My Intention to Run for City Councillor of Ward 5

Greetings Hamilton and hello to my fellow citizens of Ward 5. My name is Stewart Klazinga and I am writing to you today to publicly announce my intention to run for Hamilton City Councillor for Ward 5. I moved to Dundas a week after my first birthday, and have lived in Hamilton ever since. I attended Calvin Christian School as a child, then I attended Westmount Secondary School. I received my high school diploma from the HWDSB Adult Day School program. I also attended Redeemer University where I studied psychology and social work.

I’ve lived in many neighbourhoods of our great city: Rolston, Gilbert, Quinndale, Bonnington, Greeningdon, Kirkendall, St. Clair, and now Vincent. Hamilton is a vibrant and amazing city.

Hamilton is also a city on the move. It is changing and that change brings challenges. Hamilton needs new leadership and ideas to help shape that change for the betterment of all residents. Hamilton can learn from other cities around the world. The changing face of the city is an opportunity to start looking at these solutions and adapting them to fit our unique needs.

The current transit crisis is a big concern and we need to bring it to an end. The first priority when it comes to transit is ensuring that the system and schedules currently in place are being adequately serviced. Having over a thousand hours of cancelled buses in a single month is unacceptable. People’s livelihoods depend on the HSR, buses need to be there when the schedule says they will be there. Until such a time as this happens any ideas regarding the HSR that do not directly address these issues should be put on hold.

Once the buses are running when they should we will need to take a long hard look at how we can improve the HSR and Hamilton’s public transit in general. Far too many parts of the city still don’t have adequate access to the system, and many parts of the system too often fail to meet demand. We need a transit system that is equally accessible to all the residents of our city. We need a transit system that people use because they want to, not just because it is an option of last resort. Not only will this increase the financial value of the HSR, but it will improve the health and well being of the residents of Hamilton.

We need to work to make our streets safer for everyone, including pedestrians and cyclists. I work as a crossing guard in Ward 5 and one thing that has been made abundantly clear is that we need safe and friendly streets. We need to work towards a goal of zero vehicle-related injuries. Safe streets are friendly streets, and friendly streets see more people getting around under their own power, like walking or cycling, instead of driving. To accomplish this we will need to adapt our infrastructure. Our roads and streets have long been designed with the private vehicle as the top priority, we need to flip this paradigm and look at pedestrians as the top priority and then the rest will fall into place. The idea of suburbia and the urban sprawl that comes with it appeals to some, but it also comes with its own set of trade-offs and challenges. It has left us dependant on our private vehicles because nothing we need is within walking distance. It has left our neighbourhoods lacking a true sense of community. It has disconnected us from our local businesses by forcing them into small pockets sparsely scattered across the city, pushed out by big box stores and acres of parking lots. Neighbourhoods that are walkable promote community living, where people know each other because of their daily interactions.

Unfortunately, right now it is far too difficult for many of our neighbours to find a place to live that is safe, secure, and affordable. We need to address our lack of affordable housing in the city. Affordable housing is something that makes the city better for everyone. Uncertainty breeds anxiety and anxiety weakens one’s mental health, as well as their productivity. When a person’s housing situation is stable and secure they are better equipped to be productive members of their communities.

Hamilton City Council needs its own changes as well. More transparency. Be more accessible to the public. Citizens need to be able to engage with city council. This means they need to be informed about both the goings on within council and how to best engage with council. Right now too much information is hidden behind closed doors, unavailable to the public, or too difficult to access.

City council has a mandate to be fiscally responsible and right now I do not think city council is fulfilling that mandate to the best of its ability. We need to appreciate our assets for their intrinsic future value, not their current dollar value. Spending needs to be in the open, transparent and directed appropriately. While not every dollar a councillor spends can be up for public debate, every dollar a councillor spends should be public knowledge.

Ward 5 also has its own specific issues. Parts of our ward still are not well connected to Transit, Riverdale is a prime example of this. Parts of our infrastructure have gone untended for too long and fallen into disrepair. The beach strip roads have long been in need of repair. Most of our infrastructure is missing the updated improvements that are being brought to other parts of the city. The pedestrian and cycling improvements being implemented across the city are for some reason being left out of Ward 5.

These are some of the infrastructure, community, and, municipal ideas that I most strongly believe in and that I will work hard to bring to Ward 5 and all of the City of Hamilton if I’m elected as councillor.

Thank you for your time. If you have any questions or if you would like to get in contact with me you can email me at sklazinga @ gmail.com, or you can find me on Twitter @ sklazinga.