Cameron Kroetsch, Candidate for Ward 2 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2018

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Candidate Details (top)

NameKroetsch, Cameron
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2018
AreaWard 02
Email Cameron@CameronForWard2.ca
Website https://cameronforward2.ca/
BioCameron and his partner Derek moved to Hamilton in 2014. Cameron was born in St. Catharines and moved around Ontario a fair bit when he was growing up, so finding a permanent place to call home was very important to him. Thanks to the warm welcome, love, and acceptance of Hamiltonians Cameron and Derek have made Hamilton, and Ward 2, their home.

Like many other Hamiltonians, Cameron’s family struggled to stay afloat at times. He understands what it’s like to grow up facing tough decisions. The encouragement of Cameron’s extended family and friends pushed him to consider attempting post-secondary education after he graduated high school in the late 90s. With a bit of luck and some financial help, Cameron enrolled in a diploma program at Sheridan College in Computer Science.

It wasn’t, however, until a few years later when he started an honours Bachelor of Arts at Brock University in English that he really hit his stride. Among other things, he really started to develop a passion for volunteering and community building. Being back in his hometown, he was able to reconnect with the community and put his energy to good use both on and off campus. Cameron took this enthusiastic spirit with him when he completed a Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree at Western University.

Cameron came to Hamilton from Guelph where he spent 5 years working for the city’s largest labour union. He was that union’s President and had the immense privilege of representing union members at provincial, national, and sector conventions. He was instrumental in negotiating 2 contracts with the University of Guelph that saw historic increases in member benefits. While he was in Guelph he also started a province-wide coalition of academic labour unions to help coordinate bargaining efforts and build solidarity.

It was Cameron’s experience with the union, defending the rights of workers who had been harassed, bullied, and intimidated, that really helped him to translate his education into practical leadership ability. Cameron found a passion for advocating on behalf of precarious workers and marginalized groups.

Cameron’s passion for advocacy has followed him to Hamilton and he continues to be committed to improving the lives of the most vulnerable in his community. As Secretary on the board of the The AIDS Network (TAN), Cameron worked with staff to help TAN develop statements about its positions on harm reduction, criminalization, and disclosure. Cameron has also been an active member of the Hamilton Literacy Council as both a board member and a tutor, helping to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of Hamiltonians of all ages.

Cameron has deep ties in each of the neighbourhoods and is passionate about rebuilding the relationship between those neighbourhoods and the City by tapping into the existing expertise of the many Ward 2 residents that he’s met and worked with.

The Ward 2 community continues to be the focus of Cameron’s advocacy. Cameron joined the Corktown Neighbourhood Association’s Executive Committee when he saw the opportunity to engage residents about ongoing development. He also co-organized the People’s Plan for Downtown campaign that helped to dramatically improve the City’s “Downtown Secondary Plan”. He worked with over 20 other community leaders to advocate for progressive changes to the plan. The campaign was successful in lobbying for changes to affordable housing, tenant displacement, heritage preservation, and community consultation – all things that are central to Cameron’s vision for a better Ward 2.

Cameron wants to hear from other Ward 2 residents about how they think their community can reach its full potential. He’s excited about working as your representative at City Hall for the next 4 years.

Join Cameron in the movement for a better Hamilton.

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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 When LRT goes ahead during the next term of Council I will ensure, as Ward 2 City Councillor, that we work with the Hamilton Community Benefits Network to address much-needed community and social infrastructure. We need a balanced approach to all LRT-corridor development to ensure that not only does the City benefit from the increased taxes that will be collected but also so that the community who currently rely on transit is not displaced. We must ensure that we diversify development along the corridor and that we employ inclusionary zoning principles that consider the need for affordable housing. From my perspective, this project is not just about transit but will have a significant impact on the entire downtown core, and a large section of Ward 2. We must ensure that there is a net benefit to everyone who continues to live, work, and play in downtown Hamilton.
Do you support improved public transit in Hamilton? If so, what changes do you propose? If not, why not? Yes Yes, I support improved public transit. As part of that improvement we need to:

● End transit area rating.

● Fund transit including getting back on track with the 10 Year Local Transit Strategy.

● Make improvements to the 10 Year Local Transit Strategy that include the implementation of an independent transit board, super express buses to and from key hubs, demand-responsive transit, new routes, and the exploration of means-based fares.

● Support our front line transit workers by helping them to get improved contract language to protect their health and safety.
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, I support accelerating the conversion as part of a larger project to implement Vision Zero. Two-way streets will reduce the speed of traffic, make streets more complete and usable for all road users, and increase the overall safety of our roads. There are a limited number of tools available at our disposal when it comes to street design on one-way streets. The flexibility of a two-way street system allows us to design more complete streets.
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 Yes, I think that we need to meet the timelines set out in the AODA . I’m strongly in support of a phased plan with a 2025 deadline and will propose that this plan be started as soon as possible. I will propose that we strictly enforce compliance with all new construction and evaluate all City of Hamilton buildings including those left out of the recent staff report. As part of that plan, I’ll also propose that the City of Hamilton undertake a business partnership to ensure that existing businesses and the City can work together to make all businesses in Hamilton accessible. We’ll also, at the same time, need to do other important things like completely integrate and connect our urban braille system, develop an accessible housing plan, ensure that sidewalks and clearways are maintained to meet not only the requirements of the AODA but the City’s own bylaws, and that we consult extensively with the accessibility community including the Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities (ACPD) and the Disability Justice Network of Ontario. Engagement on this cannot take the form of consultation with committees alone but must also take into account what ACPD has been asking for - direct engagement with residents who have disabilities.
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 Yes, I do think Hamilton needs to concentrate new development within already-built areas. This is important for a number of reasons. In part, because the increase of suburban sprawl requires infrastructure improvements that cost, on average, twice as much as they would cost in already-built areas. This sprawl also means that many people are required, because of existing transit area rating, to purchase and drive cars. The development of new land ignores the existence of already underutilized downtown parking lots and other sites that would be put to better use in Hamilton’s core. Finally, moving people away from the vital services they require and that already exist in the core can have a marginalizing effect that not all can overcome. Those who rely on transit, need affordable housing, and require access to social services and supports are put in even more precarious positions when they’re forced to live in Hamilton’s suburban rather than urban areas.
Do you support phasing out area rating for transit? Why or why not? Yes Yes, I support phasing out area rating for transit. In short, phasing out area rating for transit will help to better fund the entire transit system, equalize payment for this vital service across the entire City of Hamilton, improve service to underserviced areas, and provide new service to unserviced areas. Eliminating area rating for transit will move the burden to the City as a whole and not to individual wards, community groups, and residents who are currently forced to advocate and then pay for improvements to transit in urban areas that desperately need them.
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 Yes, every person, business, and government must play a role in addressing climate change. The City should be focusing on:

● Developing a Hamilton Green Standard (similar to the Toronto Green Standard , now in its third version) for new development. We need to ensure that we don’t build new structures that make the problem worse.

● Improving our air quality. We can do this by planting more trees and protecting the trees we have. If we have to remove trees we should be replacing them with more trees, not just an equal amount. This also means a protected and connected bike lane network across the entire city.

● Taking the Community Climate Change Action Plan seriously. At present, the public information available on the City’s actions in relation to this plan is non-existent. We must make sure that we’re either implementing this plan aggressively with real public targets or revisiting it to ensure that it meets more realistic goals.
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 Yes, Hamilton should be trying to attract and retain more young people. We should be engaging with young people, including during municipal elections, to make sure their priorities are incorporated in the decisions we make. We need representation from younger people on City Council and we need to find ways to break down the barriers that prevent them from happening (i.e. introducing term limits). We need to act, yesterday, on youth strategies across the City, empower young leaders, and focus on an inclusive approach to budgeting and decision-making. Simply put, we can’t continue to focus on how we have “always done things” and need to focus on what makes cities vibrant and attractive to all residents, including young people. If Hamilton is going to be the best place to raise a child then we have to let young families take root here. We also have to provide some incentives to those who want to stay here to work, which means improving transit so that they can get around the City and helping small- and medium-sized businesses to grow so that young people have places to work. Finally, the City needs to build a better public relationship with McMaster, Mohawk, and Redeemer - it’s not just the job of the Ward 1 City Councillor to foster these relationships. In my opinion, “town and gown” programs haven’t been effective at engaging with young people in this City and we need to rethink the way we do this engagement by asking young people, themselves, what works best for them.
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, I support completing the plan. Those who have written for Raise the Hammer over the past 5 years have articulated excellent reasons to support LRT in great detail already so, in summary, I offer my high-level reasons for continuing to be #YesLRT.

Light Rail Transit will mean:

● New development and a new property tax base as a result of this development

● Extension of the life of existing infrastructure including sewers and watermains that are in desperate need of repair

● Environmental improvements through the reduction of car and truck traffic

● Funding from the provincial government which will alleviate our infrastructure deficit and allow us to catch up on other projects across the city

● Beginning our plan to implement the BLAST transit network
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 Yes, I am a strong supporter of “Vision Zero”. In concert with other cities around the world, I would propose that we reduce speed limits across the city, but especially downtown. I would also propose that we implement a mandatory complete streets program for all new development. Specifically for Ward 2, I would propose plans for the conversion of Main Street to a two-way complete street and to phase out one-way streets downtown. Beyond this, I would focus more on physical street design. Speed humps and stop signs are not enough. We need to focus on designing streets that discourage and prevent unsafe driving so that all road users can get around the city safely. We cannot continue to rely on a system that accepts that an error in the operation of a motor vehicle can so easily mean the death of another road user.
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 Yes, I support an expanded role for the City in providing more affordable housing. In part, I think that this must be mandated more clearly through implementation guidelines attached to the “Downtown Secondary Plan”. This means inclusionary zoning for new developments, community benefits agreements (CBAs), and incentives for new laneway building. If we don’t have these guidelines in writing, with clear implementation goals, then we’re not going to hit the necessary targets. While the work we’ve done to provide affordable housing in Hamilton is good, we must do more to close the tremendous gaps that exist. We also need to approach each type of affordable housing in a way that demonstrates not only sound planning principles but an effective and meaningful approach to community consultation. Finally, the City needs to find ways to lobby with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), and on their own, to push for partnerships from other levels of government. Affordable housing is not just a Hamilton issue or even just a “municipal issue”, it’s something that impacts every person living in Canada and we need to work together to stop this crisis from worsening and to make some meaningful improvements. This ultimately means more partnerships with organizations already providing affordable housing like Indwell, the YWCA, and the Good Shepherd, and taking examples from cities, like Waterloo , who are leading the way.