A recap prepared by Rob Fiedler

Election season is upon us and signs with the names of candidates for mayor, councilor, and school trustee dot the landscape.

There are eight candidates vying to be elected Ward 2 councilor. To assist voters, neighborhood associations in Ward 2 hosted an election debate on September 19th at the Church of the Ascension on John Street South. Candidates were sent a list of questions covering a range of topics that included what they would do to make housing more affordable, improve the HSR/transit, stand-up for tenants, make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and involve residents more meaningfully in decisions impacting them.

The discussion was informative but civil. Moderator Sunil Angrish, a community developer with the Hamilton Community Foundation, kept things moving and orderly.

The candidates in attendance—Dianne Chiarelli, Suresh Daljeet, Jason Farr, Cameron Kroetsch, Nicole Smith, Mark Tennant, and John Vail—all seemed to agree that more needed to be done to make housing affordable, address tenant issues, calm traffic (including reduce the speed limit to 30km/h on local streets), improve parks and public spaces, and increase public engagement.

What resonated (for me): Nicole Smith favored a return to a more resident-led Ward 2 participatory budgeting process; John Vail argued for greater attentiveness to the issues of existing residents in existing housing and cautioned against overzealous traffic calming; Mark Tennant and Surest Daljeet focused on working with people on a grassroots level; Diane Chiarelli highlighted forcefully the need for senior levels of government to provide funding for affordable housing; Jason Farr emphasized his record over the last two council terms, including his support for development and ability to secure votes at council for spending initiatives in Ward 2; and, Cameron Kroetsch argued residents deserve better engagement and a more accessible, transparent, and accountable City Hall.

Anyone expecting fireworks during the debate probably walked away disappointed, but Cameron Kroetsch did score a round of loud, spontaneous applause mid-answer when he vowed to dissolve the Waterfront Trust (HWT), which he described as “plagued by scandal”.

Joey Coleman of the Public Record recorded the debate and made it available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r3U28wjtVk