Tim Simmons, Candidate for Ward 3 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2014

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Candidate Details (top)

NameSimmons, Tim
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2014
AreaWard 03
Email elect@timsimmons4council.net
Website http://www.timsimmons4council.net
BioWhy I’m running for Ward 3 Councillor

As your city councillor, I want to move Ward 3 beyond the “Code Red” poverty label. Our problems can be solved and our community recognised as a great place to live, work and raise a family.

I am the owner/operator of Heritage Weddings & Coordinators. My wife, Kyoung-Ju is the owner/operator of Asiana Hair Salon. We are proud to live in Ward 3 with our boys, Roland and Beau.

I have a proven track record for making positive changes in our schools and community. For the last eight years I have been the Public School Board Trustee for Ward 3. In addition, I have held the positions of Vice Chair and Chair of the Board. During this time I have advocated for my constituents. I’ve worked to bring respectability back to our city’s core schools. We have improved our facilities and we have implemented programs that follow each student as they transition through each grade. I now hope to take the skills and experience I have gained and apply them to the role of Hamilton City Councillor.

Housing: Housing connects all of us both socially and economically. I support Hamilton’s Housing and Homelessness Action Plan. As a councillor, I can work to ensure Ward 3 gets its share of the funding to bring upgrades to affordable housing units. Our neighbourhoods need a blend of incomes levels with an abundance of single family homes, interspersed with affordable, dignified rental units.

I aim to create a Housing Officer/Ambassador position for Ward 3. Their job would be to walk the streets of Ward 3 looking for substandard rental housing as well as illegal activity. The Officer/Ambassador could then take action to rectify the situation for the tenant, the landlord and the neighbourhood.

In addition, there is a growing need for residential care facilities for seniors throughout our entire city. Correctional facilities and halfway houses should not be ghettoized in just one or two wards. A complete transit system will help share our social responsibilities with the rest of the city.

Transit: A modern city needs a modern public transit system that includes space for pedestrians, bicycles, trucks and cars. I support LRT if the province bears the full cost. LRT can bring commercial investment and jobs along our ward’s commercial corridors. However, LRT alone is not enough to make our community more prosperous.

We need rapid busing (BRT) throughout the entire amalgamated city. BRT needs to operate like an LRT so we can connect our communities and function as one municipality. Without a modern transit system reaching everyone, we cannot hope to share social housing and residential care facilities equally throughout the rest of the city.

Small Business: Hamilton needs local jobs in order to reduce the pressure on our tax base due to our aging population. As small business owners, my wife and I know the bureaucratic road blocks that can sometimes make it difficult for entrepreneurs to launch a new business. Over the past few years, Hamilton has worked to be a better facilitator for small business, but I believe we can do more to help our entrepreneurs place their “OPEN” sign in the window. For the small time entrepreneur the difference of a few months can make or break the business.

The Arts: Hamilton’s Artists of all genres make a significant social, cultural and economic contribution to our city. In essence, The Arts makes Hamilton more interesting and vibrant. There are plenty of things a municipality can do to increase their positive impact. A 2012 research report by Kelly Hill indicates that Hamilton public contributions for the arts are well below the average, including smaller cities like Waterloo. In addition to dollars, pre-zoning artistic spaces can be a terrific way of repurposing unused private lands. When we look to improve areas such a Barton Street, musicians and other artists can play a significant role in the resurgence.

October 27th will be a pivotal day for the residents of Ward 3. This ward has not had a newly elected councillor for 23 years. I have both experience and a proven track record in municipal service. I can bring the weight of that experience to the council table and build respect for our Ward that will lead to more positive, safer and resilient neighbourhoods. I am offering myself for the position of Councillor in Ward 3.

I have been Ward 3 Public School Board Trustee since 2006.

I live in Ward 3 with my wife and two children. I have a track record of informed, responsible and consistent service to our Ward as your Public School Trustee. In 2006, I saw neglect in our schools and in many parts of the Ward; however, I want to prove to myself as well as to constituents that I could procure positive results. Over the last eight years I believe the changes and capital investments made in our schools shows that I have acquired the experience needed to sit as a councillor. We now have some of the best schools in Hamilton. I now want to bring resources and respect to the rest of our Ward.

We need both fully funded LRT and Rapid Buses to connect our communities throughout the entire amalgamated city. LRT is good for Ward 3 because it will bring capital investment and jobs along our main corridors. It will then be possible to spread social services, affordable housing, residential care facilities and half-way houses more evenly throughout the rest of Hamilton. I will advocate for a transit strategy that will illustrate a complete city overview for cars, trucks, buses, LRT, bikes and pedestrian traffic as well as plans for one way and two way streets. We have to stop doing transit piece meal. Every part of a transit strategy will inevitably affect the other parts, so let’s look at it in its entirety.

Housing connects all of us both socially and economically. I support Hamilton’s Housing and Homelessness Action Plan. As a councillor, I can work to ensure Ward 3 gets is share of the funding to bring upgrades to affordable housing units. I hope to create a Housing Officer/Ambassador position for Ward 3. Their job would be to walk the streets of Ward 3 looking for situations of substandard rental housing as well as illegal activity. The Officer/Ambassador could then take immediate action to begin rectifying the situation for the tenant and the landlord.

It is up to Council to decide what kind of development is needed and for which area of the city. Development needs to be part of a long term strategy to meet certain goals for density, renewal, green space, recreation, housing, tax base… etc. all within timelines. The type of developers hired should reflect Council’s goals.

My public service has taught me that nothing happens without support from others. Initially, a critical mass for the change is needed in the community. This may or may not come from the most vocal group. A good councillor can measure true support even when social media seems so dominant. There are cost issues in every aspect of our personal lives and this holds true with public dollars. If you are going to spend exorbitant dollars the project needs to reflect the value to the public and weighed against other projects that will inevitably take a backseat. The best ideas are the ones that help everyone or those who are most in need. In addition, fellow councillors also need to be in support. This won’t happen if you are going to leave the cupboard bare for their priorities. Initiatives must be aligned to overall strategies and directions. A good councillor can usually find a way to do this. To do the things you need to do when you want to do it, there needs to be a flexible administration, transparent and streamlined governance procedures, a diversified and expanding tax base and a way to provide extraordinary service at a reasonable cost.

Yes, increasing transparency at city hall is a good thing. Councillor’s expenses should also be public.

According to CFIB, small business accounts for 71 % of Hamilton’s economy. My wife and I are both small business owners. The city needs small business facilitators with the sole purpose of getting an “OPEN” sign up as soon as possible. Barton and Kenilworth will become vibrant again on the strength of Ottawa Street and with pre-zoning areas for business, arts, entertainment and housing. Shifting traffic patterns to be able to make left turns from Barton to Kenilworth and Ottawa and from Kenilworth and Ottawa onto Barton will help. Do away with any tax breaks for vacant businesses and fix the road.

I want to move beyond the “Code Red” poverty labels that often define Ward 3. We need to build neighbourhoods with a healthy mix of people from all social and economic backgrounds. City Hall needs a cultural shift towards more transparency and where councillors make decisions within the context of approved strategic directions. I believe that if we fix the problems in Ward 3, we will have solved the problems in the rest of the city.

Organizations Tim Supports

* Chair of the Downstairs Kitchen Steering Committee
* Sits on the Steering Committee for East Hamilton Battlefield Baseball
* Member of the Canadian Club of Hamilton
* Mission Services
* Former President of the Hamilton Chapel of the Council of Canadians
* Eva Rothwell Centre/Robert Land

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Responses to Questions (top)

QuestionBrief ResponseFull Response
Do you believe Hamilton should do more to protect and enhance its built heritage? Yes Yes, in key areas like our downtown, however, it should not come at the cost of losing publicly owned land to profiteers.
The City's Cycling Master Plan is up for review. Do you support improving the plan to speed the installation of cycling facilities and provide more high-quality protected infrastructure like the new Cannon Street cycle track? Maybe I'm in favour of getting feedback from the review and listening to constituents first. It is great that bike lanes are no longer viewed as a ward issues, but as a transit issue. However, if we are going to get public buy-in we need to hear from them. I'm getting a lot negative feedback from residence on Cannon Street. The pollution for cars backed up during rush hour is their biggest complaint. We need to look for strategies to keep the vehicles moving. As our city grows, there will be more cars, bikes, trucks, motorcycles, buses and pedestrians. We need to find a balance whichever method of transport people use or choose.
Do you support implementing a Vision Zero for Hamilton, with a goal of eliminating all pedestrian and cyclist deaths on our streets? If so, what specific actions would you take to implement this policy, and if not, why? Yes No one wants pedestrian and cyclist deaths. The police and schools are a good place to start to teach people bicycle safety. Statistically, if cars are moving slower the number of deaths are reduced, so traffic calming would also be helpful.
Do you support the use of participatory budgeting to allow ward residents to propose and vote on local capital projects? Yes Yes, but not in the same vain as has been done in the past. There needs to be a far more equitable approach to this, otherwise the people who are always politically engaged (those who are not poor and disaffected) get the lion's share of the goodies.

First, I would not make this an annual event. In year one, I would combine the area rating funds for the four years. So if the ward was getting $2 million dollars annually the discussion would be about how to use $8 million dollars over 4 years. This will prevent all the money going to one-off projects. Our capital projects needs to have continuity in order to bring real and lasting transformation to our neighbourhoods.

Second, before even discussing what projects people want there would be a process to create guiding principles (i.e. equity matters, children matter, public spaces matter), and then from those principles a four year strategic direction/goal.

Third, then there can be a discussion on what projects fit the guiding principles and have continuity with the strategic directions.
Do you support converting more of Hamilton's one-way thoroughfares into complete, two-way streets that support walking, cycling and transit? Maybe A complete street does not always mean two-way streets. Two-way streets limits the capacity for bike lanes and bus lanes. Although two-way streets are a good thing in some areas, it is not necessarily the best approach. Each road needs to be looked at individually as it relates to the other roads and features around it.

People still have too many questions on what complete streets look and feel like.

I would like to see the complete streets strategy for every neighbourhood so that residence can understand and ask questions. In this way, we can see how we are connect with each other through different modes of transportation.

I am not in favour of traffic jams and gridlock. It is important to slow cars down, but the public and businesses won't except idling cars sitting bumper to bumper on our roads. This sends drivers into neighbourhoods in order to get around the gridlock.
Do you support an expanded role for Hamilton to provide more affordable housing? If so, what should Hamilton do? Yes Yes, this is a top priority. The Hamilton Housing and Homelessness Action plan needs to be facilitated by the city to create more places as well as improve the quality of existing affordable housing.

This is also why we need a city wide rapid transit system. People living in affordable housing don't own cars usually, so they need to live on a transit line. But if we don't have adequate transit in Waterdown, Dundas, Ancaster, etc. we are limited to the lower downtown wards, which already have large amounts of affordable housing. We need to spread out to the other areas of the city to create truly mixed neighbourhoods.
The Province has shelved a proposal to build a mid-peninsula highway from Niagara Falls or Fort Erie around Hamilton to connect with Hwy 401 or 407 north of Burlington. Do you agree with the Province's decision to put its development on hold? Yes
Do you support the city's plan to build an east-west light rail transit (LRT) line with full capital funding from the Province? Yes If the Province is willing to pay the full shot, then I am in favour of LRT. Either way we need a rapid transit strategy for the entire city and that will also include buses.

We don't have to wait for the LRT to be built to get started on the other components of a rapid transit system.
The Province plans to allow municipalities to use ranked ballots in future elections. If so, will you vote to adopt ranked ballots in Hamilton? Yes Yes, definitely I'm in favour of anything that creates a more even "playing field" between incumbents and challengers. I think we would also get more people interested in voting.
Do you believe City Hall should be more accessible to Hamilton residents? If so, what steps would you take to achieve this? Yes We tackled this issue on the Public School Board by bringing in an outside governance expert to show us how to modernize our procedures, communications and make our meetings more transparent. There are plenty of examples of public institutions doing accessibility well. The city needs to look at best practises.