Hello Ward 12, it’s summertime and that means school is just about done and many of us are looking forward to vacations. For some, it might be the first time away in a few years. There is also a lot going on in our ward and across Hamilton. This month, we have several articles about opportunities to get involved: a Ward 12 town hall (June 28), a public engagement session on encampments (June 27), extended recruitment for City Committees (apply by July 7), and the Biodiversity Action Plan (online feedback by July 16). You'll find updates on residential property taxes, and we also have some suggestions on fun things to do around town. However you are spending it, we hope your summer is off to an excellent start.
WARD 12 TOWN HALL
A reminder that we hope to see you at the Ward 12 Town Hall meeting. Bring your questions, concerns, and visions for our community! Craig, Sherri, and Nancy look forward to meeting Ward 12 residents and hearing what’s on your mind. We are eager to share what has been happening at Council and Committee as well as to pass on updates about a number of positive initiatives underway in our community since I took office. Some examples are:
Taking action on road safety
Pushing back on development applications that don’t align with ward and city priorities
A Ward 12 website with community news and ways to get involved
Increased communication to residents through our monthly newsletter as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
We hope to see you on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. Free parking is available behind the Ancaster Municipal Service Centre / Ancaster Library as well as across Wilson St. at the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre. The entrance to the Murray Ferguson Room is on the ground level at the rear of the building.
City seeks comments on a strategy to support unhoused Hamilton residents
The City is asking residents to comment on a plan outlining where encampments could legally be set up in Hamilton.
The proposed plan follows a state of emergency declaration by the City of Hamilton and several other Ontario municipalities around people experiencing homelessness, increasing needs among the unhoused residents, and significant housing affordability challenges in the city, particularly for individuals on a limited income.
The City also reviewed its approach to encampments following the passage of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy Act which recognizes housing as a human right, as well as a recent court decision in Waterloo Region which ruled that it was a breach of encamped individuals’ charter rights to ask them to move if there was no shelter or other accommodations available to them.
The City is asking members of the public to:
Feedback collected will inform the materials that will be presented to Council in August 2023.
Ward 12 residents are invited to the in-person public meeting:
Public Information Session: Tuesday, June 27, 2023; 7:00 PM at Hamilton Convention Centre, 1 Summers Lane. There is parking onsite and across Main St. behind City Hall. We hope to see you there.
FIRE AREA RATING
Changes to Area Rating for 'Fire Department Services'
The previous term of Council initiated a review process for the area rating of 'Fire Department Services' because the tax levied on residents did not match the service they were receiving. 7,454 properties in Ward 12 have been overpaying, and 8,749 have been underpaying, for the level of service they receive. (See below for a definition of area rating)
This term of Council has approved the staff recommendation to adjust the 'Fire' portion of property taxes so that each resident is paying for the service they receive (not more and not less). There is no change to service level you can expect from the Fire Department. This change is simply about matching the taxes paid to existing levels of service.
How does 'service level' from the Fire Department vary across the City and what is changing?
There are three levels of 'Fire' service across Hamilton:
Full-time - Area is serviced by full-time firefighters. (Generally urban areas)
Composite - Area is serviced by a mix of volunteer and full-time firefighters
Volunteer - Area is service with an initial response by volunteer firefighters. Full-time firefighters deployed if needed. (Generally rural areas)
Service provided by the fire department is not changing in any part of the City. The only thing changing is the allocation of the cost to ensure fairness based on the level of service received.
Previously, area rating for Fire was determined by the urban or rural status of each residential property. There were two problems with this approach:
There are three levels of service from the Fire Department and they do not match up with a simple urban/rural boundary.
The composite service level was not considered in the previous approach
What is area rating?
Area rating is a municipal property taxation policy tool permitted by the Provincial Government (Ontario Regulation 585/06), intended to account for either significant differences in service levels or differences in the cost of providing services across different parts of the City. Where applied, properties with the same assessment but different service levels are taxed differently.
Was there public consultation about this decision?
Yes. Staff completed public engagement requesting feedback on three options:
Implement three different rates (matching the service provided)
One rate for the entire City
Option #1 had the most favourable response. This option was recommended by staff to be phased in over two years and Council approved the recommendation.
To reiterate, there are no changes to the level of service you will receive from Hamilton Fire Services. There is no change to how the Fire Department will respond to calls as this was solely a financial matter to apportion costs fairly.
The following table and maps will help you determine the impact on your residential property taxes. They are colour-coded so you can find your location on the map and reference the table. Yellow is full-time service, green is composite, and orange is volunteer.
GOLDEN HORSESHOE CYCLING CLUB
The Golden Horseshoe Cycling Hub is excited to be providing youth cycling resources in the Ancaster area! They are using Cycling Canada’s HopOn program which is a play-based skills program that teaches youth basic skills on mountain bikes.
Programs take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the spring and summer for youth who are interested in learning more about mountain biking. They also have an introduction to competition stream on Mondays and Thursdays for those who are more comfortable with their riding.
JOIN A CITY COMMITTEE
Do you want to be involved in the decisions being made at City Hall? An additional recruitment for citizen members to serve on a City of Hamilton agency, board or sub-committee started June 8, 2023, and will be open until July 7, 2023, at 4:30 p.m.
The following committees are looking for additional applicants:
• Climate Change Advisory Committee
• Agricultural and Rural Affairs Sub-Committee
• Cross-Melville District Heritage Committee (Dundas)
• Fence Viewers
• Glanbrook Landfill Co-ordinating Committee
• Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee
• Knowles Bequest Trust
• Property Standards Committee
• Committee of Adjustment
• Hamilton Farmers’ Market Board of Directors
• Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities
If citizens applied to one of these committees in March 2023, their application is still under consideration, and they do not need to re-apply.
For more information on how to apply:
• Go online at hamilton.ca/Committees
• Email [email protected] or call 905-546-2424 ext. 2604
Pride Hamilton is now taking place on Sunday, August 27, 2023, 12:00-8:00 PM at Pier 4 Park, 4 Leander Dr.)
What can you expect at this year’s Pride? Vendors, a beer garden, good eats, family and youth activities, and outdoor performances from Hamilton’s top talent!
We look forward to seeing you there! More details HERE
BIODIVERSITY ACTION PLAN
Public feedback is needed! We have until July 16 to help shape Hamilton's first-ever Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). Fill out the survey, tell a story about how Hamilton’s biodiversity has impacted you and what your hopes are for the future, add your comments to the document, or email the city staff with your comments.
A link to the BAP public consultation is HERE
PROPERTY TAX UPDATE
If you missed the May Budget edition, you can access my rundown of the budget from my newsletter page HERE. We are already looking forward to Budget 2024, but unfortunately, we will not be starting from a good spot as the Provincial Government’s Bill 23 leaves us $55 million in the hole before we even start. Adding in decisions to minimize historical property taxes increases made by previous Councils, the total is $67M. This all has to do with what is called development charges (DCs) and the concept that ‘growth pays for growth’. DCs are fees that developers pay in order to finance new infrastructure (e.g. water, wastewater, stormwater, roads, parks, recreation centers, fire departments, libraries etc.) so that existing residents don’t have to pick up the bill. The province is severely limiting the City’s ability to collect these fees from developers, essentially passing on a developer’s responsibility to you and previous councils have left a significant deficit in DC accruals that we are legislatively required to pay for.
On June 14, General Issues Committee received a report detailing the incredible financial impact we must contend with. These numbers translate into an estimated 3.69% property tax increase and a 9.75% increase in water rates for anyone who is connected to municipal water. And this is before the budget process has even started. This process is unprecedented and incredibly frustrating. I don’t know where we will end up, but I will commit to transparency and keeping you informed throughout the process. I’ll leave you with a link to my comments at Council on June 21.
For general information related to residential property taxes, you can visit www.hamilton.ca/Tax or call 905-546-2489 (CITY).
Craig getting ‘schooled’ at lawn bowling
Come on out and give lawn bowling a try! The Ancaster Municipal Lawn Bowling Club is located in the heart of Ancaster at 291 Lodor Street. It is on a bus route and has convenient free parking close to the clubhouse. They offer summer and winter activities for people of all ages. The summer outdoor bowling season runs from May through September and winter indoor short mat bowling runs from October through April. I recently had a chance to check it out and really enjoyed the friendly people and excellent facility.
More details can be found at their website HERE
If you love garden tours this one is for you! Garden Journeys is an opportunity for the public to visit gardens, both new and established, made by gardeners at all stages of their journey from ordinary to nature friendly. Garden Journeys Open Days in August will not only inspire gardeners who are just starting out on their ecological gardening journey, but it will also support and celebrate gardeners already engaged and on the path.
Sign up as either a visitor or host at their website HERE
Thanks to everyone for staying engaged and please share this newsletter with interested neighbours. Subscribe at our website https://www.craigcassar.ca/