People of Dundas to candidates: 'We're different, keep it that way'
Candidates compete for votes in Ward 13
Arms were crossed. People shouted out to others who didn’t turn off their cell phones. The tension in the room at Monday’s all candidates event for Ward 13 was palpable from a single unasked question:
Which one of you is going to look out for my town?
In post-amalgamation Dundas, candidates say, the former stand-alone town is looking for a councillor who understands the need to look out for the unique ward at Hamilton city hall.
In a town where amalgamation wounds still sting, Dundas’s next councillor is in a unique position, said Arlene VanderBeek, one of nine candidates vying for to fill the spot vacated by Russ Powers, a long-time councillor who’s retiring.
“People have stayed here because of the essence of Dundas, the small-town community in spite of the fact that we are part of a larger city,” said VanderBeek, a former town councillor. “But we don’t want to lose the reason why people stay (in Dundas), and the reason why people come. We’re very defensive about that, and it’s very important to us.”
Dundas is so conscious of itself as a separate town, and there’s such a strong ‘Dundas forever’ notion here.- Toby Yull
“Dundas is so conscious of itself as a separate town, and there’s such a strong ‘Dundas forever’ notion here,” said Toby Yull, another candidate. “People feel amalgamation is never going to be over, even though it’s now 2014.”
Seven candidates attended Monday’s meeting at the Dundas Town Hall. After the event, each of them described the same dynamic — a town conscious of its uniqueness, and that wants to keep it in a post-amalgamation world.
Candidate Marc Risdale said Dundas’s amalgamation wounds will rear their head again when the city embarks on a ward boundary review this term.
“I’m surprised it didn’t come up more tonight,” he said. “I think it didn’t mainly because people don’t realize there will be a ward boundary review.”
Dundas’s uniqueness takes on added importance when it only has one councillor representing it, said Danya Scime.
“If you look at the core, it literally has six councillors with it that all have pretty much the same issues going on, whereas Dundas’s issues are separate from the core issues.”
I actually think that representing Dundas is probably one of the easier wards.- Rick Court
When asked at the door what he’ll do for Dundas, candidate Rick Court said, “I say I’m not going to screw it up.
“Dundas is in pretty good shape. We have some issues here and there, but we’re not talking about major things that need to be fixed.
“The bigger problems are in other wards. I actually think that representing Dundas is probably one of the easier wards.”
Pamela Mitchell agreed that Dundas is unique, and “if I’m elected, I want to keep Dundas beautiful.”
From banking executives and social assistance recipients
A diverse range of candidates are running for the Oct. 27 municipal election.
Mark Coull is a recently retired high school teacher.
Court has a banking background, and has held senior positions at numerous private firms. He’s also the former dean of business and international education at Mohawk College, and former chair of the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Mitchell is an ODSP recipient who has volunteered with numerous social service agencies, including Dundas Community Services.
Kevin Norton is a recent Wilfrid Laurier University graduate and educational assistant at the Lee Academy in Flamborough.
Risdale is an engineer and cycling advocate who is vice-president of the Hamilton Cycling Club.
Scime operates Mizener’s Antiques and Flea Market Ltd. She’s had numerous education-related volunteer positions and once headed the Brain Tumour Foundation after her husband died of one when she was 30.
VanderBeek is a business owner and prolific community volunteer who chairs the Dundas division of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the same organization that hosted Monday’s event.
Yull is an interior designer with many years experience as an independent business owner. She has written extensively on design, urban and neighbourhood issues and was a member of Hamilton Engagement Committee.
Their positions on LRT
Here’s how the candidates said on Monday that they feel about LRT:
Court: He is not in favour of LRT. “If we spend a billion dollars building LRT from McMaster to Eastgate, there’ll be no money left for transit improvements anywhere else.”
Mitchell: Against. “It’s like a big subway going down the road. It’s environmentally disastrous.”
Norton: For. LRT will take pressure off the buses downtown, freeing them up to go to other areas, such as Dundas. Then the town can “actually get what we pay for in property taxes.”
Risdale: For. “I want to see our property taxes go down,” and LRT will increase property values in downtown Hamilton.
Scime: Pro BRT, and Dundas should run buses around town to get people to McMaster University, where the BRT line will start.
VanderBeek: “LRT itself is not a priority. What’s important is a transit system that works for us and that we can afford.”
Yull: Says it’s not important right now. “It’s years away. I don’t see it in the next five minutes, tied to this election.” If LRT does exist, she wants it to stretch into Dundas.