Maureen Wilson, Candidate for Ward 1 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2018

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Candidate Details (top)

NameWilson, Maureen
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2018
AreaWard 01
Email ward1wilson@gmail.com
Website http://maureenwilson.ca/
BioI grew up in a small mining town in northern Ontario, the only daughter of Irish immigrants who valued education and hard work.

I came to Hamilton to attend McMaster University then to Queen’s and the University of Toronto. I went on to work in municipal government with a focus on citizen engagement. I have now lived most of my adult life in Hamilton.

During that time I have lived in the Ward 1 neighbourhoods of Ainslie Wood, Strathcona and now Kirkendall.

Senior staff member in local and regional governments

Having worked in senior staff positions in Hamilton’s local and regional governments for close to ten years, I know how government works. I served as Mayor Bob Wade’s Chief of Staff for the two years immediately following amalgamation. I have a Masters degree in Urban Planning and a Masters degree in Political Science. Let’s just say that I have always been interested in how government serves residents.

I left my job in government a month before the birth of my eldest child. Since those days, my husband, Terry Cooke, and I have raised three tremendous, independent and compassionate children, all of whom attend Ward 1 schools.

Focusing on bringing citizens together and learning how cities work

Over the years, I have remained active in my community as a parent, a volunteer, and a city builder.

I have focused my efforts on bringing residents together to learn how cities work. We have filled LIUNA Station and McMaster Innovation Park with residents from all parts of Hamilton to hear from experts and heads of local government about transit, housing, immigration and local economies, women and cities, and safe streets. I have worked deliberately and persistently to build common ground among neighbours and community groups. I think we need more of this at Hamilton City Hall.

I’m a proud board member of The Mustard Seed, Hamilton’s co-operative grocery store which aims to support local farmers, local producers and community. I also sit on the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s transition advisory committee for the New North Secondary School. I was active in my opposition to putting a Casino in Hamilton’s downtown. And, I have been vocal and organized in my call for safer, shared streets.

With my children well on their way to becoming active citizens in their own right, I feel that it’s time for me to step back into local government, this time with the hopes of being your city councillor. I’m proud to say that my children are excited for me. That means the world to me.

I want to earn your trust and your vote, and I do not take that for granted. I promise, if you honour me with both, I will serve Ward 1 with all of my skills, my passion, my hard work and experience. Every single day. That is my heartfelt commitment to you.

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Responses to Questions (top)

QuestionBrief ResponseFull Response
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? Yes Yes. Conversions both in Hamilton and across North America have demonstrated clearly that they contribute to safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists as well as improving livability for residents and commercial viability for small businesses.
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? Yes Yes, because we need to do what we said we would do repeatedly if we hope to have the confidence of both our citizens and prospective investors. It is also the spine upon which the Blast network is constructed.
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 1. Support LRT
Light Rail Transit is an accessible form of public transit ( low floor) and offers a smoother and more dignified ride for all passengers.

2. Support Housing Choices
A land use planning and regulatory environment that supports different housing options can assist with accessibility. Laneway housing could enable a resident living with a disability to live independently while also being in close proximity to family. Other choices include home sharing and co-housing.

3. Safe, Shared Streets
Engineering our streets to make them safer for all residents makes our city more democratic and accessible. For example, shortening the distance a pedestrian has to cross with the use of bump outs at both ends makes the crossing more accessible and safer.

4. Give sidewalks the same priority as roads
The presence of ice and snow during winter months presents a real hazard to Hamiltonians living with a physical disability and can contribute to the social isolation of many residents. Our public sidewalks should be subject to the same clearing practices and standards as our public roadways. By extension, their construction, repair and maintenance should be a priority.

5. Public Parks and Older Public Facilities
in keeping with the principle of every resident’s right to the city, our publicly owned parks and older facilities must be considered a priority in meeting the accessibility deadline.
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? Yes Hamilton must concentrate its future development within the existing urban environment for four primary reasons:

1/ Financial

There are cost savings to be had from more efficient urban form.

The Halifax region, similar in size to Hamilton, calculated the annual cost of servicing an average suburban household at $3462 compared to an annual urban cost of $1416. (Halifax Regional Municipality - HRM: Quantifying the Costs & Benefits to HR, Residents, the Environment to Alternative Growth Scenarios. April 2013). The City of Edmonton calculated that 17 of 40 planned new developments would exceed a cost of $4 billion to residents over the next 60 years. (Diamond; Globe and Mail. May 11, 2018)

Knowledge of this cost impact has been known for some time. A 1995 study conducted by Dr. Pamela Blais revealed that the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) could save $700 million to $1 billion annually with a more compact form of urban development. (Blais. Perverse Cities, 2010)

Denser development can also generate significant revenues for a municipality. On behalf of interested cities, urban planner Joe Minicozzi calculates the property tax revenue from different kinds of development on a per hectare basis. He has proven that denser, mid-rise buildings in downtowns offer the best return on investment for cities (Minicozzi. The Smart Math of Mixed-use Development, Planetizen. 2011)

Despite this fiscal imperative, Dr. Blais and others have shown there to be hidden subsidies and a pricing system that serve as disincentives to urban development. Dr. Blais revealed that from 2001 to 2011, approximately 7000 residential units were added to Hamilton’s urban area yet the area still suffered a loss of between 6000 to 7000 people. During the same period, approximately 10,000 units were added to Hamilton’s greenfield area with a net population gain of 35,000. Despite the hopeful discussions of urban renewal in Hamilton, it is not keeping pace with suburban expansion and not enough to stem urban population loss.

2/ Environmental

Urban sprawl has resulted in the loss of natural areas and ecosystems with the fragmentation of forests and loss of wetland. Along with rising temperatures, this is the greatest threat to our biodiversity.

The loss of natural surfaces and forests affects our water supply and water quality. Asphalt and concrete cannot absorb water to refill our aquifers.

Finally, our land development pattern is dependent on the private automobile. The need to drive longer distances will continue to contribute to rising levels of harmful greenhouse gases. In addition, these developments must be serviced by energy such as garbage and recycling trucks along with the extension of pumped water sources.

As Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor, I support a full and thorough review of Hamilton’s development charges bylaw to ensure it is structured in such a way as to remove disincentives to urban development.

3/ Stablization and Enrichment of Existing Neighbourhoods

Intensification has the potential to stabilize vulnerable neighbourhoods and address declining classroom enrolment and support existing commercial activity.

4/ Public Health

There are numerous negative health impacts associated with sprawl beginning with injurious air emissions from the greater reliance on the private automobile and the need to driver longer distance without a sufficient public transit system.

There is a also growing body of research linking illness to social isolation. Single use development (i.e. only residential) combined with an absence of density and reliance on the private automobile means that older residents are at risk.
Bonus question: If LRT goes ahead, what will you do to ensure Hamilton receives the maximum benefit? Yes We need to ensure the value is captured by land use planning that allows for and fast tracks appropriate densities along the corridor and we need to press hard for a community benefit plan that provides important priorities such as apprenticeships and living wage jobs for local residents and businesses. We also must plan with purpose to ensure the availability of affordable housing along and within the transit corridor.
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 As discussions about climate become hijacked by partisan agendas, there is an opportunity and need for cities to step up and act on behalf of an urbanizing nation and planet.

1. Remove hidden subsidies and pricing system that favours greenfield development
The most important action cities can take in addressing climate change is to direct where residents live. Urban planners have been speaking about the need for compact urban development for over 30 years, however, sprawl continues.

Human beings respond to price changes. The biggest deterrent to tobacco consumption occurs with an increase in the taxes levied against tobacco. The auto industry shifted to compact cars after consumers were beset by an energy crisis in the early 1970s. It is no different in terms of land development. On this front, Dr. Pamela Blais has revealed a municipal land development system that acts as a disincentive to urban development because it is riddled with hidden subsidies and a pricing system that favours greenfield development which, in turn, uses up a tremendous amount of energy in its servicing and is more reliant on the private automobile.

2. Development and Implement an Urban canopy and plantation strategy that is responsive to a changing climate

Trees, shrubs and other greenery add to our property values, offers habitat to many wildlife species, and shade to all. The city must reexamine its own tree planting list to ensure that what is being planted is amenable to extreme temperature conditions and disease. The City must lead in insisting that trees are considered essential public infrastructure in development plans and in the (re)construction of public space including walkways. The City of Chicago has a decade old vegetation strategy that sees that municipality planting butterfly weed and spartina grasses that absorb runoff and filter pollutants like de-icing salts used on sidewalks and roadways. Chicago also uses thermal radar to identify the city’s hottest locations which then become the focus for pavement removal and green roofs.

3. Retool and Adapt Our Infrastructure
Each time our physical infrastructure undergoes reconstruction the City could use that period of rebuild to refigure our infrastructure in response to climate change. Again, Chicago serves as an example. That city installs below surface storage tanks during road reconstruction to permanently catch and hold rain water to prevent flooding and avoid combined sewer overflow into waterways, like our Harbour and creeks.

4. Build Better Transit
An accessible, reliable and affordable city transit system will encourage and enable more residents to choose public transit and be less reliant on private auto. This, in turn, will impact GHG emissions.

5. A fair Water-Waste Water Levy

Hamilton’s stormwater management system is currently paid primarily through water bill rates. As stormwater costs rise, conservation efforts have reduced the amount of money available for this purpose. Large impervious areas like commercial parking lots contribute the most to stormwater runoff, without contributing to the costs of dealing with it, while nearby households that face greater flooding risks are left to foot the bill. I support a new stormwater system, similar to the ones in place in London, Mississauga and Ottawa, that supports conservation efforts and is more transparent by design.

6. Firm urban boundaries
See my response to the first question in this survey. Thank you

8. More Permeable surfaces
The City must commit to a target of permeable surface in all new developments and during the redevelopment of existing space. At present, these asphalted areas are heat sinks that prohibit night time temperatures from falling in the summer months. What’s more, permeable surfaces would help address the residential flooding of basements and improve water quality by easing pressure on our older combined sewer/water system.

9. Safe Shared Streets
Protected, safe and continuous bike lanes would offer more residents a safe and convenient alternative mode of travel and ease reliance on the private automobile. This, in turn, would improve our air quality and limit our GHG emissions. Safer pedestrian crossings and walkways with slower traffic speeds throughout and between our neighbourhoods would also help support our natural environment for the same reasons.
Do you support improved public transit in Hamilton? If so, what changes do you propose? If not, why not? Yes Yes. We need to accelerate our commitment to building out the BLAST network as we build ridership in preparation for LRT. Accordingly, we must realign our budget to support our city wide objectives. (see my answer to questions 1 and 2 for more on this alignment principle).
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? Yes The migration and retention of young people, including young graduates, to Hamilton is critical to our city’s long term economic prosperity and the ability to finance future city infrastructure and services.

Skilled labour is now ranked as one of the most important factors in a company’s locational decision. Hamilton must identify what magnets it has to attract young people and what glue it needs to keep them in place.

As Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor, I am committed to the following:

1. Encourage and Allow for Density, Align Spending

The City of Hamilton must remove the built in pricing disincentives to urban (re)development and align our spending decisions to support the kind of urban amenities that will help us attract and retain young talent. (see answer #1 above)

By all accounts, younger residents favour urban places. Removing the built in subsidies that benefit greenfield development will make intensification more economically feasible and allow for more housing development within the urban envelope. In addition, the City of Hamilton must ensure an integrated approach to investment that will see spending aligned with strategic priorities, including the goal of enriching assessment along transit corridors. This will enable the city to deliver on necessary urban amenities like transit, recreation centres, cultural activities, park and green space. For example, the city of Hamilton will spend $1.7 billion over the next 5 years on growth related capital costs. Three-quarters of this amount is for linear types of infrastructure (water, wastewater and roads) the cost of which is directly impacted by density or the lack thereof. $300 million of this amount is to be spent on road infrastructure compared to $100 million for public transit.

2. Build Better Transit

More and more young workers are without permanent employment status and the benefit packages that accompany work that is non precarious. Access to affordable, reliable and quality public transit is a critical magnet in attracting young people in addition to private residential and commercial investment along high order transit corridors. Transportation planning and land use planning go hand in hand.

2. Deliver a range of housing affordable to all

Young residents need entry-level housing close to their place of employment. Some graduates or skilled youth may earn too much to qualify for housing assistance but not enough to afford market housing. The city of Hamilton requires a housing strategy that will deliver a range of housing affordable to all residents.

3. Make It Easy & More Affordable to be an entrepreneur

Despite a decade long commitment to “cutting red tape”, complications in obtaining necessary permits and licenses, along with costs caused by delays, continue to be cited by small business owners and entrepreneurs. The city must commit to a transparent, predictable process that eliminates costly delays and creates a level playing field for all small businesses.

5. Be an Open, Tolerant and Inclusive City
A city that is welcoming to outsiders, views diversity as a strength and is committed to creating and sustaining a civic culture of tolerance will have greater success in attracting and retaining young minds.

6. Be a Clean, Green and Safe City
A city that values connected green spaces, insists on sustainable development and is clean and safe will have greater success in attracting and keeping young, more mobile residents.

7. Civic Engagement
Citizenship enjoys both rights and responsibilities. Individuals are more likely to feel a sense of ownership of their civic domain and stay in place if a city encourages and welcomes their activism.

8. Support a Living Wage
There is both a moral and economic imperative to supporting a living wage. It is never okay for people who work full time to not be able to afford decent housing and to put nutritious food on their table.
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? Yes Of course I support the goal of Vision Zero, but, in the absence of an action plan this goal, just like the City’s vision to be the best place to raise a child and age successfully, will go unrealized. A commitment to specific and measurable actions are needed to lift it from the page and to put it into practice. New York City has led the way in its efforts to realize Vision Zero. If the Big Apple can do it, surely Hamilton can follow suit.

1. Enforcement
There is a direct relationship between the level of police enforcement and pedestrian fatalities. The CBC crunched the data in Toronto and found that as the number of traffic tickets declined over the past number of years, the number of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities increased. Our Hamilton Police Service (HPS) must work in partnership with the City of Hamilton to support the goal of Vision Zero.

2. Education
The municipality must commit to an education program that continuously informs residents about the changes that must accompany a move to Vision Zero and the reasoning behind it.

3. (re)Engineering
The infamous street of death in NYC, Queen's Boulevard, has now recorded zero pedestrian and cycling deaths from cars with the engineering out of consequences of human error. The city did this by redesigning the street. In so doing, the street is also safer for drivers.
- lanes were narrowed
- bike lanes were added
- crosswalks were shortened by widening medians
- pedestrians and cyclists were given advanced greens

4 Bike Lanes
NYC now boasts 738 km of protected bike lanes. There is no protection for cyclists with a strip of paint added to our roads. This is especially the case for our most vulnerable cyclists - children and seniors. In the world of Vision Zero, bike lanes are protected and continuous. There is plenty of evidence from across North America showing that more people will ride their bikes if they believe the route to be safe. And protected bike lanes make for safer cycling. The more people travel to work, school or play by bike, the fewer cars end up on our roads. Bike lanes can help, not hurt, a city's overall traffic congestion and provide a greater level of certainty for car and truck drivers.

5 . Control Speeding
New York City reduced its default speed to 40 km/hour and put in more oversight. One of the tools they used was the placement of speed cameras in school zones. The data reveals that this had the effect of cutting speeding during school hours by more than half. There is substantial research showing that speed kills. When a collision does occur, the chances of surviving the collision is directly related to how fast the vehicle was traveling. Fatalities in NYC school zones with speed cameras has dropped by 55% and injuries are down 15%. I support a speed limit of 30 km/hour throughout our neighbourhoods and school zones and would also ask for enabling legislation from the Province to allow for automated speed cameras in school zones.

5. Build Better Transit
A quality, more accessible, more reliable transit system will encourage fewer private cars on the road. This will save lives.

6. Complete Communities - Land Use Planning
The goal of achieving zero road deaths is also linked to how we design our neighbourhoods. Complete neighbourhoods with mixed use and dense form will offer more citizens the opportunity to walk to their urban amenities, rather than drive. Fewer cars means fewer deaths.

7. Collision Data & Fair Action
The city must collect and share with residents all collision data for the purpose of identifying collision areas and patterns. The data can be used to identify root causes and help structure real solutions.

At present, the city places the onus for securing street calming and speed reduction efforts (eg. speed bumps) at the feet of residents. This resident driven system is necessarily inequitable. There are some residents who may have more time and resources to advocate and organize. Every child and adult, regardless of their postal code, deserves safe passage to school, to play and to work. The City of Hamilton must have a fair and responsive Vision Zero plan that is equitable in its orientation and

8. Truck Route Review
The City of Hamilton must lead a new truck route review, matched with enforcement, to end transport trucks from shortcutting through our residential neighbourhoods.

9. Political Will
In my opinion, this is the most important tool in the Vision Zero toolkit. In the absence of political will, Vision Zero remains a nice sounding slogan that changes nothing. The city of Hamilton's vision is to be the best place to raise a child and to age successfully. We must align our ideas, our actions and our budget to support our vision. As Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor, I am committed to an action plan that will get us to Vision Zero.
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 Affordable housing is key to supporting the city’s official vision to be the best place to raise a child and age successfully and is fundamental to sustainability, positive educational outcomes, health and prosperity.

The market has not and will not self correct to address this crisis. Intervention on the part of all levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal) is necessary.

Monocultures are never healthy. Every neighbourhood across the city must take advantage of the opportunity to include affordable housing in its development plans.

Finally, I must add that in our affordable housing strategy we must have full awareness of the circumstances and needs of residents. To this end, it is my fundamental belief that we must apply a gender lens to our housing strategy. A gendered lens is a disciplined, informed practice of looking at something - in this case affordable housing - rooted in the fundamental acceptance that urbanization is a deeply gendered process. Women and men experience urban environments differently. A failure to accept this basic premise means that housing policy and housing projects will never be fully informed, and, therefore, will never fully hit its mark.

As Ward 1 City Councillor, I will call for a housing strategy rooted in several pillars:

1. Look for Housing Partners
Identify and work with stakeholders, including our senior orders of government, non-profit organizations and cooperatives, the private sector and individuals, to find opportunities and create an environment that identifies affordable housing as a priority in Hamilton and the responsibility of many.

2. Get the Land and Approvals Ready, Minimize the Risk
Reduce costs and wait times by having the necessary development approvals in place for shovel ready lands across the city for affordable housing projects. This could act as an incentive to private sector investment in affordable housing.

3. Use City Assets for Housing First
Support a “housing first” policy when it comes to identifying and assessing the use of city owned surplus lands.

4. Allow and Encourage Secondary Suites & Laneway housing
Secondary suites, such as basement apartments are the most cost effective means of adding to the available housing supply. Our regulatory environment should facilitate such development along with the development of laneway housing/garden suites. I am very pleased that Hamilton City Council recently approved a regulatory and planning environment that will allow for laneway housing.

5. Utilize Pricing Mechanisms to Encourage Affordable Units
Prices are key drivers of development patterns and housing availability. Municipal government can set prices with its use of development charges, property taxes and user fees. As Ward 1 City Councillor, I would support the suspension of development charges against affordable units.

6. Preserve and Protect Existing Rental Stock
Much of Hamilton’s affordable housing is dependent on the community’s existing private rental stock. But local research is revealing that this stock is being lost to condo conversions. Approximately 2000 primary rental units were removed from the market between 2004 and 2015. (HCF, Vital Signs 2015) As Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor, I would support a strategy aimed at controlling the rate of conversions and insist that any rental stock lost in demolition be replaced.

7. Support for Low interest Second Mortgage Programs
As Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor I would support programs that enable residents with low and moderate incomes to qualify for low interest second mortgages, such as those provided by Options for Homes and Trillium Homes. In so doing, individuals can get over the hurdle of a down payment that often serves as a barrier to home ownership.

8. Inclusionary Zoning
The previous Ontario Liberal Government made the legislative changes that give municipalities the ability to insist that a portion of any residential development in excess of 10 units are to include affordable units as part of the overall build. Hamilton must opt in and make use of this land use planning tool.

9 Advocate, Education, Inform
The housing needs of Hamiltonians cannot be met by the City of Hamilton alone. The city must advocate for coordinated action on the part of all stakeholders (Federal and Provincial Governments, private, not for profit sectors) and have continuous conversations with the community about the importance of inclusive, mixed income neighbourhoods and the role of affordable housing in supporting educational, health, economic and social outcomes.

10. Income
The City of Hamilton must continue to champion the need for a level of income supplement from our senior orders of government that will enable lower income persons to secure and maintain their housing needs. Moreover, support for a living wage must also be considered a tool in a basket aimed at improving housing security.
Do you support phasing out area rating for transit? Why or why not? Yes Yes. Area rating stands in the way of providing better transit for the entire city and it is patently unfair to have urban residents in different part of the city paying substantially different rates in support of public transit.