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Public Works manages Hamilton’s big-dollar budget items

Public Works manages Hamilton’s big-dollar budget items

In presenting his $389 Million operating budget Wednesday, Public Works General Manager, Dan McKinnon, outlined how the department contributed to the City’s COVID-19 response efforts, and provided key highlights on the delivery of the frontline services that bring Hamilton back to life. The presentation included a summary of 2020 accomplishments, measures of success, and a look ahead at major initiatives in 2021.

The preliminary 2021 operating budget request showed an increase of 3.1 per cent or $8 million.

Hamilton’s largest department

Public Works is by far the city’s biggest department in terms of total staff, capital and operating budgets. The division has more than 2,000 staff, and manages capital projects and operating activities valued at $1.3 Billion per. The department is able to recover approximately $670 Million of that through water bills and other rates.

COVID response

Public Works supported the organization’s COVID-19 emergency response efforts in several ways, including:

•             Supporting the set up of the supply distribution warehouse, drive-through testing centre and FirstOntario overflow shelter

•             Managing significant impacts to the transit system

•             Overseeing closures and signage/barriers at facilities, escarpment stairs, play structures etc.

Most Public Works staff had to work through the pandemic so there was enhanced emphasis on PPE and COVID safety measures.

2021 plans

Highlights of major initiatives in Public Works in 2021, pending Council approval, will include:

•             Building climate change resiliency, particularly in the areas of water quality, flood mitigation, greenhouse gas reduction, the Corporate Energy Policy, a focus on green fleet and equipment and invasive species.

•             Vision Zero initiatives including the Neighbourhood Speed Reduction Program and Automated Speed Enforcement. The Vision Zero road safety program has led to a 24 per cent reduction in injury collisions over the past five years.

•             Major right-of-way rehabilitation projects on Rymal Road, Regional Road 56 and neighbourhood resurfacing projects in Ancaster Heights (Lime Kiln North), Central, McQuesten West, Battlefield, Greenford, Vincent, Bonnington, and Southam

•             Major construction projects at 500 MacNab St N (Passive House), Valley Park Recreation Centre, and a solar thermal pilot project at Westmount Recreation Centre 

•             New waste collection service contract

•             Year nine of the Emerald Ash Borer program (approved as part of the 2021 Capital Budget process)

•             The implementation of Year 5 of the 10-Year Transit Strategy was paused in 2020 due to COVID-19 and challenges related to sourcing new vehicles, the ability to hire and train new staff, and other pandemic uncertainties. Year 5 enhancements are scheduled to be implemented in September 2021.

Quick facts about Public Works in 2020:

•             Completed $76.3 million in right-of-way road infrastructure projects (a 4.2 per cent increase since 2019), including major projects on the Claremont Access, Rymal Road, Highway 8, Queen St S and more.

•             Delivered $55.5 million in capital facility projects, including office space in the Lister Annex and at 100 King St W, the Police Investigative Services Division facility and ongoing work at the Ancaster Arts Centre and Valley Park Recreation Centre

•             Reduced annual electricity costs for street lighting by 35 per cent since 2014 by using LED technology

•             Achieved 39.8 per cent residential waste diversion – a 0.2 per cent decrease since 2019

•             Beautified 325 floral traffic islands, 133 perennial medians, 79 civic buildings, 691 hanging baskets, and grew more than 260,000 plants

Council is expected to consider approval for the final operating budget in March.

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