About Councillor Hamid

Councillor Zee Hamid Information Leave a Comment

Councillor Zeeshan Hamid has represented his constituents on town council since 2010.

Outside of his council work, Hamid is an active volunteer and an advocate for mental health, the environment, youth and social justice. He is the past President of Milton Toastmasters and mentors several youths in the community. He currently serves as a Director in the boards of the Milton Public Library and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton.

For more information, visit the About page.

How to have political influence

Councillor Zee Hamid Information 6 Comments

At the 6th anniversary of my time in the office, rather than doing another chest-thumping self-praising post, I wanted to leave you with some lessons I’ve learned during these years.

Some voters, and politicians, are more successful than others in achieving their goals. How do you become a citizen who achieves better results?

Please note that I am not asking you to approach me with these. To talk to me, you can just text / email / call / comment / whatever and I’ll do everything I can to help you. However, everyone isn’t me.  Generally if you’re trying to build up support for your cause, following points help.

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Summary of the 2017 Budget

Councillor Zee Hamid Blog Post, Information 2 Comments

The overall expected increase in your 2017 property taxes is 2.29%
(Full transparency: town’s portion has the highest increase of 5.3%, Region: 1.9% and Education: 0%)

Keep in mind that the increase is from whatever you paid last year in actual dollars (so if you pay $250/month, you can expect to pay $255.73 next year).

I put together a short presentation explaining how municipal taxes work and where the money is going next year. If you have any questions then please leave them in the comments, I’ll respond to each question (but please be patient, I cannot respond in real-time).

Take a look.

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2017 Budget Survey

Councillor Zee Hamid Information 1 Comment

Thank you very much for taking my budget survey, 261 of you responded. Some of you left comments that require an individual response, but since the survey was anonymous I have no idea how to contact you. If you fall in that category then shoot me a line (zee.hamid <at> milton.ca) and I’ll write back.

Other questions can mostly be summarized in follow categories:

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CN Intermodal Info Session

Councillor Zee Hamid Blog Post, Information 5 Comments

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Canadian Transportation Agency are holding a combined Info Session on the proposed CN Intermodal Hub in Milton. I encourage you all to attend and raise your concerns, I will be there as well!

Details of the information sessions
Date/Time Location
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Milton Sports Centre – Banquet Room
605 Santa Maria Blvd.
Milton, ON
Thursday, October 27, 2016
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Milton Sports Centre – Banquet Room
605 Santa Maria Blvd.
Milton, ON

More information here: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1137579

AMO Conference

Councillor Zee Hamid Blog Post, Information 3 Comments

On Sunday a number of your municipal elected officials, myself included, will leave Milton to attend the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference. One big motivation for attending the conference is using the opportunity to meet with different provincial ministries to fight for issues you care about.

Some Ministers I am meeting are:

Ministry of Housing: to bring up the issue of social infrastructure and assisted housing initiatives.

Ministry of Municipal Affairs: to fight the CN Logistics Hub and bring up the issue of full recovery of growth-related costs

Ministry of Transportation: to fight the CN Logistics Hub and bring up the issue of Metrolinx commitments and the development of a coordinated highway strategy

Ministry of Infrastructure: Investing in community hubs, sustainable infrastructure and a coordinated infrastructure planning

Ministry of Advance Education and Skills Development: Support for the Wilfrid Laurier University Campus in Milton

Ministry of Education: Long-term planning of schools, and E.C. Drury School

Ministry of Health & Long-term Care: Public Health funding and long-term care funding

Ministry of Energy: Future of Local Distribution Companies

What are your issues that you’d like me to bring up? Let me know!

Why 9 council members, instead of 13, is a better option for Milton

Councillor Zee Hamid Information 2 Comments

Starting 2018 Milton will have two additional regional councillors. This required re-visiting number of local councillors to balance boundaries. There were two options: 1) add two additional councillors for a total Council of size 13 or 2) two fewer councillors for a total Council size of 9. Staff recommendation was Council size of 9, which is what our Mayor favoured as well. This post explains why I agree with our staff and Mayor. 

Fewer politicians is not always the right approach. One of the things PM Harper got right was increasing the number of MPs in the Parliament to improve representation by population. City of Toronto absolutely must increase the number of councillors to make sure people continue to have the representation they deserve (fortunately, it’s doing that). United States could substantially improve its political system by doubling or tripling members of Congress (unfortunately, they won’t do that).

In a representative democracy, voters must be able to appoint, and access, representatives to fight for their behalf.

In light of this, this week’s Milton council’s decision to set the size of its council to 9 members, rather than 13, seems like a poor decision. However, as is often the case, devil’s in the details.

9 councillors are perfectly capable of providing good representation, provided that they have proper resources. 13 councillors will continue to provide poor representation without training, resources and support.

Milton stands alone when compared to virtually any municipality around us our size (whether councillors are part-time or full-time) that provides councillors with $0 budget for training and communicating with constituents.  THAT, and not the number of councillors, is the real problem.

Not giving councillors any budget for education gives corporate staff incredible power as councillors must take what they are told on face value in absence of the ability to get properly educated. When public and staff are at odds, something that happens from time to time, councillors in Milton only have same staffthey oversee as the single and exclusive source of information. That is neither very democratic nor particularly smart.

In past 6 years in the Council not a single councillor has ever complained that they were not able to meet or talk to every constituent who wanted to meet or talk to them.  However, on many occasions councillors mentioned that they had to vote, relying only on staff recommendation and explanation in a domain that they otherwise did not understand well. It’s worse when councillors disagree with staff and have no ability to get an outside opinion. If that is an acceptable option then we might as well rid of councillors and let staff govern the municipality.

This shortchanges residents.  It is utterly stupid to elect people to represent you but provide them with no discretionary budget for continuing education or communicating with constituents.

I represent the largest ward in Milton by population. Doubling e-mails and phone calls I receive will not have much of an influence in my ability to provide service to my constituents since the challenge I face isn’t the number of phone calls and e-mails.

Proponents of 13 council members are aware of this and argue that we should be able to increase councillors by 4 (9 to 13) and still add more budget for staff and expenses. Unfortunately in real-life money doesn’t grow on trees. The reason why we have not been able to solve this problem in so many years is because at budget time constituents prefer hard services (library, park, arena, bus, roads) over concepts (democratic representation).

The reason I supported 9 councillors over 13 is because it gives us the opportunity to finally fix this issue (cost difference between two models is $160,000). We can add an education and communications budget, similar to every other municipality around us, and still save a ton of money for taxpayers. That will give a much better representation for constituents, rather than simply adding four more seat warmer with no training or support.

For now, residents are better represented by 9 councillors who have the ability to attend seminars and education session independently (AMO provides plenty of opportunities) without having to trust staff on every issue, rather than 13 councillors following the status quo of having staff as the only source of information.

As for more council members, we will have another review in 8 years and will likely add at least 2 (if not more) councillors. But we will do it properly, with proper education and communications budget like every other municipality around us.

To wrap up, the system we adopted is very similar to Oakville.  Each ward will have 1 local and 1 regional councillor. That’s partly why Town staff recommended going with 9 councillors, and the Mayor of Milton voted for 9 councillors.  Majority of Council, myself included, agreed with the Mayor.

But Zee, doesn’t this mean less representation?

No. Currently we have two fulltime and 8 parttime councillors. If you assume fulltime councillors work 40 hours a  week and parttime 10, then you get 160 hours a week of representation.

After the switch we’ll have four full-time and four part-time councillors, giving us 200 hours of representation.  That’s a 25% increase in representation, not a decrease.

Smaller municipalities typically have all part-time councillors. Larger municipalities have full-time councillors. Milton is in-between. As we crossed 100,000 people, it makes sense to switch from our previous model to the model Oakville uses. In this system, each ward elects 1 part-time and 1 full-time councillor. It works very well for Oakville and is a good transition from part-time to full-time.  Milton, after this switch, will have 4 full-time councillors, 4 part-time councillors and 1 full-time mayor. The Size of ward in Milton is also similar to the size of ward in Oakville. This is how municipalities switch from part-time to full-time. It’s a decades-long process.  Municipalities should not switch overnight from one extreme to another.  Oakville has been in that in-between state, Milton is now entering it as well.

I’ll leave this comparison between Oakville and Milton after this change in 2018, so people can see whether they are getting shortchanged in Milton or not.

Monday’s council meeting

Councillor Zee Hamid Information Leave a Comment

Packed council  meeting this Monday! Some of the items in the agenda are:

Senior of the Year award
Library leasing space in the Sherwood Community Centre (Savoline / Main)
Hometown Hockey Tour
New Development Charges By-law
Council Composition
Downtown Milton Market Analysis
Few development applications

See the whole agenda here.

Please let me know if you have any feedback.