Transcript: Planning For Climate Action in Hamilton | Oct 19, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, checkered shirt, and blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Planning for climate action in Hamilton. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says THE CITY OF HAMILTON HAS A PLAN TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE, WHICH IS A GOOD THING SINCE LAST YEAR IT DECLARED A CLIMATE EMERGENCY. BUT LIKE MANY OTHER CITIES AROUND THE WORLD, HOW TO MAKE SURE THAT PLAN INCLUDES ISSUES OF EQUITY AND ACCESSIBILITY CAN BE TRICKY. THE HAMMER IS NO STRANGER TO RE-INVENTION AND INNOVATION, SO, LET'S FIND OUT HOW ITS PLANS ARE PROCEEDING. WE'RE JOINED FROM THE AMBITIOUS CITY BY: HAMILTON CITY COUNCILLOR MAUREEN WILSON...

Maureen is in her forties, with long wavy brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a green sweater.

Steve continues BEATRICE EKOKO, PROJECT MANAGER FOR ENVIRONMENT HAMILTON...

Beatrice is in her thirties, with dark hair in a bun. She's wearing glasses and a green blouse.

Steve continues AND MARY LOU TANNER, PRINCIPAL PLANNER AT THE NIAGARA PLANNING GROUP, FORMERLY HAMILTON'S MANAGER OF STRATEGIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING...

Mary Lou is in her fifties, with short wavy brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a beige sweater over a black shirt, a pendant necklace and hoop earrings.

Steve continues THAT'S THEM FROM LEFT TO RIGHT ON YOUR SCREEN, GEOGRAPHICALLY, ALTHOUGH NOT NECESSARILY POLITICALLY. AND WE ARE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME ALL OF YOU TO OUR PROGRAM THIS EVENING. I WANT TO JUST START BY ASKING YOU: GIVE US AN UPDATE ON HOW WELL OR POORLY YOU THINK THE CITY IS DOING WITH ITS ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE? COUNCILLOR WILSON, DO YOU WANT TO START US OFF?

The caption changes to "Maureen Wilson. Hamilton City Councillor."
Then, it changes again to "Creating a healthier environment."

Maureen says VERY GOOD AND TIMELY QUESTION. I THINK IN DECLARING AN EMERGENCY, YOU WOULD ASSUME THERE IS URGENCY, AND I WOULD SAY COVID HAS CAUSED US TO DELAY OUR... THAT SENSE OF URGENCY, BUT I WOULD ALSO SAY THAT COVID IS A PROXY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE IN THAT WHAT IT IS REVEALING AND THE LESSONS FROM THAT SHOULD INFORM OUR CLIMATE CHANGE PLANS.

Steve says BEATRICE EKOKO, HOW DO YOU SEE IT?

The caption changes to "Beatrice Ekoko. Environment Hamilton."

Beatrice says I WOULD SAY IF WE ARE COMPARING THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN COVID AND CLIMATE CHANGE, WE ARE LITERALLY IN THE COVID MOMENT OF MARCH. WE'RE LOOKING AT MANY SCIENTISTS WHO ARE SAYING THAT THE URGENCY IS EVEN... JUST AS DIRE. SO I WOULD SAY THAT WE REALLY NEED TO TAKE IT A LOT FARTHER THAN THE CURRENT.

Steve says MARY LOU TANNER, HOW ABOUT YOU?

The caption changes to "Mary Lou Tanner. Niagara Planning Group."

Mary Lou says WELL, I THINK THE CITY'S CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN IS WELL-THOUGHT-OUT. HOWEVER, I'M REALLY CONCERNED WE'RE NOT SEEING PRIORITIZATION AND A BUDGET ATTACHED TO THOSE ITEMS. THAT'S REALLY WHERE THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD IS WHAT ARE WE GOING TO FOCUS ON AND HOW ARE WE GOING TO FUND IT? AND THAT IS STILL YET TO COME.

Steve says I DON'T HEAR THREE RAVE REVIEWS FROM ANY OF YOU. COUNCILLOR WILSON, WHAT'S THE CITY MISSING SO FAR?

Maureen says I THINK IT'S MISSING FOCUS. I THINK IF WE LOOK AT THOSE CITIES THAT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GALVANIZE THE PUBLIC AND TO MOVE THE MARKER, THERE ARE MANY, MANY THINGS THAT HAVE TO BE DONE AND DONE DIFFERENTLY. BUT THE SUCCESSFUL CITIES ARE THOSE THAT BOIL IT DOWN TO THREE OR FOUR PRIMARY THEMES AND GOALS. AND WHEN INTERVIEWING RESIDENTS, THEY'RE ABLE TO RECITE THOSE GOALS. THE CHALLENGE AND ALSO THE OPPORTUNITY IN HAMILTON IS THE ISSUE OF EQUITY, AND THAT HAS TO INFORM OUR PLANS AND IT HAS TO INFORM OUR PRIORITIES AND IT MUST INFORM HOW IN FACT WE ENGAGE WITH CITIZENS. SO AS YOU KNOW, IN HAMILTON, WE HAVE A CODE RED CONDITION. SO WE HAVE A 23-YEAR LIFE EXPECTANCY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OUR MOST IMPOVERISHED NEIGHBOURHOODS AND THAT OF OUR MOST ECONOMICALLY FLUSH NEIGHBOURHOODS. AND SO IN MOVING FORWARD, WE'VE GOT TO ENSURE THAT THAT EQUITY COMPONENT IS PART AND PARCEL OF OUR CLIMATE PLAN. AND IT IS A CHALLENGE IN COVID IN THAT OFTEN PEOPLE WILL SAY, "WELL, WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY RIGHT NOW. MUNICIPALITIES ARE UNDER THE GUN." AND I ALWAYS SAY, WE DON'T PROCEED WITH OUR BUDGET AND THEN TACK ON CLIMATE MITIGATION AND EMERGENCY MEASURES. CLIMATE CHANGE IS OUR BUDGET. THAT MUST GUIDE OUR PRIORITIES. AND WE'RE NOT THERE YET.

The caption changes to "Creating a healthier environment."

Steve says UNDERSTOOD. LET'S... AND JUST BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER AND WE CERTAINLY WILL COME BACK TO HAVE FURTHER DISCUSSION ON THAT. YOU ALL KNOW DAVID MILLER, THE FORMER MAYOR OF TORONTO, WHO HAS A NEW BOOK OUT CALLED "SOLVED," WHICH IS AN INTERESTING IF NOT PROVOCATIVE TITLE ON THE ISSUE. HIS VIEW IS WE OUGHT NOT TO WAIT AROUND FOR FEDERAL OR PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS TO SOLVE THIS WHEN HE BELIEVES THE SOLUTIONS FOR MUNICIPALITIES EVERYWHERE ARE RIGHT UNDER THEIR NOSES AND HERE'S AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK ON WHY HE THINKS CLIMATE CHANGE PLANNING IS IMPORTANT. HERE WE GO. SHELDON, COULD YOU BRING THIS GRAPHIC UP? THANK YOU.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Why cities need climate plans." The quote reads "In a city-government context, the existence of a plan is important because it forces the system -the various departments and agencies- to act by incorporating climate actions in the everyday routine work. It is only in this way that a plan can be successfully implemented, and experience has shown that to mobilize these departments (who might not think climate change is their job), it is essential to prescribe goals for them and include them in the development of a plan. In this way, the plan gains from expert input -but also gains the confidence and personal commitment of those well beyond the city's environment department."
Quoted from David Miller, "Solved." 2020.

Steve says THAT'S A GREAT POINT, BUT, MARY LOU, I WANT TO KNOW FROM YOU HOW REALISTIC YOU THINK THAT APPROACH IS?

Mary Lou says I DO THINK IT'S REALISTIC AND I HAVE SEEN IT WORK IN MUNICIPALITIES, PARTICULARLY WHEN IT COMES FROM THE COUNCIL LEADERSHIP AND THE SENIOR MANAGEMENT TEAM. IT IS ABOUT SETTING GOALS AND SETTING ACCOUNTABILITIES, BUT IT'S ALSO REWARDING THE BEHAVIOUR AND THE ACTION. YOU HAVE TO SUSTAIN THE CORPORATE CULTURAL CHANGE IN MUNICIPALITIES TO PUT CLIMATE CHANGE FIRST AND FOREMOST. WHEN I WORKED FOR THE CITY OF HAMILTON, BECAUSE OF ALL OF THE STORMS THAT WERE HAPPENING 15 YEARS AGO, WE HAD TO SET UP THE GROUP THAT DEALT SOLELY WITH THAT. AND WE MADE SIGNIFICANT GAINS IN DEALING WITH MANAGING THOSE STORMS, NOT JUST FROM PLANNING FOR IT BUT FROM OPERATING AND HOW WE PLANNED AND HAD STAFF OUT ON THE STREET EVEN PRIOR TO A STORM COMING. WE CHANGED HOW WE MONITORED THE WEATHER. THERE'S SIGNIFICANT TRACTION ON THAT BECAUSE THE LEADERSHIP SAID, "THIS HAS TO GET FIXED AND FIXED NOW."

Steve says BEATRICE, THE WAY YOU LOOK AT IT AND THE WAY FORMER MAYOR MILLER HAS DESCRIBED IT, DO YOU THINK THAT APPROACH IS BEING UNDERTAKEN IN HAMILTON RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "Beatrice Ekoko, @EnvHamilton."

Beatrice says I DON'T. I THINK WE HAVE A REAL ISSUE HERE IN HAMILTON THAT WE HAVE A LOVE AFFAIR WITH URBAN EXPANSION. WE ARE KIND OF EXPANDING... WE'RE LOOKING TO EXPAND IN AREAS THAT ARE PRIME AGRICULTURAL LANDS. SO WE REALLY HAVE TO HAVE THAT COMMITMENT TO NOT SPRAWL. SO RESPONSIBLE LAND USE AND REALLY FOCUSING ON, YOU KNOW, COMMITTING TO THAT... FROM URBAN BOUNDARIES. I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE BIG PIECES THAT WE DON'T HAVE IN THE PLAN THAT ABSOLUTELY NEEDS TO BE THERE BECAUSE OF COURSE MORE AREA IS A LARGER CARBON FOOTPRINT. SO, YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHAT WE NEED TO... IN MOVING AHEAD, WE HAVE TO HAVE THAT PIECE IN THE ENERGY PLAN, THE CLIMATE PLAN, AND I THINK ALSO, AS MARY LOU SAID, THE ISSUES OF, FOR INSTANCE, STORM WATER, HOW WE ACTUALLY... WE NEED TO HAVE FAIR, YOU KNOW, STORMWATER FEES SO THOSE MOST RESPONSIBLE FOR PRODUCING THIS RUNOFF, THEY SHOULD BE PAYING MORE FOR THAT THAN THE RESIDENTS. SO I BELIEVE THERE'S HUGE GAPS IN OUR PLAN SO FAR THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED.

Steve says MAUREEN, I SAW YOU VIGOROUSLY NODDING YOUR HEAD AT THAT. HOW MUCH CONSENSUS DO YOU THINK THERE IS ON HAMILTON COUNCIL RIGHT NOW TO EMBRACE THE APPROACH THAT DAVID MILLER HAS SUGGESTED HERE?

The caption changes to "Maureen Wilson, @ward1wilson."

Maureen says THERE'S A FAMOUS SAYING, RIGHT: EVERYBODY WANTS TO GO TO HEAVEN BUT NOBODY WANTS TO DIE TO GET THERE. AND CLIMATE CHANGE, SERIOUS CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION, MEANS ABSOLUTELY CHANGING THE ORDER IN WHICH WE DO THINGS, AND IT MUST BE REFLECTED IN OUR BUDGET. AND SO TO BEATRICE'S POINT, HAMILTON IS ONE OF THE FEW LARGE MUNICIPALITIES WHO DOES NOT HAVE A SEPARATE FUNDING SYSTEM FOR STORM WATER MANAGEMENT. WE HAVE MANY UNDERGROUND URBAN WATERWAYS THAT ARE COMPROMISED. WE ARE BESIDE COOTS PARADISE, WHICH IS RECOGNIZED INTERNATIONALLY AS A VERY UNIQUE, IN TERMS OF ITS BIODIVERSITY.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says IT'S GORGEOUS. IT'S JUST SPECTACULAR.

Maureen says THERE IS NOTHING LIKE IT. WE ARE PARTNERS WITH RBG.

Steve says ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS.

Maureen says THANK YOU. BUT WE HAVE A NOTION THAT SOME MEMBERS OF COUNCIL WILL REFER TO THE IDEA OF STORM WATER MANAGEMENT FINANCING AS A RAIN TAX, NECESSARILY PROVOCATIVE. BUT IT CAN'T BE PART OF OUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE WHEN WE HAVE LARGE PARKING LOTS IN WHICH THE BUSINESS, THE CORPORATE PLAYER, IS NOT PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE, AND THAT CAN'T BE PART OF THEIR BUSINESS MODEL BECAUSE ULTIMATELY THE COST OF THAT IS BEING BORNE BY RESIDENTS IN HAMILTON AND SOME... BACK TO MY POINT ABOUT EQUITY... WE HAVE SOME PEOPLE WITH THE VERY LEAST WHO ARE PAYING THE MOST IN TERMS OF THEIR PROPERTY TAXES, WHETHER THAT'S IN THEIR RENT OR IN THEIR HOME OWNERSHIP. SO WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO ON THAT FRONT.

Steve says I DID WANT TO CLARIFY THAT RBG WAS ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS AND NOT RUTH BADER GINSBURG WHO HAS BEEN A MORE FAMOUS RBG IN THE NEWS OF LATE.

Maureen says BOTH ARE AWESOME.

Steve says GREEN SPACES ARE LOVELY TO LOOK AT IN CITIES, OBVIOUSLY, BUT THEY HAVE A FUNCTION WELL BEYOND THAT AS WELL. CAN YOU SORT OF FILL IN SOME OF THE BLANKS THERE ON WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE A LOT OF GREEN SPACE IN A CITY AND THE VALUE IT PLAYS?

The caption changes to "Fixing infrastructure."

Mary Lou says SURE, ABSOLUTELY. SO GREEN SPACE, IT HOLDS THE RAINWATER, IT CARRIES IT, IT KEEPS... WHEN IT'S AT THE EDGE OF A CREEK, IT KEEPS THE CREEK STABLE AND DOESN'T POLLUTE THE CREEK WITH RUNOFF INTO IT. THESE ARE AREAS... THEY'RE THE LUNGS OF OUR CITY, REALLY. THEY TAKE POLLUTANTS OUT OF THE AIR, THEY CLEAN THE AIR, THEY ARE PLACES WHERE PEOPLE CAN BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE AND ACCESS NATURE, PARTICULARLY IN PARTS OF THE CITY WHERE THERE'S MORE DENSITY. GETTING INTO THAT GREEN SPACE BECOMES CRITICALLY IMPORTANT NOT JUST FOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY BUT THERE'S A WHOLE BODY OF LITERATURE ABOUT PEOPLE'S MENTAL WELL-BEING. AND WHEN WE GET OUTSIDE THE TRUE URBAN AREAS, THOSE GREEN SPACES ARE THE CONNECTIVITY INTO THE CITY, AND WHAT HAPPENS UPSTREAM IS COMING DOWNSTREAM. SO IF YOU HAVE A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT OUTSIDE OF YOUR URBAN AREA, YOU'RE CONTRIBUTING TO A BETTER URBAN ENVIRONMENT AS WELL. AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, INVESTING IN THOSE AREAS, MAKING SURE AS MUCH OUTSIDE OF THE URBAN AREA AS INSIDE OF THE URBAN AREA THAT THEY ARE HEALTHY, SO THE BANKS ARE SAFE, THE WATER QUALITY IS CLEAN, AND THEY MOVE WATER IN A SAFE, SUSTAINABLE MANNER IS CRITICAL TO A HEALTHY CITY.

Steve says WE HAD A... MY GOODNESS. IT WAS JUST AN EXCELLENT PROGRAM ON LATE LAST NIGHT ON TVO CALLED "THE LIFE-SIZED CITY." AND NORMALLY... THAT'S A MULTI-PART SERIES THAT NORMALLY FOCUSES ON SOME OF THE BIGGEST CITIES IN THE WORLD. AND LAST NIGHT'S SHOW WAS ABOUT HAMILTON. THEY WERE LOOKING AT MID-SIZED CITIES LAST NIGHT AND THEY PUT THE ACCENT ON HAMILTON. LET'S HAVE A CLIP FROM THE SHOW AND COME BACK AND HAVE A CHAT. SHELDON, THE CLIP, IF YOU WOULD, PLEASE.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "The life-sized city."

As two men walk down a sidewalk in Toronto, a map shows the location of King Street.

One man says THIS IS KING STREET. IT'S ABOUT FIVE LANES OF TRAFFIC ALL IN ONE DIRECTION. THIS IS PROBABLY A FOURTH BODY BLOW WE TOOK. I THINK IT WAS 1952. THEY JUST OVERNIGHT CHANGED ALL THE STREETS TO ONE WAY.

The other man says OH, WOW.

The first man says THEY THOUGHT THAT WAS A GREAT WAY TO RENEW A CITY. FACILITATE THE AUTOMOBILE TRAFFIC AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW. SO THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF INITIATIVE AND LOBBYING OVER THE YEARS TO CHANGE MAIN STREET IN HAMILTON BACK TO TWO-WAY. IT WOULD REALLY HELP TO SLOW DOWN TRAFFIC, TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE PEOPLE MIGHT FEEL COMFORTABLE AGAIN.

The clip ends.

Steve says IT WAS ON LAST NIGHT AND IF YOU MISSED IT, IT'S ON AGAIN TOMORROW NIGHT AS WELL. IT'S REALLY MUST-SEE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN HOW CITIES WORK. BUT MY... BOY, OH BOY. I LIVED IN HAMILTON FROM THE BEGINNING OF MY LIFE UNTIL AGE 18 WHEN I MOVED HERE, AND THOSE ONE-WAY STREETS, I MEAN, PEOPLE HAVE BEEN FIGHTING ABOUT THAT FOR... WELL, FOR DECADES. SO LET'S GET INTO SOME CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS. BEATRICE, IN TERMS OF WHAT'S GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THE ONE-WAY STREET ISSUE?

The caption changes to "The life-sized city – Hamilton. Tuesday 9 PM. Also streaming at tvo.org/documentaries."

Beatrice says ABSOLUTELY TWO-WAY MAKES SENSE. THE RESEARCH SHOWS THAT THERE'S MORE VIBRANCY. TRAFFIC IS SLOWED, PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF WALKING WITHOUT FEAR OF, YOU KNOW, THE SPEEDING TRAFFIC. BUSINESSES THRIVE. WE SEE... I THINK IT WAS A DECADE AGO WHERE JANE STREET WAS CONVERTED TO TWO-WAY. YOU CAN JUST SEE THE VIBRANCY THAT'S HAPPENING THERE. I MUST SAY, THOUGH, THERE IS, IN HAMILTON SPECIFICALLY, WE HAVE THE ISSUE OF INDUSTRIAL TRUCKS THAT ARE KIND OF BARRELING THROUGH NEIGHBOURHOODS, AND I THINK THIS IS... RIGHT NOW WE'RE GOING THROUGH A KIND OF REVIEW OF THE TRUCK ROUTE SYSTEM AND, YOU KNOW, YOU'LL FIND THAT IN MANY CASES THIS ADDS TO THE PRESSURE ON THESE STREETS, ON THESE ONE-WAY STREETS AS WELL. IT'S JUST A TERRIBLE WAY TO... THE QUALITY OF LIFE IS VERY MUCH IMPACTED BY THAT KIND OF SITUATION. SO, YOU KNOW, WE'RE PUSHING AS ENVIRONMENT HAMILTON TO REALLY ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY... AND WE'RE HEARING FROM THE COMMUNITY THAT THEY DON'T WANT THIS. THEY DON'T WANT THIS KIND OF... THEY WANT THE SLOWER TRAFFIC THAT A TWO-WAY STREET CAN BRING THAT DOESN'T HAVE AN 18-WHEEL INDUSTRIAL TRUCK BARRELING ALONG IT AND POLLUTING THE AIR. AND TO MARY LOU'S COMMENT ABOUT THE NEED FOR THE GOOD, HEALTHY GREEN SPACES, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT MANY AREAS OF THE CITY THAT HAVE VERY POOR TREE CANOPY COVERAGE AND ALL THIS COMBINED ADDS TO TERRIBLE AIR QUALITY AND WE REALLY NEED TO CHANGE THAT IF WE'RE GOING TO BE ADDRESSING... IF WE'RE TALKING ABOUT CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT HERE.

Steve says OF COURSE, THE ONE GOOD THING ABOUT... WELL, THERE MAY BE MORE THAN ONE GOOD THING. BUT CERTAINLY ONE GOOD THING ABOUT THE ONE-WAY STREETS IS YOU REALLY CAN GET FROM ONE END OF THE CITY TO THE OTHER END OF THE CITY VERY QUICKLY, AND UNLIKE IN TORONTO, ALL THE LIGHTS ARE SYNCHRONIZED. SO ONCE YOU GET GOING, YOU CAN JUST KEEP FLYING. NOW, IT'S GREAT IF YOU'RE IN A CAR. MAYBE, MAUREEN, YOU COULD PICK UP THE STORY HERE. IT'S GREAT IF YOU'RE IN A CAR. BUT IF YOU'RE TRYING TO CREATE A LITTLE STREET LIFE AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY, NOT TOO GOOD FOR THAT, I GUESS, EH?

Maureen says YEAH, I HAVE NOTHING POSITIVE TO SAY ABOUT OUR ONE-WAY STREETS. LET ME JUST PUT THAT OUT THERE. YOU CAN'T HAVE A VIBRANT, FAIR, LIVABLE, SUSTAINABLE CITY WHEN YOU HAVE THE LIKES OF A 403 GOING ON BOTH SIDES RIGHT THROUGH IT. SO IF YOU WANT TO DRIVE THROUGH YOUR CITY EFFICIENTLY, AND THAT'S WHAT IT WAS DESIGNED FOR AND TO GET WORKERS DOWN TO OUR INDUSTRIAL AND MANUFACTURING WATERFRONT, YES, IT IS THE MOST EFFICIENT WAY IN WHICH TO MOVE TRANSPORTATION. BUT IT'S A WAY IN WHICH YOU CAN KILL YOUR CITY. AND IT'S BEEN DISASTROUS.

Steve says IF IT'S SO OBVIOUSLY NOT A GOOD THING, IS THERE AN APPETITE ON CITY COUNCIL TO CHANGE IT?

Maureen says I WOULD SAY FOR SOME, YES. FOR OTHERS, NO. FOR MANY IN THE CITY, THEY LOOK LONGINGLY AT THE ONE-WAY STREETS, AND I THINK PERHAPS THEY EQUATE IT WITH DAYS GONE BY, OF PROSPERITY AND SOUND MIDDLE CLASS, MIDDLE INCOME JOBS. BUT FOR MANY OTHERS, IT'S BEEN BAD FOR BUSINESS, IT'S BAD FOR AIR QUALITY. IT'S JUST... IT'S JUST BAD.

Steve says GET OFF THE FENCE AND TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK. KIDDING, KIDDING, KIDDING. MARY LOU, PICK UP THE STORY HERE, IF YOU WOULD? WE KNOW THAT... WELL, YOU KNOW, HAMILTON HAS HAD AN ON AGAIN/OFF AGAIN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT SYSTEM FOR MANY YEARS NOW. IT LOOKS LIKE AT THE MOMENT IT'S OFF AS OPPOSED TO ON. BUT THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO HAS SAID WE STILL HAVE A BILLION DOLLARS IN OUR BACK POCKET FOR HAMILTON TO DO WHAT IT WANTS ON THE ISSUE OF URBAN TRANSPORTATION. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT SHOULD DO?

The caption changes to "Mary Lou Tanner, @MLTPlanner."

Mary Lou says TRANSIT. TRANSIT, TRANSIT, TRANSIT. OUR TRANSIT SYSTEM WAS DESIGNED FOR THE INDUSTRIAL BAY FRONT WORKFORCE IN THE '50s AND '40S AND '60s, AND IT HASN'T REALLY HAD A REDESIGN SINCE THEN. THE REDESIGN IS COMING. IT'S BEEN STALLED BECAUSE OF COVID, UNDERSTANDABLY. BUT THE REDESIGN IS COMING. AND WE NEED TO IMPLEMENT THAT. I STRONGLY SUPPORT LRT. I BELIEVE IT'S THE RIGHT SOLUTION FOR THE CITY. I BELIEVE IT'S THE RIGHT SOLUTION TO REALLY KICK OFF A NEW WAY OF THINKING ABOUT TRANSIT AND CONNECTIVITY AND GETTING PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR CARS. BUT FUNDAMENTALLY THAT BILLION DOLLARS, WHICH WAS ACTUALLY 3.4 BILLION DOLLARS FROM THE LAST GOVERNMENT, THEY HAD SIGNED OFF ON THAT AMOUNT, THAT NEEDS TO GO INTO TRANSIT. IT SHOULD NOT BE INVESTED IN ROADS IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM IN THIS CITY.

Steve says OKAY. IF IT IS TRANSIT AND IT'S NOT AN LRT, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO HAS SAID, WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS? ARE WE TALKING FLEETS OF ELECTRICAL BUSES? WHAT ARE WE TALKING? YOU TELL ME.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Mary Lou says SO THERE'S A NUMBER OF OPTIONS. BUS RAPID TRANSIT IS ONE WHERE BUSES GET... THEY CAN HAVE THEIR OWN LANE. THEY DON'T NEED TO HAVE THEIR OWN LANE. THEY CAN HAVE TWO JUMP SIGNALS. WHEN THEY'RE AT A LIGHT THEY GO THROUGH AHEAD OF OTHER VEHICLES. IT'S ABOUT INVESTING IN A NEW FLEET. ELECTRIC BUSES ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CONVENTIONAL BUSES. IT MEANS YOU HAVE TO INVEST IN THE WHOLE TRAIN OF... BAD PUN... BUT THE WHOLE TRAIN OF THE TRANSIT SYSTEM, SO BUYING THE BUSES, THE MECHANICS KNOW HOW TO FIX THEM, THE DRIVERS KNOW HOW TO DRIVE ELECTRIC BUSES, AND THAT THE ROUTE REDESIGN IS DONE SO WE'RE MEETING THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE, WHERE THEY LIVE AND WHEREVER THEY NEED TO GET TO. I LIVE IN EAST HAMILTON AND THERE ARE PARTS OF MY COMMUNITY THAT CAN'T GET TO THE CONFEDERATION GO STATION BY TRANSIT. IF YOU GET TO THE CONFEDERATION GO STATION, TO CONNECT, YOU NEED TO TAKE A BUS TO BURLINGTON. IT'S MADNESS. OUR TRANSIT SYSTEM NEEDS A REDESIGN. WE NEED TO INVEST IN THE WHOLE SUITE OF TRANSIT UPGRADES AND IT INCLUDES ELECTRIC BUSES BUT IT ALSO INCLUDES CONNECTIVITY TO GO STATIONS. IT'S A COMPLETE RE-THINK THAT'S NEEDED AND THE INVESTMENT TO SUPPORT IT.

Steve says BEATRICE, LET ME GET YOU TO NUDGE OUR CONVERSATION ALONG TO ANOTHER AREA, AND WE HEAR THIS EXPRESSION ALL THE TIME NOW: THE 15-MINUTE CITY. AND WE KNOW THAT GOVERNMENTS ARE ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO KIND OF WORK AND LIVE IN THEIR OWN NEIGHBOURHOODS, WHERE POSSIBLE. WE'RE GETTING SORT OF A QUICK PRIMER COURSE ON WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE IN A SO-CALLED 15-MINUTE CITY WHERE PEOPLE ARE ENCOURAGED TO CYCLE PLACES, TO BE ABLE TO WALK TO THE THINGS THAT THEY NEED TO WALK TO IN THEIR NEIGHBOURHOODS. JUST PUT A LITTLE MORE FLESH ON THAT BONE. WHY WOULD THE 15-MINUTE CITY BE CRUCIAL TO HAMILTON'S DEVELOPMENT?

The caption changes to "The 15-minute city."

Beatrice says WELL, WE REALLY NEED TO REDUCE URGENTLY OUR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS. IT'S LIKE THIS IS A CLIMATE EMERGENCY. WE HAVE TO REDUCE THE EMISSIONS. THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT WHILE BUILDING UP VIBRANCY AND THE LIVEABILITY AND QUALITY OF LIFE. LOOK AT YOUR STREETS. IF WE'RE MAKING IT MORE ATTRACTIVE FOR PEOPLE, MORE CONVENIENT, MORE HEALTHY, MORE FUN TO BE ABLE TO WALK TO PLACES REALLY CLOSE TO WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO YOUR LOCAL AMENITIES, WHETHER IT'S GROCERIES OR, YOU KNOW, PARKS OR WHEREVER IT IS YOU'RE GOING TO, IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE THAT THESE STRUCTURES, THE INFRASTRUCTURE BE PRIORITIZED. EVEN WITHIN THE CITY, I'M THINKING EVEN OF TRANSIT. EVEN PRE-COVID, 19,000 HOURS OF OUR TRANSIT, HAMILTON STREET RAIL, WERE CUT BEFORE EVEN COVID HAPPENED. SO WE HAVE TO PRIORITIZE THAT KIND OF LIVEABILITY WITHIN THAT 15-MINUTE CONTEXT. YOU'RE LOOKING AT FRANCE AND YOU'RE LOOKING AT ALL THESE CITIES THAT ARE DOING IT, LIKE MILAN, THERE'S SO MANY CITIES, BOGOTA, THEY'RE DOING IT, BECAUSE THEY REALLY UNDERSTAND IT'S ABOUT THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE NEED TO REALLY BRING DOWN THOSE EMISSIONS URGENTLY.

Steve says BUT, BEATRICE, FOLLOW UP WITH THIS: DO YOU THINK HAMILTONIANS WANT THIS?

Beatrice says YES.

Steve says HOW DO YOU KNOW?

Beatrice says BECAUSE I WORK WITH MANY PEOPLE AND A LOT OF THEM, I MUST SAY, A LOT OF THEM ARE PEOPLE COMING TO THE CITY AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE KIND OF REAWAKENING TO THE FACT THAT THERE IS AN URGENCY, THIS MAKES SENSE. OF COURSE, MANY PEOPLE WANT TO DRIVE AND WE'RE NOT SAYING DON'T DRIVE. BUT WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN BE A HEALTHIER PERSON, YOU CAN HAVE A HEALTHIER CITY, YOU CAN HAVE CONNECTIVITY WITH NEIGHBOURS, WITH YOUR OWN COMMUNITY, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE DRIVING TO CERTAIN PLACES THAT ARE LITERALLY MINUTES AWAY WHEN YOU COULD EASILY RIDE A BIKE OR WALK, IF YOU CAN. SO THOSE... I THINK TO SAY AT THIS POINT, DO THEY WANT THAT? I THINK IT'S... YOU HAVE TO CHANGE. THERE'S NO CHOICE, RIGHT? BECAUSE... AND TO MAKE IT ATTRACTIVE IN THAT WAY IS KIND OF OUR WORK, IN A WAY, I THINK. WE HAVE TO CHANGE BECAUSE OTHERWISE WE'RE JUST GOING TO... OUR EMISSIONS ARE JUST GOING TO GO... WE'RE GOING TO LOSE THE CHANCE TO RECOVER, TO MOVE FORWARD, TO HAVE A LIVEABLE FUTURE, REALLY. IT'S THAT URGENT. I KEEP TRYING TO BRING IT BACK TO COVID AND TRYING TO SAY WE ARE AT A POINT WHERE OUR EMISSIONS ARE SO HIGH, IF WE DON'T DO SOMETHING NOW, IT'S GOING TO BE TOO LATE.

Steve says NO, I HEAR YOU. MAYBE, MAUREEN, YOU COULD PICK UP THE STORY HERE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS IN HAMILTON, BUT I CAN CERTAINLY TELL YOU, HERE IN TORONTO IF YOU TAKE A SUBWAY, BOY, OH BOY, I MEAN, THE SUBWAY TRAFFIC IS DOWN AT LEAST 80 percent JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE NERVOUS ABOUT COVID-19. AND THE SUBWAY IS CLEAN AND EVERYBODY'S WEARING MASKS AND YET THERE'S STILL NERVOUSNESS. SO I WONDER WHETHER YOUR PUSH FOR FURTHER EMBRACING OF PUBLIC TRANSIT IS... YOU KNOW, IS THAT A MESSAGE PEOPLE ARE ANXIOUS TO HEAR IN A COVID ERA?

Maureen says WELL, TO YOUR QUESTION OF, DO PEOPLE SUPPORT 15-MINUTE CITIES OR NEIGHBOURHOODS, THEY MAY NOT, BUT IT'S JUST BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T BEEN HAVING THAT SPECIFIC CONVERSATION. SO WHAT I'VE HEARD DURING THIS TIME IS I HAVEN'T HEARD ANYBODY TELL ME THAT THEY MISS THEIR TWO AND A HALF HOUR DRIVE AND THEIR COMMUTE AND MISSING THEIR KIDS' SOCCER GAME, MISSING THE BATH TIME AND THE BEDTIME. I HAVEN'T HEARD ANYBODY TALK ABOUT, WHEN THEY GO ON TOP OF THE ESCARPMENT, THEY CAN ACTUALLY FINALLY SEE ALL THE WAY TO TORONTO BECAUSE THE AIR QUALITY DURING THIS UNUSUAL TIME HAS ACTUALLY IMPROVED. IN THE LAST 6 WEEKS... OR MONTHS, RATHER, I HAVEN'T RECEIVED A SINGLE EMAIL COMPLAINING ABOUT THE STATE OF THE ROADS. I HAVE RECEIVED AN ENORMOUS NUMBER OF EMAILS TALKING ABOUT GREEN SPACE, AND HOW COME, COUNCILLOR WILSON, I HAVE TO GO OUT ONTO THE ROADWAY WHEN I'M ON THE SIDEWALK? COVID SEEMS DRACONIAN IN TERMS OF ITS IMPACT ON PUBLIC SPACE BECAUSE WE HAVE INTENTIONALLY GIVEN UP PUBLIC SPACE OVER THE LAST NUMBER OF DECADES AND WE'VE PRIMARILY GIVEN UP THOSE SLICES OF SPACES TO THE CAR. IF YOU LOOK DOWN AT A SIDEWALK, YOU CAN SEE EXACTLY WHERE IT STARTS TO GET A LITTLE NARROWER BECAUSE WE DECIDED TO PUT IN A TURN LANE. SO THAT 5-SECOND WAIT FOR THAT CAR, YOU'VE NOW PRIORITIZED THE CAR OVER THE SAFETY AND THE WELL-BEING AND THE ABILITY OF PEOPLE TO GET AROUND DIFFERENTLY. SO TO YOUR POINT, DO PEOPLE SUPPORT IT? THEY MAY NOT. BUT IF YOU SIT AROUND AND TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT, DESPITE HOW MISERABLE AND TERRIBLE IT'S BEEN DURING THIS TIME, IT HAS CAUSED PEOPLE TO PAUSE AND SAY, WHERE AM I VULNERABLE BUT ALSO WHAT LESSONS HAVE I LEARNED? AND THAT'S WHERE A CONVERSATION ABOUT VALUES AND EXPERIENCES COME IN. AND I THINK THAT THAT'S HOW YOU BUILD A COALITION OF THE WILLING IN TERMS OF HOW WE PLAN OUR CITIES AND WHERE WE INVEST.

Steve says WELL, LET ME PICK UP ON THAT... SURE. LET ME PICK UP ON THAT ISSUE OF LESSONS LEARNED. MARY LOU, LET ME GO TO YOU ON THIS. CITIES HAVE BEEN DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY SINCE COVID-19 BEGAN. THEY STARTED DOING THEM BECAUSE OF COVID-19, AND I'M TALKING NOW ABOUT AN APPROACH TO HOUSING THE HOMELESS OR THE CREATION OF MORE BIKE LANES OR ENSURING THAT THERE'S MORE WALKING SPACE IN THE CITIES, YOU KNOW, EXTENDING RESTAURANTS OUT ONTO SIDEWALKS AND THAT KIND OF THING TO MAKE PLACES MORE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE FRIENDLY. THAT WAS ALL DONE BECAUSE OF COVID. HOW MUCH OF THAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO CONTINUE ONCE WE GET A VACCINE, ONCE WE GET A BETTER HANDLE ON COVID, ET CETERA?

Mary Lou says CERTAINLY I THINK THE RESTAURANTS ARE GOING TO CONTINUE. WE'VE SEEN THAT THAT IS A LIFELINE AND SO IMPORTANT TO THEIR FUTURE. I THINK PEOPLE ARE NOW SEEING DIFFERENT OPPORTUNITIES AND DIFFERENT CHOICES THAT THEY CAN MAKE AND DIFFERENT ISSUES IN THEIR PARTICULAR NEIGHBORHOOD AND DEMANDING THAT THE STATUS QUO NOT CONTINUE. I CAN TELL YOU, WHERE I LIVE, WE HAVE A GREAT WALKABLE NEIGHBORHOOD. WE HAVE TRANSIT. IT IS A 15-MINUTE NEIGHBORHOOD. WE CAN WALK TO THE STORE. AND PEOPLE CONTINUALLY ARE VERY THANKFUL FOR THAT. AND NOW WANTING TO SEE BETTER CYCLING, BETTER TRANSIT, USING THE TRANSIT. BUT ALSO ONE OF THE LESSONS OF THIS PANDEMIC IS HOMELESSNESS. AND IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD, WHICH IS A '50s SUBURB, WE HAVE SEEN PEOPLE LIVING IN THEIR CARS, WE HAVE SEEN PEOPLE CAMPING UNDERNEATH BRIDGES, WE HAVE SEEN PEOPLE CAMPING ON THE ESCARPMENT, AND I HAVE SEEN A HUMANITY AND KINDNESS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD AND MY NEIGHBOURS IN SUPPORTING THOSE INDIVIDUALS AND JUST NOT REPORTING THEM TO THE CITY SO THEY DON'T GET CLEARED OUT BUT SAYING WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP AND SUPPORT YOU? THERE IS AN EMPATHY FOR OURSELVES AND FOR OUR NEIGHBOURS THAT I AM SEEING THAT I HAVEN'T SEEN IN THE CITY IN THE PAST, AND I THINK THAT IF THERE IS A SHINING LIGHT OF GRACE COMING OUT OF COVID, IT IS THAT, THAT WE ARE SEEING THAT WE REALLY ARE EACH OTHER'S KEEPERS IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOODS AND WE HAVE TO ADVOCATE FOR THE THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO MAKE ALL OUR QUALITY OF LIFE SAFER, HEALTHIER, AND BETTER.

Steve says BEATRICE, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING ON THE EMPATHY SCALE?

Beatrice says DEFINITELY THERE ARE A LOT OF... I MEAN, THERE'S AN EXPLOSION, ALONGSIDE OF THE COVID CRISIS, WE'RE ALSO SEEING THE BLACK LIVES MATTER CRISIS, THE ANTI-BLACK RACISM THAT HAS BEEN EXPOSED. SO I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF... I'M HOPEFUL BECAUSE I THINK PEOPLE ARE MAKING THE LINKS BETWEEN THE THREE CRISES AND REALLY SEEING THAT WE CAN'T... WE HAVE TO HAVE WHAT THEY'RE CALLING THE JUST RECOVERY. SO THE EQUITABLE LENS FOR EVERYTHING AS WE MOVE FORWARD. SO I FEEL THAT, YES, I FEEL THAT THERE IS SOME HOPE IN THAT SENSE THAT THIS COVID MOMENT HAS DEFINITELY CREATED AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO SEE PEOPLE AS, YOU KNOW... ANOTHER THING I WANT TO SAY IS ESSENTIAL WORKERS, FOR INSTANCE. WE'VE LOOKED AT... WHO ARE THE ESSENTIAL WORKERS IN OUR COMMUNITY? THEY ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE MAKING SURE THAT WE HAVE THE FOOD IN STORES, THAT ARE BAGGING OUR GROCERIES, THAT ARE CLEANING THE HOSPITALS, AS WELL AS HELPING PATIENTS. SO I THINK THERE IS AN UNDERSTANDING, A BROADENING APPRECIATION FOR PEOPLE, BUT IT NEEDS TO ACTUALLY NOW BE... WE NEED TO ELEVATE AND UPLIFT PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY DOING THESE JOBS. THE [indiscernible] CASHIERS AND THAT, HAD THE TWO-HOUR INCREASE... 2 INCREASE, AND NOW THAT'S BEEN TAKEN AWAY AND NOW WE'RE LOOKING AT HUGE CORPORATIONS THAT ARE MAKING MASSIVE PROFITS AT THE SAME TIME. SO THAT IS AN ISSUE THAT... I KNOW IT'S NOT ONLY HAMILTON-SPECIFIC, BUT IT'S SOMETHING THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE KIND OF PUSHING BACK AGAINST AND SAYING, THIS IS JUST NOT RIGHT.

Steve says MAUREEN, WE HAVE 30 SECONDS LEFT HERE. LET ME GIVE IT TO YOU AND GET YOUR TAKE ON HOW HAMILTON IS DOING ON THE EMPATHY SCALE RIGHT NOW.

Maureen says WELL, OUR PRODUCT WAS STEEL, BUT OUR STRENGTH HAS ALWAYS BEEN PEOPLE.

Steve says THAT WAS DOFASCO'S EXPRESSION.

Maureen says YUP. AND I THINK THAT CAME THROUGH IN YOUR DOCUMENTARY OF THE LIFE OF A MID-SIZED CITY IN THAT IT'S BIG ENOUGH TO DO MANY THINGS BUT SMALL ENOUGH TO KNOW WHO TO CALL TO GET THEM DONE. AND SO COVID HAS... THIS IS AN OVERSTATEMENT... IT HAS REVEALED MANY THINGS THAT WE ALREADY KNEW EXISTED AND IT HAS CAUSED MANY OF OUR NEIGHBOURS TO ROLL UP THEIR SLEEVES AND BECOME PART OF THE SOLUTION. BUT GOVERNMENTS CERTAINLY, AND AS BEATRICE SAID, PRIVATE BUSINESS... BUSINESS MUST FOLLOW. AND IF IT MEANS WE HAVE TO SPEAK TO PEOPLE'S SELF-INTERESTS TO DO THAT, THEN THERE'S NO SHAME IN THAT. BUT WHAT WE HAVE FOUND IS THAT, WHILE WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, COVID HAS AFFECTED US DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE OF THE GROSS INEQUALITIES THAT EXIST AROUND THE WORLD, INCLUDING IN HAMILTON.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Steve says I WANT TO THANK ALL THREE OF YOU FOR COMING ONTO TVO TONIGHT AND SHINING SOME LIGHT ON THIS ISSUE. CITY COUNCILLOR MAUREEN WILSON, BEATRICE EKOKO PROJECT MANAGER FOR ENVIRONMENT CANADA, MARY LOU TANNER WITH THE PLANNING GROUP. I'M HAPPY TO REMIND EVERYBODY AS WELL, TOMORROW NIGHT, 9 P.M. ON TVO, IF YOU MISSED THE LIFE-SIZED CITY EDITION ON HAMILTON LAST NIGHT, IT'S PLAYING TOMORROW NIGHT, TUESDAY NIGHT AT 9 P.M. HOPE EVERYBODY HAS A CHANCE TO TAKE THAT IN. THANKS SO MUCH, EVERYBODY.

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