Monday, July 25, 2016

Dr. Chris Higgins on Clr. Whitehead's work on LRT

The Hamiltonian has received the following link (click here to go there) from Dr. Higgins, as his observsations related to Clr. Whitehead's submission, found here

On LRT- The 1 Billion, Two Hundred Thousand Dollar Question

Sitting across the table from me, Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead sifts through a myriad of reports and data sources, related to LRT.

The Councillor  goes to great lengths to demonstrate why LRT as envisioned conceptually, fails the acid test once the data and all else is considered.

Whitehead's case is well researched.

Armed with binders worth of reports, and having gone  through the tedious excersise of cross referencing materials, following the numbers and shaking out the information, the councillor struggles with trying to make the current direction make sense.

"It's important we get this right." Whitehead says. "We're only going to get one kick at something like this, and we need to make sure it's right."

Methodically, the councillor takes me through a checklist of pre-conditions for LRT to succeed in Hamilton.  His list includes things like: 
  • need of destination to destination spine,
  • need for park and ride provisions
  • LRT as a response to a congestion problem- (which the councillor submits that Hamilton does not have)
  • need to incorporate burst lines as feeders 
  • need to increase ridership during peak hours to 2000, rather than the 1100 which the councilor submits begs riders off of lines that will continue to exist, thus seemingly making the 1100 number seem inflated or otherwise unreliable. Moreover, the councilor submits that even if we were to accept the 1100 number, it will still not be enough to make LRT self sustaining.
  • need to land assemble around the stations- which Hamilton is not doing. 
  • need for growing population and job centres around the stations

all of which the councillor has found problematic and barriers to success.

The councillor goes on to discuss the King street vs. Main street option and comes up empty when trying to find a compelling reason for King over Main. The Councillor talks about how there are significantly less heritage buildings to contend with in a Main street implementation verse a King, and how building a bridge as part of the King street option (at a cost of 30 million) would be unnecessary over a Main street approach. He also points out that King street is 500 meters longer, which drives out a cost of 30 million. He submits that King Street is plagued with a pinch point at the International Village with inadequate width to avoid traffic obstructions. 

Whitehead knows some are trying to label him an obstructionist. He points to his responsibility to excersize due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers of Hamilton; especially in light of anticipated ongoing costs.   He knows that a 1 Billion dollar offering weighs heavily on the discussion. So, the Councillor continues to look for a way to make it work, so that it makes sense for Hamiltonians.

But his efforts take him to a summary conclusion: two hundred million additional dollars over the next 10 years will have to be injected in order to address the pre-conditions that he has found necessary for LRT to have a chance of success. Much of the two hundred million, if not all, must be used to address the list of criteria referenced above. And this begs a further question as to whether LRT is, in fact, the best way to proceed. 

The councillor has definitely laboured over this matter and can't be accused of not doing his homework.  He has gone as far as creating a detailed webpage in which he shares his conclusions and sources. It can be found by clicking here. 

The Hamiltonian encourages our readers to read the webpage in its entirety and draw your own conclusions as to the councillor's research and arguments.

In the interim, Clr. Whitehead's arguments suggest that to get it right, LRT is really a 1 Billion, 2 hundred thousand dollar expenditure, if Hamilton is to increase its chances of making LRT work. And with that, the question is raised as to whether there will be a appetite to throw more money at the issue, or whether it is best to revisit the whole mode and design.

Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

Thanks to Clr. Whitehead for engaging with Hamiltonians via The Hamiltonian.

Note: The Hamiltonian will not post any comments that are disrespectful or otherwise unprofessional against the Councillor or others. Please debate the issues respectfully. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

With Police Chief Girt: On Forensics Building requirements

Many of our readers will know that the Police Services has, for some time, pursued funding for a new Forensics building. The following chat with Chief Girt explores this issue:

1. Chief Girt. We note that the funding for a new forensic centre that the police is seeking remains unresolved. Can you explain to Hamiltonians why having this centre is important. How will it help police and how what impact will it have on the best interests of Hamiltonians?

The highest priority for the Hamilton Police Service is the need to upgrade its Forensic laboratory. In addition, the Service is faced with a 50,000 square foot space deficit. To retrofit the existing Forensic Identification Unit (FIU) is an expensive option that would interrupt forensics operations and not address the Service’s overall space needs challenges. The shortfall in space has required the dispersion of various units of the Investigative Services Division in four different police facilities creating significant inefficiencies. This dual need was reviewed and acknowledged by the Hamilton Police Services Board in 2010 and re-affirmed in 2014.

The current FIU configuration and space allocation creates significant risk to the Service and the City

Monday, July 11, 2016

On Fire- With Fire Chief David Cunliffe

Fire Chief David Cunliffe
In this first edition of "On Fire" , a feature we hope to have from time to time in which we engage the city's Fire Chief for information on matters related to fire-fighting , we checked in with our new Fire Chief David Cunliffe. Enjoy our chat with Chief Cunliffe.

1. What will your focus be in the first 90 days of your role as the new Fire Chief. What will your priorities be and how will you approach them?

I have three main areas of focus for the first 90 days:

· To begin the process of filling the Deputy Chief vacancy
· To begin to work with my team on the development of the draft 2017 operating & capital budgets
· To provide support to my team to ensure that they are well on their way to successfully accomplish the goals set out in their 2016 work plans.


Given the significant change over in personnel that the HFD has been experiencing, one of my priorities is the development of a succession plan for the Department along with an accompanying professional development plan for staff. To help with this priority, I will be seeking input from both management and staff, as well as connecting with peers in the Fire Service to find out what others have been/are doing relative to succession planning and professional development.

Given Councils approved new vision statement for the City “to be the best place to raise a child and age successfully”, one of the priorities for the Fire Department will be to identify the role that it will play in helping the City achieve this vision. To do this, I will be looking at developing and implementing a stakeholder engagement strategy that will help us better understand what our role in the community is, and what changes we need to consider for the future.

2. Does the fire department have a formal recruitment and retention strategy. If so, do you believe it will adequately address the onslaught of retirements?

Yes, the fire department has a formal recruitment and retention strategy. Based on our current number of projected retirements for the next four years, we are confident that the current process will adequately address this. Also, retention is generally not an issue when we hire people into a career firefighting position.
3. What does it take to be a good fire-fighter. What advice would you have to any man or woman who is considering a career in fire fighting?

I would suggest that, first and foremost, to be a good firefighter you need to be compassionate and you need to have a passion to help people. It certainly helps to have had some life experiences that you can draw upon. You have to have integrity and you need to be an honest person. You need to be the type of person who doesn’t mind “getting their hands dirty” as the work is very physical and labour intensive. You need to be in both good physical and mental health.

If you have the skills, traits and values listed above and are interested in being a firefighter, then Hamilton and the Hamilton Fire Department is worth your consideration. Given the risk profile of our City, members of the Hamilton Fire Department have the potential of being engaged in a wide breath of responses that are not seen in many cities, that include responses like: Hazmat, high angle, confined space, auto extrication, medical related calls, structure fires, vehicle fires, industrial fires, alarm calls, rescues, Chemical Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear, Explosive (CBRNE) events just to name some. Hamilton provides a varied range of opportunity for firefighters and we would encourage you to apply on line, at the City’s website when a recruitment drive is on.

4. Do you think the Hamilton fire department is in good shape in terms of its fleet, condition of its equipment, its material resources and the like. In other words, does the department have what it needs to optimally respond to fires? What would be on your wish list, if you were given additional resources?

Given the replacement programs that we have in place, I would suggest that both our vehicles and equipment are in good shape. We are very fortunate that Council has been, and continues to be, very supportive when it comes to the purchase/replacement of vehicles and equipment for our Department. We have in place a capital replacement program that sees us replace all large front line vehicles every 20 years. This helps us meet the requirements as outlined by the Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS), the organization that sets the fire insurance grading for our City. Similarly, we have a capital replacement program set up for our firefighting equipment which allows us to replace the equipment when it gets to “end of life”.

I don’t have a wish list, however what I would say is, given the state of change and development that the City is experiencing, the Fire Department on an ongoing basis updates and reviews our risk profile. If, based on our findings, it is identified that changes in resources are required, we would bring this to the attention of Council.

5. Labour relations is always a critical part of leading. What accounts for the good working relationship you have with the Hamilton Professional Firefighters Association Local 288?

Having been the Deputy Chief for the past nine years, I have had the opportunity to work with President Henry Watson and the members of the Union Executive on a number of issues. I would suggest that during this time we have collectively built a relationship of respect for each other and the role that each other has within their respective organization. We ultimately both have the same goal, serving and protecting the citizens of Hamilton.

6. Is there anything else you’d like Hamiltonians to know about the fire department or about your focus as Chief?

I would like to thank the citizens of our great City for their ongoing support of the Hamilton Fire Department and I want them to know that the women and men who proudly serve the Hamilton Fire Department are truly dedicated to providing caring and compassionate service when called upon to help during a time of need.

Thanks Chief Cunliffe for engaging with Hamiltonians via The Hamiltonian. We look forward to future opportunities to check in with the good men and women of the Fire Department, through your office. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

From the Lens of Ron Ogulin

Ron Ogulin is a talented local photographer, who specilaizes in shooting by Hamilton shorelines.  Enjoy this shot by Ron. 

If you are a photographer who would like to submit a picture for consideration, please send to admin@thehamiltonian.info


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Checking in with M.P. Hamilton East-Stoney Creek , Bob Bratina

Enjoy our chat with friend of The Hamiltonian, M.P. Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and former Mayor of Hamilton, Bob Bratina. 

1. As evidenced by the reaction to Clr. Sam Merulla’s idea of having council hold a vote to re-affirm its commitment to LRT, Hamilton city council appears to be less than steady in its commitment to LRT with some councillors going as far as calling for a referendum on the matter. Does any of this surprise you and do you continue to have doubts about the viability of LRT in Hamilton? Please explain.

I am not anti-LRT, and I do not doubt the viability of LRT in Hamilton. The current B line proposal would not serve Hamilton's needs as outlined in the Rapid Ready Report. I support light rail transit, but would like to see it service the growth areas defined in the GRIDS final report. Improving Hamilton’s bus transit system along with a LRT system that provides transit options to underserviced suburban areas would be the best approach in my opinion.

2. It must have been very rewarding being elected as MP for Hamilton East, Stoney Creek. What is your focus as MP and how will you continue to be of service to Hamiltonians?

 Being elected as Member of Parliament for Hamilton East – Stoney Creek was a very rewarding experience, and I am honoured to represent our diverse and wonderful riding at the federal level. My focus as MP is to assist constituents with any and all federal matters, and to carry out the mandate of our federal government. I am currently working to ensure Hamilton East – Stoney Creek receives its fair share of funding for priority infrastructure projects in the riding. As Co-chair of the Parliamentary Steel Caucus, I am working on present and future steel issues related to production, workers, pensions and industry viability to provide federal attention and assistance where possible. I am also a member of two Parliamentary Committees, which include Veterans Affairs and Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. My committee members and I are conducting a study on service delivery to veterans, and studies on reforming the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act to be relevant in our digital age. When I am not in Ottawa for parliamentary business, I am in the riding meeting with constituents about federal and local matters, or attending events throughout the riding. Anyone wishing to book a meeting or pass along an event invitation is always welcome to contact our Hamilton office at 905-662-4763.

3. What advice might you have for Mayor Eisenberger going forward, as he continues to navigate through the LRT matter and other issues?

My main piece of advice for any Mayor is to continue listening to the people. As Mayor of Hamilton, I constantly walked around various areas of Hamilton, met with residents, and attended events to listen to what people were saying about issues.

4. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about your work as MP, or is there any other advice you would like to impart.

My work as a City Councillor, Mayor, and now a Member of Parliament is busy, at times exhausting, but always rewarding. I would encourage Hamiltonians of all ages who want to see change and progress to get involved in the political process, because it is through politics that change is created and things get done.

Thanks M.P. Bratina for engaging with Hamiltonians via The Hamiltonian.