Brian McHattie, Candidate for Ward 1 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2010
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Candidate Details (top)
|Hamilton Municipal Election 2010
|Brian was born in Weston, Ontario and moved to Hamilton in 1987. Before being elected, he worked for Environment Canada on efforts to cleanup the Great Lakes and with Environment Hamilton as the regional coordinator for the Canadian Community Monitoring Network. Brian has also worked for the Hamilton Conservation Authority and the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC). Brian was also employed as a sessional lecturer at McMaster University in the Arts and Science Programme.
After graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in environmental studies, Brian completed his MSc degree in planning and community development from the University of Guelph, where he studied the effects of globalisation on farmers in southern India. He is a Registered Professional Planner and a member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Canadian Institute of Planning. Prior to his election in 2003, Brian was working on his PhD in planning, investigating the issue of limits to growth in North American municipalities.
Brian was first elected as the Ward 1 Councillor in 2004. During his first term he worked on the following:
* promoted locally owned, small businesses and supported neighbourhood BIA’s
* initiated “Trees Across Hamilton”, a program to plant thousands of city trees
* worked on the enhancement of city parks and playgrounds through master plans, including Victoria Park
* promoted alternative transportation, including more complete cycling routes and public transit
* worked to bring balance to neighbourhoods on the very difficult student housing issues
* represented the City on the Poverty Roundtable
* promoted “Arts and Culture” and “Energy” as economic development clusters
* supported open and transparent government and decision-making
* advocated to the province regarding high property tax assessments in Ward 1
* implemented traffic calming and pedestrian amenity programs
Brian is or has been a member of the following committees during his terms of Council:
* Planning & Economic Development (2003-2006)
* Economic Development & Planning (2006-10)
* Social & Public Health Services (Chair, 2005)
* Emergency & Community Services (2006-10)
* Strategic Planning & Budgets (2005)
* HABIA – Hamilton Association of Business Improvement Areas (Chair) (2003-06)
* Municipal Heritage Committee (LACAC) (2003-06, 2006-10)
* Development Charges Stakeholders Sub-Committee (2003-06, 2006-10)
* Pesticide Sub-Committee (Chair) (2003-06, 2006-10)
* Hamilton Future Fund (2006-2010)
* Truck Route Sub-Committee (2003-06)
* Via Rail Task Force (2003-06, 2006-10)
* Tsunami Relief Task Force (2003-06)
* Licensing & Property Standards Operational Review Sub-Committee (2006-10)
* Provincial Gas Tax Steering Committee (Chair) (2003-06, 2006-10)
* City of Hamilton/Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Liaison Committee (Chair) (2003-06, 2006-10)
* Hamilton Triple Bottom Line Business Criteria Task Force (Chair) (2003-06)
* Social Services Downloading Sub-Committee (Chair) (2003-06)
* Human Services Planning Table
* Community Food Security Stakeholder Advisory Committee (2008-10)
* Accountability and Transparency Committee (2008-10)
Outside Boards/Agencies/Advisory Committees:
* Conservation Halton (2004)
* Hamilton District Health Council (2004)
* Main Street West BIA (Business Improvement Area) (2003-06, 2006-09)
* Westdale Village BIA (2003-06, 2006-10)
* Locke Street BIA (2006-10)
* Arts Hamilton (2003-06, 2006-10)
* CityHousing Hamilton (President) (2003-06, 2006-10)
* Niagara Escarpment Commission (2003-06)
* Tourism Hamilton (2004-2005)
* Board of Directors, HUC (Hamilton Utilities Corporation) (2005)
* Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction (2006-10)
* Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI)
Responses to Questions (top)
|Should we spend the Future Fund to build a Pan Am / Ticat stadium on the CP Rail Yard lands? Why or why not?
|I don't believe the CPR site will go ahead, as the high cost for the land will add to the significant cost of the stadium ($160M+). As this saga evolves I am more interested in pulling back and choosing the Ivor Wynne restoration option (at approx. $20M). With $45M from the Future Fund available for a stadium, that allows us to direct the remaining $25M to redevelopment opportunities at the west Harbour, which should include the velodrome.
|The City of Hamilton has committed to doubling transit ridership by 2020. Do you support this goal? If so, how would you realize it?
|I strongly support this target and was part of seeing the 100 rides per capita goal set during the preparation of Vision 2020 in 1993.
Fundamentally, Council needs to commit a larger share of the property tax levy to transit, funding this through a combination of a) re-allocating funds from other operating budgets (as much of the difficult costs are operating, that is the ongoing costs of new bus drivers versus the capital costs of buying the new bus) such as road repairs; b) tolling the Red Hill Creek Parkway (could start with trucks only and go from there), and c) lobbying other levels of government to provide operating costs for transit (and reinstate capital funding for bus replacement via the Province who have just cut back on that program). I suppose it goes without saying that we need to avoid any fare increases as they routinely reduce ridership numbers, especially with the double whammy of no new service.
In the short term, I have requested that $3M from Provincial Gas Tax originally allocated for capital costs (noting that Prov Gas Tax is our only source of transit operating funding from senior levels of government) be replaced by $3M in Federal gas Tax funding (that can only be used for capital costs): this will come forward in the 2011 City budget process. We received a report on priority transit service options back in August of this year and the $3M would go a long way to solving the bypass issue on the east-west Main/King line and other needs. That report also speaks to the IBI report on transit rationalization outlining the tens of millions of dollars required to meet the 100 rises per capita goal.
Transit offers many benefits (air quality, lessening road congestion, GHG reduction, safer streets with fewer cars etc.) and is one of the best examples of an elegant solution: accomplishing many goals with a single action.
|Is Hamilton doing enough to support and encourage new investment in our older neighbourhoods? If not, what should the City be doing?
|The City's focus for the past 20+ years has been on an urban sprawl model, with concomittant investment in the suburban areas of Hamilton and more recently former area municipalities. The Places to Grow Act and the nodes and corridors approach contained in our new Official Plan, provide the opportunity for building new housing in the older neighbourhoods in the City, and installing dynamic live:work opportunities.
In order for intensification to work, new investment, capital funding from the City is required in the form of upgraded parks, traffic calming, new greenspace (ie. new downtown park), and better ways to get around in the form of bus transit investment. LRT, bike lanes and more walkable neighbourhoods.
In Ward 1 we are doing this in Strathcona in the area around a renovated Victoria Park; in Kirkendall along Locke Street and Dundurn Street in the form of support for bike lanes, public art, and streetscaping; and in Ainslie Wood - Westdale with purpose-built student housing, upgraded Coronation Park, and the Churchill Park Master Plan to be folowed by capital improvements.
|Some cities have committed recently to publishing their public data in an open format that citizens can directly access. Should Hamilton pledge to become an "open source city"? Why or why not?
|I support this idea as it follows on my involvement on Mayor Fred's Transparency and Accountability Committee, Making City data available in a raw form to folks will allow for more community-based data crunching and interpretation which can be shared with Councillors as they make decisions and used in the community for purposes deemed important by citizens. Clearly Portland and Vancouver are leaders in this area (and many other areas) and we need to learn from them. This will help us in our move to making Hamilton a truly creative city.
|Will your term change people's first impression of Hamilton, and make that first impression more attractive to visitors, students, commuters and newcomers? If so, how?
|The key to this image change for Hamilton is to change the view from the Burlington Skyway. Brainstorming on this is required but I like Councillor Bratina's water fountain idea (aka Lake Geneva in Switzerland), wind turbines or similar. Earlier I proposed a shared Hamilton-Burlington tourism centre off Eastport Drive beside the Canada Centre for Inland Waters and the bird breeding islands, capturing tourists before they go over the Skyway on their way to Niagar Falls
We need to continue working on restoration of downtown Hamilton with more investment in the Core versus greenfield urban boundary expansion. Likewise the greenfirld fascination needs to shift to brownfield restoration.
|Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan has Council approval. However, the implementation timeline is very long and ward councillors can block individual bike lane projects. Do you support accelerating the completion of a continuous bicycle network and other initiatives like a bike sharing program and better access up and down the Escarpment? Why or why not?
|I strongly support all initiatives you have described in your question. Having worked through the Dundurn Street South bike lane issue, there needs to be a better public process for establishing bike lanes including community preparation for these positive developments in sustainable transportation.
In my case, I strongly supported the Dundurn Street bike lanes but encountered understandable but considerable push-back from local businesses due to the loss of on-street parking for their clients/customers. In the end, we made a number of local changes such as relocating bus stops to improve on-street parking options and adding on-street parking in the nearby neighbourhood. This was done in an ad hoc fashion but approaching the challenges with public consultation could lead to a better end-result.
On the bike-sharing program question, I attended a presentation at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Conference February 2010, learning there about the Montreal Bike Sharing Program. The City of Hamilton is now engaged with the Montreal group and I am looking forward to a bike sharing program that will be patterned after the Montreal experience.
|For your campaign, will you be accepting donations from corporations or unions? If so, why? If not, why not?
|As I did in the 2003 and 2006 municipal elections, I am not accepting donations from corporations and unions. The reason is that these organizations have had undue influence (and continue to do so, primarily housing developers) at City Hall, and in order for me to feel entirely comfortable speaking out on urban sprawl and similar issues it is important for me to not accept these donations. Although I do work with developers in my capacity as the Ward 1 Councillor, namely on housing intensification projects, our relation must remain all business with no monetary ties.
|Do you believe that poverty is the most critical issue facing Hamilton today? If so, please outline your solutions. If not, please explain your reasons.
|Clearly poverty is the most important issue for Hamilton, an opinion shared by at least 80% of Hamiltonians as per the recent Spec poll. As the Council representative on the Roundtable for Poverty Reduction these past five years, President of CityHousing Hamilton, and a member of the Emergency and Community Services standing committee for the past seven years, I would like to suggest the following three priorities, amongst many:
1. Living Wage/Income Increases
In order for Hamiltonians to fully participate in our community they require a Living Wage of some $16/hour (actual amount depending upon the person and their situation) versus the current minimum wage which is keeping some 25% of our citizens as "working poor", getting by on visits to food banks and going without many of life's necessities. The Province must fix social assistance rates to match the actual costs of living so folks don't have to choose between housing and food etc. The Federal government must begin playing a role in poverty issues as they have been noticeably absent. The Senate report on poverty lies out the federal role and speaks to the need for a guaranteed annual income
2. Nutritional Food
Via school nutrition programs as per the Roundtable Action Plan but also food security efforts to ensure families have enough food. The Province can do this via OW/ODSP rate increases but also with additional food supplement programs. This budget year Council will be asked to support funds for our food banks replacing the annual emergency requests with base budgeted funding. We need to provide more community garden opportunities as we've done in Ward 1 and through establishment of 6 new gardens in CityHousing Hamilton buildings in 2010.
3. Affordable Housing
* require more funding from higher levels of government to build new housing, offer rent supplements and housing allowances, and fix decaying existing housing along with money for supportive programming for residents who need it; this needs to be across the spectrum from rent geared to income to affordable housing to home ownership options
* locally we need to find cost-effective solutions to new housing including our City dollars for rent supplements (I moved Council motions for $2.4M in supplements last term of Council) and partnerships to ensure local housing dollars go further
* we have a very clear and successful homelessness strategy which requires provincial funding which we need to advocate for
|Council is poised to vote on the Airport Employment Growth District, a 3,000 acre plan to expand the urban boundary around Hamilton International Airport for employment lands. Do you support this plan? Why or why not?
|First, I am disappointed that Council has decided to vote on this important issue, an urban boundary expansion of approximately 3,000 acres, amidst an election, with other important issues taking Council's time, in the dying days of its mandate, hand-cuffing the incoming Council.
This has evolved into an ideological issue not unlike the Red Hill Creek Expressway, where one is seen as anti-business if concern is expressed. It is unfortunate that our dialogue has not advanced beyond efforts to see such an issue as black and white.
My view is that this plan is just one of many economic development futures we should be choosing amongst. I favour a brownfield redevelopment - West Hamilton Innovation District - Downtown Hamilton economic development focus over the aerotropolis, urban sprawl model.
The discussion should be around how many well-paying jobs and assessment is achieved, what are the costs of each plan, and how are each City-building in nature. I have also asked for costing on the loss of agricultural land in the airport lands scenario.
Having said this, I strive to better understand each of our economic development opportunities, a difficult task given the 2200+ page report with none of the comparative information I speak to above about different Economic Development options. I will be asking questions about the costs about achieving Phase 1 of the airport lands, and if the infrastructure is in place this may be a good investment.
Anything beyond Phase 1 is speculative at best and plain urban sprawl at its worst.
|Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this?
|Having been through seven years on Council I certainly agree with the decorum issue. Some thoughts:
- Have shorter meetings - after 5+ hours (ie. Planning Committee at 8+ often) everyone gets a bit punchy.
- The chairs need to intervene more often and sooner before things get out of hand. Frustration is often at the root of outbursts when other Councillors use another's name in vain.
- Councillors should use more respectful language even when challenging colleagues on issue.
On the other hand, a certain amount of fiery behaviour is to be expected at Council as we challenge each other on emotional issues, so I find that I am not as bothered as many observers. We're pretty well-behaved compared to our friends in Queens Park and Ottawa!
|Do you support Hamilton's LRT proposal? If so, what will you do to ensure Hamilton's success in building LRT? If not, why do you oppose it?
|I support LRT 100%. I would develop a collaborative group of Hamiltonians to come together and make a trip to Queens Park to make it clear support if widespread in the community. We also need to look at sources of local funding should the Province decide not to provide 100% dollars.