Friday, April 24, 2015

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- The this just in Edition – Knitted Meat, and Films on Food

The this just in Edition – Knitted Meat, and Films on Food

Every so often an email pops up via the email address at the end of the column informing me of a food-related event. This week I got a doozy featuring “knitted meat”, and it is so out there I had to share it and the photos that came with it.

But before I do, and since we now have easier access to the Great Metropolis down the Go, readers might appreciate knowing TIFF’s “Food on Film” is underway until June 24th. Hosted by CBC’s Matt Galloway, the series features films related to food, followed by discussion on a variety of related topics.

For full details and ticket info click here. Three films remain to be screened and if I had to pick just one to see it would probably be the one on May 13th featuring innovative America Chef, Wylie Dufresne. He will discuss his inventive approach to cooking and introduce the 1991 French “post-apocalyptic comedy, Delicatessen”.

That said, of course I’d also like to hear owner of San Francisco bakery, Tartine (he’s also authored three acclaimed cookbooks on baking) on June 3rd. He’ll be introducing “The Grain Divide” a 2015 documentary on gluten, bread and human health. On a lighter note, the pioneering, and affable-sounding, Jonathan Waxman will finish off the series with a showing of the Can-Con classic, Meatballs (June 24th.)

The email I mentioned above was titled “Bistro in Vitro invitation.” It was an invitation, apparently scatter-gunned to food writers world-wide, to the May 6th Grand Opening of world’s first lab-grown meat restaurant.

Hmm… Readers may recall there was a foofaraw a while back about a tasting of the world’s first lab-grown beef burger. It was grown from cow stem cells, cost a mint to produce and, by all accounts, tasted underwhelming. 

The email went on to ask:

“Have you ever heard of See-Through Sashimi? It mimics the same physical structures that make glass frogs look like glass or jellyfish look like jelly, creating nearly invisible meat with a pure, delicate flavor. Or how about the Meat Cocktail? A meat-based riff on the classic White Russian cocktail, the Liquid Turducken combines turkey, duck and chicken into a hearty drink that’s practically a meal in itself. And perhaps you’d like to try some In Vitro Oysters?”

Er, despite the intriguing photos accompanying this column, not really, not least because the venue is in Holland. I’d also be iffy since it is not entirely clear whether this is about an actual restaurant or an “art” or documentary project to stimulate discussion on the issues pertaining to sustainable food. (If you are intrigued, see their Facebook page for information as it trickles out or sign up for the (speculative) cookbook!)

Whatever the truth, the issues are real: I wrote in the current issue of BCity Magazine about serious efforts by scientists championing what has been termed “Note by Note” cuisine that might eventually contribute to more sustainable and energy-efficient food production.

Pure molecular compounds, rather than conventional ingredients (like meat and plants), are being used to create edible mixtures (dishes). The lead scientist was quoted by the BBC as saying this is akin to, “A painter using primary colours or a musician composing note by note.”

For now, given the bounty of more conventional (real) food from our region, I’ll pass.

To see more pictures, click here.

To see all past columns please see (and “like”) the Food for Thought Archives, click here.

Alex (Alex can be reached at fft@thehamiltonian.info or on twitter @AlexBielak)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Statement from Minister Del Duca

Minister of Transportation Del Duca has sent the following statement to The Hamiltonian:

Ontario’s commitment to full capital funding for rapid transit in Hamilton is steadfast and unwavering, and in the coming weeks, I look forward to being in a position to share more details about how our plan will help build up all of Ontario – including Hamilton.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Media Release: Ontario's Big City Mayors Meet With Premier To Discuss Issues Facing Majority of Ontarians

The Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) met with Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen’s Park on Monday, April 20 to discuss key issues facing communities across the Province. 19 Mayors of Ontario’s largest cities attended the meeting to speak to the Premier about LUMCO’s 2015 priorities of gridlock & transportation, job creation, affordable housing and emergency services costs.

“This is an important step in LUMCO’s efforts to advance the issues facing Ontario’s largest cities, which represent 67% of Ontario’s population. These are complex problems that require all levels of government to come to the table. We thank the Premier for taking the time to meet with us to discuss these critical issues,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman, City of Barrie and LUMCO chair.

Increased investments in gridlock & transportation were high on the agenda at Monday’s meeting. LUMCO is encouraged by the Province’s recent announcement increasing Moving Ontario funding to $31.5 billion from $29 billion, although questions were asked regarding which projects would be selected for funding.

“Ontario's Big City Mayors congratulate the government on their willingness to use asset recycling to fund critical transportation infrastructure. This is an innovative approach that has been successful elsewhere in modernizing services and freeing up capital without ‎burdening the taxpayer,” said Mayor Lehman.

LUMCO Mayors support new revenue tools that are fair and reasonable to help end gridlock and to move people and goods in Ontario. More broadly, LUMCO committed to working with the Province to continue moving a shared transit agenda forward given the recent funding announcement regarding Regional Express Rail on the GO system, aligning local services where possible to support GO rail.

Affordable housing continues to be a critical issue facing cities across Canada. The country needs the federal government to renew its commitment and partnership with provinces, territories and municipalities and take a leadership role in developing innovative options and solutions to address this crisis. LUMCO recognizes the work being done provincially through the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy and looks forward to working with the Province to advance this key priority.

Cities across Ontario are concerned with the rising costs of Emergency Services. These cost increases are unsustainable and are being driven higher as a consequence of the current arbitration system. Changes to the current arbitration system are required to ensure there is a clear understanding of the arbitrator’s award including written reasons for the award and explanation on how the decision fits to specific criteria; and decisions should be issued no more than 12 months after the conclusion of the hearing. The Premier committed to working with LUMCO to move forward in these two areas and LUMCO will continue to advocate for the lack of fairness to be addressed.

Ontario’s Big City Mayors look forward to meeting with the Government of Canada in Ottawa in May to advance these key issues with federal representatives heading into the federal election.

About The Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO)

The Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) represents 67% of Ontario’s population with Mayors of 27 communities over 100,000 residents. LUMCO advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities. Jeff Lehman, the Mayor of Barrie is the Chair of LUMCO; Linda Jeffrey, Mayor of Brampton, is Vice-Chair.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

On Re-Drawing Ward Boundaries- M Adrian Brassington

Click on graphic to enlarge it
The issue of ‘ward boundary review’ is back on the City’s table once again. Three years ago, after an unsuccessful petition was generated (I use the word ‘unsuccessful’ advisedly; it did not attain its goal, the reasons for which were pretty straightforward, but I won’t go into them here), the 2010-2014 Council faffed about, wrung its hands and, while begrudgingly ordering a Staff study of the issue, essentially kicked the issue down the road. To the current 2014-2018 Council. The recent vote for rescinding the study was an 8-8 tie, so Council will still be receiving it. It then voted 8-8 to wait until it had 2016 census information in hand. Also defeated. Oy vey.

The current boundary lines were essentially transposed onto the Old Hamilton map at amalgamation. To me, as amalgamation was such a contentious issue, this was a conciliatory gesture. But at some point down the line from amalgamation, ‘effective representation’ was bound to become an issue. Well, it’s now 14 years later. Time to man-up and deal with it.

There are in fact legislated requirements regarding the relationships of populations of wards within a city. There’s supposed to be a certain degree of parity, if at all possible. So for example, strictly for the sake of this discussion, if one ward had 15,000 residents while another had 60,000, wouldn’t you say that there was a problem?

Hamilton isn’t alone in needing to review ward boundaries. Other municipalities either have, or are in the process of dealing with the issue; currently, Toronto’s already begun the work. To see a great site dedicated to the subject, click here. . If you only have the time to peruse the site’s FAQ section, you’ll still that it’s pretty clear that theirs is a far more evolved atmosphere for this discussion than what exists here.

Three years ago, I wrote a piece for The Spec about ward boundary review. It can be found here.) My framing of the op-ed was a departure from the obvious focus of reconciling numbers; it had to do with using the issue as a civic engagement ‘teachable moment’. That it’s an invaluable opportunity in this context, because we’re not -despite what some Councillors might tell you- looking at a policy issue, such as transit, aka LRT. So we’re not talking fractions of billions of dollars riding on the result. Think of it as more of an exercise in common sense. If as Hamiltonians (and this includes the amalgamated communities of Stoney Creek, Flamborough, Ancaster, Dundas and Glanbrook) we’re unable to have a decent adult conversation about this, then we really are in need of some group therapy. I stand by what I wrote back then in that Spec op-ed.

This whole review process could be seen as a litmus test of the capabilities of Councillors to lead the city in a discussion. Given what I’ve seen over the past three-plus years, I’m not optimistic.

Councillors should have a mature enough grasp of the situation to be level-headed. This means not adopting Chicken Little ‘The sky is falling!’ behaviour, but instead, accepting the facts, understanding the realities of ward population concerns as mandated by the Provincial government through the OMB, and leading us in a discussion towards a more equitable set of ward boundaries. Again, I don’t see any indications that as a whole, they’re capable of pulling this off. Not when terms like ‘war on the suburbs’ are tossed around. Or when Councillors announce that, ‘my constituents want an amalgamation review more than they want a ward boundary review.’ To me, this is all bafflegab for ‘We are not Hamilton, we’ve never been Hamilton, we never will be Hamilton, so forget expecting us to see things from a ‘unified city’ point-of-view!’ Once more, oy vey.

Hopefully, there will be all kinds of talk about how any changes to ward boundaries might look. It would be great if there were maps created so as to show what's being suggested.

Here's mine (click here or see graphic above). (One I actually came up with three years ago.) It’s not perfect. And yes, there are some clear biases to it. Getting rid of the whole Upper and Lower Stoney Creek. (As someone who grew up with 'The Golden Square Mile', I've never recognized the area atop the Escarpment as having anything to do with Stoney Creek. Wasn't it initially called 'Satellite City'...?) Making more sense of Wards 5 and 9. Mea culpa. But it does address the population disparities without adding a Councillor…something I get the impression that many Hamiltonians do not want to see happen. Let the discussion begin.

M Adrian Brassington

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nicholson and Turkstra- Q/A

In response to a recent article entitled Assault by Planning Initiatives ( to read the article, click here), one of our readers (Gabriel Nicholson), asked us to facilitate and Q/A exchange with Herman Turkstra. Both gentlemen agreed. Gabriel asked the questions, and Herman responded. Here is the exchange.

1. Nicholson:   In your 13 challenges list for 2015 you reference the city being the 'owner/developer/regulator'.  Would it more receptive to HWN if/when the city sells the parcel to developers thereby only the being the regulator?  

Turkstra: The report to Council in 2014 on the Pier development was entirely focussed on financial return to the City.  It did not look at how that development would comply with the approved Secondary Plan, did not look at how the development as propossed it would impact the adjacent housing, nor what it would do to traffic.  It was a developer's financial analysis.  

Given the huge conflict of interest between the City's financial interest as landowner and developer and its duties as a regulator of land uses under the Planning Act, what is desperately needed is an independent planning view that scrutinizes the City's work as developer in the same way that the City would scrutinize a development put forward on Pier 8 if a major Toronto developer were the applicant.  

The current situation, with the City selling the Pier 8 project in Europe,  makes it clear that we need an independent planning analysis.  

But there is more to be concerned about.  The Phillips plan for Piers 7 and was developed inside City Hall with no participation by the people who will be impacted.  The North End neighbourhood is clearly under attack. The City has launched 6 planning initiatives, including the Phillips Plan, in the North End neighbourhood in one year.  The total participation by the impacted population was about six hours in one of those initiatives.  The Pier 7 and 8 proposal had no community consultation. This  illustrates how important it is to radically change the role of the neighbourhood to become an involved stakeholder as well as to obain an independent planning review.  

Public participation has been abysmal, largely because the City is the owner and the developer as well as the regulator and is not really interested in talking to the impacted neighbours about their projected financial returns.  

The triple role of the City as regulator, owner and developer makes change very important.  

On the flip-side, members of the Stinson Cormmunity are against the Charlton buildings where the developer (owner) and city (regulator) are on the same side at the OMB appeal and your firm represents the developer.  Are there differences from this project compared to the waterfront projects?

I have no significant knowledge of that project other than what I glanced at in a Spectator article on the actions of the NEC.  As in the case of all law firms, my law firm has strict rules that protect the privacy and the interests of clients. I have no access to any information or perspective on that project other than the Spec article which clearly indicates that the local neighbourhood association opposes the project.

2. Nicholson: Can you provide an example of an 'area of future change' that the city has enlarged and an example of the impact on the neighbourhood?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Musical Notes: The Vaudevillian – 1920’s Rock Stars

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews The Vaudevillian

I was in N'Awlins(New Orleans) back in September walking down Frenchman Street where the locals go to hear music (not Bourbon Street where all the tourists go). In a staired doorway were five young people playing old time jazz/blues. The instruments included an old guitar, banjo, washtub bass with one string, a glass gallon jug and a guy with a washboard and a kazoo in his mouth. The song they were singing was about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and a dog surfing down the street on his doghouse. I wondered if the dog sleeping in the guitar case full of money was the one they were singing about. This was a Jug Band popularized in the teens and 1920's. This style of music with based on home made instruments inspired many genres of music : Jass(Jazz), Blues, Country & Western, Blue Grass, Roots, Ragtime and even Rock. Many of the great Jazz players got their start in Jug Bands Like Louie Armstrong, King Oliver(cornet), Willie "The Lion" Smith(piano), and Lonnie Johnson(guitar). This is the style of music being done by Brendan J Stephens and Willow Walker of The Vaudevillian. 

I first heard Brendan playing in a parking lot on James street during July 2014 Artcrawl. I couldn’t believe my ears. Here was this young man playing music that was written almost 100yrs ago. I knew Willow was missing because I had seen photographs on Facebook by Cyndi Ingle, Willow had an old washboard hanging from her neck and a Black Bird Studio designed dress. I later heard them both play at their cd release for their latest album “Salty Dog”. Their performance is electrifying; they

Friday, April 17, 2015

Media Release: New Funding for Transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

New Funding for Transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

A group of transportation leaders released the following statement today

April 17th, 2015 – The congestion in the GTHA has reached a breaking point and with our region growing quickly, the need to implement Metrolinx’s Big Move transportation plan is more urgent than ever. The Ontario Government’s 2014 Budget announcement of $15 billion in new dedicated funding to this plan was a great step forward for residents and businesses of the region.

We applaud the Government’s announcement yesterday of more than a billion dollars in new dedicated funding for transit service and new capital projects in the GTHA. We look forward to hearing specifics in the coming weeks around how it will be invested and the basis for those decisions.

These commitments are a helpful step towards building the regional transportation system we need, but our work is far from done. Full implementation of the Big Move, with construction, operating and maintenance expenses, is estimated to cost around $80 billion, leaving roughly $50 billion still unfunded. We also need to make sure projects are planned and prioritized in a smart and transparent way and that planned and approved projects stay on schedule and can be easily monitored and tracked by the public.

We look forward to seeing the government move forward on the implementation of this important initiative and support their commitment to building an integrated regional transportation system for the GTHA.


“It's great to see an additional injection of funding towards our regional transportation network,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction. "We look forward to more projects and improvements getting off the ground in the near future for the sake of our region's residents and business."

“Building public support for new revenue sources to build our region’s needed transportation infrastructure has been at the forefront of our advocacy for many years,” said Jan De Silva, President & CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade “This funding will create good jobs while improving our region’s productivity by modernizing our infrastructure to reduce congestion.”

“There is no shortage of areas that the government could have chosen to invest in with the proceeds of an asset sale,” said John Brodhead, Executive Director of Evergreen CityWorks. “It is a strong signal of the government’s support of public transit and transportation infrastructure that they chose this as their priority.”

Signed by:
David Suzuki Foundation
Evergreen CityWorks
The Pembina Institute
Toronto Region Board of Trade

Media Release: Hamilton takes up Mayor’s Poetry Challenge

Hamilton takes up Mayor’s Poetry Challenge

Local poet to perform at April 22 Council meeting

Hamilton, ON, April 17, 2015 – Earlier this year Mayor Fred Eisenberger took up the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge issued by Calgary Mayor, Naheed Nenshi. The “Challenge” is to have a local poet read aloud at a council meeting to mark National Poetry Month in April, celebrating poetry, writing, small presses and the contribution of poets and all writers. Hamilton is one of 70 participating municipalities.

“The Mayor’s Poetry Challenge is a great opportunity to provide a forum for poets to share their talents and for Hamilton to celebrate the contribution of poetry to cultural life in our community.” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

To select the poet, Mayor Eisenberger invited Hamilton residents to submit works of original poetry through an open competition. Published or unpublished poems submitted could be any style, but had to have a connection to the theme “Hamilton”. The poetry competition received over 40 entries and the jury was composed of poets Amanda Jernigan, Paul Lisson and J.S Porter and Kerry Cranston-Reimer, co-owner of Bryan Prince Bookseller.

Hamilton will complete the challenge on Wednesday, April 22, where poet John Terpstra will read his winning poems "The Highway That Became a Footpath” and “Giants” in Council Chambers starting at 5:00pm. In addition, Council will be recognizing the challenge’s Honourable Mentions: “Night Slides” by Chris Pannell, "Eight stanzas for Radial Trail" by Ryan Pratt and “Burlington Heights” by Paddy Chitty. Members of the public are welcome to attend the Council meeting which takes place at City Hall, 71 Main Street West.

For more information about the Mayor’s Poetry Challenge and to read the winning and honourable mention poems, please visit www.hamilton.ca/loveyourcity