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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Metrolinx on Unexpected Pressures- LRT

In light of what could be a series of unexpected costs related to LRT implementation, we asked the following of the city, who redirected our question to Metrolinx. Here is our q/a with Metrolinx:

With respect to LRT implemenation plans in Hamilton, can you advise as to how much of the funding has been set aside for any unexpected pressures/surprises that may arise that will require resources and effort? 

Metrolinx's reply:
Apologies for the delay in responding to your request regarding the Hamilton LRT.

Metrolinx does not release detailed budget information prior to the procurement process in order to ensure a competitive bidding process.

Media Release:Statement From Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR EISENBERGER ON TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE PROVINCE REGARDING THE RESTRUCTURING OF US STEEL.

HAMILTON, ON – September 21, 2016 – The Provincial Government announced this morning that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bedrock Industries Group to facilitate the restructuring of U.S. Steel.

This proposal is welcome news to Hamilton as it represents a potential solution for sustaining operations, retaining jobs, pensions and benefits for active and retired USSC employees, which is of the utmost importance to our community‎. We will continue to monitor ongoing operations at the Hamilton facility.

The City of Hamilton has a clear and vested interest in promoting the economic development of our city. Support for the development of industrial lands and ensuring the continued protection of our environment remains a priority. We look forward to continuing to serve as a key stakeholder and informant to this process.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Media Release: Hamiltonians Against High Hydro



















Hydro Horror in Ontario


If you've checked your mail box today and opened up a hydro bill that looked more like a mortgage payment, welcome to the club.

There is an ongoing issue for residents and businesses across the Province of Ontario, and that is the cost of hydro. One would assume that while we generate hydro-electricity from what we like to call our great wonder of the world (Niagara Falls), we wouldn't be left needing a hand up off the floor after we drop from shock each time we open envelopes from our hydro providers..

When did this madness begin?!?!?!

Well, you can thank previous Liberal Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty. In February of 2009, the Ontario Green Energy Act was introduced into the Ontario legislature. The purpose of the act was to create "green" jobs, encourage energy conservation, and create and expand renewable energy.

How has this act stacked up when it comes to creating jobs?

George Smitherman, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure at the time proclaimed the GEA promised to create around 50,000 jobs. In 2013 the Liberal Party admitted that only 31,0000 had been created. Critics have confirmed that this number is problematic because many of these jobs are "indirect" and in 2011 a report by Ontario's Auditor General Jim McCarter found most of these jobs were short term (less than 3 years) and in construction. Another issue regarding jobs and employment with the GEA was that another report found that for every 1 job created in the renewable energy sector, two to four jobs are being lost in other sectors due to the high costs of electricity prices.

A major study done by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) in 2015 reported that 1 in 20 businesses said they expect to shut down in the next five years due to the continuing skyrocketing costs of hydro prices. Due to high energy costs, businesses have little money left to expand , hire new employees, and make improvements or investments .

Ontario is seeing a steady decline in employment opportunities and abilities for residents to gain work through existing industry or the creation of new small businesses due to the impacts of energy costs.

What are some of the factors driving up the costs?

Global Adjustment fee

After the creation of the GEA a new fee called the Global Adjustment Fee began being charged to Ontarians on their hydro bills. This charge is included in your cost and billed to you and included in with your per kilowatt hour charges for home owners, renters and small businesses. Due to it being included in the cost, it means the amount is hidden. It is said to be 7.9 cents per kilowatt hour or $77 of every $100 billed. This means for every $100 billed the actual used cost of energy is only $23.

For larger business and industry, the fee appears on a separate line on their hydro bills.

Please visit the link for a story on the breakdown of the cost.

Delivery Fees

This is another area where residents and businesses alike are being hammered, even when their consumption is low. One man took to twitter in April to show his bill where he received a $113 Delivery Charge even though there was no hydro usage.

Most families around Hamilton and the GTA that I've spoken to have reported Delivery costs in the amounts of around $185-$200 a bill. Rural areas are seeing much higher fees.

How does this effect businesses?

I recently had the opportunity to see a comparison of a bill from a gentleman who owns a chain of convince stores in Ontario. The delivery fees for one month to his store in Ottawa through energy provider Hydro Ottawa was $708.71 while the cost for delivery to his store in Kemptville with Hydro One had a staggering cost of $1,435.84.

So what does the delivery rate even do?

The Delivery Rate is the cost to move electricity to your home, it is their charge to "deliver it" Part of it is a fixed rate cost and more is added as your hydro consumption increases. Costs are said to go back into the maintenance of lines, up keep of the system , and to help deliver hydro to new customers.

Again , there are other issues with these delivery charges as well. Some stem from when a customer has not used energy, or when they do not have a line or service connected to their property. This is the case for a man just north of Kingston, Ontario who is suing Hydro One after a tree took out the power line to his cottage property and he was continuously charged a delivery fee even though the lines were never re-connected and power not restored to the property.

As you can see, there is clearly a problem here.

So what does the government plan to do to help out home owners and businesses?

After proroguing the legislature last week, Kathleen Wynne announced the government will be removing the 8% provincial portion of the 13% HST from hydro bills . It was also announced there would be more help for large businesses owners and industry, and rural customers.

But how does that add up?

With home owners receiving an estimated $130 "savings" a year, it is not much. That is literally 90 or so coffees from Tim Horton's, or perhaps a week's worth of groceries for two people,, not even enough for a four person family.

Rural residents are said to be getting about $540 in saving a year. Again, depending on the size of their bill in comparison to the 'savings", this may be pennies on the dollar.

According to the Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, the more you use, the more you will save. Unfortunately, this logic just doesn't add up. Ontarians just want to see lower bills made possible by making changes to the failed energy policies, not increases in the provincial debt or monies be removed from one program to subsidize another.

This program is said to start in January of 2017. There is one catch though.. where exactly is the money coming from? You see, the government cannot just remove taxes from goods and services, so they must subsidize this cost to pass the "savings" on to you.

What does that mean?

You are literally taking money from your left pocket just to put it in your right.

Where exactly is the money coming from and for how long will this program be in effect?

No one knows. Finance Minister Sousa could not provide an answer when asked last week where the estimated one billion dollars would be coming from, and Kathleen Wynne had an entirely different story when she explaned where it is coming from.

http://globalnews.ca/video/2938581/liberals-wont-say-how-long-hydro-rebate-will-remain-in-place
So what can we do ?

Well, we've tried to conserve energy and that has only resulted higher prices, and in needing to sell excess hydro off at a cheaper rates to neighbours in other provinces or American states. Some critics have argued that the GEA needs to be scrapped and the 20 year long renewable energy contracts given out under the GEA need to be ripped up.

Aside from the growing rates of hydro prices, Ontario residents and businesses are also preparing for the introduction of "cap and trade" which will see their energy bills rise as well. And just like your Global Adjustment Fee, it will also be hidden in your costs and not openly displayed on a separate line for your viewing.

On top of this as well, last week CUPE announced that they will be suing the Ontario government in regards to the sale of Hydro One to private interests.

While the next election isn't until the spring of 2018, residents of Hamilton have decided that there is something else we can do to try and get a better "deal" on hydro.


Protest.

On Wednesday, September 28 at 5 p.m at City Hall, Hamiltonians will have the opportunity to speak out and share their hydro horror stories with other residents, businesses, local politicians and party affiliates.

I am asking that everyone who is fed up with this ydro boondoggle come down and join us as we rally against high hydro costs, the sale of Hydro One, and the mismanagement and abuse of our energy sector.

Please visit the Facebook event page for more information and contact info.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1577987359177634/

Sarah Warry-Poljanski

  

References :
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Ontario- Unplugged?

The following excerpt is fairly typical of the emails we have received on the issue of recent increases in Hydro bills:

" I just opened my hydro bill. I almost fell off of my chair. It went up by over $300. And it's just my daughter and I here. And we do our laundry on weekends, we stay away from peak periods and even run our dishwasher in the middle of the night. I replaced my lights with LEDs. What the hell is going on???? And why do we need this 8% rebate? As if that's going to make up for it. I can see people losing their homes because of this. It's like paying a small mortgage. Can you please cover this? It's outrageous!!!!!"

In that spirit, please share your stories. Did your bill go up? By how much? What do you think of this? Are costs spiraling out of control? Your thoughts? 

Media Advisory: Mayor Eisenberger in Eindhoven, Netherlands for 2016 Global Forum/Shaping the Future Conference

September 19, 2016, Hamilton, ON – As part of the Intelligent Community Forum Canada delegation, Mayor Eisenberger is attending the 25th edition of the Global Forum -Shaping the Future – International think-thank on the digital future, in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

A result of the Mayor’s Intelligent Community Task Force that was established this past March to explore and address how the City of Hamilton builds an Intelligent Community, attending the forum provides an opportunity to gain further information on the digitalization of our city.

“We need to address the digital divide and the need for harnessing the digital world to create jobs, connect our citizens and provide access for all,” said Mayor Eisenberger.

The Global Forum, created in 1992, brings together more than 300 participants from around the world. They provide an arena for dissemination and exchanges of ideas, and opportunity for developing innovative solutions and partnerships in building a more connected city and a more intelligent community.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Media Release: Bus Stop Posters Intended to Provoke Thought

Have you noticed new I AM AFFECTED posters in Hamilton bus tops, libraries and recreational centres across the city?

During the month of September, these posters have appeared in 73 highly visible bus stops across the City Of Hamilton. The posters are part of a campaign intended to educate citizens on the effects of the Canadian Indian Residential School System.

The Our Voice. Our Truth posters were first unveiled earlier this summer in a moving launch at Hamilton City Hall. Nine unique posters and banners have been created.

Lyndon George, the Clinic’s Aboriginal Justice Coordinator, who heads up the YÉN: TENE initiative came up with the idea of the posters.

“The campaign was developed to initiate conversation and provoke thought on the Canadian Indian Residential School system and the intergenerational trauma caused by that system,” states George.

The campaign’s second phase called I AM COMMITTED will be rolled out at a media event later this month. Some of the individuals featured in the posters will be at this event and will share their stories. Details will follow.

George acknowledges help from community partners like the Professional Aboriginal Advocacy Networking Group (PAANG), the YÉN: TENE Advisory Committee and the City of Hamilton. Legal Aid Ontario provided funding for the posters.

YÉN:TENE works to improve access to justice for Aboriginal people in Hamilton and surrounding communities. In 2013 the Clinic embarked on a collaborative journey with Aboriginal agencies and networks to build relationships of respect and trust. The initiative has been named YÉN:TENE, a Mohawk phrase meaning “You and I will go there together.”