By Aidan Johnson. Article was originally published in the Hamilton Spectator on Monday March 26, 2018. Click here to view article on the Hamilton Spectator website.
Helen Keller wrote: "All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." I love Hamilton. It is part of me.
As a person who grew up in Westdale and now lives off Locke, I love west Hamilton in a special way. Serving as city councillor for west Hamilton (Ward 1) is thus one of the greatest privileges of my life.
Questions have been raised recently about how much money has been spent to repair Ward 1 roads, and from what sources. I'm grateful for the opportunity to answer these.
This term of council, significant funds, to the tune of approximately $7.9 million, have been spent on Ward 1 roads, from both the Ward 1 infrastructure minor maintenance fund and from city-wide sources. (This figure includes $760,000 spent for Main West repairs in 2016, but does not include any of the money that has been spent on pothole spot-repairs, or on traffic lights.)
In addition, approximately $7 million of additional money has been allocated for Ward 1 roadwork to take place over the next two years.
The new cracks and holes have compounded significant, earlier crumbling, progressive over the past several years and decades. The extraordinary extra allocation for roads flows from our infrastructure's rapidly worsening emergency state.
Good faith questions have also been posed about Ward 1's community-building participatory budget process ("PB"). I'm pleased to be able to answer these, too.
PB is how Ward 1 spends its annual $1.6 million infrastructure area rating fund. Any Ward 1 citizen or denizen can submit an idea as to what infrastructure projects should be funded.
The ideas are then collated at small round tables at a community workshop, open to everyone and well-attended by people from all west Hamilton neighbourhoods.
A ballot is produced. Ward 1 citizens then vote for the ideas they think most useful. They vote online, or in paper form at Ward 1 libraries and schools.
I then bring relevant motions to council, to fund the top vote-getters from Ward 1 area rating. The funds are always distributed as equally as possible among the four main Ward 1 neighbourhoods.
The process was founded by Brian McHattie, the true gentleman who served as Ward 1 councillor directly before me. I ran for office in 2014 on a promise to continue PB.
The city has funded important infrastructure through PB.
This includes the children's playground at Dow Parkette in Ainslie Wood, the natural playground at Westdale's Cootes Paradise Elementary, the accessibility renovations underway at Locke Library, and the permanent exercise equipment installed at Victoria Park for use by Strathcona seniors and all Hamiltonians.
To see the projects (and, for Ward 1ers, to vote this March 19-April 19 in the 2018 PB process), please visit www.forward1.ca. And please consider getting involved!