Politics

Gypsy Moths and Area Rating

By Adrian Duyzer
Published March 20, 2008

Hamilton is facing an intense gypsy moth infestation this year. It's especially threatening because many trees are weakened from previous summertime droughts and may not survive a full-on onslaught from the invasive species.

Hamilton has a plan to kill them by spraying a biological pesticide in parts of Dundas, Ancaster and West Hamilton.

However, the plan does not cover rural areas because of the cost, and that has angered many rural residents, who argue that "We want to be treated the same."

As Binbrook resident Joe Starr put it in a letter to the Spec, "The rural residents of Glanbrook pay their taxes to the City of Hamilton. [...] We are now residents of Hamilton. Give us what we are entitled to."

I agree with the rural residents who want equal treatment. I think that all of Hamilton's citizens should equally share the burden, and enjoy the benefit, of Hamilton's services and institutions.

That's why we at Raise the Hammer argue that the practice of area rating should end, especially for key services such as transit.

For years, Hamilton residents have borne the brunt of taxation for transit, recreation, and fire services.

In 2007, for example, Flamborough paid nothing towards Hamilton's transit system, with the bulk of the cost borne by lower city residents, many of whom can least afford it. (At the same time, the former township keeps the tax assessments from Flamborough Casino.)

Now rural residents in Flamborough and elsewhere want equal treatment. Even though there aren't any gypsy moth larvae in the trees in my backyard that I can see, I agree with them. I don't mind paying to help my neighbours in the country.

I just want the same consideration in return.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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By Staffer (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2008 at 15:19:30

Adrian, you are so misinformed about area rating. The principle is you don't pay for what you don't get. Dundas, which is part of the former independent lower tier is having their trees sprayed has nothing to do with area rating. It has a lot to do with the major infestation. That is why it was chosen. To ask Ancaster to pay as much for transit as Hamilton residents are now paying means that they should get the same service right away as Hamilton has....if that were to happen, Hamilton's service would become unaffordable as well as Ancaster's.
Give up on area rating drivel. Amalgamation is the problem. It bailed a dying community (old Hamilton) out of the poorhouse.

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By Stapher (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2008 at 15:45:19

Well, Staffer, I can only hope your username doesn't mean you work for the city.

"The principle is you don't pay for what you don't get."

Either a publicly provided service is a public good or it isn't. Everyone pays for libraries whether or not they use them, and whether or not there is a location nearby.

Transit is arguably an even better public good than libraries. Even if you never set foot on a bus, you benefit directly from good transit, because the economy is more productive, traffic is better, air quality is better, etc. etc.

"Give up on area rating drivel. Amalgamation is the problem. It bailed a dying community (old Hamilton) out of the poorhouse."

Balderdash. The biggest purpose Amalgamationserved was to make it (sort of) affordable for the Harris government to download social services by spreading the cost among a larger population of ratepayers. It hurts everyone, urban and suburban residents alike.

It bumps up taxes in the suburbs (though central taxes are still higher than in the suburbs) and it means people living downtown have less representation on council since one city councilor represents twice as many residents as a suburban councillor.

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By Staffer (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2008 at 18:03:13

Stapher, I am a member of a staff...not necessarily the city's. That isn't the point. The point is your lack of accurate information. True, we should all pay for libraries because whether we use them or not, they are in our communities. Buses don't run everywhere. That is why they are excluded from costs...to provide buses everywhere one would have to jack up prices, or cut services where they currently have it. In the old city.
As for amalgamation, what you say is also true. Harris was a villain for doing that. However, what is equally true is that Hamilton couldn't afford to pay for its gold plated welfare services and needed the suburban support to a greater extent than it was already receiving it.
As for representation on Council....you forget that Ancaster had more than just one representative in the old days...they were all done away with. What did Hamilton lose?
Nada in terms of numbers. It kept its warhorses and worse still its culture.

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By haaa (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2008 at 22:23:18

Hey staffer,

I pay for all the social services for people that are run out of the suburbs, and for the expressways that I never use. Maybe this area rating thing might work if the suburbs had their fair share of subsidized housing and social services and paid their own way on roads.

Or maybe we should just share the good and bad and call it even.

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By haaa (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2008 at 10:00:54

Hey staffer,

I pay for all the social services for people that are run out of the suburbs, and for the expressways that I never use. Maybe this area rating thing might work if the suburbs had their fair share of subsidized housing and social services and paid their own way on roads.

Or maybe we should just share the good and bad and call it even.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 21, 2008 at 11:35:39

here we go again...folks in the suburbs always wanting everyone else to subsidize them, but never wanting to do the same in return. This issue isn't even debatable. It's completely messed up and completely in favour of the suburbs. Let's get a council with equal representation by population. Let's decided if we're doing area rating everywhere, or not at all. We can't have more of this nonsense where city hall continues to jack up transit fares forcing urban residents to pay hundreds of more dollars a year instead of the entire city paying a few extra dollars, and then turn around make those same car-less, inner city residents pay thousands of tax dollars to build more highways and off ramps to more big box stores in the suburbs. Either do it fair across the board, or let's all act civil and recognize the community value and social responsibility of having our taxes go towards public services, regardless of whether or not I personally use them. Old city of Hamilton residents seem to understand this simple fact of society.

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By Staffer (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2008 at 15:33:48

The suburbs never wanted this amalgamation. The city people did. The issue isn't the payment, it's the services. I will pay. But I demand the same services you get...full time firefighters, police presence AND transit.

The city can't afford this.

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2008 at 18:52:47

i can assure you, staffer, that "city people" don't want amalgamation either! why would they? all of a sudden they are paying for new servicing of suburbs, new highways, new roads, none of which directly benefit them. the city itself admits in its own studies that the development charges and new tax base don't cover the cost of building and maintaining the new infrastructure. what do the "city people" get out of it? certainly not lower taxes! certainly not equal and fair representation! no, they get a city hell bent on pushing through an urban boundary expansion and 3,000 acres more unneeded "employment lands" that further erode the value of the lands that sit idle in the lower city. i'm not suggesting the suburbs should be cheering amalgamation, but they should at least do their research about what taxes really are in the lower city and what it costs to service different areas befoer crying foul. i think the real winners are as always the developers.

area rating is unfair and will dissapear. in closing, i leave you with this thought: are not all the people who would be paying for transit which doesn't yet exist in their area in the same boat as all those currently paying for roads which they can't use because they don't own cars? isn't the choice not to, or inability to, live where there is transit the same as the choice not to, or inability to, own a car?

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By Staffer (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2008 at 22:55:10

There were only two major roads built recently. The new highway to the airport which was paid for by the province and didn't cost the local taxpayers anything; and the Red Hill Expressway which is in Hamilton and only in Hamilton. Highway 6 is being fixed by the province as well....so where do you say the suburbs are benefitting from these roads? They were done at the insistence of the city for the city...that is all my friend.

As for who wanted amalgamation...check the record...Hamilton politicians led the fight, not the suburbs. Suburbs were dragged in kicking and screaming.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 22, 2008 at 13:38:03

ok, first of all, Red Hill would have never been built (assuming it all hinged on the Christopherson-DiIanni election) if not for amalgamation. The old city of Hamilton voted for Christopherson.
Secondly, find me these 'city people' who wanted amalgamation. I'd be interested to meet them, because I haven't met one in person yet. Finally, take a look at a map and tell me which areas are benefiting (if you call more sprawl, benefiting) from Red Hill, the airport Hwy 6 and Hwy 6 north of the 403. Upper Stoney Creek, Ancaster/Glanbrook and Waterdown. Sounds like suburbs to me. Enjoy your highways....You're welcome.

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By Larry Di Ianni (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2008 at 13:15:36

My, my every once in a while my name pops up here. I don't necessarily want to get involved in this discussion although as you might expect I will have some opinions. The issue of amalgamation is settled.

But just two comments for Jason. Jason, Happy Easter. Also, please check your facts about the 2003 vote and where my support came from. The Spec did an analysis at the time and found broad support in most parts of Hamilton for my candidacy. There is never one reason why people vote, but if you are equating support in that election to support for the RHVP, then you have answered your own question.

That is my last word on this issue. I just wanted to correct the facts.

Cheers.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 23, 2008 at 14:05:27

Hey Larry...happy Easter to you too. Hope you're having a great weekend. I recall seeing a poll by poll breakdown and in the former city of Hamilton David came out ahead. Not by much, of course. You certainly had support throughout the entire city. But much more in the suburbs if I recall correctly. And of course, I'm oversimplifying things in equating that one vote to a Red Hill 'referendum' of sorts. I realize that vote might not have meant anything in the long run, but many folks believe otherwise.

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By Larry Di Ianni (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2008 at 19:42:20

Jason, this is really my last word on this issue. In fact, and I'm going from memory but have the info saved, my support came from Stoney Creek by a huge margin about 73%, From Ancaster, Flamborough, Hamilton Mountain and Hamilton east. I lost in Hamilton West, Hamilton Center and Dundas (by smaller margins than I won.) And where David won there was a smaller voter turnout.

These are the facts. Others may wish to analyze the meanings. The point is that this is almost ancient history now. Patterns changed in the last Mayoralty election. Amalgamation has many critics but many aspects of it are good for the entire community. I have written on this in my blog essays (the one on Sprawl). We should just move on to build a successful city in all of its jurisdictions. At some point the divide has to stop; and it will, I believe. But only when the rhetoric tones down and all citizens feel they are paying fair taxes and getting good services.

Cheers.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 23, 2008 at 21:06:06

I'm happy to say I completely agree with you!! Lol. Cheers

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