[spacer height=”20px”]By Elliot Fung

The Ward 1 councillor candidates are promising a number of changes that aim to improve McMaster student life. While ideas such as support for landlord licensing and the light rail transit project can be found in multiple platforms, the candidates differ in their approach to some key areas.

With the constant rise of housing prices, affordable housing, which includes student housing, is considered a top priority for all candidates. However, there are many unique proposed methods to tackle this election issue.

Carol Lazich proposes cooperative student housing initiatives and the purchase of excess land for construction of student housing complexes. Sophie Geffros proposes that new developments be required to have 15 to 25 per cent affordable and geared-to-income units.

On the other hand, Both Ela Eroglu and Sharon Cole propose intensification and infill developments. Harrison White also supports cooperative student housing initiatives and proposes the re-introduction of rental-property based tax breaks.

Sharon Anderson proposes an increase in the number of medium density developments through zoning by-law adjustments. Linda Narducci proposes better negotiations between existing landlords, patrons and developers.

Another issue pertinent to McMaster students concerns the health and safety problems caused by absentee landlords of student rentals and education about tenant rights.

Candidates Maureen Wilson, Cole, White, Geffros and Lyla Miklos support a licensing system for rental properties that would help to ensure that tenants’ rights are sustained. They also promote educational programs for students to ensure that students understand tenant rights and what landlords are legally allowed to do.

Geffros’ plan includes a $10 to $50 fee for landlords to lease a home; in return, the city would inspect rental units to ensure they are up to health and safety standards. Eroglu proposes a different approach through a two-year pilot project in the Ainslie Wood area aimed at enforcing rental housing by-laws. Lazich proposes the implementation of stricter regulations and penalties for landlords if properties are not maintained.

Candidates Wilson, Narducci, Jason Allen, White and Anderson aim to address street and traffic safety, an issue particularly relevant to students coming to campus every day from surrounding residential areas. Some proposed plans include better enforcement of speed limits and working with the city of Hamilton to clear roads and sidewalks after snow falls during the winter.

Retention of McMaster graduates in Hamilton is another issue that Lazich and Eroglu aim to address. In particular, Eroglu proposes to attract new businesses to set up in Hamilton. Lazich proposes partnering with corporations and small businesses and providing grants to students for startups.

Moreover, some candidates are promising the launch of new services and initiatives unrelated to the most significant issues at play.

For instance, Lazich wants to introduce a number of new services concerning students including dog therapy, an Indigenous Enriched Support Program, male support groups for first years, promotion of student success programs and education programs for cannabis use.

Geffros aims to address safety, hate crimes and sexual violence in Ward 1 by creating well-lit pedestrian paths, implementing emergency poles and funding free bystander intervention training.

With this year’s large number of candidates, there is a great deal of consistency across platforms with respect to themes and topics being prioritized. But while candidates are focusing on the same issues, they diverge when it comes to how they intend to address them.

For more information on candidates’ platforms:

[button link=”https://www.thesil.ca/meet-your-ward-1-councillor-candidates” color=”red”]VIEW ALL CANDIDATE PLATFORMS[/button]

Questions on how to vote?

[button link=”https://www.thesil.ca/ward-1-voting-101-a-voting-guide-for-mac-students” color=”red”]WARD 1 VOTING GUIDE[/button] 

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