Marvin Caplan, Candidate for Ward 2 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2010

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Candidate Details (top)

NameCaplan, Marvin
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2010
AreaWard 02
Email marvincaplan@gmail.com
Website http://www.caplanforward2.com
BioMarvin Caplan has lived in Hamilton since 1978, where until 1996 he owned and operated an award-winning menswear retail business, Marvin Caplan Gentlemen's Apparel, at King and Catherine Streets in Ward 2.

Since 1996, Marvin Caplan has been a realtor/broker in partnership with his wife Judi at Coldwell Banker, on Dundurn Street, where his exposure to real estate issues and neighbourhood concerns sensitizes him to residents' needs in the downtown core and across Hamilton. Marvin and Judi Caplan enjoy a successful real estate practice, and are regular recipients of professional and charitable awards and accolades.

Caplan served three terms as Ward 1 City Councillor from 1994 to 2003, and now seeks to serve downtown Hamilton in Ward 2. During his terms, Caplan was among the most accessible and effective leaders at City Council, answered his own phone, consulted with residents, community groups and colleagues, and promoted social justice and sustainable development to the benefit of less privileged downtown residents and Hamilton as a whole.

Caplan always put the interests of Hamiltonians ahead of popularity and 'old boy' politics. He championed unpopular issues such as the Red Hill Creek Expressway, whose development proved essential to Hamilton's economic growth. He has made mistakes, and taken responsibility, made amends, and became more effective and dedicated to serving our downtown core and Hamilton as a whole.

During his terms as Councillor, Caplan was President of the Downtown BIA, and founder of the Hamilton BIA Council, key to developing successful Business Improvement Associations across the city. Caplan also served as President of the Social Planning and Research Council (SPRC), where he was instrumental to creating Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO) and Community Action Program for Children (CAPC), addressing health, education, economic, environment, and social problems in the downtown core and across Hamilton.

The SPRC was an innovator in community modeling and detailed reporting on community needs. Ward, municipal, and political boundaries don't make sense in our economically disadvantaged North End neighbourhoods. Caplan remains a stalwart advocate of consultation and cooperation between community groups and representatives at all levels of government to address our many challenges.

During Caplan's first term, Vision 2020 was adopted by Regional Council as part of the Official Plan for the Region, stressing the interconnection of financial, environmental, and social / cultural goals. Caplan advocates sustainable economic revitalization and development, balancing our social and economic needs with environmental concerns.

Caplan champions clean water and clean environments, and served on committees addressing water treatment issues, including the Walkerton Crisis. He has the expertise to deal with the many challenges facing our aging municipal infrastructure and competing demands for limited tax dollars.

He will work to ensure equity in the taxation of renters vs. homeowners; to reduce municipal taxes where possible; and to ensure that our limited tax funds are used effectively to serve the pressing needs of our downtown core and the city as a whole.

Caplan's key accomplishments as Councillor include: passing by-laws to govern the inspection and operation of Residential Care Facilities to protect our vulnerable aged, infirm and mentally ill; passing regulations protecting health and safety by limiting exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke; introducing environmental assessments reflecting residents' concerns; mandating minimum distances between abattoirs and residences in Wards 1, 2, and 3; limiting the construction of Monster Homes in the Ainslie Wood neighbourhood; introducing Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to convert commercial properties to residences in the heart of Hamilton; and his forward-thinking contributions to the Hamilton Harbour Master Plan, which formed the basis for Harbour Front Park and the Waterfront Trail, Setting Sail and the North End West Neighbourhood Plan.

Caplan will fight for effective city government and work consultatively to grow sustainable and environmentally responsible knowledge-based local economies, businesses and downtown neighbourhoods. Caplan advocates for tenants, workers, children and the poor, and for effective relationships with labour unions, city staff, community groups, and key stakeholders across our city.

City Council is widely seen as dysfunctional. Caplan respects the opinions of staff and experts, and considers city-wide and local ward issues. Provincial and federal cooperation is needed to solve many of Hamilton's problems, as well as commitment to address systemic biases including homophobia, sexism, racism and the needs of those less privileged. Caplan will advocate and work effectively at all levels to address the many challenges facing Ward 2 residents and our city.

In the campaign of 2003, Caplan was inaccurately portrayed as a pro-development Councillor who supported wholesale expansion of the Urban Boundary. Despite that characterisation, Caplan was the only Councillor who managed to put some controls on developers. Caplan's record also shows he opposed developing large shopping centres at the expense of small neighbourhood businesses, and he welcomes the opportunity to clarify his position. Caplan supported the studies that worked with community groups and environmentalists to plan effectively for Hamilton's future.

Caplan remains active in many philanthropies, including school literacy programs (reading regularly with students at Cathy Weaver Elementary School), supports social justice and planning issues, in association with the Social Planning and Research Council (where he led fundraising and construction of the Self Help Centre), and has been a longtime volunteer with Out of the Cold and Habitat for Humanity campaigns, and at the breakfast program at St.Luke's Church opposite Bennetto School.

Through his involvement in Hamilton's Rotary Club, Caplan led Canada's single largest fundraising campaign to fight polio, where he remains committed to fostering partnerships, community service and dialogue between communities and professionals. Caplan led award-winning United Way campaigns through his retail business, and remains active in Jewish and secular charitable organizations. A detailed list of affiliations, awards and citations is available on request.

For further information, please visit www.caplanforward2.com, join our facebook group Caplan For Ward 2 Hamilton, or contact Marvin Caplan at caplan4council@gmail.com.

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Responses to Questions (top)

QuestionBrief ResponseFull Response
The City of Hamilton has committed to doubling transit ridership by 2020. Do you support this goal? If so, how would you realize it? Yes I support doubling the ridership on Transit. It can be done in several ways. If we become more efficient in other parts of our finances we can maintain prices which will also increase ridership. Expanding transit pass programs such as the ones at Mac & Mohawk. We should be assisting those on low incomes by reduced rate passes as well. Bus lanes and bus priorities will all help as well.
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? Maybe Despite the importance of this decision, and particularly the symbolic importance of a "No vote" for environmentalists, many unions, and voters with whom I generally look to for support, I cannot at this time give a yes or no answer. Were a referendum to be held, I have no doubt whatsoever that the majority of voters in wards One, Two, Thirteen and perhaps the Flamborough ridings, would vote not to expand the Urban boundary. I am also of the opinion that those voters who are right of centre, and most of the balance of the city would support the expansion.

Before I voted I would need to better understand our supply of Industrial land, the quality of the "greenspace" being utilized, and any other information to which I have not carefully studied. Many contributors to* Raise the Hammer*, and my understanding of your editorial position is that you are opposed to any expansion of the Urban Boundary.

Rather than pander to the position held by you, and I assume the majority of your readers, my position as previously stated is: I am opposed to expanding the urban boundary for residential use. I am opposed to the profligate practice of past councils using job land for residential uses. I will support expansion of the urban boundary for job lands if necessary, but only if my careful analysis indicates it is critical to do so.
Should we spend the Future Fund to build a Pan Am / Ticat stadium on the CP Rail Yard lands? Why or why not? No NO! In case I wasn't clear, NO! The future fund was designed to be self-replenishing. Any investment of Capital was to have a return to replenish the fund. Ward 2 has 44% of some neighbourhoods living below the poverty line. Hamilton has almost one in four children living below the poverty line. Our water and waste water infrastructure is not being repaired quickly enough. At least the Romans had bread and circuses, not just circuses. Investing public money so that the Tiger-Cats don't lose money is a non-starter. It's offside, it's unnecessary roughness on the taxpayer, it's too many dollars on the field.
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. Yes As I did during previous terms that I served on Council, and in the last 7 years, the disadvantaged (people in poverty) will continue to be my most important priority. Some actions will be found on my web site; to see some specifics, see the press release under the Media pages. There are two sides to poverty, economic and social. Economic factors are largely the responsibility of senior governments. Social factors are directly municipal responsibility. Every department must make poverty reduction a priority. Particularly recreation, social services and public health.
Is Hamilton doing enough to support and encourage new investment in our older neighbourhoods? If not, what should the City be doing? No If memory serves the majority if not all BIAs are in built up and comparatively older neighbourhoods. There are a number of initiatives that I am proud to say I had some influence or leadership roll in implementing:

* The facade program where the City contributes to facade improvements.

* Subsidies or outright payment for marketing studies

* City staff support and advice as well as special street furniture for BIAs

* Contributions both in kind and financial to street festivals and other business street activities

I could go on, but it is important to note that I specifically, and Council in general have not ignored the plight of older areas. As well as the two BIAs in downtown Hamilton, the city's core has been made a "no zone zone" where planning rules are relaxed. For example there are no parking requirements for downtown condos where more than one spot per unit is required in the rest of the city. One thing developers ask for is high multiples of coverage.

The more intense the development, the less expensive it is to build. The restriction of three or four times coverage in large parts of commercial areas doesn't apply in the core with the exception of the Durand neighbourhood where the community was opposed to more high rise development.

Is Hamilton doing enough? Obviously, despite some progress, it isn't. Forgive my pointing this out, but all of the activities above happened when I was on council. I know of no new City generated activity over the last seven years.

I would like to examine the question of being too generous with current "No zone zone" rules. If a property owner or developer can build 8 times coverage the temptation is to wait until there is a market for such a project instead of building 3 or 4 times coverage. The way to find out is to talk to developers who work in inner cities. Appropriate inner city and brownfield development is critical.

In Wards two three and four there are acres of job lands that no one wants to buy or develop for a number of reasons. With the pressures of amalgamation and other issues I could not get to this critical issue. I had called a meeting of Hamilton's MPs, MPPs and the Ward 1 and 2 Councilors (Morelli refused to participate) work on Brownfield issues.

Then Mayor Morrow suggested, perhaps I should say very strongly suggested, that sort of meeting should have been called by him. Mayor Morrow took over, the meeting was held, and an agenda of next steps was agreed on. The Mayor's office was to call the next meeting and I was to be kept in the loop. No next meeting was held. If elected, I have already secured agreement from one MP and 2 MPPs to work on the issue.

As well as brownfield and business areas, neighbourhood safety, property standards and traffic issues need to be constantly "top of mind" and continually improved to encourage strong neighbourhoods, the backbone of a better community economy. For more on this subject please see our web site at caplanforward2.com.
For your campaign, will you be accepting donations from corporations or unions? If so, why? If not, why not? No I do not plan on accepting donations from Corporations or Unions. This is a bit of a phony issue as far as Corporate donations go. Since donations are not tax deductible, a donation from Mr. Smith or Smith Corporation doesn't have any more or less benefit to Smith. The other point, if you think a candidate can be bought for a few dollars, you shouldn't vote for him or her in any event.
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? Yes Micro loans, small business incubators, literacy, nutrition, parenting training and more should be facilitated. Changing the view of steel mills is difficult.
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? No Open Source data is one of many hundreds of issues that are dear to the hearts of many. Hamilton in the 1970s became a Nuclear Free City suggesting that nuclear submarines were not welcome here. Many believe that Hamilton should, as a city declare itself in favour of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

We have a bylaw that forbids feeding pigeons. Previous Councils have passed resolutions that declared us an "International City." We are twinned with Cities in China, Japan, India, the US and more. All well intentioned.

And, sometimes our leadership even works. The initiatives that I and others worked on to make Hamilton "second-hand smoke free" helped substantially in leading the Province to pass similar legislation.

I am sure that your readers could come up with many other forgotten issues we have spent time and energy on, most unsuccessful and some, happily that made a difference. I could spend a few days reading about and discussing the open source issue with proponents and opponents.

As we run up to October 25th, I believe your readers would prefer we talk about how to repair a dysfunctional council, poverty and illiteracy, community empowerment, and brownfield remediation, not to speak of the chasm separating rabid residential developers and adamant 'no new suburbs' environmentalists.
Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this? Yes Council sometimes sounds like a bunch of kids in a school yard. Their disrespect for each other, staff, and community is shameful. The Municipal by-law for Hamilton has rules of decorum that are often not enforced. I plan on rising on a "point of order" each time those rules are broken. If the Chair of the meeting isn't enforcing the rules, Councillors have an obligation to bring that to his or her attention.

I would propose two changes. Councillors should stand when speaking, the physical change may help remind them of their duty to speak respectfully. Once Council has made a final decision, there should be a rule that no member of council may publicly criticise that position.
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? Yes I was one of the people who fought for the last LRT proposal in 1980. I have been following the issue carefully. While I still wholeheartedly support the project, one of my Business "Kitchen Cabinet" members has asked that, if elected, I review the numbers. His question is, "would the $'s spent on LRT be more valuable elsewhere?"

One issue that has received no press is the disruption that will be caused over two years to our downtown. That too must be part of the equation. Thus, In the interest of complete transparency I will review the issue if elected. My belief at the moment is quite strongly that LRT is worth the money.

What will I do? What I have always done, first consult with community, experts, and colleagues. Then, lobby my extensive contacts at the Provincial level, work to build strong political support community consensus and realistic and balanced capital budgets.
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? Yes As a former member of City Council, I was the most aggressive supporter of the bicycle network at tithe time. I, almost single handed, got the support of Councillors (Including the majority of Suburban Councillors) brought the bile lanes back to King St. after they had been removed.

Ward one had tens of kilometres of Bike lanes added, including many that had been approved and installed after the election. Former Councillor Horwath and I had led the battle to install bike carriers on HSR buses, the new stairs up the escarpment in Ward One were the first in Hamilton to have special bike access.

In short I have always been a strong supporter of Bike lanes and if elected to represent Ward 2 I hope to be again.

The Bike sharing program is an exciting initiative, and I am anxious to see it implemented. Better access up the escarpment would greatly accelerate use of bikes in Hamilton. A gentler rise in grade is already in place on the Bruce trail from Chedoke Golf Course to Ancaster.

Bike riders may recall that the improvements to that section of the trail were made over the objections of my former ward mate, and championed by me.