Harrison White, Candidate for Ward 1 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2018

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Candidate Details (top)

NameWhite, Harrison
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2018
AreaWard 01
Email harrisonjnw@gmail.com
Website https://www.hwhite4ward1.ca/
BioI have been a resident of Ward 1 for 22 years. I am a graduate of Guelph University with a double major: one in Political Science and one in Criminal Justice and Public Policy. I worked in the public sector for the Canadian Revenue Agency right on King street downtown, this position made me more than capable to handle serious concerns from taxpayers. I plan to utilize my education and relevant experience to A.C.T on issues in Hamilton. To be Ambitious in moving Hamilton in a positive and fiscally responsible direction; to be Community-centric and work respectfully with residents in the decision-making necessary for our area, while being Transparent in the governance of our Ward 1. Through the use of these three pillars of A.C.T. and your help, I believe that I will be the best choice for Ward 1.

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Responses to Questions (top)

QuestionBrief ResponseFull Response
Bonus question: If LRT goes ahead, what will you do to ensure Hamilton receives the maximum benefit? Yes First and foremost is a restructuring of the HSR bus route system. That will improve the day-to-day lives of many in the city. Next up would be attempts to attract new business to downtown Hamilton, we have a significant amount of office space available. I believe we could use the 500-thousand-dollar informational pamphlet utilized to try and gain Amazon’s second headquarters to try and recruit other business to the city. I would like to see plenty of mixed-use zoning in the areas around the LRT to ensure better population density, as well as plenty of store-front shops for people to shop at. I would like to see bike racks at each major stop for the LRT and would prefer if a bike route could connect to each major stop as well. I would like to lobby the government, both federal and provincially, to provide additional transit funding in an attempt to establish a north-south route as well. Given how long it has taken Hamilton to establish the first line of LRT, if the A-Line portion of the B.L.A.S.T. network is to be completed before 2030 we need to start the process right away. I believe if Hamilton uses long-term vision, we can ensure the LRT is the first step to continuing to grow and develop our city.
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 Hamilton needs to play a role in addressing climate change. Many cities across the world were addressing climate change issues prior to international agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement. Many cities in the United States continue to participate in combatting climate change despite their nation’s withdrawal from the agreement. Hamilton should act just as other major cities have and recognize the importance of combatting climate change. There are aspects the city needs to improve, that would also assist in combatting climate change. Improving public transit for example, the use of the LRT, according to the EPA released by the city, will help cut back on three major air pollutants. Developing and improving public transit further would continue to assist in cutting green house gases through reducing the use of personal vehicles.
Do you support improved public transit in Hamilton? If so, what changes do you propose? If not, why not? Yes Public transit is extremely important to me. As someone who did not drive at all until recently, it has been my main method of transportation since I was 12 years old. I understand how vital it is to many people’s day-to-day lives. The current transit system in Hamilton is ineffective, inefficient and underfunded in my opinion. I believe that we should implement a multitude of reforms to the public transit system, such as staggered bus routes for example. I would also like to see the implementation of a transit hub in McMaster University, or at least in that end of town, to better facilitate transit to different areas of the city. I would also like to delay the retiring of any buses, barring safety or environmental concerns, until the LRT has been completed. I would also be interested in implementing different levels of frequency for bus certain bus routes during the major student months (September-april). I am ready to start to A.C.T. on the issue of public transit in Hamilton.
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 Young people are already Hamilton’s largest demographic with 153,000 residents born between 1982-97. It appears that Hamilton already has a draw for younger demographics. I think Hamilton should continue to try and attract youth to the city, the City of Hamilton has a large aging population, with seniors expected to be the largest demographic by 2031. We need to ensure a consistent influx of new ideas, drive and ambition into the Hamilton community, we can do this through engaging youth through innovative ideas and improved quality of life. We need to ensure that Hamilton continues to be a place to work, start a family and establish roots. I do not want to see Hamilton turn into a commuter city, and I believe engaging with youth is the best way to do this. Hamilton is lucky to have a plethora of attractions for youth, but we need to make sure they feel like Hamilton is the place to call home. We don’t want students to simply take their knowledge to other cities, we want them to settle in Hamilton and utilize their skills here. Hamilton is already trying to create a youth city strategy, I believe that hearing from youth is an important first step in implementing necessary changes. I believe what will continue to attract younger individuals to Hamilton is similar to what attracts most people. Affordable housing, reliable public transit, friendly neighbourhoods, safe streets, various forms of entertainment and plenty of community engagement from the city. That is what I will focus on if elected to city council.
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 I do support the Vision Zero movement that was initiated in Sweden in 1997. Vision Zero is important, especially to me, because I was severally injured by a careless driver in a preventable accident, in Ward 1 no less. Previous councillors have not spent much of their infrastructure budget to improve the lives of citizens. I would like to see that money, at least portions of it, spent rather than saved. I would like to see the implementation of protected bike lanes at busy intersections and completed bike routes rather than partial lanes throughout the city. I want to improve density in the city to provide more reliable and effective public transit. I would propose a motion to switch to a bi-weekly garbage collection system to provide additional funding to the 20-year cycling master plan, which is currently only being funded to about half it’s recommended amount. I want to see more solar-powered pedestrian and cycle activated cross-walks installed throughout the city. I would like to see increased fines on King and Main for speeding, as well as other traffic calming implementations for busy areas. There is plenty of cost-effective methods to reduce speeds of vehicles, as well as increase safety in street design, we must be willing to A.C.T. on it. As someone who could have lost their life to a traffic accident, I understand the importance of creating safe streets in our city.
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 a massive problem in the City of Hamilton as well as in the ward. In Ward 1 right now, property owners frequently evaluate the value of their property based on the price per bedroom, a metric which they use to charge student renters. Ward 1 residents face the highest increases in property value throughout the city, paying 172$ more in taxes under the 2018 budget than the year before, with Ward 14 only paying 21$. The student housing issue clearly has drastically inflated the evaluations of property in this area.

At the city level, Hamilton residents on a whole have seen rents increase faster than the average of Ontario, an eviction rates have skyrocketed as landlords seek to improve their profits. Luckily residents are already fighting back, with the adoption of things like ACORN in Hamilton. But the city can do more to facilitate housing, Social Planning & Research Hamilton did a study in June and compared Hamilton’s policies to that of Quebec City. This document makes some amazing policy comparisons that demonstrate the importance of tenant protection policies and the positive impact they have on the rental market, and the broader economy. Landlords love to make people think that improving tenant protection will hurt their profits or discourage development, but Quebec City has had more than 12,000 private primary rental market units built since 2011, compared to only 700 in Hamilton during that same period despite similar growth metrics. Hamilton needs to implement policies that they can to improve the ability that renters have to a safe, affordable living environment. We also need to try and work with the province to establish rules that municipalities just don’t have the authority to do. Jeffery Martin a McMaster Graduate student at the school of Labour Studies reported that he had not seen homelessness like this in Hamilton until this year, demonstrating the clear importance of this subject not just in Ward 1 but across the city. I have plans and am ready to act on this issue as Ward 1 and Hamilton as a city need to drastically improve the way we have, or rather haven’t, addressed the booming real estate market in the city and the problems that have come with it.
Do you support phasing out area rating for transit? Why or why not? Yes I believe that area rating is a difficult subject. While it has provided some benefits to wards 1-8, it is overall unfair. I personally would like to see the transit levy through area rating reduced to a more realistic level. A yearly partial increase of the transit levee over a five-year time-period until the suburbs are paying, preferably, 50-75% of what Wards 1-8 are paying. I would like to see the remainder continue to go into an infrastructure fund, with penalties for councillors who spend it on anything other than exactly that. I would like to see council clearly define what infrastructure is considered to avoid the misappropriation of funds, like has been done year in and out. I believe this is a compromise that will satisfy both those in Wards 1-8 and those who have lesser transit service.
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? No I believe there are other projects that would be more beneficial for Hamilton to prioritize than accelerating the conversion of one-way streets to two-way. I do not think that it is something that should be ignored. We need to re-think the street design in Hamilton, we need to promote more than just automobiles as primary means of transportation. While there is some benefit to one-way streets for those who use vehicles, often they are dangerous and frustrating for those who do not. They can also make Hamilton difficult to navigate for people not familiar with the city. This is why I would potentially support the conversion of streets to two-way, but unfortunately it cannot be my first priority. It will take studies to understand exactly which streets (outside of King and Main), need to be redesigned.
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 It is time for Hamilton to complete the LRT. While I was not a big fan of how Hamilton conducted their process for obtaining LRT, nor am completely in agreement with Memorandum of Agreement that Hamilton signed, the LRT is necessary. The net benefits to the City of Hamilton are too important to ignore. Hamilton has roughly a 3.5-billion-dollar infrastructure deficit, the implementation of the LRT will help with that. There will be a net benefit of roughly 205 million dollars to Hamilton’s aging infrastructure. This is important to help Hamilton upgrade necessary infrastructure, such as the Longwood bridge, without worrying about increasing that deficit. This will allow Hamilton to refocus on other important infrastructure projects that the City needs. It will also allow the HSR to redirect a plethora of buses, as the routes will now revolve around the LRT. The LRT appears to be a benefit to everyone in the City of Hamilton, and should attract more business, development, youth, and professionals to the city. Hopefully Hamilton can expect just as much economic benefit as seen in the Waterloo region (~$2.1 billion).
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 Ensuring AODA compliance is an important task for Hamilton, as there are 1.8 million people with disabilities in Ontario. In order to draw people to our City, and to meet with our vision, to be the best city to raise a child in, we must ensure that AODA is being complied with throughout the city. This may be tough at times for the city to do, as AODA has a plethora of requirements, even including websites. In order to make sure we are on track to complete the AODA compliance, I want to evaluate the progress made on the 2013-2017 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. Based on the results of that evaluation, I would like to propose another multi-year plan from 2018-2022. One thing I would like to improve is the amount of urban braille system, which provides valuable information to the visually impaired. Not only does urban braille assist the visually impaired ability to navigate the city, but often its implementation looks beautiful. The urban braille network in Hamilton was also an instance of community engagement, with various non-profits, regular citizens, health-care professionals, city staff, city planners, and city councillors. I believe the only way to ensure Hamilton meets the 2025 deadline is to replicate that engagement with the community, ensure we listen to the needs of the citizens and effectively respond to lodged complaints.
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 does need to concentrate new development in the already-built area. Intensification is a provincially mandated direction for city growth, according to the Growth Plan Act 2005, and the Golden Horseshoe Development from 2017. Intensification according to the province of Ontario, refers to any new residential development within the already existing built-up urban fabric of a given city, such as Toronto or Hamilton. Not only is it provincially mandated, but it is also the best direction that Hamilton could take. The City of Hamilton is facing an increase in debt level already, as we need to invest in capital infrastructure as well as service lands for economic prosperity and continued growth. The current infrastructure deficit is 3.5 billion dollars, a number that would only continue to increase if sprawl continues. Urban sprawl means implementing things like storm drains, streets, street lights, road lines, traffic lights etc. It means having to ensure we have staff capable to provide city services in the farthest regions of Hamilton. These are things that will cost Hamilton more money and are things the City of Hamilton is already having difficulty managing. Over 500 people in Hamilton with a life-threatening injury had to wait 20 minutes or longer in 2017. We are only spending HALF the recommended budget on implementing bike lanes, and our transit service is outdated and ineffective. These are challenges that we haven’t solved yet and are challenges that would only be aggravated through continued urban sprawl. Studies by the Neptis Foundation, an independent privately capitalized charity located in Toronto, found several major benefits to intensification. First and foremost, it prevents continued loss of green space throughout the area. Less urban sprawl means less reason to develop on our greenspaces or continue eroding the ever-decreasing Greenbelt. It will increase the use of public transportation and improve the service levels. Studies shown that when a city develops a high enough population density, desire to use automobiles as a method of transit decrease and other modes of transportation such as cycling, public transit and walking increase. Additionally, higher population density makes it easier to justify new routes for public transit as well as increases to the transit budget, the larger the population the service benefits, the larger the budget. Finally, Hamilton needs to concentrate new development on the already built area to ease the strain on our current infrastructure. Intensification has been shown to make more efficient use of urban infrastructure like sewer pipes and water pipes, as well as ‘soft’ infrastructure, like schools or social services. Basically, urban sprawl requires and expansion of our cities services and aggravates our weaknesses, but intensification allows us to avoid spreading our resources thin and provide a higher quality of life to all in the City of Hamilton.