Unification of community our collective mission
As we begin our new term of council, my hope is that we can make our collective mission to be the unification of our community.
Hamilton is comprised of many communities, each of which have a strong history and heritage that we will continue to preserve and honour. We share the pride of each of our communities and will continue to do so. However, by the same token, we must work together as one city — the great City of Hamilton
The projects that we undertake are for the greater good of our community as a whole. If we build a recreation centre in Glanbrook, or a splash pad on the Mountain, we do so knowing that residents of other parts of Hamilton will likely never make use of them, but we support these projects on their merits because the local people deserve them.
We pay for libraries in Waterdown or in Dundas. We pay for a theatre in Ancaster and schools on the Mountain and Stoney Creek. Why do we do so? Because it is the right thing to do and because it builds community.
It is how you build a great city.
At the same time, when it comes to a large city-building project, we must look beyond the immediate community to the good of the community as a whole.
LRT is a component of our council-approved 10-year transportation master plan. It was part of my election platform and the election result has provided me a strong mandate to move forward. I was appreciative of Premier Doug Ford’s public acknowledgement of this last week, and I look forward to working with him to advance the project.
There has been much said about LRT and, no doubt, much more to come. One thing I will highlight in relation to LRT is that our economy is changing.
A recent report by the Conference Board of Canada found that Hamilton has one of the hottest economies in Canada. We had the third-fasted-growing economy nationwide. But, the same report predicts a cooling of economic growth. Another report found that eight in 10 economists are predicting a recession as early as 2020.
A great advantage of the Hamilton LRT project is that it is an already-approved project. Shovels are scheduled to break ground in late 2019. In 2020, if a recession were to occur, the LRT project will be well underway. It will mean thousands of construction jobs with those people shopping, buying groceries, buying appliances, buying cars and trucks and supporting local businesses.
The LRT project will inject millions of dollars into our local economy and is a way to buffer us from a recession. It is a way to recession-proof our community.
In the coming council term, I will continue to look beyond the borders of our municipality to partner with neighbouring municipalities. I will be working closely with our neighbours in Burlington and Niagara Region, both of whom supported our bid for the new Amazon headquarters.
We continue to work with Burlington on our carbon reduction plan, just as we cleaned up the harbour together through the Bay Area Restoration Council. We have worked with Niagara on the extension of GO service and on trade missions.
I will be reaching out to Brant County, Brantford, Cambridge and Haldimand County to find commonalities on which we can work together. Together we will work with the new Ontario Government to highlight our priorities.
During the recent municipal election, I sensed an overwhelming desire for a positive tone to our civic discourse. The public is tiring of negative rhetoric from its elected officials. We need look no further than south of the border to see evidence of this.
Let’s fulfil this desire for positivity within the walls of city hall. Let’s raise the public conversation. Let’s be more engaged with our public and among ourselves. Let’s agree that when we differ, we do so courteously, and never in anger. Let’s maintain civility in the public dialogue and discussion.
We made strides toward this in the past term of council. Let’s redouble our efforts and do even more in the coming term.
I’m proud of what we accomplished together last term. We have a great opportunity to continue the momentum and work together to accomplish even more — together. This new council is a fantastic mix of returning veterans and new councillors representing new blood. We have more women than ever before: seven out of 15 ward councillors.
The first order of business for the new council will be filling more than 200 citizen positions of agencies, boards and committees. It’s a great opportunity to get involved in your community.
We will almost immediately plunge into budget deliberations. But the good news is we are not starting from scratch.
We have instituted a multi-year budget during the 2018 budget process which sets strategy, direction and priorities for a four-year period from 2018 to 2021. This aligns with our 2016 to 2025 Strategic Plan.
The multi-year budget provides a forecast of the property tax revenues and user revenues from water, wastewater and storm required to meet expected service levels.
Council will work hard to ensure a balance between budget increases (for both property taxes and user rates) and service delivery.
Some of the challenges we face include infrastructure and the financing costs to maintain it. We are in good financial shape to deal with this.
In November, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings affirmed the City’s Credit Rating at ‘AA+’ with a stable outlook. This rating reflects council’s and staff’s strong fiscal performance from management of reserves, debt levels and risk, and budgetary restraint due to our sensitivity to the burden on the residents and businesses.
If there is one thing that keeps me awake at night, it is poverty and homelessness, and the fact that many in our community are not sharing in the prosperity of our community. We will continue to implement our $50-million anti-poverty affordable housing plan. We are concerned about ensuring that there is sufficient affordable housing, because everyone deserves a roof over their head.
We need to ensure that all sectors of our economy are strong, from agriculture and agri-food, to the tech sector, to steel.
Steel is still under pressure as a result of unjust tariffs and we will continue to work with our partners in Canada and the U.S. to end them.
Hamilton is blessed with hard-working, professional city staff. Everything we do is only possible because of these great people. From front-line staff to parks workers, from HSR drivers to our senior leadership team, our community truly benefits from having wonderful staff.
Congratulations to everyone who — win or lose — put their name on the ballot. I wish to extend my personal thanks to the voters and the people of our community for their continued support.
I look forward to working with council in selecting the new city manager who will work with us in the new phase of our city’s history.
Hamilton is also blessed with some wonderful, progressive, major institutions. Our “anchor institutions” — Mohawk, McMaster, Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton Community Foundation, and our chambers of commerce, to name a few. All of them provide wonderful leadership and I look forward to continuing to work with them all.
There is much work to be done, but it is happy work, because we are doing it for the betterment of our people and our community.
Our community, from Dundas to Stoney Creek and Binbrook, from Waterdown and Flamborough to Ancaster, from Beasley and Westdale to Centremount, Winona and Macassa, is fiscally strong, prosperous, outward looking and progressive.
We’re a unified Hamilton. And we will continue to remain unified through our collective community aspiration and our city’s motto: Together Aspire — Together Achieve — all toward being the best place to raise a child and age successfully.
Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger gives his inaugural address to the new Hamilton city council this past Monday.