Jason Farr, Candidate for Ward 2 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2018

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Candidate Details (top)

NameFarr, Jason
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2018
AreaWard 02
Email ward2@jasonfarr.ca
Website https://jasonfarr.ca/

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Responses to Questions (top)

QuestionBrief ResponseFull Response
Do you support improved public transit in Hamilton? If so, what changes do you propose? If not, why not? Yes I supported and continue to support the approx. 300 million-dollar Ten Year Transit Strategy.
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 Indeed. In ward 2, the philosophy is, "students welcome." As students, they have more spending power than ever before and that's great for the local economy. As grads, we must continue to make efforts to retain as many bright young minds as possible. We should continue to offer easy and efficiant support to start ups and grants and loans where applicable. Be inclusive with our approach to housing; offering a wide range of affordable options with new builds. Continue to maintain an environment that attracts the businesses that cater to this demographic. I have succeeded in working with city staff on objectives like providing for wider ranges of uses under commercial zoning, creating zoning for models like micro-brews and even Arcades and Escape Rooms. I have supported temporary zoning for start-ups and often supported reduced parking variances for new restaurants. Of course, I have always and will always continue to advocate for and produce results in safe and complete streets initiatives. Among the many good reasons for this is that it is clearly desired by young professionals.

In short, students and grads do wonders for the growing vitality of the core. We must support keeping Hamilton at the top of mind when it comes time for grads to make their roots.
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 support Vision Zero. As Councillor, I believe the actions I continue to take with respect to a complete street focus in our downtown is evidence of this. These actions are important steps toward eliminating traffic fatalities. Let me list a few:

- Approx. 10 kms of new bike lanes

- Charlton / Herkimer Parking Protected Bike Lanes (thanks to the resident-led sub-committee of 2 Neighbourhood Associations).

- Bay Street Bike Lane (thanks to council and the Province for the support)

- North End Traffic Management Plan (NETMP) (even today there are some residents resisting, but I maintain support and stay positive when interacting with those who still question the needs of 30k speeds, knock-downs, speed-humps and more).

- Two-way conversions of Duke and Bold (many RTH regulars attended my Town Hall on this and heard from residents resistant to the idea. They were citing faster and more traffic, snow removal and parking issues as reasons for resistance, but they were also very concerned about the current safety these one-way residential cut-trough speed-ways were causing – results are in, there half the cut-throughs and lower speeds since the conversion along with a net-gain in parking).

- John Street North Contra-Flow Bike Lane (John was to be converted two way and residents immediately adjacent were sceptical – with a main argument that thousands of new residents to Pier 8 would have a direct line in and out on this residential street. They called a meeting and we quickly realized that all of us were on the same page – we wanted to slow traffic down especially in the area of the two schools and North End Community Health Centre. We just had different approaches. The John Street tweak to the NETMP we see today was led by these residents).

- Queen Street South 2 Way conversion – No other street in the City of Hamilton has received calming measures as much as this stretch. What started with a community audit with Brian McHattie and me and many devoted residents (we also walked Cannon pre-bike lane), led to some quick wins, then some safer pedestrian crossings and intersection works. This term, I successfully moved the 40 km limit and was supported at Council. We also have seen many other calming and pedestrian safety measures (notably at Herkimer and Queen). But with all the work we have done, there are some car commuters not getting the message. Finally, with this year’s two-way conversion design and next years installation, we are hoping that Queen south becomes the model safe street in the City.

I have also moved successfully a motion that Hamilton sign the Road Safety Pledge campaign and I regularly work closely and collaboratively with City of Hamilton staff from Traffic and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) on a wide range of neighbourhood safety installations. We encourage neighbourhood traffic safety audits and have traffic and TDM staff attend community meetings.

Speeding and aggressive driving are the leading cause of collisions and fatalities and with our city hovering around 3500 collisions annually and very tragically witnessing 16 fatalities in 2017, it is clear that road safety needs to remain the focus and we must understand and appreciate and support the Vision Zero mandate.
Do you support phasing out area rating for transit? Why or why not? Yes Yes, as I have stated on public record at committee meetings, this is something we must address. I do believe we will finally put this to bed in the next term of council. It is only fair that all citizens pay equally for transit and we must budget accordingly. BLAST is not a pipe-dream, but a strong plan built on necessity and I strongly feel with major improvements, we will finally leap from stagnation in use of transit in Hamilton to a robust and widely used system. The ongoing increases in price of gas and parking will help too.
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 The Housing crisis is not exclusive to Hamilton but is certainly a dominant issue that we have been very serious about tackling as a municipality. This past term of council, we devoted 50 million toward restoring and creating new affordable housing units. You would be hard pressed to find another city government that has made as significant a local commitment to affordable housing. In the downtown, Council has supported my efforts to provide housing opportunities where currently City surface parking lots exist (Bay and Cannon/King William near Wellington/191 York).

In the coming Council term, with these and other confirmed projects, we will see more than 300 new units of affordable housing in ward 2. At the same time, seeking further opportunities through partnerships and new planning policy (DTSP) to build more in ward 2 and beyond.

Of course, we need to make certain we receive our share of the Federal Governments 40-billion-dollar National Housing Strategy.

Guiding our efforts in addressing this crisis, is the 2013 Council endorsed and approved 10-year Housing and Homelessness Action Plan for Hamilton.

We have been and must continue to expand our role in providing more affordable housing options.
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 conversions (see above). The streets listed on the Downtown Transportation Master Plan for conversion had sat stalled for some years until I pushed for getting these conversions back on track approx. six years ago. Council approved the funding for a five-year plan that saw this work get done (Park Street North is being converted as I write this).

For our RTH close council watchers, you have witnessed my defence of conversions on many occasions. Specifically, to one very obvious one-way arterial – Main Street - as Chair of the LRT Task Force, I attempted, through motion, to ask staff for a study on a two-way conversion of Main Street. Couldn’t get a seconder. Unfortunately, at the time, both staff and all colleagues felt is was not good timing given the LRT traffic models presented. That said, my belief continues to be that Main Street will need to be converted because of LRT, but also because of many other obvious reasons that include safety, economic benefits, environmental benefits and more.
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 In a special meeting of the GIC this September, Council moved to request that the Provincial government assist in funding this important issue. While Hamilton remains a leader in making our municipally operated facilities accessible (note the recent approx. 35 million renovation of the downtown family courthouse among many accessibility projects to date), we have recently received a report that notes approx. 157 million will be needed to renovate remaining facilities to accessible standards. Of course, we are hopeful for full support from the Province, but we must also be prepared to fund locally and ultimately become fully compliant. This is one of most important features in our annual budget deliberations.

Other ward 2 examples of AODA capital initiatives: several years ago, as Councillor, I began to tackle sidewalk accessibility issues (particularly at intersections) and created a reserve to make the needed changes throughout the ward for safe crossing and navigating. In Central Neighbourhood, we are nearly through an approx. 1-million-dollar renovation of a NEW Community Centre (former City of Hamilton Carpenter Shop) at 125 Barton West; an AODA compliant facility featuring accessible washrooms and kitchen.
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. The record shows my support on countless occasions in both debate and through many of the approx., 60 motions we have delivered over the last 8 years. I needn’t elaborate on all of the very sound reasons for this game-changing project, but hi-lite the four themes of City Building (approx. 1 billion of development is occurring in our downtown from LRT supportive investors), Environment (this is a much more environmentally friendly mode of transport), Infrastructure Upgrades (long due on much of this route, with LRT comes a major transformation both above and below ground, and complete streets, (King Street essentially becomes localized and undoubtably, much safer).
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 I believe in this strongly and it has been my focus as Councillor. We have abundant opportunities to build "up" in Ward 2 and other built areas of the city. Our Planning policies, like TOC, Nodes and Corridors, LRT, the NEW Downtown Secondary Plan, the James Mobility Hub, West Harbour Setting Sail Secondary Plan, CIPA's and more are indicators that we (Council) are supportive of growth in built areas.

As most RTH readers and contributors will appreciate, these efforts speak to both Hamilton answering Provincial policies like Places to Grow and the Provincial Policy Statement. As well, with the infrastructure already in place (although in need of upgrades in some areas), in both short and long term, this form of growth is cost effective to the taxpayer. I should also add that we have an abundance of evidence that urban living is increasingly desirable. While some families may still long for the white picket fence in a new suburban survey, more and more want to shake the car, live more active lifestyles (walking and biking to shops etc) and raise a family in the vibrant heart of our city.
Bonus question: If LRT goes ahead, what will you do to ensure Hamilton receives the maximum benefit? Yes Along with Councillor Green, we received support from council on a Community Benefits Agreement. I currently sit on the Community Benefits Working Group and will continue doing so. Through this work and current city policy, we are well poised to create local jobs and training and affordable housing along the b-line and near the b-line.
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 Firstly, we should set examples by the way we operate as a corporation. Past examples of efforts that speak to our acknowledgment that this is a serious issue include, but are not limited to, City-wide street lighting transformation to lower impact L.E.D. tech, Community Energy shared heating and cooling of Downtown facilities and solar lighting installations where applicable.

We were one of the first Ontario cities to support the Blue Dot movement through a motion of Council. We also regularly support and receive guidance from our friends in outside organisations like Environment Hamilton. The environment is a priority in Hamilton as Council regularly fully supports increased actions toward polluters from our industrial core and beyond. We are demonstrating as a local governing body an awareness and belief in global warming and must continue to do so and govern accordingly.