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Mayor Bob Bratina on Twitter 1:21

Parking in downtown Hamilton is so cheap that it’s embarrassing, says the city’s mayor.

In his annual state-of-the-city address, Mayor Bob Bratina said he’d like to see parking rates increased. He’d also like to see a parking garage.

Bratina has argued to local BIAs that “I’m embarrassed that we have 50 cent-an-hour parking metres,” he said. “That’s like Tillsonburg.

“The cars that are parked there are nice, modern cars that are full of gas,” he said. “If you can’t afford a buck or two for parking then why are you driving your car?”

State of the City address

Attending the event were, from left, former senator David Braley, Bratina chief of staff Peggy Chapman, city manager Chris Murray and MPP Ted McMeekin. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Bratina made the comments during a question and answer session during his state-of-the-city address on the 21st floor of the Stelco Tower. The city is “way below where we should be” when it comes to parking rates, he said.

Parking is not evil, the mayor said, and Hamilton doesn’t have enough of it.

“The way you handle parking in an urban setting is you build parking structures,” he said. “That’s what we need to do.”

Other topics mentioned by the mayor:

‘Tweets and negativity’

Hamiltonians need to be more optimistic, Bratina said. “The biggest problem is tweets and negativity.” Afterward, he elaborated:

“Social media tends to be a darker place than face to face for sure. But you know, everyone expects that. It’s like comments. I’m sure if you analyze it, there’d be far more negative than positive tweets. That’s too bad but that’s the way it is.”

Hamilton’s amalgamation hasn’t paid off

The city needs to find a new way to deal with upper levels of government. Right now, there’s a “top-down approach” that doesn’t work for municipalities, he said.

“The biggest imposition of a top-down or you might say cookie-cutter solution to municipal governance problems in recent memory was the amalgamations of 2001 created by the provincial government of the day. It is very reasonable and perhaps critical to ask the question more than a decade later so — how has it worked?”

Build transit riders first, then tackle LRT

Hamilton has to build up its transit ridership before it invests heavily in transit infrastructure such as light rail transit, the mayor said.

The first iteration of Metrolinx’s Big Move transit plan “gave a sense” that the province would fund the $1 billion required for the plan, which includes LRT. Now it’s obvious that about $300 million will have to come from the city.

“We’re going to build and enhance our ridership on HSR to point where we can support other modalities,” he said.

Hamilton needs to protect its good credit rating

The city has an AA stable bond rating from credit agencies. But the city may have to take on more debt for future projects, such as building infrastructure to service the Aerotropolis lands around the airport or development at Piers 7 and 8.

Bratina doesn’t want that.

“We have to be careful about a build it and they will come approach to infrastructure because it can be costly,” he said.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce hosted the event on the 21st floor of the Stelco Tower. About 300 people attended.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) sponsored the event. An OLG representative sat at the head table with a mayor, and the corporation also had a table near the front. It also gave out a door prize.