Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Cost of Taking LRT?

Based on a number of queries we received about what the net cost of a fare will be to a customer who will use LRT in Hamilton, and based on some other concerns regarding hydro rates, we touched base with Metrolinx. Enjoy our chat with them:

Light Rail is largely dependent on hydro. With the increases in hydro costs, some are wondering how this will impact the costs associated with running LRT and whether the increase in hydro costs in Ontario will cause an increase to the price of a LRT fair. Can you comment on this, and are there any plans to mitigate the costing to LRT operations for hydro expenses? If so, how will this take place and for how long?

The project team is currently working in partnership with the local hydro utility (Horizon) to assess power requirements for the project. Final costs, and the impact of those costs on the proposed fare will depend on the results of this work. This will be confirmed through the procurement process to select the proponent that will build and operate the project.

As part of the procurement process, bidders will be required to propose options to reduce energy use both to reduce operating costs and to enhance sustainability.

Most people will appreciate the fact that implementing LRT is a complicated project involving many moving pieces, many infrastructure challenges and many partners in the mix. It is also a multi year endeavor. Regardless, everyday Hamiltonians have a legitimate claim to distilling all that into a simple question: At the end of the day, how much will it cost me to get from McMaster University to Eastgate Square, using a LRT to HSR combination? Has there been any modeling of this cost and if so, can you share a range associated with the fare costs. If that is a cost to be determined by the results of a future RFP process, how can a cost/benefit be projected at the onset, without modeling this cost consideration? In absence of some sense of final costs to the consumer, some may suggest that we are embarking on a large and complicated project, blind to the net impact on the end user. How do you respond to that?

Fare levels have not yet been determined, however both the City of Hamilton and Metrolinx share a common goal of ensuring that transfers between HSR and the Hamilton LRT are seamless and easy.

Decisions on operating and maintenance costs, including LRT fare revenues and fare integration with local transit services will be addressed through the Operations and Maintenance Agreement between Metrolinx and the City of Hamilton. This agreement will be negotiated prior to contract award in 2018.

A business case for the Hamilton LRT was completed by Metrolinx in cooperation with the City in 2010. The final report is available on the Metrolinx website at: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/projectevaluation/benefitscases/Benefits_Case-Hamilton.pdf

Monday, January 16, 2017

Media Release: Funding Available for Access to Outdoor Education

For Immediate Release: Monday, January 16, 2017

The Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) and Hamilton Conservation Foundation are pleased to offer the 2017 Access to Outdoor Education Transportation Grant for At Risk and Inner City schools participating in the HCA’s Outdoor Environmental Education Programs.

The Access to Outdoor Education Transportation Grant is an initiative of the Hamilton Conservation Foundation and is supported in part by the Edith Turner Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation. The focus of this grant is to provide free transportation to those schools that face economic challenges and provide an opportunity for less fortunate students to connect to nature and the outdoors through active, hands-on, learning experiences.

This grant is available to eligible Elementary & Secondary schools in the Hamilton area that participate in the HCA’s Outdoor Environmental Education Programs.

We are proud of our on-going partnership with Hamilton area school boards and are delighted to offer this transportation grant for schools that otherwise may not have been able to afford the cost of bussing.

Applications are now available at www.conservationhamilton.ca for interested schools. Limited spaces are available and schools will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Classic Rock Show- a Chat with James Cole

The Hamiltonian touched base with British Touring Car Championship racing driver James Cole, who off the track is a full time musician and tour promoter. James' latest endevour is his involvement in the Classic Rock show, which will soon be touching down in Hamilton. The show will feature the greatest songs right across the 'Alphabet of Rock', from AC/DC and Aerosmith to Eric Clapton, The Eagles, ELO, Lynyrd Skynyrd,Meatloaf, and Queen to The Who, Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and everything in between. It's a must see for fans of this era or fans of great music. To learn more about the show click here. To purchase tickets, click here. 

Enjoy our chat with James:

James- you have a fruitful career as a British Touring Car Championship racing driver. What drew your interest to the Classic Rock Show. What is the nature if your involvement and how did you become engaged in this? Are you still racing as well?

My relationship with CRS (The Classic Rock Show) started many years ago. CRS used to be a side project for the band Brit Floyd. It became apparent that Brit Floyd was going from strength to strength meaning there wasn't the time for some of the original members to focus on the show. It took over 3 years ago. I have the fun job of choosing the songs, tour ideas, etc… Its such a challenge but great fun!

Yes I am still racing, entering my 2nd year with Subaru BMR Racing in the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship). Fantastic Championship, lots of wheel to wheel racing and all Live on ITV4!

What makes the 'A-Z of Rock' for a World tour” special. What is it about the show that will dazzle fans?

The most exciting part of this years tour is we have made a deliberate effort to perform much more variety of bands than ever before. The classic rock genre is so huge now there is so much choice! I think we have a fantastic set which includes AC/DC all the way to ZZ Top and everything in between.

What makes the classic rock era so special and what would you say about it, relative to the newer music that is being released today?

That's a very difficult question to truly answer as I can only speak for myself, a guy who certainly wasn't around in that era. Few people would deny that this genre has some of the best music ever written under its wing, The Beatles, Zeppelin, The Stones, Hendrix, The Doors… I could go on…
I felt a very strong connection to this music from such an early age, maybe it's because I was brought up in Liverpool and my Mum always had a Beatles CD in the car. Hearing Status Quo for the 1st time made me want to instantly start learning the guitar. I guess the bug just grew and grew!

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about this event, or about next steps in your career path?

For readers who may not have been to our shows before, please don't think of us as a ‘cover’ band. There are no wigs, costumes, etc… We are all about the music. I always try and use the analogy of an orchestra, we are a group of respectful musicians trying our best to perform these songs with a level of detail not done before. We want the audience to be able to close their eyes and be taken back to the 1st time they heard these songs on record or on the radio. If we can do that I’ll be very happy!!

Thanks James! A special shout out to our friends in Liverpool!

The following are video samples from previous tours:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Media release: Mayor Eisenberger, Public Health Convene Opioid Response Summit

HAMILTON, ON – January 10, 2017 – Mayor Fred Eisenberger and City of Hamilton Public Health Services convenes Opioid Response Summit scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2017 to discuss opioids and the emergence of high potency opioids, such as carfentanil, in Hamilton. Invitees include representatives from the Coroner's Office, Hamilton Police Service, Hamilton Paramedic Service, Hamilton Fire Service, emergency departments, primary care, community health organizations, addictions and harm reduction services, and housing, along with those with lived experience.

“All opioid misuse is a concern as it harms individuals, families, communities, and also puts pressure on first responders, the health care system, and community services” says Dr. Jessica Hopkins, City of Hamilton Associate Medical Officer of Health, “this summit is about mobilizing key institutions to better understand our collective challenges and opportunities to effectively prevent and respond to increased overdoses.”

“This is an issue we take very seriously. Ultimately we want to prevent overdoses and deaths, and promote health in the community” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “I had the opportunity this past November 18, 2016 to listen in on the day long Opioid Conference held in Ottawa. This has been characterized as a crisis in Canada, with dire warnings and predictions for the situation worsening in the Eastern Provinces.

I am proud to champion this issue and continue to lend my support in convening a table of local leaders and stakeholders to forge a partnership to deal with this together. Additionally, I will be participating in an observation with the Van Needle Syringe program in the next couple of weeks to observe firsthand the situation in our community at street-level.”

City of Hamilton Comprehensive Approach to Drug and Substance Misuse

Locally Public Health Services uses the Four Pillar approach to guide work to decrease the risks of drug and substance misuse in Hamilton and optimize health in the community. The Four Pillar approach involves: Prevention, Harm Reduction, Treatment, and Enforcement.

Harm Reduction acknowledges that people do use drugs and is about preventing the harms caused by drug use through interventions to decrease the health effects and keep individuals, families, and the community safer. Immediate goals of harm reduction include saving lives, decreasing disease, and improving public spaces; while longer-term goals may help clients to better engage in the health or social service system leading to the potential to decrease or stop drug misuse.

Link of the Moment

Click here to go there....

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Predictions for 2016- the Results Are In

While The Hamiltonian has taken a break this year from asking for predictions for 2017, the following is a reprint of the predictions our Perspectives Virtual Panel made for 2016. Check out what they said against what transpired.

The instructions we provided were as follows:

Each year The Hamiltonian asks our Perspectives Virtual Panel do do a little crystal ball gazing and make their predictions as to what might happen in Hamilton in this new year.

Due to the popularity of the format we used last year, we once again asked them to capture their predictions in the form of a headline that might appear in a newspaper. We also invited them to create an optional one paragraph description under the headline to further explain it.

We suggested that headlines can be based on predictions that may come to be, and/or may be formed in a light hearted comedic way. The only thing we asked is that the submissions not be mean spirited or otherwise violate our site policy.

Enjoy these predictive headlines submitted by our Perspectives Virtual Panel:

Presented in alphabetical order by surname:

Predictions For the year 2016

Headlines by Graham Crawford

City of Hamilton Pushes Ahead With Flawed Plan for Piers 7 & 8
Despite concerns expressed by a number of residents, the City of Hamilton is moving ahead with a plan to sell most of the land we own at Piers 7 & 8 to the private sector. Some members of the community voiced concerns about there being too little land allocated for public use other than a perimeter path along the edge of Pier 8. The City was criticized for putting money (sale price and new residential/commercial taxes) over bold designs for public space in the last remaining piece of publicly owned waterfront land next to widely admired and used Bayfront Park and Pier 4.

Council Votes to Support Innovative Plans to Address CityHousing Issues
The Board of CityHousing has announced an innovative approach to making a big difference to the lives of many people currently in, and currently waiting for, affordable housing. Through a combination of repurposing of assets, multi-level government partnerships, and innovative agreements with local developers, existing housing units will be repaired and new ones added in an ambitious 5-year plan. The plan required some true out-of-the-box thinking by Board members and Council. Although not a full solution to the complex challenges related to affordable housing, the plan has been hailed as being the most progressive and ambitious in decades.

City Manager Releases Results of Dennison Benchmark Culture Survey
City Manager, Chris Murray, has agreed to Council’s request to the public release of results of an employee survey being used as a benchmark against which progress toward changing the damaged working culture at City Hall will be measured. Some Councillors were hesitant to push for the release of the information, but the majority said that openness and transparency outweighed the original decision to keep the data confidential. One Councillor said, “We bought ads in local media announcing we had been selected as one of the top 15 employers in Hamilton-Niagara, which I support. But, I also support sharing not only good news, but all of the news. We need to know where we stand, where we’re trying to go, as well as the kind of progress we’re making to close this very important gap. I want all residents to be part of this, not just a few select bureaucrats.”

Council Votes to Revisit Flawed Basse ‘Shovegate' Report and Apologizes For Their Silence in 2015

In a move that has caught many City hall watchers by surprise, Council has voted to revisit the report submitted by then-Integrity Commissioner, Earl Basse, regarding his much criticized investigation into ‘Shovegate”, the incident that saw Councillor and Police Service Board Chair, Lloyd Ferguson, physically grab and shove journalist Joey Coleman in the lobby of City Hall. After an oddly edited surveillance video was released that raised even more questions, Council agreed to revisit its nearly unanimous decision to receive Mr. Basse’s report even though he interviewed neither witnesses nor the victim. Council said, in a joint statement, they had erred in not questioning Mr. Basse’s decision to only interview Mr. Ferguson and including comments seemingly designed to provide a rationale, or worse an excuse, for Ferguson’s behaviours as well as comments that seemed to question Mr. Coleman’s journalistic integrity.

Council Agrees to Use New Our Future Hamilton Vision As Basis For All Council Discussions and Votes
Despite a discussion that at times bordered on the vitriolic, the majority of Councillors agreed finally to adopt the Our Future Hamilton Vision as its touchstone for the rest of this term of Council. The decision means the Vision, developed by an extensive consultation with tens of thousands of Hamiltonians, will be used formally in strategic planning, resource allocation, priority setting, and well as during Council debates on key, city-wide issues. One Councillor commented, “It’s about time we actually used the vision we created to help guide our discussions and decisions. Too often in the past, the vision was an exercise and not a strategic tool. I think adopting the vision in the way we have will keep us focused and transparent. It’s important for all Hamiltonians to see how what we decide contributes to helping to realize the vision we’re all chasing.”

Headlines by Larry DiIanni

Police Services Board Selects New Chief
After what was perceived to be a too authoritative choice the last time, the Police Services Board with Council's approval, selected Marineland's Barky the Trained Seal as the city's new chief cop.

Said, one Councillor on the Board, "We saved the taxpayers lots of money. Sardines are pretty cheap". And another boasted that 'carding' would not be allowed by Chief Barky. In fact, when it was suggested that it be outlawed, the Seal clapped vigorously. Another observer noted that Chief Barky pretty well likes and claps for everything he hears, making this one of the most peaceful tenures any chief will ever enjoy.

Police Services Board Selects New Chief...Again!
After a successful challenge by PETA, Hamilton's PSB has regretfully reversed its latest nominee, Barky the Trained Seal, in favour of a more experienced, albeit equally daring choice, for police Chief. The new nominee has much experience in the political scene at the national level which he has just involuntarily retired from. Although not coming from the police ranks, he has loads of expertise in law and order matters and consensus-of-one building. He has often taken the law into his own hands when the situation suited and has used force majeur to stifle opposition and silence those against his ways. Carding is not in the game plan for the new Chief, but outlawing 'barbaric multicultural practices like Oktoberfest and Festitalia are in his sights.

New Hamilton Chief Stephen Harper will move from Calgary to Westdale where he proudly says, "The West of the City is finally in!"

LRT off the Table for Hamilton

In a surprise announcment made by Charles Sousa, the Province is withdrawing its offer of $1.3B to construct a cross town LRT system. The Finance Minister cited delays in construction as the reason for taking the allotment away from the city. "Listen! Use it or Lose It! The Premier officially announced the money in the summer but I pre-announced last April 1 (see Di Ianni's 2015 headlines) nearly 10 months ago. That is ample time to at least put the first spike, if not the last, on the road. I see nothing and therefore you get nothing. Period." Mayor Fred Eisenberger, although dismayed, said that he understood the Finance Minister's Point, but vowed that with or without the Province LRT would find its way onto the 2018 re-election platform. "And that is a promise," he vowed.

Casino Sarcoa Opens to Great Fanfare
After the city's legal fight with the owners of Sarcoa over the noisy night club scene, a compromise has been found in a brand spanking new gaming casino. The loud thump of rock bands will be replaced by the mellifluous slot machine ringing of winning bells and chimes, which apparently only happen rarely anyway, satisfying local neighbours and pesky Burlingtonians.
Chief Croupier Graham Crawford was quoted as saying, "it's not as if I objected to all Casinos, it's just that the James Street location was a problem. And anyway, the job is fun!"

Ward Boundary Status Quo Rejected

Council rejected the citizen's panel recommendation for a status quo configuration on Hamilton City Council in favour of keeping all the same 15 wards, but forcing any mayoralty candidate to face off against 15 different candidates in each ward. "That is real change", cited one of the Councillors who scoffed at the prediction that Councillors would opt for the same-old, same-old. What if 15 different people win the mayoralty in each ward? , he was asked. "Well 15 heads are better than one, right?" was the terse reply.
It does make some sense if you don't think about it!

Headlines by Adrian Duyzer

Whitehead Proposes Moratorium On Downtown
Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead has proposed a sweeping moratorium on downtown. The motion begins with “Whereas, downtown. Need I say more?” does indeed go on to say more, including among its clauses the “immediate cessation of downtown” and the "renaming of the area formerly known as the 'lower city'" as the “Mountain Resident Highway Access/Parking Zone”.

Hamilton Adopts New Motto
City Council has voted in favour of adopting a new vision statement for Hamilton. The new statement, “To be the best place in Canada to adopt vision statements,” replaces the previous vision, which was "To be the best place in Canada to raise a child, promote innovation, engage citizens and provide diverse economic opportunities.” Although the decision was not without controversy, City Manager Chris Murray strongly defended the new statement, stating, “It was important to us that our vision be something actionable and achievable that builds on our strengths and proven capabilities.”

Bob Bratina Hires Military Consultant

In a move that has raised eyebrows in the community, Member of Parliament Bob Bratina has announced he has hired a military consultant. “Hamilton always has been, historically, a military town. It continues to be,” said Bratina, defending the decision. Asked why a military advisor was needed for the generally peaceful riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Bratina said he needed advice on dealing with memorial installations and the growing influence of “renegade urbanists and bloggers”.

Headlines by Marvin Ryder

Canadian Dollar hits 68 cents U.S.
Iran starting selling its crude supply without the shadow of embargo in January. This exacerbated the flood of crude oil in the world and the price per barrel of oil fell below $30 US in February. Alberta Tar Sands oil was being sold for less than $20 US per barrel. A third whammy happened when the Bank of Canada cut its overnight prime rate by another 0.25% followed a week later with the Federal Reserve Board in the US raising its prime rate by 0.25%. Just in time for the March school break, it took $1.47 Cdn to buy $1.00 U.S.

Honeymoon Ends for Trudeau Liberals

After enjoying almost six months of "sunny ways" with the Canadian people, the love affair with the Federal Liberals ended with the first budget tabled mid-March. Although the Liberals had pledged to keep the Federal deficit below $10 billion, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced an anticipated deficit of $15 billion. He cited a number of factors - lower than expected oil royalties, lower government revenues because of the "middle class tax cut", an inherited non-balanced budget from the Conservatives, and the need to spend more money on infrastructure especially in light of the green initiatives approved in Paris in December, 2015. Perhaps the biggest surprise was no discussion of legally distributing marijuana in Canada. Many voters had hoped marijuana would be available starting on 4/20/2016 but the Liberal budget set no timeline other than committing to "broad consultation" in 2016.

U.S. Steel Bankruptcy Imminent
In January, six days of hearings into the debts owed by U.S. Steel Canada to its American parent resulted in a March ruling by the judge that the parent is a preferred creditor owed almost $2.3 billion. By June, U.S. Steel in America had rallied the preferred creditors to bring an end to the court-ordered restructuring of U.S. Steel Canada. The creditors demanded payment of their debt and petitioned the court to put U.S. Steel Canada into bankruptcy while supervising a sale of assets. The situation for pensioners of U.S. Steel Canada remained confused as the unfunded liability in the pension plan was listed as a debt by the American parent company as part of its $2.3 billion total. The confusion only got worse after a provincial $3.0 million fund to pay benefits for retirees expired at the end of March. There was no additional money forthcoming to continue the post-retirement benefits.

Who Owes Tiger-Cats Compensation?
In May, the Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football Club filed a statement of damages against the City of Hamilton for lost revenue and inconvenience due to delays in the construction of Tim Horton's Field. Within weeks, the City filed matching claims against Infrastructure Ontario expecting I.O. to then file a matching suit against Ontario Sports Solutions. In a surprise move, I.O. did not file a suit as it noted O.S.S. had declared bankruptcy and had no money to pay. I.O.'s response was to ask a judge to dismiss the lawsuit saying the City's problems were with the stadium contractor. The City was reluctant to pay the Tiger-Cat damages with no prospects of recovering the money from another party. As the CFL season began, there were concerns about the fiscal health of the Tiger-Cats. The money from the lawsuit could turn out to be critical to the team remaining solvent.

Popular Local Citizens Named as Senators
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was faced with a large number of vacancies in the Senate. Though he pledged to reform the Senate, he had to keep the institution functioning until reforms could be decided. On April 1, Trudeau named forty Canadians to the Senate. These people came from every province and territory and, keeping with his cabinet appointments, were gender-equal. Hamilton saw two of its citizens appointed to the Senate. Ken Welch, the long-time sports journalist who lost his job in December, 2015, was placed into the Senate along with local environmentalist, Lynda Lukasik. Lukasik's appointment coincided with a new standing committee in the Senate on Environmental Issues.