation timeline is very long and ward councillors can block individual bike lane projects. Do you support accelerating the completion of a continuous bicycle network and other initiatives like a bike sharing program and better access up and down the Escarpment? Why or why not? Yes Yes the timeline should be sped up. We have terrible air quality here in Hamilton and we need to encourage people to get out of their cars and use bikes. As for a continuous network, we most definitely need one. I am a father of young children, I usually have to drive to Confederation Park for use to be able to enjoy a bike ride together. The current situation is just too unsafe, and it does not make sense.
Do you believe that poverty is the most critical issue facing Hamilton today? If so, please outline your solutions. If not, please explain your reasons. Yes I do believe that poverty is the most critical issue here in Hamilton. The Spec's Code Red series was very eye opening and sad article to red at the same time. Since my nomination, I have had several seniors call me concerned about the cost of housing, the lack of city housing, and their sub-standard quality of life. As a teacher, I see first hand, hungry students who have a hard time learning due to their hunger. We need a city wide program in schools to combat student hunger. We need more jobs to help families afford to eat and live properly. We need to work on our housing demands; we clearly are not doing something right when we have 5000 people on the waiting list for housing. We also need to make transit more affordable. When I was a child growing up with a single parent who worked very hard for minimum wage, I felt the same things that many Hamiltonians in poverty feel. I know what it is like, because I lived it too. It is important to me to never forget where I came from, so that I can lend a helping hand to others. As a city councillor, I will try my best to help solve Hamilton's poverty issues.
Is Hamilton doing enough to support and encourage new investment in our older neighbourhoods? If not, what should the City be doing? No Hamilton is not encouraging enough new investment into our older neighbourhoods. Infrastructure is very important to a business owner, so are the costs related to business. I feel that we need to upgrade our crumbling infrastructure, lower realty taxes, and build a solid plan to encourage new business.
For your campaign, will you be accepting donations from corporations or unions? If so, why? If not, why not? Yes I have not received any contributions from any unions or corporations. However, if either of them would like to contribute, I would accept it. Elections are hard to win when you are supporting your own campaign, running with multiple candidates, and running against the incumbent. If the incumbent receives contributions from corporations or unions, then the other candidates should do so as well to keep it fair.
Will your term change people's first impression of Hamilton, and make that first impression more attractive to visitors, students, commuters and newcomers? If so, how? Yes Part of my first term will be dedicated to those in my ward who feel left out and abandoned; it is a big concern here in Ward 6. However, to change the first impressions of Hamilton, I feel that we need to rebrand this city to the "Waterfall Capitol of the World", which we are. It is such an eco-friendly name, with plenty to offer. A name like that will be very intriguing to visitors, in fact while I illuminated Albion Falls for breast cancer on October 22nd, we had people from Woodstock, Grimsby, and Burlington, come out and join us. As a teacher, I understand student needs. What makes me a good teacher, is because I always remember back to when I was a student. Transit needs to be improved and cost less than it does today, that is what students and commuters tell me. Another way to welcome new comers and to keep those who are here now, is tax cuts, or freeze them. Many residents and businesses abandon plans to move here due to our high taxes, we need to resolve this very soon, or we will lose more of our tax base. A community council here in Ward 6 will be another great improvement. The council will hold the councillor accountable, while bringing the voice of the constituent closer to City Hall.