Hamilton Ward 5 City Councillor Matt Francis Credit: Joey Coleman

Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath has been lobbying the provincial Conservative government for a “new deal” that will enable the City of Hamilton to gain additional revenue tools to address the city’s fiscal crisis, receive more funding to address housing and social issues, and the upload of the Red Hill Valley and Lincoln Alexander parkways.

As previously noted, both Toronto and Ottawa have “New Deals” that provide all of the above. Premier Doug Ford stated that the key to the Ottawa deal is commitments to “strengthening the city’s vacant unit tax” and to “opening up municipal lands for housing development to support shared housing priorities.”

This week, Ward 5 Councillor Matt Francis has a motion on this week’s council agenda for council to formally endorse Mayor Horwath’s efforts.

Francis voted against Hamilton’s defeated Vacant Unit Tax, and against using Downtown Stoney Creek parking lots for affordable housing.

On Wednesday, April 3, [before the Toronto vacant home tax implementation fiasco occurred] I asked him:

“You oppose both the Vacant Unit Tax and you opposed the declaration on the Stoney Creek parking lots. I’d like you to give you a chance to explain how or to discuss how you think a new deal would work for Hamilton when those are the conditions that Ottawa had.”

He responded:

“We make decisions as a council and the council decided to move forward with the vacant unit tax.

I do want to get it on record, I haven’t had too many opportunities to say it. I don’t oppose a vacant unit tax, I oppose the way that this vacant unit tax is going to be implemented. I thought there was a different way to do it. I don’t think you have to do the mandatory declaration every single year. So I want to make clear that I am not opposed to the VUT. I’m opposed to this current iteration of the VUT.

In terms of the surface parking lots, that was one parking lot. I mean, I supported the other parking lots that were in the recommendation. And now when [Ward 2] Councillor [Cameron] Kroetsch’s parking lot comes back. And if everything looks good on it, I intend to also support that parking lot. If the ward councillor in that ward does support it. So you know, we’ve made this decision as a council.”

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Published: April 14, 2024
Last edited: April 14, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
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