#CripTheVote: Responses from mayoral candidate Michael Pattison, on Transportation
1. Welcome, and thanks for joining us. Please introduce yourself!
Hello, My name is Michael Pattison, but you can call me homegrown Mike, guy smiley or Happy Mike. I am 46 years old and a born and raised Hamiltonian.
2. The planned LRT line for Hamilton has become a prominent issue in this election.
How do you anticipate this project would impact access to transit for disabled people living throughout the city?
I believe the LRT is a positive for those with accessibility issues. I have heard too often from those in need, being left behind at current bus stops due to overcrowding. I applaud the HSR and City of Hamilton for making our modes of transportation fully accessible but obviously more work must be done to include everyone to the best of our abilities. My only push after the fact is that all sidewalks and roadway accesses must be cleared between stops, as the distance between stops will have to be addressed to match the needs of all riders. Matched with more frequent bus service or bare minimum, clear paths and routes for all those with mobility issues.
3. Opponents of the LRT project have proposed redirecting this funding to improve Hamilton's existing infrastructure.
If elected, how do you plan to address needed upgrades to the city's infrastructure?
This comes down to your interpretation of infrastructure. If a mass investment of money is to flow through Hamilton, we must address the needs of our future, setting a clear and concise path for growth and opportunity for everyone who calls Hamilton home. I would like to see investments made on how we flow traffic through our city. Our roads budget takes quite a significant chunk of our city’s active capital. We need to make smart decisions that are investments and not pure spending initiatives. Transit must be addressed no matter what is handed down by the province. If we are doing LRT then do It, invest any savings we can muster, to future our transportation needs. If LRT is off the table then Electric buses must become the norm for our transportation fleet.
4. In your opinion, what are the most significant aspects of Hamilton's infrastructure that need to be improved in order to increase the city's accessibility for disabled residents?
Sidewalks are of a great concern. It is not just providing ramps at intersections, it is keeping them clean during winter. We must improve the designs of our sidewalks to accommodate very near futures. We must have a plan that really does initiate and endorse public mobility for those with wheelchairs, mobility scooters, bikes and pedestrians. I have heard form those who use assisted devices that the non-flat surface of a sidewalk can lead to extreme pain and discomfort. I believe we must start with a plan that separates all pedestrians from traffic while taking all Hamiltonians views into account. Smart planning leads to smart investments which translates to Happy taxpayers!
5. Monday's #CripTheVote chat focused on gentrification and access to affordable housing.
What role do you think public transit might play in changing the impact of gentrification?
If we engage the public and investors, with a plan that has potential to solve issues it will further us along to getting it right the first time. Gentrification is a double- edged sword. Some will benefit, while some will pay the consequence. If we had our consortiums who wish to build along our arterial roads (or LRT tracks) we could envision the housing that will become available. If areas will include the building of Accessible/Affordable/ Geared to Income/ Inclusive housing, we can take even more steps forward around those locations at the time of building. I wish money (taxes) were not an issue and I would clearly state that all communities should be fixed and made to house all the aforementioned parties. Hamilton is an old city and we can only afford at this time to focus on anywhere new construction is taking place. The mandate is simple, do everything we can to make our city compliant to the Accessibility Act and encourage local owners to invest in their properties to solve these issues once and for all. Transit is a must for all new builds. Transit must be working and servicing an area before it is completed.
6. Hamilton's area rating system charges city residents different tax rates, depending on the level of transit service in their ward. Disabled adults in Canada are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled adults. They also frequently rely on public transportation to be able to participate in their communities and access needed services.
How might the area rating system impact disabled residents differently than it does non-disabled residents? If elected, do you have any plans to change the implementation of this system?
When it comes to quality of life revolving around transit, I have a first-hand experience of being isolated as a renter. I was living in Mt.Hope and had to walk for roughly 25-30 mins to catch the bus. At the time I was not driving and fully felt the effects of being at the mercy of myself. Those 2 years were not easy and my first experience of really respecting the overall importance of public transit. I have been a regular transit user since and must say that my quality of life has risen from the experience.
7. Disabled people who rely on specialized transit services, such as Hamilton's DARTS, often report that the services are unreliable, offer limited availability outside of normal business hours, and must be booked so far in advance as to be inaccessible.
If elected, do you have any plans to improve the availability of specialized transit services?
We need to address the overall needs of our city regarding all levels of subsidized transportation. I believe that the detail is in the contracts. I believe in protecting workers while trying to find new parameters of overall service delivery. We need to open the dialogue across the board to completely understand the needs, wants and sometimes desires of every constituent. We can come up with a solution that can be manifested to work for all Hamiltonians. Being raised with a Grandmother who was a regular user of Darts, I know some of the frustrations found in long term planning with the added pressure of everyone and thing being on time/schedule. Finding a service delivery system that is adaptive on the fly might be our best solution moving forward but we won’t know till we put our best minds forward. Great ideas will prevail.
8. Accessibility of transit services depends not only on routes and vehicles, but on transit operators, and their awareness of and sensitivity to disabled people.
If elected, how would you work to ensure Hamilton's transit operators are adequately trained to support the needs of disabled riders?
Compassion training is first and foremost. Reading the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be mandatory for all public employees. Next, I believe that natural care and compassion will lead and separate those in the field as natural leaders and should be rewarded through promotion and or special responsibilities.
9. What role, if any, do you envision for disabled people in planning an inclusive and accessible for transportation in Hamilton?
If elected, how would you work to bring this about?
I believe all people should be represented in the forming of all modes of transportation and beyond. Having representation on Boards and Committees is a no brainer. If we could only approach all public decisions this way.