By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton mayoral candidate Brian McHattie is promising to make business owners’ experience with the city’s infamous bureaucratic red tape less entangling.
During a news conference at Upper James Toyota to mark the half-way point of his promise to visit Hamilton’s 190 neighbourhoods, McHattie is proposing to establish a contract between the city and business owners to ensure their planning proposals are completed quicker with less hassle. He suggested that it should take no more than three months to get the necessary approvals for a company looking to set up shop in the city or expand its operations.
“Hamiltonneeds to be open for business and to be open to business,” said McHattie. “That has to be more than just a slogan. Too many business people have told me of their frustration of trying to open or expand a business in this city.”
He said while people may receive good service during their initial meetings with city staff at the Small Business Enterprise Centre, which was created a few years ago to eliminate bureaucratic issues, “things go awry” when those proposals have to get approvals by other departments and agencies, and are then bogged down in administrative limbo.
“It gets lost in the process,” said McHattie. “It forces councillors to get involved.”
As part of the contract with business people, McHattie wants individual city employees to “champion” projects through the bureaucratic red tape until they are approved.
“You don’t have to break the rules to follow the rules fast,” he said. “A contract between business owners and the city would detail expectations, requirements and clear timelines.”
McHattie says the solution to the city’s bureaucratic problems remains cultural and there is no need for the city to throw more staff or money at it. He said since 80 per cent of jobs inCanadaare created by small business owners, it’s imperative the city create a new way of helping people.
“It has to be a way of thinking and a way of acting,” said McHattie.
Last month McHattie announced his 100-day tour through the city’s neighbourhoods atSamLawrenceParkduring a news conference overlooking the lower city. So far during his 50-day tour, he has visited 95 neighbourhoods including in Ancaster and Crowne Point in downtown Hamilton. McHattie has heard residents talk about high taxes, the city’s poor roads and how they are damaging vehicles, transit, including building an A-Line from Hamilton International Airport to the GO Train and light-rail transit.
“Every single last one of the 50 days has been a day of learning for me,” said McHattie, who has been the Ward 1 councillor for 11 years. “The only way to learn what you really need to know as a great mayor is to get out there and meet as many Hamiltonians as possible.”
McHattie remains in a tight race for mayor among a growing field to replace Mayor Bob Bratina including former mayor Fred Eisenberger, Stoney Creek councillor and former provincial cabinet minister Brad Clark, cab driver Ejaz Butt, Michael Baldasaro, Mike Clancy, Nick Iamonico, Crystal Lavigne, Phil Ryerson and Ricky Tavares.
Meanwhile, McHattie said he will be opening his campaign office atMain Street WestandPearl Streetin Ward 1 before Labour Day. And there was a shakeup in his campaign staff with Paul Mason, a political veteran taking over from Todd White as campaign manager. White had overseen McHattie’s mayoral campaign kick-off earlier this year and has been involved in McHattie’s campaign through most of the year. At the same time, though, White was also working for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek NDP MPP Paul Miller, and he is also seeking re-election as a Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustee for Ward 5.