Mayor Fred Eisenberger is meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne on Monday at Queen’s Park.
Light Rail Transit, provincial downloading, the social services software fiasco, and affordable housing are all items this Council’s is asking the province for solutions to and clarity about.
Read the Mayor’s press release issued Friday afternoon.
The meeting is intended to build a closer relationship with the Province and together chart a way forward for investments in Hamilton’s future.
Among the items to be discussed are: the Province’s commitment to transit funding for Hamilton, US Steel pensioners, infrastructure and poverty
Don’t expect too much from the meeting, it’s a short meeting expected to last approximately 30 minutes.
Mayor Eisenberger will be lucky to get past transit issues before his face time with the Premier is over.
City Manager Chris Murray will join Eisenberger and his staff to the meeting. No other members of City Council are part of the delegation.
LRT – What is 100%?
Obviously, one of the big outstanding items for the meeting is exactly what do the Liberals mean when they promised 100% funding for an Eastgate to McMaster Light Rail Transit line.
For six years, the Liberals have been dodging the question, don’t expect Premier Wynne to answer it Monday.
(This may be a blessing with Council voting down the bus lane, sending a clear signal to Queen’s Park that it’s easier to invest transit money in Mississauga or Burlington than it will be in Hamilton.)
The Other Issues on The Table
There’s been some progress on downloading by the Liberal government, but not even close to enough. They may want a participation ribbon for being better than the previous governing party. Hamilton shouldn’t give them one.
Affordable housing – that can dodge with a deflection to the federal government’s joint inaction with Queen’s Park.
Social Service Software – the province is at least consistent, they’ll keep ramming icebergs before they reverse course. Municipal cost and impact on social assistance recipients be damned.
US Steel Pensions – the province can point at the Federal government for failing to make US Steel live up to its federal commitments.
Infrastructure – see affordable housing above.
Poverty – the deficit, and the province will use its talking points about minor improvements and initiatives they’ve implemented in the past few years.
So What Will Come of The Meeting?
This is an opportunity for Mayor Eisenberger to establish a positive tone with Premier Wynne, establish relationships with key staff in the Premier’s Office, and to set future meeting dates for substantive discussions.
Sure, it be great for Eisenberger to go “Sam Merulla” into the Premier’s office demanding a fair deal for Hamilton, 100 LRT funding, and to hold a press conference outside the Legislative Chamber with television friendly sound bites and print friendly quotes.
Queen’s Park deserves a good tongue lashing from Hamilton, but that won’t achieve the long-term goals of Council or advance Hamilton’s interests at Queen’s Park.
City Manager Murray recently hired Kwab Ado-Adjei as his government relations advisor. Mayor Eisenberger is looking for Council to approve previous funding – which was moved out of the Mayor’s Office last year – for a government relations position in the Mayor’s office.
Monday’s meeting will (hopefully) pave the way for staff level discussions and planning for near future meetings.
If Mayor Eisenberger can get things moving with Queen’s Park, it’s not a bad start in for his first 100 days in office.
(Aside: Mayor Eisenberger and company will be travelling to Queen’s Park by GO Train and the TTC, they’ll be travelling mid-day from Aldershot GO. Unlike his first term (2006-2010) as Mayor, it shouldn’t take long for someone to tweet a selfie with the Mayor on board.)