To get good insightful answers, how the question is framed matters. I missed an opportunity on Thursday
The meeting will start on a lighter note with a ceremonial cheque presentation from the Rotary Club of Ancaster’s Walkathon in support of World Water Day
Ryan Huizinga a resident of Lynden is requesting the installation of an all-way stop at Powerline Rd and Lynden Rd. Mr. Huizinga states the intersection has power visibility, he is not able to safely drive across the intersection due to the combination of power sightlines and speeding vehicles.
Alan Hansell is speaking to Public Works “to introduce the committee to the past work and future plans of the Stewarts of Cootes Watershed in improving the health and bio-diversity of the Cootes watershed but specifically in our work to clear the watershed of litter and debris.”
Updates to the Intersection Control List to add and change stop signs at 15 different intersections across the City. (Note: The City’s multi-thousand dollar agenda website does not make it possible to link to source documents.)
Staff are recommending a new Hamilton Water Sub-Committee to oversee the large and complex projects about to be launched at Hamilton’s water treatment plant in the coming years. Staff believe the number of reports require a sub-committee to ensure the main Public Works Committee is not caught up with lengthy presentations and debate.
A big item on today’s agenda is the presentation of emergency detour routes (EDR) for closures of the 403. During the past year, there have been 51 closures of the 403, with an average length of 4.78 hours for each closure, including 7 times in which both directions were closed.Closures result in extreme gridlock on Hamilton streets, especially when the closure is on the 403 mountain access as thousands of cars pour onto City streets seeking alternative routes to travel past the escarpment.
The City met with provincial Ministry of Transportation to create two 403 EDR routes. One route is using the Linc-RHVP-QEW, and the other is Highway 52 – Highway 5 – Highway 6.
The routes will be signed, and the City is asking MTO to install electronic information signs to assist with directing traffic to the EDRs. City staff note the EDRs will become congested and cause backups on local routes along the EDR routes.
The EDRs will be implemented by May 2015.
Public Works Asset Management Plan
To access provincial infrastructure funding the City is now required to have an Asset Management Plan, the first one is being presented to the Public Works Committee and it gives a “high-level assessment” of the state of the City’s water, wastewater, stormwater, road, and bridge assets.
The forecast is not good with stormwater system, roads, and bridges conditions worsening. Hamilton’s stormwater system is rated “D”, Roads and Bridges “C-” with both having a downward condition trend.
The status of our Water and Wastewater infrastructure is slightly better and holding steady with Water rating a “B-” and Wastewater a “C”.
The age of Hamilton’s infrastructure poses challenges, 7% of our water pipes (by length) are older than 100 years old, some of our roads are rapidly deteriorating having past their useful lifespan, and while our bridges are currently not in critical shape, there is concern about how many of them are about to age past they ideal lifespan.
New Sewer Use By-law
In September, staff presented a new Sewer Use Bylaw and began a public consultation process for the by-law that primarily affects businesses such as restaurants (with grease byproducts), those with chemicals and oils, and dentists.
The bylaw was tweaked as a result of the consultation. Fees proposed are about average for Ontario municipalities, and the by-law is not receiving major opposition.
The City did a good job of public consultation on this file, hand delivering over 1700 formal invitations to the public meetings to impacted businesses and ensure emails were set to stakeholder groups such as Green Venture, Environment Hamilton, the Canadian Restaurant and FoodServices Association, among others.
The new bylaw will – if approved by Council – take effect on May 1st.
Mobile Urban ParksA concept that is working in City’s across North America as part of the new urbanism wave is now being considered in Hamilton.
Mobile Urban Parks are mobile greener and seating using old dumpers or shipping containers that offer a green refuge for the public on otherwise greenscape-barren streets. They are proving very popular for urban shopping districts and the Ottawa Street BIA wants to pilot their use this summer.
In September, Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla moved a motion to study the feasibility of these mobile parks.
Staff are suggesting Council allow for mobile parks, but only at the request of BIAs (and not neighbourhood associations or other groups such as Open Streets) and that funding come from a as of yet unidentified source but not the City’s Open Space Development Capital Program or the City’s contribution to BIA budgets.
Staff note that mobile urban parks are not a solution to parkland deficiency issues (Ward 3’s deficiency is also on this meeting’s agenda) and should not be placed on vacant lots.
LED Street Lighting
The City’s street lighting electricity bill is climbing more rapidly than an Olympian seeking a medal. The total cost of operating Hamilton’s street lights has nearly doubled in the past five years from $3.5-million in 2008 to $6.1-million in 2013. Hydro One is looking to increase their fees another 24%.
City staff are looking to contain costs by installing more LED lights – decreasing electricity use – and by challenging Hydro’s sought increase by spending $40,000 to intervene at the Ontario Energy Board.
Rural Hamilton Offical Plan Hydrogeological Studies
A hefty report of over 50 pages outlines the City’s requirements for rural developments to ensure the long-term security and viability of groundwater. The short of the guidelines is that any development or expansion in the City’s non-municipal water service areas will require a professional hydrogeological study.
City staff are consolidating former Regional Municipality and City of Hamilton policies for publications boxes – the common newspaper box.
Staff are recommending that all boxes be licensed, and are looking to set a user fee of $45 in the first year, and $30 per year for renewals. The current fee is $19 per year.
Staff estimate there are 530 boxes across the City. Some of which are problems due to a lack of upkeep allowing them to become covered with graffiti that sparks complaints to the City.
Three motions on the agenda today.
Councillor Tom Jackson wants to spend $2.5-million of his area rating to rehabilitate roads in the Berrisfield Neighbourhood which is the are bound by Ottawa/Gage and Mohawk/Linc.
Councillor Bob Morrow is moving a motion – not distributed – regarding Park Land Deficits in Ward 3.
Councillor Terry Whitehead is moving a motion related to the Public Works Yard Review that Council rejected in the fall. Whitehead stated at the time he would look at using his area rating funds to pay for the study of if there will be cost-savings from consolidating some Public Works operations and decreasing the number of Public Works yards across the City.