By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Guess who’s coming to a neighbourhood near you?
Hamilton mayoral candidate Brian McHattie, who acknowledged he is trying to shed his downtown, urban image, will be visiting an estimated 190 neighbourhoods over the next 100 days.
“I want to understand each neighbourhood, what it’s like to live there, what it’s like to raise a family, what it’s like to be a Hamiltonian in those neighbourhoods,” said McHattie, during a July 2 news conference at Sam Lawrence Park near Concession Street overlooking the city. “I don’t think we’ve seen a mayoral election where a mayoral candidate particularly after amalgamation is actively committed to going to each and every neighbourhood across this city.”
McHattie was “shocked” to discover that Hamiltonhas so many local neighbourhoods with their own particular concerns and needs. The councillor, who was first elected in 2003, was planning on making Concession Street and the Central Mountain his first stops in his neighbourhood listening tour. McHattie will be posting his experiences on his website www.mchattie2014.ca.
The Ward 1 councillor was the first mayoral candidate to registered Jan. 2, and since then he has already made an effort to attend various events, clubs, and activities across the city. What he has learned from talking to suburban people include creating safer communities; cracking down on speeders through traffic calming devices rather than increasing police enforcement; fixing the city’s roads; and improve local transit service.
“There is a vast interest around Hamilton to taking the bus and many folks simply don’t have that opportunity,” he said.
Even though there is an appetite for de-amalgamation in the suburbs, McHattie says he is opposed to de-amalgamation, arguing it would throw the city into “total chaos” if adopted. But there is a need for a seniors centre in Waterdown similar to senior facilities such as Sackville on the Mountain and the expanded Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre in Alberton. And while he won’t be promising suburban residents more funding for particular needs, he does support adding $1 million to the arts and festival groups to use, and building more sidewalks and urbanizing streets along the mountain.
“I have to develop policies in such a way as it has the flexibility to respect those different cultures,” he said. “I won’t be talking about new funds which we don’t have.”
McHattie is opposed to raising taxes to help pay for any new programs, since Hamilton’s capital funding budget is limited. So to generate needed revenue, McHattie hopes to attract more residential and commercial businesses to fill the city’s coffers.
“Hamilton’s residential taxes are as high as can be at this point,” said McHattie. “We need to raise new revenue so it’s a question of reaching our growth potential.”
The mayoral campaign is still in its early stages with potential candidates still being talked. The deadline to register is Sept. 12, with the municipal election scheduled for Oct. 27. Other candidates in the race so far to replace Mayor Bob Bratina are former mayor Fred Eisenberger, Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark, Michael Baldasaro, Ejaz Butt, Mike Clancy, Crystal Lavigne, Nick Iamonico, and Phil Ryerson.