Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Media Release- A Community Conversation with Mayoral Candidates

For Immediate Release

A Community Conversation with Mayoral Candidates will take place at the Central Library on Monday September 22nd at 4:30 p.m.

The candidates for Mayor of Hamilton will meet with residents in a unique format designed so that the candidates can interact closely with community members.

The event is co-hosted by the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction (HRPR) and Hamilton Community Legal Clinic/Clinique juridique communautaire de Hamilton (HCLC). The following candidates have confirmed their participation: Michael Baldasaro, Ejaz Butt, Brad Clark, Fred Eisenberger, Crystal Lavigne and Brian McHattie.

“The candidates will make introductory remarks and then move into small Conversation Circles,” says Tom Cooper, Director of the HRPR.

The co-hosts are interested in promoting dialogue on poverty issues and how the municipality can address them. In the Conversation Circles, facilitators will direct the discussion into five identified areas.

Hugh Tye, Executive Director of the Community Legal Clinic identified the five issues:

“We are particularly interested in exploring the Living Wage concept, finding ways to promote Inclusive Communities, enhancing housing stability benefits, improving and making our public transit system more accessible and generating ideas on how to build much needed affordable housing.”

The meeting is open to the public. Registration is requested at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-conversation-with-mayoral-candidates-tickets-12932380097

Why is a Rental Housing Licence so important? by Ira Rosen

Several years ago, I was watching, with concern, the neighbourhood where I live rapidly change from a family-rich environment to a predominantly student-based area. If you have lived in the area your entire life you would know that although there have been some rewards with the increase in student population there have also been some unfortunate outcomes including behavior related issues like noise disturbances, visual degradation to many properties as well as safety related concerns.

Instead of just filing complaints and expecting someone else to do the work, I took action and became more engaged in my community by taking my first step into the public arena almost a decade ago as a founding member of the “Westdale Heritage Housing Action Committee." This group’s mission was to determine if there was value in having “Westdale proper” designated as a heritage site, thereby stemming the growth of “monster” student houses in the area. After a year, this group presented their recommendation to the Ward 1 Councillor; there was no clear mandate to move forward and therefore the committee disbanded.

My next step was to join the AWWCA (Ainslie Wood Westdale Community Association). We have focused our attention on trying different ways to deal with the issues around rental conversions. I worked closely with Bylaw representatives as well as the Hamilton Police Services and we carefully monitored other communities who were also trying to find ways to deal with similar issues. During my time with the AWWCA, there have been many improvements. Both Bylaw and Police became more proactive when dealing with unwanted behavior and McMaster University hired two additional Police Officers to monitor the area during peak times.

Upon the request of our Ward 1 Councillor, I was asked to participate as a member of the Liaison Committee for a Rental Housing Licence Bylaw. I learned a great deal from that experience, including that there are many subtle nuances that must be addressed when creating such a bylaw.

We learned that several communities were working on similar bylaws and they were invited to our Committee to share their ideas and proposals. Each community ended up with a slightly different version of a rental licence; some specific to certain areas and some city-wide. In 2008 the City of Oshawa enacted their version of a Rental Housing Licence Bylaw followed by the City of Waterloo in 2012 and the City of London in 2013, to name a few.

One of the concerns when dealing with such a licence is to ensure that you are not targeting one specific group, e.g. students, because this could be seen as a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code - which is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific social areas such as jobs, housing, services, facilities, and contracts or agreements - and this was one of the primary reasons why the City of Hamilton Rental Housing licence proposal was city-wide.

The proposal was turned down as not all of the wards were having the same issues and many were concerned that a citywide bylaw could add to renters’ costs, and this could affect many low income families; and, due to the idea of limiting the amount of room in a residence, this could affect many existing rentals, possibly leaving some renters with reduced options.

Although in the past we did have issues regarding a small percentage of students, my primary issue and those of many of the permanent residents of the Ward is with absentee landlords, i.e. property owners who don’t even live in the community and negligent property management firms who have no investment in our communities.

To address such situations, a rental licence can be designed to include a wide variety of conditions like a yard maintenance plan, a waste management plan, a snow removal plan and most importantly, access to the home by City Inspectors to ensure safety and building standards are being adhered to.

Clearly, the need to create a licence is of paramount importance; however, we must be very careful how we go about it. By proposing a pilot project, we have the opportunity to determine all the resulting factors and nothing is permanently affected. Targeting the area most affected by the issue will give us the best results to work with, e.g. targeting an area where the rentals are being used by a cross-section of renters other than students only; we eliminate the possibility of violating the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Moving forward I believe we will have the greatest success by proposing a two-year pilot project focused on the Ainslie Wood community. In targeting this area, we will not require a high volume of staff - perhaps one full-time Inspector - and there are many who rent in the area who are not students, ensuring a non-targeted market segment.

Finally, the importance of a rental licence lies in that it provides the City with a tool which, if used correctly, will not penalize responsible property owners but will ensure that there is a level playing field for renters and neighbourhoods in that all properties will meet the same standards. By doing so permanent residence will feel a sense of fairness and students will not be forced to live in sub standard conditions.

Ira Rosen
Candidate Ward 1 Councillor

Do you have an article you would like to send to The Hamiltonian for publication consideration? Send it to admin@thehamiltonian.info

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Introducing Catherine (Katie) Chisholm

Catherine (Katie) Chisholm
The Hamiltonian is pleased to introduce a new addition to our team. Catherine (Katie) Chisholm will be helping us cover the municipal election. The following is a little bit about her: 

Katie  is from Dundas, Ontario and developed an interest in local political issues while attending high school in Hamilton. Hamilton’s refocusing of economic activity – from manufacturing to healthcare, education, and the arts – has come with conflict over the directions the city’s leaders should take. Katie is interested in reporting on these conflicts, within both the official municipal power systems and in new types of social movements occurring outside of the elected city government. Katie studied Political Science at the University of Toronto and is presently in a Master of Arts program in Public Policy at McMaster.

Welcome Katie to The Hamiltonian!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Baldasaro Releases Platform Planks


I entered the 2014 G.H.A. “Greater Hamilton Area”, Municipal Election because of what
my fellow Plebeians/Common Folk tell me they want done:

austerity. As Mayor I’ll cut my salary by 1/3. Hamilton has a 6 million dollar infrastructure deficit. CAD $1.2 trillion across federal and provincial governments. Take note: we’re broke!

Plebiscites on the Ballot on issues such as Fluoride, LRT;

RIGHT TO VOTE Section 3 of the Municipal Elections Act discriminates by reason of age by excluding those under the age of 19 from voting. We never get too old to vote! Can't remember your name, no problem, your vote is counted via PROXY by your children. So why not the other way around, they vote for you? Note: Alcohol should not be a youths coming of age rite, voting should.

BRT Transit. No further than 30 minutes apart, throughout the G.H.A., Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook, Hamilton, Mount Hope and Stoney Creek;

Street Signs Easy to read over-sized on ALL major intersections;

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Meet Carlos Pinho- Contender Ward 3

While running a $0 campaign, I prefer to meet each and everyone of you in ward three in person. Would rather see corporate sponsorship go to our parks or feed the less fortunate. I have always believed in public service and volunteering my time to make this community a better place. born and raised in Hamilton for 44 years and have raised our three children in this community.

As your elected Councillor I will be vigilant and considerate of all the issues while handling them responsibly. I am ready to work in a change driven environment in order to respond in a timely manner. I will be part of a team, which believes in transparency and integrity in governing Hamilton. My focus will be to make Ward 3 a better place to live for your family and for generations to come.

Fixing our roads & stopping backed up sewer flooding by investing in long term and innovative solutions to fix pot holes and to repair the obsolete drainage system. I plan to be an advocate for Ward 3 in City council to ensure road maintenance and snow removal is a top priority for the City. I am in favour of ideas such as conducting more blading in the winter months and using less salt because it undermines the integrity of our roads.

Please vote Carlos Pinho for City Councillor, for Ward 3 Hamilton on Monday October 27, 2014

Thank you.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak -What’s on the Menu?

What’s on the Menu?

People think it would be nice to go back in time sometimes, perhaps in pursuit of a more genteel era, where the food was slower, if not necessarily more sustainable. Well now one can. Literally.

The New York Public Library has a “What’s on the Menu” site where over 17,000 (and counting) historic menus are archived. It’s well worth a few minutes to scan, and visitors to the site can even take on some reviewing functions if they’d like to contribute to the ongoing transcription process.

It’s fascinating to see what patrons at clubs like the Bohemian, Banker’s, Chemist’s, Cotillion, Gridiron or Papyrus clubs, among many others, were partaking of in the late 1800s, or having for breakfast on the high seas as the SS America steamed on and 1953 drew to a close. For instance diners at the Boston-based Papyrus Club tackled an imposing repast that included Fried Soft Shell Crabs, Fillet of Beef, and Loin of Spring lamb. Refreshed by “Roman Punch” they went on to

Monday, September 1, 2014

Meet Ward 4 Contender Lorna Moreau

Hello, I'm Lorna Moreau, Ward 4 City Council Candidate. I have been living in the Ward 4 community for 35 years. During that time I have always been a vocal advocate for our constituency and Hamilton as a whole. I must be doing something right; the city has recognized me with The Lifetime Achievement Award, The Innovation Award, and The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

I settled and stayed in Ward 4 because I love the people. They are hardworking, kind and resilient. But over the past 15 years, I can't begin to express my disappointment at the steady and rapid decline in our representation. This situation and recent events have shown me that WE ARE NOT HEARD, nor are we represented or respected.

It is a fact that Ward 4 is in bad shape, and it's getting worse. Ward 4 leads, infamously, the entire city in unemployment, high school dropouts, single parent families and social service recipients. And from what I see daily, we are close to leading with the most Temp-Agencies and cash-lending storefronts. These are all disturbing indicators of what Ward 4 has become. The last thing we need is

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tony Fallis Clarifies

With respect to the following story, (click here), Tony Fallis Manager of Elections/Print & Mail, provided The Hamiltonian with the following clarification through our Q/A with him:

Q. With reference to this story, http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2014/08/bad-brad.html a claim was made that you advised that the signs in question were “ok” according to the municipal election rules. Can you confirm as to what you advised and what the city’s position is on this matter?

A. I did not advise that the signs were ok. That decision would be made by the Municipal Law Enforcement office of the City of Hamilton.

Candidates are responsible for the interpretation of the Municipal Elections Act. On legislation they are not comfortable with they are advised by the Elections Office to seek advice either from their attorney or an accountant dependent upon the sections of the Act they are concerned about.

The Elections Office does not give advice on the interpretation of the MEA. Interestingly the Province of Ontario, the legislative body that writes the Act, will also not interpret the Act.

Hope this helps,
Tony Fallis
Manager of Elections/Print & Mail