Another day, another session of City of Hamilton Budget deliberation. And like so many of what are seen as dry but necessary sessions in order to whittle down the residential tax increase, the side issues can sometimes be more interesting than the main menu. Councillor Ferguson was quite adamant that Hamilton Emergency Services should not get an extra ambulance this year. Every new ambulance carries with it the requirement for 10 extra workers. Ferguson argued that in past the increases in staffing were justified by the number of so-called Code Zero events—situations where there is only one or zero ambulances available. “We’ve been generous with you over the years,” Ferguson told Paramedic Chief Michael Sanderson, ”I’d like to see some payback.” Sanderson responded that while code zero events have decreased sharply, there is still the issue of having enough resources to cover a city where emergency calls continue to increase. The discussion that ensued appeared to support Sanderson.
Is Hunger a city wide or ward issue?
Next up was a proposal by Coun John Paul Danko to allow him to dip into his Area Rating fund to allow an emergency top-up to the Neighbour-to-neighbour food bank. That triggered a discussion about how area rating funds should be spent. Clr. Tom Jackson reminded members that Area Rating funds were supposed to go to hard infrastructure, noting that he had always endeavored to spend his area rating money that way. In the end the matter was pushed off to a later meeting. But then, in debating an Arlene Vanderbeek proposal whether to spend city-wide money on enhanced enforcement of trespassing on the city’s waterfalls, Danko wondered if waterfall issues should be paid for by the wards that have waterfalls, except for the fact that several of the wards with the waterfalls don’t have area rating money.
Defund Police, sort of
Finally, the remnants of the defund the Police movement were on display with a motion by Ward 3 Clr. Nann to have what will probably be the last police budget surplus we will ever see, transferred to social services. Normal Council divisions were set aside as the motion was defeated on a count of 11-2 with only Nann and Clr. Wilson voting in favour.