By: Donna Nadeem
On Jan. 29, the McMaster Students Union submitted their pre-budget recommendations to city hall on how tax dollars ought to be used in Hamilton. The five main areas of investment that the pre-budget submission recommends are transit, student retention and employment, housing, by-laws and waste management.
The submission discusses having an increase in Hamilton Street Railway services on week-ends and in the summer, and have the 51 bus route running every day of the year. In 2017, the city of Hamilton decided to delay year three of the Hamilton 10 Year Local Transit Strategy. The MSU hopes that the $2.1 million that was ensured for the 2018 deliberations is eventually invested.
“Our budget submission more focused on the ten year transit strategy,” said Stephanie Bertolo, the associate vice president (Municipal Affairs). “Last year the council decided to delay funding year three, and that was due to a number of factors a lot of them for very good reasons. Now we’re just making sure that they do go ahead with funding year three.”
Regarding student retention and employment, the MSU would like to see an increase in jobs relating to interdisciplinary fields including political science, economics and labour studies. It is also put forward that opportunities like these should be advertised and made more accessible to students.
“The summer jobs program right now is very vague about what opportunities there are. There are jobs for recreation and landscaping, and those are very detailed of what you would be doing, and then there’s course-specific jobs, where they don’t actually tell you what you’ll be doing, you’re just supposed to tell them what your degree is in and then they’ll try to match you with a job but they don’t tell you what jobs are available and you don’t really know the criteria,” said Bertolo.
The MSU suggests advertising on-campus outlets such as TV screens and coffee sleeves in the McMaster University Student Centre because these advertisements would reach over 16,000 undergraduate students because it is a frequent high traffic area.
“We’d be advertising just that the jobs are open, because the jobs are open right now and I don’t think that anyone knows,” Bertolo stated.
Safety in student housing is a growing concern for the MSU as well. In order to ensure student safety, it is recommended that the city adopt a landlord licensing system to ensure that they are promoting their buildings as safe and clean environments.
“Every landlord [would have] to pay a fee in order to get a license and that just helps fund programs running for the city to do those proactive checks to insure that the unit is up to code,” said Bertolo.
The MSU also recommend that the City of Hamilton overhaul the current by-law enforcement tactics used in the neighbourhoods surrounding McMaster. The MSU suggests instead of punitively targeting students, the city should invest in educating students through the MSU Student Community Support Network program and form restorative justice and mediation programs.
“The by-law program that was recently increased, they are targeting lawn, snow and exterior by-laws, so its really important for students to know about like how long your grass needs to be, before you get a ticket for not cutting it,” Bertolo added.
Finally, in order to increase the amount of materials recycled, the MSU recommends the city of Hamilton should switch to a single-stream recycling program. McMaster University has adopted a single-stream recycling program as have many other cities including Toronto, Halton and Mississauga.
The MSU believes that if the council adopts these five key priorities, then the city of Hamilton will not only be a better place for students to live throughout their undergraduate career but also will intrigue graduates to choose Hamilton as a place to have a family and age successfully.