I saw many North Enders out in June enjoying art crawl on a safe and open James Street North. They were greeting fellow neighbours, dancing and listening to live performances, taking in the amazing skateboard demonstrations, grabbing something to eat or drink at a local restaurant, and engaging with the many vendors who lined the street. Despite the ongoing challenges that many in the Ward 2 community are facing, we continue to celebrate and enjoy our public spaces with one another.

Speaking of challenges, I’m hearing from some North End residents about the encampments currently set up in Bayfront Park. The Ward 2 Team and I continue to reply to resident concerns and connect folks with the City staff responsible at unsheltered@hamilton.ca (please feel free to email them directly if you have a concern). I know people are frustrated and I understand why. That being said, there won’t be a quick or simple resolution to the ongoing affordable housing crisis that’s impacting cities big and small across the country. And while there may not be any easy answers or immediate relief for those most impacted, I’m committed to continuing to have these difficult conversations honestly, transparently, and with accountability. I think it’s important to be direct about how I can help, including the limitations of my role as a City Councillor.

Some of those limitations, are coming from global, national, and local changes to law, legislation, and policy. Based on what I’ve read, evidence from experts, and public discussions, it’s  no longer completely legal or just for cities to restrict all encampments from public spaces, including parks. If you’d like to look at some of the resources I’ve collected on this, visit ward2hamilton.ca/encampments.

There’s not adequate shelter or housing available, so we cannot restrict encampments in all public spaces.

For many North Enders the Protocol continues to fall short.

Since last August, the City has been continuing to step up with more resources to manage the crises we’re facing, but we will not be able to single handedly resolve them on our own. We all continue to advocate to our Provincial and Federal partners on this and  I’m hopeful that the billions in resources that our city needs to address the affordable housing crisis, including the symptoms of that crisis, like homelessness, will be on the way soon.

What I hear most from North Enders are concerns about public safety issues and criminal matters. Residents tell me that when they’re calling the Hamilton Police Service to ask for assistance with their concerns, they’re either not getting what they consider an adequate response, they’re being told there’s nothing the police can do, or they’re being referred to their City Councillor for a solution.

I’m being called upon to do something about this, every day, and while I take my responsibilities and my role very seriously, I can’t abuse my position or step over the line when it comes to my interactions with the police or their legally prescribed duties. The police manage public safety issues and criminal matters exclusively.

That doesn’t mean I’m passing the buck or telling North Enders there’s nothing they can do to follow up if they feel their concerns aren’t being addressed. Ward 2 currently has three active Crime Managers who would be happy to hear from residents. If you’d like to be connected to the Crime Managers, reach out to the Ward 2 Team using the information at the end of this article. Crime Managers are not available at all times, so please ensure that if you’re trying to reach the police during an emergency that you dial 911 and during a non-emergency (905) 546-4925.

In other news, neighbours continue to raise concerns about the impacts of events taking place in Pier 4 Park during the summer. The most common concern is around the impact of noise to residents who live adjacent to the park. Thankfully, Council supported my motion for a pilot to provide event specific bylaw officers to support residents. If you experience noise impacts during the summer months from an event in Pier 4 Park, please contact the City at (905) 546-CITY and someone in the City’s Customer Contact Centre will connect you to a bylaw officer.

We also heard about events blocking off the much used and beloved Waterfront Trail and we’re getting closer to a solution there, but won’t have one to implement until next year. The plan laid out didn’t allow enough notice to be provided by City staff to event organizers to roll it out without seriously impacting permits that had already been issued. I’m committed to resolving this issue and ensuring safe barrier free access to the waterfront, year round, for all Hamiltonians, and will report back when a resolution has been reached for the 2025 season.

I’ll be holding a community meeting in the North End to gather input on the future of Eastwood Arena, Strachan Linear Park, and new path and cycling connections to the waterfront in August. This meeting was originally planned for July but I’ve expanded the agenda considerably and will need a bit more time to prepare. Stay tuned for the date, time, and location.

This month I’ll be hiring a new Constituency Coordinator in our office part time and I’ll be providing information about the outcome of the hiring process in time for the next edition of the North End Breezes.

As we go through this transition, and as members of the Ward 2 Team take vacation in July and August, please be patient with us. As always, if you’d like to reach out to us for help with something, please email Ward2@hamilton.ca for the quickest response or call us at (905) 546-2197. If you would like to reach me directly, send me an email at Cameron.Kroetsch@hamilton.ca.