Waterdown residents are desperate to see two bypasses completed that will ease traffic congestion. Both of Hamilton’s major mayoral candidates say they’re working on it.

Hamilton’s mayoral incumbent has promised millions in new investment in Waterdown if he’s reelected in October — just two days after talk that Waterdown should be part of Burlington.

“I’m glad the circus has come to town.” – Susan McKechnie , Ward 15 candidate

Fred Eisenberger was in Flamborough today pledging to fight for a new fire station, pool and Carlisle library.

He also talked up the city’s $40-million investment in road improvements, including in a long-awaited bypass to ease gridlock.

“Waterdown has been an integral part (of) the City of Hamilton since its amalgamation in 2001,” Eisenberger said.

The city has made millions in investments, he said. More are “on the way.”

View a map of the various Waterdown road projects in the works

It’s a play to a community that resisted amalgamation, and has had an uneasy relationship with Hamilton ever since.

Flamborough resentments ramped up higher this year when city council voted not to fight a decision to eliminate the former township’s all-rural Ward 14 ward. Instead, the area has been split and merged with Dundas and Ancaster.

This map explains the various road projects happening in Waterdown. (City of Hamilton)

Then this week, Burlington mayoral incumbent Rick Goldring asked Queen’s Park to make Waterdown part of Burlington. Now a Cambridge city councillor is musing that Flamborough should join Cambridge.

Judi Partridge, who’s running for reelection in Ward 15, welcomes the Burlington conversation. Many Waterdown residents, she said, would rather be part of Burlington.

Eisenberger pledged to see a portion of an east-west bypass finished “next council term.” He also promised to secure provincial money to start work on a Highway 5 and 6 interchange.

Make Waterdown part of Burlington, mayor tells province

Councillor wants Flamborough to leave Hamilton, join Cambridge

The city has also spent $17 million on a twin pad arena, he said, as well as $7.4 million on a new library and seniors hub and $6 million on a new water tower, among other projects.

Mayoral candidate Vito Sgro has been paying attention to Waterdown too.

Sgro said Tuesday that he met with Flamborough community leaders. Hamilton, he said, should get “back to the basics.”

This map shows Hamilton’s new ward boundaries for the Oct. 22 municipal election. (City of Hamilton)

To him, that includes scrapping a planned light rail transit (LRT) line through Hamilton’s lower city.

Premier Doug Ford said while campaigning this year that the $1 billion the province pledged to build LRT can be used for other transit needs. Sgro wants to use some of that for Waterdown.

“Under my plan to scrap the LRT, there would be funding available for the bypass as well as the introduction of express bus service linking Waterdown to Hamilton and the surrounding communities,” he said.

Hamilton’s ward boundaries change, scrapping Flamborough ward and adding a Mountain one

‘Flamborough was supposed to stay together,’ say critics of ward boundary plan

“Instead Hamilton has been sidetracked for the past 10 years with a billion-dollar train fixation.”

Susan McKechnie is running against Partridge. She’s heartened the planned bypasses — one north-south, one east-west — are getting air time. “People are furious,” she said.

So “I’m glad the circus has come to town.”

McKechnie wants the city to do more to alleviate short-term congestion, communicate more and be more aggressive. “You have to be like a dog with a bone on these projects. You have to push and push and push and hold people accountable.”

It’s true some Waterdown residents relate more to Burlington, she said. Some don’t think they’re getting value for their tax dollars.

But the annexing talk is a “political stunt,” she said. It’s divisive, and “I don’t think it’s the issue.”

As for the province, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs would only say “locally developed restructuring proposals” need to be financially sustainable and fair for residents.

Susan McKechnie

Susan McKechnie. (Susan McKechnie)

Age: 47.

Occupation: Management consultant and academic and career advisor.

Where do you live?: On a farm in Ward 15 at Flamborough Centre, just north of Waterdown and just south of Carlisle.

Past experience: I have an undergraduate degree from McMaster University where I studied political science. Prior to opening my own firm, I was a director at the largest recruitment firm in North America on Bay Street in Toronto. I have owned and operated my own management consulting business, Fresh Management Inc., for over 20 years and have mentored hundreds of youth as an academic and career advisor through my academic and career advisory practice, Fresh Careers.

What are the top Issues facing Ward 15?

  • Infrastructure investment (roads, technology, services, etc.).
  • Traffic congestion and traffic safety.
  • Community safety.
  • Managing the rapid projected population growth in Ward 15.
  • Fiscal responsibility.
  • Social isolation (seniors, youth, migrant workers etc.).

Do you support LRT?

Hamilton comprises nearly 1,200 square kilometres; I am in favour of a mass transportation solution that moves all Hamiltonians across the city efficiently, and delivers positive economic development opportunities. The current council has made the decision to move forward with LRT and the BLAST network. I plan to ensure that this project is executed in a fiscally responsible and timely manner.

Should the current provincial government change the terms of agreement, than I will carefully consider, with council, our resources, capital and operating budgets and all rapid transit options. I view public transit to include HSR, DARTS, GO transit, taxis, ride sharing, cycling, and active commuting as transit options that need to be included in a mass transit plan.

In Ward 15, seniors are unable to take transit to programs, students are unable to get to McMaster, Mohawk, St. Mary’s or Westdale, or citizens are left without transit to downtown Hamilton. Our roads are crushed with traffic and real transit options are not available for residents in Flamborough. It is the responsibility of Council to find consensus and to execute a transit plan that benefits all Hamiltonians and gets Hamilton moving forward.

Why are you the right person for the job?

I provide a fresh approach to the status quo politics in Ward 15. I will be focused on solving problems with discipline, tenacity, collaboration and attention to detail. I have been successful in business by always trying to find common ground in order to build consensus and progress. I also have the business transformation experience that will help to drive efficiencies.  I believe that consensus can be built at council to drive those efficiencies. I will employ my talent management experience to ensure that we retain a new city manager that is focused on operational excellence and continuous improvements. This will cut down on the bureaucracy that is stifling our progress and burdening our taxpayers. Operational efficiencies will save taxpayers dollars, improve customer service and attract economic development.

I am committed to promoting our community and to moving us forward in Ward 15.

Something else you want voters to know about you:

I am an entrepreneur, a farmer, a mother of three boys, 16, 13 and 10, and have been married to my husband for 22 years. I am proud that my husband serves our community with the fire service at Station 24 in Waterdown. I have committed my career to mentoring youth and setting them up on the right future path. I love the spirit and heart of Flamborough and I am so happy to be able to raise my family in this community.​

Judi Partridge

Judi Partridge. (City of Hamilton)

Occupation: Current Flamborough Ward 15 councillor for two terms. Vice-chair Capital budget and multi-year $2.2 billion budget committee — two of the most important budget committees of council. Serving on Hamilton council also includes participating on committees of council where we represent our residents and important ward issues.  Currently there are 27 committees where I bring a strong voice to the table on important issues affecting both rural and urban issues. For the list of committees please visit judipartridge.ca.

Where do you live?: Proud 30 year resident/advocate Flamborough Ward 15 living in the rural settlement community of Carlisle. Previously I lived in Waterdown for many years and Freelton.

Relevant past experience: Senior management positions over past 15 years in media: managing director government affairs/media division, corporate vice president, previous owner advertising communications irm. Graduate 2006 DeGroote School of Business Governance and 2012 York University Schulich Executive Municipal Governance programs.

What are the top issues facing your ward?:

  • High property taxes.
  • Area rating tax reforms.
  • Good paying jobs/economic development of four Waterdown business parks.
  • Affordable housing for seniors/young families.
  • Road infrastructure, significant housing growth resulting in traffic issues, speeding, creating the need for traffic calming and completing the Waterdown bypass currently under construction.

Do you support LRT?:

I do not support LRT for several reasons.  LRT will only connect a 14 km stretch from McMaster to Eastgate Square. It is not a good use of taxpayers’ money and will not serve the majority of Hamilton’s residents. The high growth areas of Waterdown, Binbrook, Mount Hope and Upper Stoney Creek will not benefit from a $1 billion LRT investment.  Outside of these areas, the most growth in Hamilton has been on the Hamilton Mountain which still does not have adequate transit to serve the residents. My preference is and I voted for bus rapid transit (BRT) to connect all areas of the city. Hamilton is a city of many different and unique areas.  It needs a transit system that will connect all areas to transit efficiently in the broader city of Hamilton particularly the suburban areas. The current HSR transit system is antiquated and does not work on a practical, economic or efficient grid.

Why are you the right person for the job?

As the only remaining Flamborough councillor, I have the historical knowledge, passion and commitment of rural and urban issues. I am a strong voice on council to serve the people of Waterdown/Flamborough. Next term, the area rating tax increase will be a serious issue for Ward 15 with significant impacts on Flamborough residents taxes — you need an experienced Councillor to advocate for you.  With career experience in corporate management, large budgets and many years community involvement in championing Flamborough issues, have given me skills to negotiate and facilitate complex issues. I am proud to serve each and every resident of Hamilton

Something you’d like voters to know about you:

My husband Jeff and I are proud parents of Justin and Jordan, who have just completed university. As a family we have devoted our time to volunteering on everything from sports teams to fish fry’s to help build community throughout Flamborough. Jeff is a member of the Carlisle Optimists where the mandate is to raise funds to support Flamborough youth programs.  In 2005 as the founding member of the Flamborough Women”s Resource Centre (FWRC)  I was blessed to work as a volunteer in partnership with Interval House to establish the only rural outreach program to help women and their families dealing with family crisis.  We were successful in securing federal funding and in 2009 opening the FWRC in Waterdown where it is still thriving today helping more than 3,000 Flamborough families since opening. I am dedicated to all of Flamborough community and the many wonderful people who live here.

About the author

Samantha Craggs – Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca