1. Welcome, and thanks for joining us. Please introduce yourself!
This is Fred Eisenberger. It has been my privilege to serve as the Mayor of the City of Hamilton.
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?
The LRT project is the first step in the implementation of the BLAST network designed to serve the whole city through integration with the rest of the HSR system. Transit is an essential need of persons with disabilities. Accessibility to transit is vital. It should be noted that LRT Vehicles will be low floor with multiple entrances that are accessible to customers with all levels of mobility. I will ensure that all of our transportation services continue to meet at the very least the AODA Transportation Standards.
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?
The city has accumulated a sizeable infrastructure deficit that grows with each year. The LRT project along with other benefits will ensure the growth of the tax base along the length of the route. The revenue from that tax growth will be available to apply towards the work needed to renew and sustain our infrastructure. I do not believe for one moment that there will be a billion dollars available for infrastructure/transit in the event that the LRT project is cancelled.
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?
We need to ensure that while the 14 kms of the LRT route are renewed that it is done to AODA standards. The commitment made to urban braille that needs to be renewed across the city as we engage in infrastructure renewal. Accessibility to our sidewalks and to our public buildings is an important principal that needs to be adhered to.
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?
The province formally kicked off the bidding to build Hamilton's LRT with a $5.9-million promise to build or repair affordable housing along the line. The 10-year $50 million-dollar affordable housing fund will assist in the construction of affordable housing in a number of the neighbourhoods along the LRT route. The city is committed to ensuring that affordable housing is a part of the housing mix along the route. In the face of gentrification, the need to ensure affordable housing as an integral part of the housing mix is important.
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?
The area rating system needs to be reformed with an urban rural split. The rural taxpayers should not have to pay for transit services they will never receive. Urban taxpayers need to pay for the transit services they are receiving or need to receive. The reform of the area rating system will provide additional funds for the transit system so vital to persons with disabilities.
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?
I continue to be committed to the ongoing improvement of the DARTS service.
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?
In keeping with the strategic goals of the City’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan we will ensure that persons with disabilities can access barrier free services and programs when using Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) and the Accessible Transit System (ATS). Transit operators are trained in the area of emergency. preparedness and response that provide for the safety of persons with disabilities. Transit operators need to be trained in meeting the needs of persons with disabilities sensitively and within the provisions of the AODA.
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?
The Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities has been a strong voice in advocating on behalf of persons with disabilities and their access to accessible transit in Hamilton. Person’s with disabilities need to be integral to the planning of accessible and inclusive transit systems. We need to hear the voices of those who are using the service