Tax arrears mean economy isn’t ‘tickety
A Code Red snapshotKey statistics taken from the Spectator’s Code Red and BORN series for the neighbourhood centred on Barton Street East, between Gage Avenue and Ottawa Street:Highest rate of teenage mothers in Hamilton and 10th highest in Ontario: 18.4 per centOne in seven pregnant women received no prenatal care in the first trimester: 7th highest rate in HamiltonPeople reported having no family physician: Just over 10 per centAdults without a high school diploma: Three in 10Now, the property with the highest tax arrears along the Ward 3 portion of Barton Street is the United Steelworkers Centre, just a few doors west of Ottawa Street.As of February 13, there was just over $140,000 in taxes owing on the steelworkers centre equal to more than three years’ worth of taxes.”The crackheads will try to steal one of my 50 pound bags of potatoes. They can’t steal them because they can’t carry them. They’re crackheads they can’t carry 50 pounds.”Owner, Sandie’s Fresh Cut FriesWyatt knows the clock is ticking to find asics a solution.”If we can’t figure out what to do pretty soon, quite likely we’ll put it up for sale,” said Wyatt. “It’s a big building based on a membership that we don’t have any more.”The building has asics been funded through payments from members of what have traditionally been some of Hamilton’s smaller steelworker union locals. Steel’s Nanticoke workers, opted for their own union halls long ago.Those left to support Barton Street’s steelworkers centre have been in free fall. Wyatt rattles off the names one by one, a who’s who of Hamilton’s industrial past.”Amcan closed down several years ago. Cold Metal Products closed down. Frost Wire closed down. Rheem Canada closed down,” Wyatt said.”I don’t have the list in front of me,” he adds, apologizing, “but there have been a lot.”Others, such as Hamilton Specialty Bar, still operate but with vastly reduced numbers.”Our base has been dinged,” Wyatt sighs. “We’re looking at ways to find other tenants and more utilization of this hall to generate revenues that were generated from the per capitas of dues paying members with the locals.”A dental office rents space inside the steelworkers centre, and, in a further irony, the biggest tenant is a gov asics ernment funded Action Centre to help laid off steelworkers.”We’ll have to have something more,” Wyatt said. “This is a huge building.”It’s a microcosm of what’s happened all along Barton Street over the past half century. The centre and, in some ways, the street itself represents a vanished way of life.”Yeah, but you can’t be nostalgic about it,” said Wyatt. “We’ve got to figure something out.”The city’s not going to put up with it forever.”Tax arrears are a serious problem for the Ward 3 asics portion of Barton Street, but nowhere more serious than the stretch of Barton between Gage Avenue and Ottawa Street, where, based on city figures from the middle of February, more than $386,000 in tax arrears had accrued.That represents 65 per cent of the total taxes that are supposed to be collected annually from that stretch.On the north side of Barton between Gage and Ottawa, tax arrears are more than 80 per cent of the yearly tax bill.