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Hamilton councillors to get $2M each for road, sidewalk improvements

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Hamilton councillors to get $2M each for road, sidewalk improvements

All 15 of Hamilton’s wards will be getting $2 million worth in infrastructure upgrades in the coming months after councillors voted to divvy up $30 million in federal gas tax funds.

At Monday’s (July 5) General Issues Committee (GIC) meeting, Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins introduced a motion that would see money earmarked for Hamilton via the Federal Gas Tax Fund, equally dispersed among the city’s wards for road, sidewalk, bridge and other transportation infrastructure upgrades.

“The City of Hamilton expects to receive $32.7 million in one-time funding under Bill C-25 in 2021,” the motion said.

“Federal Gas Tax Funds must be spent within five years.”

The motion puts the current cost of maintaining Hamilton’s road infrastructure at $6 billion and notes that a ‘funding gap’ prevents them from being properly maintained. It goes on to say that the un-budgeted cash infusion could help partially close that gap.

The motion called for “the funds be allocated equally amongst 15 wards ($2m per ward),” and urged “staff report back with a procurement process that expedites the use of the funds to limit exposure to rising (inflationary) prices.”

During Monday’s meeting, most councillors on the committee, including Hamilton’s mayor, Fred Eisenberger, were pleased with the motion and its intent.

Ward 1 councillor, Maureen Wilson, was less enthusiastic, urging councillors to consider including the funds in the next budgeting process and running them through an asset management lens.

“We’re a single city,” she said. “We need to look into the best return on our dollar.”

Wilson also noted that the timing of the motion, which would put the $2 million into ward discretionary funds during an election year, was conspicuous.

“I do not know if I should laugh or cry looking at this motion,” Wilson said. “It is not responsible.”

When it came to a vote, 12 councillors and the mayor voted in favour of the motion and Wilson and Ward 8 councillor John-Paul Danko were opposed.

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