Waterdown to candidates: Where is our bypass?
Waterdown's population has grown by about 3,000 people since 2001
It had all the usual issues seen at a municipal election debate, such as jobs, roads and property taxes.
But taxpayers at a Ward 15 all-candidates debate on Thursday had another question for their two council hopefuls — where is the bypass?
Development in Waterdown has exploded in the last 10 years, and the village’s population has grown by about 3,000 people since 2001. That’s brought traffic snarls and long lines of vehicles in the Flamborough village.
The $45-million east-west corridor will run along Waterdown’s north end and alleviate some of the congestion. But the project, which dates back about 30 years, only got the final nod from the province in fall 2013.
Partridge listed the bypass as one of her council achievements on Thursday. A questioner asked if she and challenger Neil Bos would try to halt development until the bypass is built.
Partridge, who’s running for a second term, said that’s not possible. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruled in 2005 that the city couldn’t slow development while waiting for the bypass.
“That was a ruling by the province and there’s nothing we can do about it as a city,” she said. “It’s completely out of our hands.”
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Bos, a former Flamborough Township councillor, said he’d encourage council to freeze development until “we remove the crisis we have here.”
“With regards to the building and the bypass, it’s up to the citizens to decide if they want to freeze development in this area until we resolve some of the traffic and other issues in the area,” he said.
Partridge countered that it’s not possible.
“Maybe you didn’t hear me,” she said.
“The OMB has ruled against any of that happening. It’s completely out of our hands, and you cannot challenge an OMB ruling that was made back in 2005.”
Main streets are 'jammed right up'
Traffic is an ever-present source of tension for Waterdown, said Jason Small, president of the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce, which organized the event.
“We’re expecting 17,000 new residents in Waterdown in the next five years. With that comes a number of new vehicles,” he said.
“The main arteries of Highway 5 and Parkside are just jammed right up now.”
Thursday’s debate, attended by about 250 people, also included Ward 14 candidates Steven Knowles, incumbent Robert Pasuta and Scott Stewart.
Knowles, a farmer and food distributor, told the crowd he wants to see a proper system that tracks councillors’ decisions to increase accountability.
'Citizens are tired of gridlock'
Stewart has spent 30 years in business, including director positions at a number of banks. He said he’d post his office budget online and summaries of council’s main decisions in plain language.
Pasuta, a farmer, has served two terms on council. He cites his achievements as building relationships with other councillors and teaching them the “rural way of doing things,” and pushing for a rural planner at city hall.
Partridge cited her achievements as moving the bypass ahead, encouraging city council to remove parking metres from Waterdown, and helping to save Millgrove school.
Bos, who owns Village Fish and Chips in Waterdown, pledged to alleviate traffic and development issues.
“What council has done to this area in the last four years is a disgrace,” he said. “Citizens are tired of the gridlock and they want answers.”
Mayoral hopefuls debated
Mayoral candidates Brad Clark, Fred Eisenberger and Brian McHattie debated for about an hour, fielding questions about transit, taxes and jobs.
The chamber gave the other nine mayoral candidates two minutes each to present their platforms. Michael Baldasaro, Ejaz Butt and Michael Pattison attended and gave presentations.
Trustee candidates for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board also introduced themselves for two minutes.
Bob Maton, Greg Van Geffen and Christopher Yendt are running for Ward 13 and 14, which includes Dundas and west Flamborough.
Penny Deathe and Nick Lauwers are running for Ward 15, which is east Flamborough.