Laura Farr, Candidate for Ward 3 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2018

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Candidate Details (top)

NameFarr, Laura
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2018
AreaWard 03
Email info@laurafarr.ca
Website http://laurafarr.ca/
BioLaura grew up in the East End of Hamilton, and graduated high school from Hill Park Secondary after many moves around the city. Her father worked for a time at Stelco, and her mother was a member of the CUPE Local 1797. She grew up cycling and hiking all over Hamilton, and was involved in many musical theatre and Shakespearian plays in her youth. She put herself through post-secondary school bartending and serving at many establishments in Hamilton, Burlington and Toronto.

As a fixture with more than a decade of service at City Hall, she understands the ins and outs of both Council and City Management no matter their political views. Her goal is to ensure that there is constant communication and accountability through the Council office, and she has a proven record of doing her utmost to help resolve issues and listening to residents.

Laura has a long history of being deeply ingrained and involved in her community. Whether it is helping her neighbours with navigating City Hall services, being the publisher of the local Gibson and Lansdale Community Planning Team newspaper The Herald, or bringing together people and staff to accomplish uncommon projects she has always established herself within her community.

She has lived in Landsdale since 2011, and is involved with the Gibson Lansdale Community Planning Team, and the Core Kids After School Program, as well as many other community groups and events. Her first job with the City of Hamilton was as a Community Sports Organizer at Norman “Pinky” Lewis Recreation Centre.

Laura lives with her son, Connor, who many know on social media as “MrC”, and they can often be found at area parks and shops. She enjoys gardening, cooking for friends, and plays underwater hockey.

When asked about running for office she said “This is about the things that most people don’t want to have to worry about - that the roads are in good shape, the water is clean, the garbage is picked up, the parks fun and property taxes are kept low. It’s about what matters. And that is why I am running to be the Ward 3 Councillor.”

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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 Working with the Community Benefits Network, I would ensure that our agreements include using Hamilton workers and products wherever possible. There is no reason for our community not to benefit from this project.
Do you support improved public transit in Hamilton? If so, what changes do you propose? If not, why not? Yes As a transit taker, it can be very difficult to get to where you want to go using our network. When my son was still in daycare, if I didn’t drop him off before 8am, I was walking to City Hall for work. The buses on certain lines are over capacity. We need to look at our transit routes and adjust accordingly, such as Houston did in 2015.(https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2016/08/houston-bus-system-ridership/496313/) It is again a questions of where are people coming from and going to. It will only get worse as our populations ages and grows.
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 I have always and continue to support the conversions. The reasons for making the streets one way - many people going to and from the factory jobs in the east end - are no longer where people are going to and from anymore.
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 From my experience working at City Hall over the last ten years, certain areas have been resistant to making those changes, or simply not had the funding to implement them. The work of the Accessibility Committee for Persons with Disabilities is very comprehensive and exhaustive in reporting where deficiencies exist. Their voices and recommendations need to be acted on, unequivocally.
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 We absolutely need to refocus our development in already-built areas as we need to intensify our density downtown where areas are serviced. That is the most efficient use of our tax dollars, instead of subsidizing surburban builds that are not cost-effective in terms of servicing.
Do you support phasing out area rating for transit? Why or why not? Yes Phasing out area rating for transit was supposed to be done. No one wants to see their property taxes go up. However, many in the rural areas would like bus service. We need to rip that bandaid off while being sensitive to the costs of doing so.
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 We do play a role already, and this work needs to be continued. The City does some good things - proactively asking home owners to plant trees on their property in road allowances (Street Tree Program), and measuring the Greenhouse Gas emissions inventory and targets. Most people don’t know that the City of Hamilton achieved the corporate 2012 and 2020 emissions targets for reduction already. A further 50% reduction of 2005 greenhouse gases levels by 2030 and an 80% reduction of 2005 greenhouse gases levels by 2050 has now been set.

The Community Climate Change Plan was also developed (http://climatechangehamilton.ca/plan/) , and work continues in a partnership with the City of Hamilton Public Health Department (CleanAirHamilton), GreenVenture, and other stakeholders.
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 We absolutely should be attracting more young people to live work and start businesses here, and continue the work done on the Blue Ribbon Task Force (https://pub-hamilton.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=123600) in connecting the companies looking for good employees with the education sector and job seekers, while seeking out skills gaps in our workforce. The City has several small business programs (Starter Company, Access to Professionals), but given the interconnectedness of Hamilton we can make this much a much more robust network.
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 I do support completing the LRT plan. As I’ve said elsewhere - the only legal agreement we have from the Province is that the money is for the City’s LRT plan. We have a verbal suggestion from the Premier that we can spend it as we like, but nothing signed, nothing legal. It worries me that we are going to repeat history as we did in 1980. Council turned down what became the Vancouver SkyTrain. (https://raisethehammer.org/article/3021/a_legacy_of_missed_opportunity:_the_hamilton_rapid_transit_plans_that_could_have_been)
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 Traffic safety is the number one thing I have heard at the doors from people. The other day, my son and I were nearly hit crossing with the lights at King and Wentworth. In 2017, there were 1681 collisions that resulted in injuries and 16 fatalities. Our city needs to be livable if you are 8 or 80; pedestrian, cyclist, or driver.

There are many traffic calming measures that don’t cost much or anything to implement. The first thing would be to create a schedule for a comprehensive traffic audit across the ward, and then see where speed bumps, knock down sticks, bollards, or even painted optical illusions to slow traffic down are needed.
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 Many students would like to stay after graduation - I was one of them, but I had difficulty finding an affordable apartment and good paying job and that was more than a decade ago. It’s gotten worse for recent graduates. The average apartment is $1000 per month, plus utilities. That is 71 hours of work at minimum wage.

We should be looking at incentivizing landlords to keep rents affordable, and continuing to work with partners such as Indwell and Kiwanis, including the “Invest in People” motion passed in 2017 which allocates $50 million over ten years towards affordable housing.

There has also been a huge acceptance of ideas such as laneway and pocket homes. I would also advocate for the expansion of accessory homes across the city, and using incentives such as Kitchener-Waterloo to offset the costs for the property owners to do so.