Hamilton·Hamilton Votes

7 highlights from our interview with mayoral candidate Fred Eisenberger

Mayoral candidate and incumbent mayor Fred Eisenberger took questions from CBC's Samantha Craggs and from readers during a live interview Wednesday.

CBC Hamilton hosted a live Q&A session Wednesday with incumbent mayoral candidate Fred Eisenberger.

With the election less than a week away, the interview was a chance to challenge a leading candidate on his platform, from the $1-billion LRT project to affordable housing.

In addition to taking questions from CBC reporter Samantha Craggs, we used questions sent in by readers through Twitter and Facebook.

The CBC has also invited Vito Sgro and two other candidates to participate in interviews.

Here are seven highlights from the Eisenberger interview:

1. He says it's not "Fred's train"

Sgro refers to LRT as "Fred's train," but Eisenberger says the project belongs to all of council, not just him. Councillors voted numerous times over the years to ask the province to build the LRT system. When he became mayor in 2014, he headed to Queen's Park and asked for the $1 billion investment. 

"I was able to achieve 100 per cent funding so you're welcome, Hamilton," he said. "A billion dollars is coming our way in terms of transit funding."

The Ford government has said Hamilton can have $1 billion for transit and/or infrastructure.

"I am very dubious the City of Hamilton is going to get a billion dollars to do with what it wants," he said. "If that were the case, then I'm pretty sure there are some 400 other municipalities in the province of Ontario that will have their hand out pretty quickly."

"You need approvals for any projects that you do, so essentially, if you stop the LRT process, you'll be starting all over again."

2. He thinks the campaign should be about more than LRT

Eisenberger said several times he wants to talk about jobs, poverty reduction and housing. There is "a broad spectrum of issues, not just one," he said. "(Sgro) has really focused on that one issue."

He also mentioned the waterfront, cultural investments and safe streets.

3. He's campaigning on his record

Throughout the interview, Eisenberger focused on Hamilton's recent prosperity, and efforts over the last term to reduce poverty and increase affordable housing. That includes $50 million toward affordable housing, paid for by delaying Future Fund repayments and dividends from merging Horizon Utilities to create Alectra. As for whether his campaign is low key, "I don't think so," he said.

4. But says he has the future in mind

Eisenberger said he was focusing on "city building" efforts and had his eye in building a city for the future.

 "This is an election that really talks about going forward," he said. "A vision for the city that really speaks to a positive, city-building project that can provide us a return on investment, and continue to provide a dynamic and interesting and fruitful and well-functioning city, for the future, for the next generation. I want to continue to go forward. I don't want to go backwards I don't want to unwind all the good work that's we've done."

5. He wants to look at online voting again

Eisenberger ran in 2014 on introducing online voting to increase voter turnout. A staff report showed the city doesn't have secure enough technology for that. Eisenberger says he'll bring it back. He also pledged to look at ranked balloting.

6. He promises to do more to create more affordable housing

Eisenberger pledged to use tools such as density bonusing and inclusionary zoning to encourage developers to create more affordable units. He also pointed to the city's new rules that encourage laneway housing. 

7. He predicts Hamilton will have a film studio soon

City economic development officials have said several companies are looking at building film studios in Hamilton. That includes in the Barton/Tiffany area, where the city will do public consultation to lay the groundwork for a studio.

Eisenberger said companies are looking at other areas too. A film studio, he said, is "just around the corner."

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