Hamilton mayoral candidate Keanin Loomis 'guarantees' to fix city's worst roads - Fix Bdsthanhhoavn

Hamilton mayoral candidate Keanin Loomis ‘guarantees’ to fix city’s worst roads

Hamilton mayoral candidate Keanin Loomis points to a problematic section of Barton Street in Hamilton that was recently flagged by CAA as Ontario's worst road.Hamilton mayoral candidate Keanin Loomis points to a problematic section of Barton Street in Hamilton that was recently flagged by CAA as Ontario's worst road.

If there is one constant complaint Hamilton residents have made to city hall over the years, it’s the municipality’s crumbling roads.

So it’s not a surprise that all of the major mayoral candidates are riding on the message to fix the city’s roadways.

“You need someone at city hall who will champion fixing the roads,” said Keanin Loomis in an interview. “I will be that champion.”

Former Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina said it’s time for action rather than debating the issue.

“What’s missing is not another study, but a plan to start catching up,” said Bratina, who will be hosting a fundraising event Aug. 18 where he will discuss the “critical issues” confronting the city.

“This is a clear example of why we need a mayor with real experience to fix the damn roads,” he said.

Andrea Horwath, the former Ontario NDP leader, said the city continues to face an “infrastructure” deficit that “desperately is in need of attention and thoughtful investment.”

Horwath said it is “so important” to address the infrastructure problem, but in a cost-saving way.

“I’m committed to finding solutions without placing the burden on municipal taxpayers to do it,” she said.

Hamilton council in 2021 approved spending $114 million to repair the city’s deteriorating roads, bridges and sidewalks.

But in 2022, the spending dropped to $87.9 million.

It’s indicative, said Loomis, the former president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, of a city unwilling to spend the necessary money to fix the 6,491-lane kilometres of the city’s roads.

Hamilton’s auditor, Charles Brown, released an audit on the city’s roads in 2021 and found the city was too focused on resurfacing and reconstruction and failed to adopt proactive preservation of its roads. Over the last five years, the city has spent, on average, about $42 million on repairing its streets, and estimates are over the next four years, the spending will drop to the $37 million range annually.

Yet the city’s road infrastructure backlog is about $1.65 billion, with an annual deficit of $72 million.

“The money is there. We are just not spending the money wisely,” said Loomis. “This isn’t about spending more money or debating between (light rail transit) and roads. It’s about underinvestment.”

Loomis, who held a news conference Aug. 4 on Barton Street, said it’s inefficient to rely on councillors to use their area-rating reserve funds to fix roads and sidewalks in their wards. Councillors in 2021 each received $2 million from the Federal Gas Tax Fund, which they then used for various road and sidewalk projects.

“That is a very piecemeal approach,” said Loomis. “City councillors should not have to dip into their area rating fund for roads and sidewalks.”

He “guarantees” as mayor that within four years he will fix Barton Street, which in 2022 was named by CAA as Ontario’s worst road.

“This is something that should be addressed right now,” he said.

And while Barton Street grabbed most the headlines as representative as how bad the city’s roads are, Loomis said there is a road or street in every ward of the city in the same condition as Barton Street — for example Rolston Street in Ward 8.

Not only will he fix the city’s roads, but he will make sure contractors actually complete the work and staff will report to council on the results. And he will insist the city follow the 25 recommendations the city auditor made, which, he said, is “only sitting on the shelf.”

While Loomis insisted he is not proposing to raise taxes or spend more, he said the problem is much bigger than Hamilton can handle and will need help from both the federal and provincial governments.

“I want to make sure we are getting value for the taxpayer,” he said.



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