Craig's Current - March 2024

Hello, Ward 12!

Housing and Provincial regulations have been the theme in March. On the housing front, Council has just approved new low-density residential zoning that will enable more options to deal with the housing crisis. And, after a great deal of energy and debate, affordable housing will be built in downtown Stoney Creek. At the same time, the Ford government is overturning a decision by the Ontario Energy Board that would have stopped forcing consumers (us!) from subsidizing Enbridge’s installation of new residential and small commercial gas pipelines. The Province also continues to remove power from our Conservation Authorities and threaten our natural areas. On a more positive note, I’ll be one of several Councillors hosting a Youth Town Hall on April 13 at City Hall. If you are between the ages of 14 and 29, please consider joining us. You’ll find articles about all of these – and more – in this issue of Craig’s Current.  

New Low-Density Residential Zoning 

Hamilton is in a housing crisis, and we desperately need to build more homes. We've also committed to accommodate our projected population growth within our current urban boundary. Just one of the ways we will increase housing availability is through the new Low-Density Residential Zoning that Council has just approved and now applies across the City. It adds triplex and fourplex housing to the existing permissions for single-detached, semi-detached, duplex, and street townhouses.  

For many decades, zoning in Hamilton, and most Ontario cities, has been very restrictive, resulting in expansive suburbs of mostly single-detached homes. Unfortunately, this 'favoured' type of housing has also been draining the city coffers as it is a very inefficient use of land and very expensive to maintain the necessary infrastructure. In the current market, it also means that housing in much of the city is financially out of reach for far too many people. 

The new zoning will allow neighbourhoods to evolve and will create housing choices that allow for sustainable growth and use existing infrastructure and services. It will also provide affordable options for residents as their needs evolve throughout the various stages of life. Young people getting started on their own can have more affordable options. Senior citizens who want to stay in their neighbourhood but no longer want to maintain a large home can downsize, or they could create a separate unit in their existing home to supplement their income. The bottom line is that there will be more choices for those that need it. 

It's also important to note that this new zoning does not permit four-story towers in the middle of a residential neighbourhood as the Premier suggested when he visited Hamilton on March 22, 2024. It permits up to four units (i.e. a fourplex) on a lot. It also doesn’t mandate these new housing types, but simply adds them to the list of options available. Staff have created detailed and thoughtful guidelines so that as our neighbourhoods evolve over time, renovation and new construction will blend in with existing homes. Factors covered in these guidelines include landscaping; massing of a home; grading; height / transition; parking; setbacks; amenity areas; façade treatment; waste storage; and bicycle parking.  

You can view the Neighbourhood infill design guidelines HERE 

You can get more information and watch descriptive videos HERE 

 Affordable Housing in Stoney Creek 

At the Council meeting on Wednesday, March 27, I asked my colleagues to consider 10 amendments in addition to the City staff recommendations to enable affordable housing to be built on parking lots at 5 and 13 Lake Avenue South in Stoney Creek.  

As you might be aware, City staff's recommendation to enable affordable housing on two City-owned, pre-zoned parking lots failed on a tie vote (8-8) at the February 21, 2024, General Issues Committee. Due to delays from the cybersecurity incident, the next opportunity to address this topic was the March 27 Council meeting.  

My amendments were an attempt to offer a compromise and address community concerns. Before, during, and after the GIC meeting, Council heard concerns from some members of the Stoney Creek community about the loss of 57 spots in the municipal parking lot and the construction of housing on a portion of Veteran's Lane. I listened carefully to the feedback, took time to digest it, and worked with City staff to develop the 10 amendments to allow staff's affordable housing proposal to proceed while addressing the community's feedback.  

They included directing staff to (1) enhance how Veterans are recognized at the site; (2) work with local organizations to dedicate parking spots in the municipal lot to meet community needs; (3) add 36 parking spots in the immediate area to offset the 57 being lost (resulting in a maximum loss of 21 spots); and (4) investigate further opportunities to create additional parking capacity before the affordable housing project is completed with the aim to reduce the net loss of parking spots to zero.   

I believe these amendments were practical solutions and a good compromise. I was counting on my colleagues to be genuinely invested in our Housing Sustainability and Investment Roadmap (HSIR) and that they would welcome these good-faith solutions. Unfortunately, the same 8 Councillors that defeated the original staff recommendation voted against me putting my amendments on the floor, so we were not even afforded an opportunity to debate them.  

I had emailled the proposed amendments to all my Council colleagues on March 18, nine days before the Council meeting, asking them for feedback and input, and did so again on March 23. I did not receive feedback (input, suggested modifications, or even an acknowledgment) from the Ward 5 Councillor prior to making the motion public on March 25.  

At the conclusion of the Council meeting, the Mayor declared that she would use Ontario’s Strong Mayor legislation to veto Council’s decision and enable the affordable housing to proceed.  

Walkable Cities

The first two articles were all about city building. Building the right mix of housing affordability and forms via zoning permissions is just part of what makes for smart city building. If you’d like to explore this topic further, watch this engaging TED talk from renowned urban planner Jeff Speck entitled The Walkable City. Jeff explains through compelling images how we in North America have designed our cities around cars, leaving anyone outside of a car on the sidelines. 

Ontario Engery Board decision at risk 

The Ontario Energy Board (“OEB”) is the independent regulator of Ontario’s electricity and natural gas sectors. They "protect the interests of consumers and deliver public value that contributes to Ontario’s economic, social and environmental development." 

In December 2023, the OEB decided to end a subsidy for methane gas pipelines for new residential and small commercial developments, effective 2025. They found that this would lower energy bills for existing gas customers and improve affordability for new homebuyers. The provincial government is planning to legislatively override that decision. 

I put forward this motion at the February 14, 2024, Council meeting and it passed unanimously. The motion was a show of support for the OEB decision which is under threat from the Province who immediately declared that they would overturn it. Putting aside the climate benefits which are significant, the Province’s actions mean they are overturning a decision by an arms-length regulator that would save Ontarians money during a period of rapidly escalating costs, for the financial benefit of Enbridge Gas, a for-profit company. 

It's a fact natural gas is no longer the cheapest way to heat homes because electric heat pumps are now much more efficient, can provide all heating needs even in cold climates, and result in far lower energy bills over the long term compared to gas heating. Further, natural gas is methane gas, which is a fossil fuel that causes approximately one-third of Ontario's GHG emissions and must be phased out because it is inconsistent with all climate targets, while heat pumps result in the lowest GHG emissions and align with a zero-carbon future. 

The OEB decision would help lower energy bills and encourage heating systems that are consistent with climate targets and plans. Overturning the decision will result in the construction of new methane gas pipelines, which have 60-year lifespans. We should not be subsidizing additional gas infrastructure because it doesn’t meet the City’s climate targets and will result in higher carbon emissions, higher energy bills, higher future decarbonization retrofit costs to get off fossil fuel heating, and a continued financial drain as dollars leave the province to pay for fossil fuels extracted in other jurisdictions.   

Further, Hamilton City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and transforming our buildings by supporting actions that improve the energy efficiency and GHG profile of new buildings within the City is one of 5 low-carbon transformations from ReCharge Hamilton, the City’s Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP). 

Finally, those who argue for continued business-as-usual - and even further expansion - of ‘natural gas’ ignore some basic, critical facts: 1) We’re in a climate crisis and we need to accelerate our decarbonization, not increase our use of fossil fuels 2) Methane (which makes up 97% of natural gas) has a global warming impact of 27-30 times that of carbon dioxide. 3) Fear-mongering about the challenges of ending our fossil fuel addiction is entirely self-serving. Remember that Enbridge is a for-profit company looking after their own interests, at the expense of everyone else for generations to come. 

Our new heat pump

A desire to be in a leadership position making decisions for Hamilton’s declared climate crisis was one of the key motivators for my move into municipal politics. But it’s also very important to lead by example, so I’m happy to share that my family has taken advantage of our aging home’s need for a new HVAC system and have installed a cold-weather air-source heat pump.  

Unlike a gas furnace that uses energy to generate heating and cooling and can be 97% efficient (sounds good right?), heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one place to another, so they operate in the 300% to 400% efficiency range! It might be hard to get your head around efficiency over 100%, but since heat is only being moved by a heat pump and not created, it needs far less energy to heat (or cool) a home than a traditional HVAC system. And it is MUCH cheaper to operate! 

Our new Mitsubishi heat pump provides effective heating down to -30C and is supplemented by an electric heating element should an extra boost be necessary.  

We also replaced our natural gas hot water tank with a hot water heat pump, so no more fossil fuels are required! Combined with a new metal roof from a few years ago which reflects heat and reduces cooling needs in the summer by 30% or more, PLUS a rooftop array of solar panels and a net-metering arrangement with HydroOne, we have a highly energy-efficient home and are powered by renewable energy drastically cutting our home's GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions...and monthly operating costs! 

Conservation Authorities under attack - again

As a member of the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) Board of Directors, I take my role as a steward of the watershed very seriously which is why it is so disheartening to see the Province pushing ahead with Ontario regulation 41/24 that will further weaken Conservation Authorities. As of April 1, 2024, new regulations will include: 

  • Elimination of consideration of "natural heritage" in the HCA's permitting decisions 

  • The definition of a watercourse will be changed from: an identifiable depression in the ground, to: a defined channel having a bed and banks or sides 

  • Reduction of the development buffer around a provincially significant wetland from 120m to only 30m 

  • Pollution can no longer be considered 

  • New Ministerial powers to issue orders and permits and override the CA's decision to deny permits if requested by applicants. The Minister's decision is final and cannot be appealed. 

Headwaters start as tiny rivulets flowing over the land but in the new definitions, they will no longer be considered for protection and will be fair game for development. The Province is also asking all CAs to provide a list of land holdings which could be handed over for development. Much of the HCA’s conservation land has been donated or purchased with donations over decades. It is unconscionable that the Province would consider converting that land for development. For more information check Save our Streams Hamilton and read the recent Opinion Piece in the Spectator by fellow Board member Brian McHattie. 

The value of farmland

Did you know that 79% of Hamilton is farmland and only 21% is urban? According to 2021 census data, Hamilton farmland comprises approximately 13.7% of the farms within the Golden Horseshoe. Sadly, Ontario loses an average 319 acres of farmland each day, and Hamilton is no exception. Between 2011 and 2021 Hamilton lost 12,519 acres of farmland with 2.8 million acres lost in Ontario during the last 35 years. Nevertheless, farming is big business in Hamilton. The combination of direct, indirect, and induced impact attributed to Hamilton’s agricultural sector is $1.3 Billion! 





Number of farms 




Acres of farms 




Average age of farm operators 




Agriculture Labour Force 




Some other quick facts: 68.3% of Hamilton farmers are men and 31.7% are women. Concerningly, 66.3% of Hamilton farmers report that they have neither a verbal nor written succession plan. A fantastic article highlighting the value of Hamilton farmers and farmland - and the case against suburban sprawl – can be found on page 12 of this month’s issue of Hamilton City Magazine. 

Youth Town Hall!

I hope to see some Ward 12 Youth at City Hall in April! If you're between 14 and 29 years of age and want to connect with your City Councillors, come out to Hamilton's first Youth Town Hall on April 13 at City Hall. Register by visiting THIS LINK 

Protective Plumbing Program

With spring approaching, Hamilton Water would like to highlight their Protective Plumbing Program. During heavy rainfall, the sewer system can reach capacity quickly and become overloaded. This can lead to overflows into the environment and an increased risk of basement flooding. 

Installing a backwater valve in your home allows wastewater to flow in only one direction - to the city sewer. In the event of a sewer backup, the valve flap closes, preventing anything from flowing in or out until the backup subsides and the flap reopens. Through the program residential property owners can receive a grant of up to $2000 from the City of Hamilton to install a backwater valve in the basement, disconnect downspouts from city sewers, and complete other eligible works that can help to reduce the risks of basement flooding while lowering demand on our sewer systems. There is even a supplemental loan program of an additional $2000 on top of the grant, should it be required. 

Call the City of Hamilton at 905-546-2489 (CITY) and speak to a Customer Service Representative for more information or check the City’s Protective Plumbing Program webpage. 

Flooding resources

The Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation has a wealth of resources to help you reduce the risk and keep you and your property safe from flooding. Topics include basements, wells, septic, sump pumps, backwater valves and much, much more. Some information is also shared in traditional and simplified Chinese. 

Neighbourhood clean ups

Since our Facebook post about the community litter clean-up, we held on March 17 near Holy Name of Mary school, we have been inundated with suggestions for other locations. Thanks to Janice, Jennifer, and the very enthusiastic Henry (6) and Tom (4). Along with Sherri and me, we filled a dozen garbage bags and found interesting items like a shopping cart, tire treads, and an old steel wheel. Janice even found a $50 bill that she donated to Ancaster Community Services! 

We are working on planning some more events and will post about them in the coming weeks. In the meantime, consider organizing your own clean-up with neighbours! The City can help and will supply work gloves, recycling, and garbage bags. Check out the City’s Team Up to Clean Up webpage for info on how to get started! If you organize your own event, please let us know at [email protected] and we will be sure to help spread the word! 

Highway 52 Collision

On Friday, March 22, 2024, a collision occurred on Highway 52 at Powerline Road with tragic consequences. I offer my sincere condolences to those affected. Please take a moment to read the statement I released in response to this incident. Hamilton Police Services has since released this update about the collision. 

Aggressive driving

A reminder to residents who witness aggressive driving and speeding that they are strongly encouraged to report the incident to the Aggressive Driver Hotline. This not only informs the Police about the incident but more importantly, contributes to the Police database and allows them to identify areas of concern so they can prioritize enforcement at those locations. The Hamilton Police Service allocates resources based on these reports so please make sure you add your concern and the location it occurred to their list.  

Aggressive Drivers Hotline: 905-546-1768 

Aggressive Drivers Email[email protected] 

Callers will be asked to leave a message on a voice mail system that includes the following information: 

  • name and telephone number 

  • the date of the offence 

  • time of the offence 

  • location of the offence 

  • the offending driver’s license plate number 

  • description of the vehicle 

Traffic calming in Mohawk Meadows

The City is considering Mohawk Meadows for traffic calming measures such as speed humps. However, in order to be approved, 60% of neighbourhood residents need to be in favour. This will be determined by a door-to-door survey conducted by residents who want traffic calming. If you want to help, please volunteer to go door to door to gather signatures from your neighbours. Write to us at [email protected] to volunteer and we’ll provide you with what you need. Please share this information with friends and family in the neighbourhood. 

The City is considering Mohawk Meadows for traffic calming measures such as speed humps. However, in order to be approved, 60% of neighbourhood residents need to be in favour. This will be determined by a door-to-door survey conducted by residents. If you want traffic calming in Mohawk Meadows, please volunteer to go door to door to gather signatures from your neighbours. Write to us at [email protected] to volunteer and we’ll provide you with what you need. Please share this information with friends and family in the neighbourhood. 

Road salt

Our office has received queries from residents about what appears to be excessive salt use on city streets and sidewalks. We have certainly noticed this ourselves and have reached out to City Staff to gain clarity around salt use in winter. Hamilton does have a Salt Management Plan in place, and our office is inquiring with staff to determine if there is cause to revisit our current plan. We know that road salt has a direct adverse impact on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and indirect consequences to human health. Its use also has a significant impact on infrastructure through corrosion. 


Residents have asked how to stop flyers from being delivered to their homes each week. The link to make the request can be found at Post Media's FlyerForce website.  

Upcoming road closures 

Orkney Road - Highway 5 to Concession 2 West for filming. 

  • Date/Time: April 4 at 4:30pm until April 5  

Southcote Rd between Calder St and Stonehenge Dr for sewer rehabilitation work 

  • Date: Tuesday April 9th (Rescheduled from March 26 due to rain) 

  • Time: 7am – 7pm 

  • Northbound lane taken between Calder & Stonehenge 

  • Flagging in all directions at Southcote and Calder; all directions of traffic will be maintained 

Mineral Springs Road - Binkley to Sulphur Springs 

for the Annual Paris to Ancaster Bicycle Race. 

  • Date: April 28 

  • Time: 10am - 4pm 

Thank you  

Thank you for reading this month’s newsletter and please share it with Ward 12 neighbours and friends. If you have questions feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] and subscribe to the Ward 12 newsletter at Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.