Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released her annual reports on November 30. Here’s a summary of the value-for-money audit reports discussing programs in Hamilton and municipal affairs.
Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act Audit
In an audit of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, the AG warns of insufficient conservation efforts,”Changes to the Plan in 2017 [that] allow development that harms endangered species’ habitats,” and the government “provides insufficient financial and staffing resources to the Commission to ensure the Plan and Act are effectively and efficiently implemented.”
The NEC’s insufficient financial and staffing challenges come as the Plan is challenged in Hamilton by developers at the Ontario Land Tribunal.
The most direct challenge is the proposal for three tall buildings at 299-307 John Street South & 97 St. Joseph Drive here in Hamilton.
It is the first tall building proposal near the escarpment since the Niagara Escarpment Plan was enacted in 1985.
If the developer succeeds – which could be more likely if the NEC cannot hire needed experts to testify – there are concerns the Niagara Escarpment Plan will be weakened.
COVID Vaccinations Value for Money
The City of Hamilton is around the provincial average for both cost per vaccination and vaccine wastage during the pandemic.
The City’s use of the single mass vaccination clinic at Copps Coliseum instead of numerous community clinics brought down the cost per dose.
Peel and Toronto are above average as they conducted numerous neighbourhood level clinics. This is a classic last-mile problem. It takes more resources to reach people facing the most barriers or reluctance to vaccinate.
Hamilton’s cost per dose was $50. The provincial average was $52.
Peel spent $79 per dose. Toronto was $68 per dose. Halton, somehow, had the highest cost per dose in Ontario at $87.
The City of Hamilton’s wastage rate was five percent. The provincial average was four percent.
Hamilton COVID Hotspots Ignored by Province
The COVID audit confirms that Hamilton postal codes L8P and L8M were excluded from the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID hotspot prioritization at the height of the pandemic in late 2020 and early 2021.
This is despite both being hotspots based on socio-economic factors and COVID case counts.
L8P is an area bound by James Street, the Escarpment, Highway 403, and King Street.
L8M is bound by Wentworth Street, King Street, Ottawa Street, and the Escarpment.
Each of these neighbourhoods includes very wealthy pockets and extreme pockets of poverty.