Craig's Current - October 2023
Hello, Ward 12! This month’s newsletter is all about transportation and housing. You can read about several pilot programs, including an attempt to improve traffic flow at the Wilson/Rousseaux/Old Dundas Rd intersection; a pilot that adds e-bikes to our bike share program; and a pilot to make transit more affordable for Hamiltonians. There is also an article about new bike lanes in the Meadowlands, a $93.5 million dollar investment in housing creation by the Federal Government, and a reminder of the Vacant Unit tax which is one of many tools we are using to create housing. Finally, the City is looking for your input on the incentive programs that will accompany the Stormwater Fee expected in 2025.
Old Dundas Road - Closure (Pilot)
Since taking office nearly one year ago, traffic has been a constant concern of constituents contacting the Ward 12 office. Volume, speeding, and aggressive driving are the themes across the ward. Old Dundas Road is one particular area of concern due to the narrow and winding road. In cooperation with Ward 13, we are working on a holistic plan for this road, but in the meantime, we will address specific areas. The traffic congestion at the corner of Rousseaux and Wilson is one of those areas that regularly comes up. Anytime there is excessive congestion on Hwy 403, this intersection is overwhelmed. With this in mind, the City of Hamilton will be piloting a closure of Old Dundas Road at the intersection of Wilson Street East and Rousseaux St. from Monday, November 13th to Friday, November 24th. During this time, local access will be maintained, but through traffic will not be permitted. Vehicles traveling southbound on Old Dundas Rd (up the hill to Ancaster) will need to turn left onto Montgomery Dr and use Wilson St. (see blue line in image above). The hypothesis is that eliminating the need for a separate cycle of traffic lights for Old Dundas Rd will materially reduce congestion. Note that this is only a two-week pilot. Staff will be collecting data to inform a long-term decision on the future of the intersection with the intent of increasing safety and improving traffic flow in the area. Watch for future updates in this newsletter.
Stonehenge Drive Bike Lanes
After years of delay, the Stonehenge Road bike lane project is now underway. Approved during the previous term of Council, these new lanes are an important part of Hamilton’s Cycling Master Plan and the Vision Zero campaign. Together, they build active transportation infrastructure throughout the city and improve safety for vulnerable road users. There is much work still to do, but these lanes enable continuous bike lane usage from Stonechurch on the West Mountain, through the Meadowlands to Southcote Rd and its new multi-use path between Garner and Hwy 403 (opening in November). Future bike lanes on Golf Links Rd and Scenic Dr will greatly improve the ease and safety of reaching the Chedoke Radial trail to downtown Hamilton and beyond.
As our city grows, traffic congestion has worsened, so enabling active transportation is one way to get cars off of the road, reduce GHG emissions, and encourage healthier, active lifestyles. This project will also address the speeding concerns that many residents have expressed on Stonehenge Dr as the resulting narrower vehicle lanes will naturally slow traffic, further increasing safety for vulnerable road users.
I do want to point out that the installation of bike lanes on Stonehenge will reduce the availability of on-street parking; the section along the west side of Stonehenge Road between Raymond Road and Meadowlands Boulevard will remain. Residents north of Raymond Rd can access on-street parking on neighbourhood streets including Joshua Ave and Cloverleaf Dr.
Great News for Housing in Hamilton
The City of Hamilton is the third city in the country to be announced as a successful applicant for the Housing Accelerator Fund. At $93.5 million this is the largest federal contribution through the Housing Accelerator Fund thus far. With the support of federal investment, the City of Hamilton has set a target of increasing its historical average of newly constructed residential units by 2,600 over the next three years. That is approximately 900 net new residential units per year, over the next three years beyond the city’s historical rate and beyond our already aggressive goals to accelerate the creation of more housing.
Read more at THIS LINK
Office of Climate Change Initiatives
In 2019, Hamilton declared a climate emergency resulting in the creation of the Office of Climate Change Initiatives - the OCCI. This department is staffed with professionals whose mandate is to guide all city departments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to use their capital reserve budget to deliver climate-focused solutions that help mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.
In October, Council approved the use of funds from the OCCI reserve (i.e. already part of the 2023 budget and not new spending) for a three-year e-bike pilot in the parts of the city where Sobi bike share already exists. Providing transportation alternatives to private automobiles not only helps reduce emissions and take more cars off the road but improves affordability for Hamiltons and enables options for healthier lifestyles. E-bikes will be purchased and the nonprofit organization Hamilton Bike Share will do the on-the-ground implementation of the pilot program, in cooperation with the City’s Sustainable Transportation staff.
A previous example of an OCCI initiative is a two-year Better Homes Hamilton Pilot project encouraging the installation of heat pumps. This program is meant to provide low-barrier access to property owners with upfront capital in order to retrofit their buildings to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve energy efficiency, and live more comfortably. You can learn more about these important climate initiatives at THIS LINK
Vacant Unit Tax
As a reminder of news reported earlier in 2023, the City is instituting a vacant unit tax as just one of the many measures we are taking to address the City’s housing crisis. By creating a disincentive to have units remain vacant, the City aims to bring more housing online for those who need it. The City will be charging an additional one percent tax on any home vacant for more than 183 days in a year, and that revenue generated from the tax can be re-invested into City programs.
The Vacant Unit Tax (VUT) is an annual tax payable by the owner of an eligible property that has been vacant for more than 183 days in the previous calendar year. All owners of eligible properties must submit an annual mandatory declaration on the status of their property. If a mandatory declaration is not submitted the property will be considered vacant and VUT will be charged.
Mandatory declaration forms will be mailed out in mid-December. Learn more at THIS LINK.
Kids ride free on HSR
Have you heard? Children ages 6-12 can travel FREE on HSR transit with a valid PRESTO card, available from the Hamilton Public Library. Visit a Hamilton Public Library branch to get your child’s free library card and PRESTO card. (Only one PRESTO card per child’s library card. While quantities last). Your child’s free PRESTO card from HPL is valid for free travel on Hamilton Street Railway (HSR), GO Transit, and Burlington Transit.
FARE ASSIST Pilot
HSR’s new Fare Assist pilot program is a Council-approved initiative launching on January 1, 2024, that is intended to provide one easy-to-use program that offers affordable transit to those in need, regardless of age or ability. By offering a 30% fare discount to eligible residents, the program will increase the number of individuals who are able to receive fare assistance and aims to boost transit ridership.
The previous programs applied only to those who used a personal mobility device (walker, wheelchair, or scooter) or were Canadian National Institute for the Blind cardholders. Instead of offering free service to a small number of residents, the new pilot program will be available to 88,380 residents who are in financial need regardless of age or ability. This program will also apply to DARTS users. The City of Hamilton believes this new program is a positive step in boosting ridership and making transit more affordable.
Staff are expected to report back no later than March 2025 to provide a status update on the program, including ridership, costs, and effectiveness.
You can find more information at THIS LINK
With the previously announced changes to the City of Hamilton’s stormwater funding model taking effect in 2025, we are looking for your feedback on a new stormwater incentive program. Engagement to help shape plans for the proposed Stormwater Incentive Program will take place from October 31 to December 3, 2023. Individuals can participate by taking a survey, joining a virtual meeting, or attending an in-person open house.
An online survey will be open from October 31 to December 3 to gather input and help shape plans for the proposed incentive program engage.hamilton.ca/StormwaterIncentives.
You can also use that link to find details about two virtual meetings on November 7 and open houses on November 15 (City Hall) and November 16 (Ancaster Fairgrounds)