Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Privatize the Market?

You may wish to read this article, before taking the poll on the side banner. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Save Money- Live Better?

Hamilton taxpayers are being asked to subsidize bus service to the new Walmart that opened on Centennial Parkway. The controversial site of the new Walmart replaces the one at Eastgate Square. The controversy was initially sparked by the rezoning of the land that it is built on, initially zoned as industrial.

Two local groups, Environment Hamilton and Hamiltonians for Progressive Development secured a promise from Walmart to build a sidewalk up to the bridge, and contribute $50,000.00 per year for four years, for transit service.

But a staff report estimates that the service will cost five times that amount per year, while only being expected to bring in a return of $50,000.00 a year from fare revenues. That equation results in $150,000 per year that the city must subsidize, even after considering the Walmart yearly contribution.

Your views? 

The full story, as reported by the good people at C.A.T.C.H., is pasted below.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dollars and Sense - A Chat with Finance Chief, Robert Rossini

We thought we'd check in with Robert Rossini, the city's General Manager of Finance & Corporate Services, to talk about the budget and where the city is at with budget deliberations. 

To begin with, I'd like to attach a copy of the 2012 Budget Overview presentation which staff gave to Council this past Monday January 24th (click here) . I think your readers will find it very informative and it provides a very good context to the upcoming budget deliberations as well as explaining the various pressures (at a high level) facing the City of Hamilton.

Missing the Boat?

You may recall that The Hamiltonian previously published an article (see it here), about the owner of Allusions Hair Studio and Spa for Men, and her efforts to seek approval to have a mini fridge in her establishment, where she can provide an alcoholic drink to her customers, as part of their spa experience.

Her request met with terse resistance from Ward 10 Clr. Maria Pearson who suggested that there would be security issues and noise issues if the owner was allowed to have the mini fridge in the salon.  The owner of the Spa, a Ms. Lily Fuduric, remains miffed at why her request has been met with such resistance, which ultimately resulted in its denial.

According to a Spectator report, Ward 10 Clr. Maria Pearson was unavailable when contacted for comment, but The Spec quoted her statements as made last fall:

"I understand it’s a salon and spa … but I still have some concerns. I’ve never attended a spa or salon yet where I’ve heard anybody say ‘You know, I’d like to have a glass of wine or a beer."

It may be true that Pearson has not attended a spa or salon where a drink was part of the experience, but that's a far cry from justification for the objection. Nor is she necessarily a good gauge for the market, which is geared to men. Equally as tentative is the suggestion that security and noise is an issue; particularly in light of the fact that Fuduric is not operating a bar but a salon and spa.

What is certain, is that Hamilton has missed an opportunity to support a small business owner in doing something that appears reasonable, provided for by law and innovative (in Ontario at least). That wasn't the case in Barrie, where a Barrie hair salon got the go-ahead from Barrie City Council. “It was all clear sailing for us,” said Debbie Gibbs of Three Small Rooms,  “People seem to like it … We haven’t had any real complaints.”

In contrast. Ms. Fuduric must take time out from running her business, and present her case Feb. 13 at a licence appeal tribunal pre-hearing, to identify — and possibly settle — outstanding issues with appellants in advance of a formal hearing.

Are you supportive of Ms. Fuderic's request. Should we reverse our decision on this? 

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Way We Were

A classic photo captured by The Hamiltonian's Angelo Noto Campanella. Hopefully, it will spur some memories. Tell us what you know about the "tin man" and any memories you care to share.

Petition of the Moment


Note: The Hamiltonian takes no position on petitions posted here. They are posted for your perusal.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tradeport- Arrival and Departure Gate

With the departure of Richard Koroscil as President and CEO of Tradeport, and the arrival of the new President and CEO, Frank Scremin, we reached out to both men to get their thoughts on Tradeport, their career moves and other things. Welcome Frank and thank-you Richard!

Frank Scremin
1. As the new President and CEO of Tradeport, what will your focus be in the first 90 days. What changes, if any, might we expect.

I am fortunate to follow in the footsteps of Richard Koroscil who has done excellent work in positioning the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport for long term growth opportunities. We have a strong team at the Airport. Our freight and commercial business is vibrant, and I am optimistic about enhancements to our passenger service. The John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport is within a 45 minute drive of almost 2 million people; our focus will continue to be on establishing services to capture more of this market. TradePort is also committed to working with the City of Hamilton and other stakeholders to assess the PFOS contamination issue that was discovered on the Airport lands with a view to a remediation plan as quickly as possible.

2. Peak oil has certainly been a looming threat to the industry. How will you work to ensure that Tradeport remains competitive and viable?

The price of oil is a challenge for all facets of the transportation industry as well as for consumers. We believe that our location will be of great benefit going forward. Our freight clients are very mindful of the Hamilton advantage right now.

3 The use of the airport lands has been a subject of controversy for a very long time. To the extent that you believe we are heading in the right direction, what would you like Hamiltonians to know about the value proposition for the use of those lands?

Long term strategic land planning is a challenge in many communities. The leaders in the Hamilton community had the vision to build the Linc, the Red Hill Creek Expressway, the 403 and the Skyway Bridge. They built a dynamic Port, an enviable healthcare system, McMaster University and Mohawk College. The John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport will be a catalyst to develop lands around the Airport. The challenge will always be to balance sensible development with other land use opportunities.

4. What would be your aspirational goals for Tradeport? What "signature" contribution would you desire or envision making as its new leader?

I really want to build upon the work that Richard Koroscil, Tony Battaglia and so many others have done since 1996. The improvements at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport have been significant. We need to continue to work with all levels of government and the private sector to optimize the real potential of the Airport. This also includes doing our utmost to enhance passenger services for the 2 million people in our service area.

5. Is there anything else you would like to convey to Hamiltonians about Tradeport, future directions or your approach to your new role?

I am very bullish on the future of the greater Hamilton community. We have the "building blocks" to make tremendous progress over the next two decades. Our primary asset is our people. I see the next generation of community leaders and it encourages me. I want to continue TradePort's tradition of civic engagement. We intend to be active participants in the growth and prosperity of our community.

And here's our chat with Richard:

1. Reflecting upon your time as CEO and President of Tradeport, what would you say was your greatest accomplishment and is there any unfinished business that you would have otherwise hoped to address?

Despite the crazy ups and downs of the airline industry and experiencing the worst economic downturn since the depression we have been able to create a successful and profitable business. You will recall that the City was losing close to $2 million a year when they were operating the airport. Jobs have increased from 300 to 3000 and those jobs on average pay 25% higher wages than the City average wage. Our company and our airport business partners have invested more than $160 million into the airport. All of those investments become City assets at the end of our lease term. With these investments the City has realized more than $1 million in additional tax assessment annually. What is so important is that many of these were strategic investments that have now put our airport in a very good position as the economy begins to improve. The air cargo sector of our business has seen ongoing growth and done very well despite the economy particularly when compared to airports in North America and around the globe.

I am also very proud of the work we have done with the Marine, Rail and Road transportation providers here in Hamilton and Southern Ontario. For the first time we have begun to work together to build a multimodal transportation network that can be a strong economic enabler for our community. We are so very lucky to have the transportation assets we have in this community along with a near perfect location to be a very successful transportation gateway. A gateway that will draw new investment and jobs into our community with companies like Maple Leaf/Canada Bread, Federal Marine Terminals, Purolator, UPS, DHL and so many others.

In terms of unfinished business I along with so many of us would love to see more passenger flights in Hamilton. Despite the ups and downs we have experienced in the past I remain very optimistic about our future for three reasons. The dynamics of the airline industry in Canada are about to significantly change with Westjet adding a new aircraft type to their fleet. We are in a very good position to attract that kind of service to places like Ottawa, Montreal, Thunder Bay, New York and Chicago. Second, as the EU comes out of the economic crisis their airline industry will begin to grow again and will be looking for new routes to North America. Thirdly I am hopeful that the Federal Government will deal with some of the cost competitive issues that encourages cross border leakage to US airports. At some point US low cost carriers will enter the Canadian market and Hamilton's comparative low cost structure and large market will be very attractive to them.

2. Why is now the right time for you to elect to step down? What were the considerations?

I have been in the aviation industry for 36 years and it has been a great ride but it is time for me to adjust the pace and spend more time with family, friends and in the community. I almost hesitate to call it retirement, because I intend to be very active, but most likely at something that doesn't necessitate a full-time commitment. The last several years have been extremely busy and it has been difficult for me to spend the time I would like with my family and friends.

3. What advice might you have for Frank Scremin as he calibrates his approach to leading Tradeport?

First I should note, that one of things any CEO can be very proud of, is when someone you hire, mentor and coach moves into a CEO role. Frank is a very good man and loves this industry, he will bring to it his own views and energy that will continue to advance the airports growth. I believe it will be important for him to keep a long term strategic view working with the other transportation modes, our partners and of course the City.

4. Aerotropolis and the use of the airport lands, has been an issue that you have been vocal on. As you consider those who have countered the approach and their reasons for doing so, has it given you pause, or has your views on Aerotropolis remained the same.

I think the dialogue that the community has had on this issue has been a healthy one. In my experience this kind of community engagement can lead to a much better outcome. The Red Hill is another example where different inputs resulted in a much better product at the end of the day. Having participated in the public advisory committee for the AEGD development guidelines I was very impressed with the all of the input that was provided and used by the consulting team and the City. The recommendation that the AEGD be and Eco-industrial Park will help create something quite unique for this entire market and put Hamilton at the fore front of green industrial development.
So I remain very much of the view that the Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD) is one of the most important developments the City should advance as soon as possible. At the end of the day it is all about creating jobs, investment and tax assessment in our community. Making Hamilton a strong and prosperous community.

5. What is next for Richard Koroscil. Will you primarily be pursuing part time consulting, or are there other projects, that you can share, that you will be pursuing?

As I noted earlier I am looking forward to spending more time with my children, doing a little more skiing and back country canoeing. I also have new home that requires further finishing so this will give me an opportunity to take that on. I intend to stay very much engaged in the community, continuing my work with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce as well as the Metrolinx, Ontario Chamber and Theatre Aquarius Boards. I believe there is still much work to do in advancing key transportation issues in our community and expect to continue my participation in the Southern Ontario Gateway Council (SOGC), TransHub Ontario and the McMaster Institute of Transportation and Logistics(MITL).
On the employment side I will be working on a part time (about 25% of my time) basis providing consulting services to Tradeport and its parent company Vantage Airport Group formally Vancouver Airport Services for the next 2 years. Over time I may take on other consulting work through my company Korlon Strategic Services.

6. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about Tradeport, your time there or your post Tradeport focus?

I think I have covered most of it.

The Hamiltonian thanks both Richard and Frank for engaging on The Hamiltonian and wishes both of them all the best.

(please note. The Hamiltonian will not publish comments that are unprofessional, or are otherwise inappropriate) 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lynwood Charlton Hall Costs Update

The Hamiltonian asked City Manager Chris Murray for information related to the costs of renovating Charlton House. The following is his reply:

During the discussion regarding Lynwood Charlton Hall, staff indicated that approximately $1.2M in capital investment is required at the property at 52-56 Charlton Avenue West. This figure is based on the estimates provided following a recent condition assessment of the property and includes short, medium and long-term investments. A report from our Real Estate Portfolio Management Committee is due to be presented to Council in the coming months where further detail will be provided. I trust that helps.

Thanks Chris for your prompt response!

Should you wish to comment on the Charlton house issue, please join the discussion by clicking here. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

300 meter Separation Between Truth and Lies- by Mahesh Butani

300 meter Separation Between Truth and Lies

Two very different issues are being conflated here which obfuscates critical issues of 'intent' that require closer public scrutiny.

One is that of Charlton House and its proposed move to the former mill at 121 Augusta, from its current location at 56 Charlton Avenue which is an older issue. And the other a more recent issue of the '300 meter radial separation by-law' and the legal challenge it could face on grounds of Human Rights violation

The projected cost of moving Chartlon House to Augusta Street involves renovations at 121 Augusta to the tune of $700,000.

Does anyone know as to what the actual cost of this build-out is presently, and who is bearing the cost of this renovations and the move? Any escalations including the move itself from Charlton to Augusta would add to the cost, putting the final figure close to a million dollars or more.

Meanwhile, it is claimed that the cost of renovating the Charlton House is $1.2 Million. There is no detail breakdown of this cost available publicly - which appear to be highly ludicrous considering that the property is visibly not in the state of neglect as is publicly claimed.

Besides, 56 Charlton Street is owned by the City of Hamilton - which implies that by insurance and bylaw requirements alone, this building ought to be presently in habitable condition, and that means not being in the absurd state of disrepair as claimed. This is borne by the fact that it is currently occupied.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Checking in with the Integrity Commissioner

We thought we'd check in with Earl Basse, Integrity Commissioner on the complaint filed by Brian Hatch against Mayor Bob Bratina. Our timing was not the best as Earl has been down with the flu since New Years, causing  a temporary setback to his health, and his progress on the case. Nonetheless, Earl was kind enough to respond to our questions. We'll check back with him when he is in better health, and wish him a speedy recovery. Here is our brief chat:

1. Have you made a determination as to whether the complaint will be considered legitimate or vexatious? If so, can you share that determination.

From the information I have been provided to date, I have no reason to believe that the complaint is vexatious or frivolous.

2. What stage is the process at and what are your next steps?

The investigation is still in the early stages due to my illness.

3. What is the timeframe that you envision for completion and submission of your report?

At this stage, I’m not prepared to put a timeframe on the completion of the investigation and the submission of the report.

All Roads Lead to Peggygate?

“ There’s another inescapable theme at play here. The suspicions about motive and the strong reaction to Bratina’s comments are in part the natural fallout to Peggygate and a string of other incidents that raised council’s ire and put them on their guard against the mayor. In other words, Bratina may be reaping what he sowed. That’s the danger of alienating people you work with. Once relationships sour, the bitterness can linger and seep into every corner and floor. “

Those are the words of Spec columnist Andrew Dreschel on the topic of whether staff should be given greater latitude, in accommodating a temporary home for the board of education, as it makes way for the Mac downtown Health Campus.

It may be true that the electorate may not look kindly on the issues that Dreschel suggests may continue to

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hamilton Radial Separation Bylaw Runs into the Human Rights Code

Hamilton's radial separation bylaw, which provides for keeping certain facilities (such as residential care facilities) within a certain distance from one another, presumably to avoid geographical saturation, may be on a collision course with Ontario's Human Rights Code.

In essence, arguments are being made that such a policy contravenes the code, in that it discriminates against people who may be living with disabilities and/or mental illnesses. While this issue was prompted by a Toronto based case, it has relevance to a situation that unfolded in Hamilton, and potential to impact other such matters in Hamilton and across other municipalities. (see details in Spec coverage here). The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario dismissed the suggestion that such cases are better heard at Ontario Municipal Board, as the matters pertained to planning and zoning. The Tribunal disagreed with this argument, obviously seeing the nexus with the Human Rights Code.

Remarkable, is the seeming lack of gravity afforded to this issue by city staff. As reported in the aforementioned Spec article, Hamilton city staffers argue that this doesn’t affect their policy, since no decision was made about whether these rules violate Ontario’s Human Rights Code. “It’s really a nondecision. They’re just saying let’s just go to the next step,” said Steve Robichaud, manager of development planning. “It doesn’t change anything.”

Clr. Farr said - "I’m standing firm in support of the many Corktown residents who appreciate and understand fully the intent of this bylaw,” For me, it’s not about the great service this, or what most other residential care facilities, provides. It’s about radial separation.”

Michael Shapcott, the director of housing and innovation at the Wellesley Institute, countered, “I think it sends a pretty clear message to Hamilton and other municipalities that you can’t just go on assuming the human rights code has no bearing on zoning issues.”

Hamilton may once again get a lesson in state craft, this time on the importance of preserving human rights against other policies.

Your thoughts? Do you think radial policy can withstand the provisions of the Human Rights Code of Ontario? Do you think this issue has been taken seriously enough, or do you think we are about to learn a lesson the hard way?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Access the Mayor

In this week's edition of Cable 14's  Access the Mayor, Mayor Bratina spent time interviewing the owner of The Bulldogs, took the audience through a slide show of pictures of buildings and infrastructure that he stated is having a positive impact on Hamilton, through new tax revenues and otherwise,  and took some viewer calls. 

 One particular call was a tough one, from a woman who was concerned about being on a waiting list for 7 years or so for adequate housing and pressing the Mayor as to what he was going to do about it. (We'll post a video link once it becomes available -see it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39GkX0lKsTQ&feature=uploademail  

What was surprising , is that the Mayor did his own interview of the Bulldogs' owner and continued on to present the entire show - complete with a desk microphone; reminiscent of his morning show days at CHML. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Link of the Moment


Media Release

Subject: Media Release - Activist Graham Crawford Gives Candid Critique of City in Laircast

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

HAMILTON: In this week's Laircast gallery owner, Hamilton Club President and activist Graham Crawford gives a candid and at times scathing critique of the city's vision and Mayor Bratina.

He defends his controversial posters, and the role he plays in promoting civic discourse. Graham also gives his "five-thousand-dollar-a-day" advice to the Mayor and City.

To listen to the unedited interview: http://bit.ly/wZy8RK

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Koroscil Comes in for a Landing

As reported by our friends at CHML

Koroscil leaving his post with the airport
Ken Mann 1/17/2012

There's a change in leadership happening at Hamilton International Airport.

Richard Koroscil, after eight years, is retiring as President and CEO of Tradeport International as of the end of February. 
The 59 year old will stay on in a part-time consulting role at Tradeport, and he also plans to continue playing a role at various local agencies such as the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Transhub and Metrolinx. Koroscil adds that he sees a bright future for the airport development district once Ontario Municipal Board battles have run their course. 

Taking Koroscil's place will be Frank Scremin, the airport's current director of operations.

Aaron Urquhart- On Ivor Wynn

Our motto "Powered by Hamiltonians" best finds expression when Hamiltonians comment on the site or submit their thoughts on topical issues facing Hamilton. The following is an email submission we received from Arron Urquhart, expressing his view of the reconstruction of Ivor Wynn in the context of priorities and those living with a disability. Aaaron has also provided an intro, that lets us know a little bit about himelf.  Welcome Aaron to The Hamiltonian

My name is Aaron Urquhart, age 20. I was born and raised in the great city of Hamilton, just recently did I move to the outskirts. I am physically disabled and wheelchair bound and since 2006 I have been advocating for the betterment of our city, the promotion and protection of Hamilton's prosperity, and disability rights at all the branches of government. I am a local musician of the country music scene since 2000, and have been grateful to be able to reach people in my work as an activist somewhat easily. My formal education doesn't exceed a grade 12 education, however, my experience in the way of activism is extensive and most of

Monday, January 16, 2012

Garbage In/Garbage Out

The Hamiltonian still recalls the lengthy debate concerning how many bags/cans of garbage would be permitted as weekly residential waste disposal. The debate was held during last council's term, and went on for so long into the evening hours, that some councilors and the mayor of the day admitted to not being clear on what was decided. Nonetheless, we emerged with the current rules (one bag/can limit weekly), which seemed to have worked for the most part (save for some incidents of illegal dumping whose correlation to the one bag limit, may not be a correlation at all.) 

In that context, and driven by an upcoming expiry of the present garbage removal contract, we again find ourselves considering the issue of frequency of garbage removal. Is two weeks too long for poopy diapers and doggy doo or not? What about in the summer months? Should be go to a bi-weekly pick up plan with an increased amount of permissible bags/cans, or should we not? And what about the political fall-out? What do you say as a councilor when your constituents complain about a horrid smell coming from the neighbour's trash on a scorching July day?

City staff are recommending a new garbage collection system that would only offer trash pickup every two weeks, but would allow residents to leave six bags of garbage at the curb. Green bin and recycling pickup would continue weekly.

What do you think? Step backward or forward?  Let's talk trash. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Petition of the Moment

Click here

Note: The Hamiltonian takes no position on petitions posted here. They are posted for your perusal.

Levee Light

If the goal of deferring the Mayor's levee to January 14th was to incorporate diversity, it may have had a degree of success based on the Spectator's description of the attendees and festivities, as found here. At the same time, a turn out of 40 people (as estimated in The Spec's article), against the backdrop of a city that boasts more than 500,000 citizens, scores something of a failing grade based on volume percentage of the population. No doubt, the event was well intentioned, but the realigned date may have to be reconsidered for future levees if inclusiveness is also tied to volume. Councillors Maria Pearson and Lloyd Ferguson, as well as Ontario Agriculture Minister Ted McMeekin, attended the levee.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Lesson in State-Craft -opinion

It seems that Hamilton City Council was doled out a lesson in state-craft, not by the great philosopher Plato, but by Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin.

In response to a complaint lodged by Spec columnist Andrew Dreschel, the Ombudsman came down heavy on the practice of holding closed door sessions, where the necessity for doing so was not justified.

The Ombudsman's comments clashed with advice from city lawyer Peter Barkwell, who suggested Marin's report was flawed and that council would be justified in ignoring it. He further advised that council had the option of commissioning a separate entity who would be charged with investigating allegations of unnecessary closed-door meetings.

In the end, it seemed that two lessons were doled out: The first to city council vis a vis Marin's report; the second to Mr. Barkwell in relation to Council's prerogative to recognize the over-riding principle at stake and the need for a course correction. It is unfortunate that these lessons had to be learned. It's our hope that the city gives transparency the sense of  primacy it deserves. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Link of the Moment

Ombudsman, Andre Marin's response to the city solicitors response to the Ombudsman's findings on closed door meetings. Click here

Eisenberger 2.0?

MEDIA RELEASE :Wednesday, January 11, 2012

- HAMILTON: In this week's Laircast, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger reveals that he is contemplating running again for Mayor as he has "unfinished business."

He makes a passionate appeal for Light Rail Transit, and discusses the RedHill Expressway and urban development best practices.

Mayor Fred also gives a detailed account of what happened with the Pan Am debate behind the scenes, and criticizes the Tiger Cats and Council for
their role, He calls the location decision "crazy". Eisenberger notes that Bob Bratina was the most difficult Councilor to work with when he was Mayor, and critiques Mayor Bratina's first year in office, particularly his staffing choices.Studio audience members Graham Crawford, Martinus Geleynse and Jim Davis weigh in on the spirited discussion.  To listen to the unedited interview: http://bit.ly/yAiPyv

Mayor Bratina- On His Vision for Hamilton

Pursuant to a question that The Hamiltonian posed to Mayor Bratina on his vision for Hamilton, and in response to a comment made by one of our readers to the Mayor's response to that question, Mayor Bratina released the following  to The Hamiltonian:

My thanks to the Hamiltonian and its readers for the opportunity to have a positive discussion, in most cases, about the Office of the Mayor and City Council. It’s unfortunate that a few who commented, hiding behind pseudonyms, chose to debase the forum with insults and personal attacks.

“…..a vision must be forward looking and must speak to how we will be relevant in the future, capitalizing on our competitive edge….a vision that includes pumpkin patches, farm animals, horses and children is embarrassingly manipulative and simplistic. This isn't the vision of a leader in 2012, it's a Hallmark greeting card that got lost in the mail for the last 50 years and suddenly was found and delivered. I'll take strategy over sappy nostalgia any day from my Mayor….”

These comments are only meant to be insulting and in complete ignorance of green belt planning policies such as those I observed in Yorkshire and Manchester,U.K. The Campaign to Protect Rural England is an

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Twist (Turn) to the Stadium

As if to mimic the whirlwind roller coaster ride that the Pan Am stadium talks took last council term, the design of a rebuilt, re-fried, reconstructed stadium, may also take a turn- as in swivel. 

The rebuild, which is to feature a 22,500 seat capacity, may also see the stadium being designed along the  north-south line (it is presently east-west).

On the plus side, such a repositioning of the stadium can give way to new concession stands and other facilities, as well as serve to keep direct sunlight out of players' eyes.  On the flip side, it may necessitate a rethinking of parking, traffic flow and entrances. See Spec article here. 

Your thoughts? 

Checking In With Harry Stinson

We thought we'd check in with Harry Stinson. concerning projects that he has on the go. Enjoy our interview with Harry.

1. Can you tell us about the various projects you are working on and the stage they are at.

Stinson School is moving ahead, with completion expected in the fall of 2012. We are currently finalizing the full building permit, with full-blast construction anticipated March 2012, as the weather improves. A lot of site work and demolition has been completed. Units are 75% sold. ,71 residential condominium lofts from $169,900 to $599,900; average sale to date approximately $300,000. 

The Hamilton Grand (Main and John St.) project is back online. Sales are resuming January 15th, with a significant number of existing sales in place. Construction anticipated to start summer 2012, occupancy summer 2013. Reduced to 6 floors (1 floor retail, 2 floors office, 3 floors of apartment hotel). The Hotel Niagara, in Niagara Falls, New York, is in the re-design phase, with renovations to start summer 2012, and re-opening Christmas 2012. The project is 100% hotel, with no residential suites being sold. I have a few other New York projects in the works.

2. You have known for being innovative and for your focus on breathing new life into existing and sometimes historical structures. Obviously it takes a lot of personal conviction and the ability to persuade others of the value of investing in or otherwise supporting these types of projects. In a Hamilton context, are you winning or losing in that equation?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Got Junk?

We'll refrain from dubbing it the "Junk Generosity" policy, but in essence, the city is loosening up the drawstrings on the one bag- garbage bag/can limit. 

If the decision is ratified at Wednesday's council meeting, effective April, you will be able to put out three extra garbage bags or cans, once per each month. And as an added bonus, that's in addition to the extra bag/can days already allowed after New year's, Thanksgiving and Victoria days. 

This is in response to the problem of illegal dumping; the thinking being that allowing three additional bags/can per month, will discourage those who illegally dump their trash at the side of the escarpment , sides of roads or other places .As reported in The Spec, Senior waste director Beth Goodger called the amnesty days a “temporary measure” to fill the gap between now and the start of the new collection contract — and potential new pickup policies — in April 2013.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Interview with Mayor Bob Bratina

Mayor Bratina has certainly been under the media microscope as of late. However, it's a new year and The Hamiltonian is hoping to re-set the conversation to matters that are more helpful to moving forward. In this interview, we asked Mayor Bratina questions about his vision for the city, greatest achievement and challenges thus far, a systemic issue and other things. The Mayor did not hesitate in accepting our invite.

Please join us in welcoming the 61st Mayor of historical Hamilton, Mayor Bob Bratina.

1. Reflecting upon your first year as Mayor of the City of Hamilton, what would you say has been your greatest challenge and greatest achievement. Why have you chosen the items you have?

The challenge for any publicly elected body is to achieve positive results for its citizens in a financially

What the HECFI - Update

We thought we would check in with Clr. Sam Merulla to inquire as to the status of the potential divestment of HECFI. Thanking the Clr. for his response which follows below.

"My understanding is that staff are in the process of reviewing the RFP process and that there has been significant international, national and local interest and response to the privatization of HECFI. Also I believe the report will be forthcoming in spring of this year."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

E-News- Clr. Partridge

Clr. Partridge continues to produce quality newsletters for her constituents. Click here for the latest. 

How They Voted in November

From the good people at CATCH:

CATCH News – December 28, 2011
This is a regular CATCH summary of votes at committee and council meetings. This report covers the month of November 2011. The first line of each entry identifies the issue, followed by a brief description. This is followed by the location of the vote in the third line. Multiple votes on the same issue are reported together. Absentees are only listed where reported in the minutes and where the missing councillors are members of that committee or decision-making body. Links a re provided to source documents. Note that the vast majority of council decisions are unanimous and the votes are not officially recorded.
Cycling laws
The citizen-composed Hamilton Cycling Committee recommended asking the province to consider several

Monday, January 2, 2012

Musical Notes- Sonny Del-Rio

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews Sonny Del-Rio, One of Hamilton's Musical Treasures 

Not only is Sonny Del-Rio one of Hamilton's musical treasures, he is one of the fathers of music in this city. I have great respect for those who train in their field of choice for years and do it because they love it, not because they have to. Sonny Del-Rio has been playing for 55yrs now, his commitment to his instrument and his community has earned  him the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal. His love of music seems to give him an energy found only in the young; I've watched him play with 5 or 6 bands in a row during one of his Christmas charity benefit shows, it's almost magical.

For this interview I have decided to scrap the usual format and allow the conversation to play itself out naturally. I must admit that I was a little nervous but once it got going it felt like I was talking to an old friend and my nervousness was put to rest. I caught up with Sonny as he was finishing up a rehearsal for his upcoming Chrismas show.

(ANC) So tell me something about the History of Sonny Del-Rio.

(SDR) I was born and raised in Hamilton, my mum and dad were born here as well. I'm from the east end of the city, went to Ballard school and then I went to Delta High School, that's where I started to play, Delta High School Band in grade 9. I actually started with the clarinet for 6 months and then I switched to Saxaphone. I liked it a lot and my music teacher said that if you really wanna play you should take some private lessons because once a week at school really isn't enough, so I took private lessons at Waddingtons. I use to come home from Waddingtons and my cousin Donny would carry my sax case and I'd play it walking down King William street. I did that in The Projects down in New Orleans when I was playing there. It was a Sunday, Mothers Day I think. Guys were getting murdered, 2 or 3 a day, I was drinking in those days so maybe I had a little more nerve, but I thought the historic aspect of such a music city, I would get the vibe. Some guys invited me to sit on their front steps and we talked about music and stuff, it was pretty cool.

Joe Ward was my music teacher at Delta High School and I have an invitation on my facebook, he's turning 90 and their having a party for him at a restaurant in Burlington. I'm looking forward to it. It's gonna be a reunion of everybody he taught, he was pretty influential in my life. Six or 8 months after I started playing I got into a band, that's when I really learned "More"

 (ANC) What kind of music were you playing back then? 

 (SDR) Well the band was The Gold Tones, it was December 1957. There was an accordion player, drummer, guitar player and myself on sax. We played a couple of weddings, a birthday party and we were playing the hits from radio, Elvis' "Hound Dog", Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire". We were playing the rock n roll that was on the radio in those days, plus we did standards from the American song book...we were pretty bad back then, but we were just kids 14-15yrs old(LOL).

A couple of years later I joined a band "Sonny and The Del Rio's", that's how I got my name, it was late '58. Nobody in the band was really named Sonny. In those days they just chose a name like that, Sonny&The Del Rio's or Jerry&The Pirates or Rick&The Crickett's or whatever, it's just the way it was...lol. If a good lookin' girl would ask "Are you Sonny?" I'd say yeah...lol...meanwhile the bass player was on the other side of the room telling some good looking chick he's Sonny...LOL...next thing ya know the principal walks in looking for a guy named Sonny who smuggled a mickey into the "Sock Hop", "Where's that Sonny?" it's that guy over there I'd say...LOL...about six months later they said, "you got the red hair and your singin' the lead vocals, you should be Sonny"...and from then on I became Sonny Grasley, Dennis Grasley is my real name. Then around 1970, after a grueling road trip back from down east I said, "Not only am I Sonny Grasley from Sonny&The Del Rio's, I've absorbed the entire reality, I am Sonny Del-Rio. That's how I got my name.

(ANC) What other bands have you played with over the years? 

(SDR) Well I played with Crowbar for about 8yrs, and I did about 8yrs with Ray Materick. We did a couple of albums together; that was a great band. I still see Ray quite often and we still play together.

(ANC)You seem to play with everybody. Over the last few years I've seen you play with Corey Lueck and The Smoke Wagon Blues Band.

(SDR) I work alot with "Trick Bag" too, a great band. I played with a Pink Floyd tribute band too, called "Floyd Factor" out of Toronto. That was a really interesting gig. I did about a half dozen gigs with them. It was really exciting doing those shows because of all the production that you have to have to do a Pink Floyd show, great lighting and sound effects. It's a big big production. I'd only play in two or three songs, "Money", "Us and Them" and "Wish You Were Here". Everybody knows those songs so well, the sax lines are such a hook. I'd be sitting in the wings for 20 or 30 minutes while they're playing "Dark Side of The Moon", then comes my part and the spotlight is on you and all the focus and all the attention is on you too. There's this dead moment before you step on stage and you really gotta nail it. It's really demanding. You'd only play a short while but you had to be right on.

I remember doing a show with Ray Materick at the Jubilee Auditorium in Lethbridge, Alberta. An Usher was leading us onto a dark stage with a flashlight. When we reached the big auditorium the air changed, you knew you were in this big cavernous space, it was pitch black too. I got to my spot, they were just ready to start, and i couldn't remember my line...LOL...it's acapella, it starts the whole show. I turned to Ray, on this massive stage, standing 60 feet away and say "hey Ray, what's my line?" and he says "Da da dara....." 

(ANC) Were you nervous or was it just a brain (beep)?

(SDR) "Probably a bit of both...lol...I still get nervous. Nervous might not quite be the right word, it's excited, the adrenalin runs. When I have to play something I'm not too familiar with I may get nervous but if I'm playing with my band or people that I know or just jamming, I'm not nervous...(smiles).

(ANC) So tell me about getting the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal(recognized for his wonderful charity and musical contributions to Hamilton. Mountain MP Chris Charlton handed out the awards on November 4, 2012 at Michaelangelo's.)

(SDR) It was thrilling, I was really honored. I was one of 30 people who received the award. I was nominated by Chris Charlton, the Hamilton MP. It was a really moving ceremony  To be part of this group of people with such tremendous accomplishments and given so much to their community, I'm in pretty high company there. http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/830568--30-receive-jubilee-medals

(ANC) You have traveled all over playing music yet you have settled here in Hamilton. There is Detroit, famous for Motown, New Orleans, Nashville, Chicago....all these musical Mecca's and here you are in the Hammer. Why? 

 (SDR) The last tour was back on the bottom where they know me best...LOL...Well for many years I was married and had a family; pumped gas in the day time and played rock n rolled at night, my family always kept me here. I did travel all over especially coast to coast in Canada and it's beautiful. I played every small town in Canada I bet. I've been out to Newfoundland 7 times, I lived in Vancouver Island for about 6 years and I came back on a Christmas holiday and was bouncing my grandchildren on my knee and my family convinced me to come home. 

(ANC) I'm glad your here (SDR) Well thank you. I really love this city. I was really sorry to see Stelco close, I never thought that would ever happen, over 30,000 people lost their jobs. It was so sad. There are alot of people in Hamilton using the food banks and there's a lot of unemployment, this city could be so great, it just hasn't happened yet.

(SDR) I love to work with the young bands. I've been kinda mentoring a young fellow by the name of Dean Irving. He's the lead guitar player and song writer for a band called "Dawn Before Desent". I've played quite a few gigs with them over the years, not as much recently, they're doing quite well on their own now but I still keep in touch with them. 

(ANC) I remember a couple of years ago at your Christmas benefit at the Philipino Hall there was a young band called "The 40 Sons" and you played a few songs with them. Actually, I remember you sat in on a song or two with all the bands that played that night. Where do you get the energy?

(SDR) Oh ya, I remember that. Actually that young band was called "The 40 Sons and Daughters", but they dropped the "Daughters" and are now known as "The 40 Sons". I always try to play with all the bands at the Christmas shows. I had some great Christmas shows, been doing them for 10yrs now, I did a King Biscuit Boy show as well.

Another band, "Live as You Live", I've played a few gigs with them. Brian Mello is a good friend of mine. I did that Christmas cd, have you got my Christmas cd?

(ANC) No I don't. 

(SDR) I'll give you one. Between my first and second Christmas show we did the album. We were recording it in July or August at a studio in town. It was all decorated like Christmas  we had a tree all set up and Christmas lights, we had Christmas cookies, it was pretty neat. I had like 20 different celebrities come and do a song each; we had Bob Bratina, Boris Brott and Lincoln Alexander, who was one of my favorites. He did "Night before Christmas". He's like 86yrs old sitting in a wheelchair and the producer says "well that's pretty good Linc but I think we're gonna have to do another take" and Linc says "that's it, I can't do any more, that's enough"...LOL...Lincoln Alexander was great. It was fun because alot of these people like Connie Smith and Matt Hayes didn't really have any singing experience, they were famous for other things. Mayor Bob Morrow at the time and Bob Bratina was a Disc Jockey, didn't have the experience of singing at a recording studio so it's fun to coach them too. They had their children with them singing "Frosty the Snowman", and they had their wives and kids and grandchildren, it was a fabulous experience and it turned out to be a really great record. The money we made from this all went to charity and this album has woven itself into the fabric of Hamilton. I just get a real thrill every Christmas time knowing that there are 9000 of these records out there in Hamilton that people take it out and dust them off two weeks before Christmas and play it while they're decorating their tree.

I've done several of these projects, we did "Canadian Hero's" with Brian Mello and Tom Wilson and Teenage Head. I've played quite a bit with Teenage Head too over the years. I started playing with Teenage Head back in 1984. One of my biggest gigs ever was at Molson Canadian Park in Barrie in front of 20,000 people. I remember wearing these red pants and some other flashy outfit and jumping out on the stage after being introduced and there was this roar of people, the biggest roar I ever got...LOL...They were real excited. The saxaphone is really special, King Biscuit Boy and I would often say that we were in the novelty instrument union. It's a novelty instrument, it's the icing on the cake, it's an exciting instrument and I think that the way that I play it is kind of exciting too. A band can be doing ok but when you add that, it can be really great. 

(ANC) I really love the sax. So many great band with a sax like George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers, Bruce Springsteen with Clarence Clemons..

.(SDR) I was expecting Bruce to give me a call when dear Clarence passed away because I could have filled that bill, stepped right and do that show but he never did call me...LOL...it's too bad that it's(saxaphone) kinda fallen from grace over the years, maybe it's making a resurgence I don't know.

(SDR)Darcy Hepner is coming to play "sidekick" sax with me at my December 2nd Christmas show, you know Darcy Hepner don't ya? 

(ANC) Oh yes, Ive seen him play at This Aint Hollywood with Oakland Soul and their 5 horn section. He's really fantastic. (SDR) He's got this fabulous jazz band. He's such a wonderful musician and accomplished player, his skill level is way beyond me. I'm a honker, an entertainer, but he's a real consummate player and I get a big charge out of him being a sidekick sax, he's played quite a few gigs with me over the years. He's a fan of mine and I'm a fan of his.

(SDR) Richard Newell(aka-King Biscuit Boy) was a wonderful man with a great sense of humour and very shy. It's surprising how many great musicians have such great stage presence but off stage they're really quite shy. Some people have speech impediments or other anxieties but on stage all that just drops away, music is magic. I have some friends who just work in the studio and they don't really relish playing live but I've always thrived on the live experience. I really enjoy the transfer of emotion between the performer and the audience.

I have six cd's out. I just put one out that's called "Blow Your Horn Man" I called it that because that's what people have been shouting at me for 50yrs "Sonny, blow your horn man, blow your horn!"...LOL...it's a pretty good album. It's mostly tracks from various albums, it's kind of like a "Best Of" and there are a few tracks on there that were never released.

(ANC) I'm so glad I got to do this with you. Your one of the "fathers of music" in this town.

 (SDR) Thanx Angelo...Hahaha...I'll be celebrating 55yrs in music this December...lol...my gosh, it's such a long time. I've had such wonderful experiences; and I'm blessed, just blessed with good health. Being a musician, I'm still honing my craft, I'm better today than I was 3yrs ago. I'm getting better, I'm not fading or anything. We're blessed as musicians for that; someone like Wayne Gretzski has to quit his art, his passion when he's 38yrs old because his body can't do it anymore. In the music business or as an artist, some of their greatest work could come when they're 70 or 80yrs old. Your never too old to keep refining your craft and keep doing it, I'm gonna keep doing it till....I hope I drop on the stage...LOL....I hope it's not next week...LOL...

(ANC) No no, not next week Sonny, please...LOL...

(SDR) As long as I can still do it, I'm gonna keep doing it.

Sonny Del-Rio didn't mention when or where his next gig would be, but I wouldn't be surprised if you went to see a band some where in the city and found him blowing his sax with the latest rock band or at an outdoor concert at Gage Park, or busking in front of city hall, he loves his career that much. If you would like to find out more about Sonny Del-Rio follow the links listed below.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Musical Notes - 40 Sons

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews 40 Sons 

I first saw the 40 Sons perform at a Christmas benefit put on by one of Hamilton's musical legends Sonny Del  Rio  in 2010. I recorded one of their songs at this event and posted it on my facebook page with this little blurb:

"40 Sons performing Dec 5th/2010 Young guys with lots of energy....they got it!!! youth, energy, swagger,good musicians, great voice.....if this group can stay together for the long haul they'll be going places...."40 Sons""

The comments I made back then still stand and I believe that they are on the cusp of something big. They recently released a song called "Hurricane" which is being played on network tv during promos for the Ontario Hockey League and on Spike Tv for the Ultimate Fighting Championships.

The 40 Sons began in 2004. They had a gig booked before they had a singer or any songs written. Mike Repic was recruited to do the vocals. They wrote 5 or 6 songs, decided on a name for the band an hour before the gig, "40 Sons and Daughters" which was later shortened to "40 Sons". When asked what's it take to get to where you are now, Mike Szpakowski - guitar and vocals, said "Perseverence, hard work, sticking with it even when you get shot down by people. If somebody knocks you down you just gotta work harder." I then asked if they had a plan that got them to where they are now - Mike Szpakowski - "Well yeah, but it's changed 50 times". Mike Repic - "Every weekend it changed" LOL. MS - "We have certain goals we want to achieve but alot of times things come up, sometimes good sometimes bad, but that's life."

I had a chat with Mike Repic a week before this interview. We were discussing music from the past, he then asked me a question that stumped me. Mike asked "What new music do you like?" I thought about that question for a long time and finally came to the conclusion that the new music I like is what I've been hearing coming out of Hamilton, one of those bands being The 40 Sons. The members of the band are : Cristiano Andreatta on Drums, Link Andrews on Bass guitar, Mike Repic on lead
vocals and Mike Szpakowski on guitar and vocals. I caught up with the band at one of the local pubs on Augusta street in between sets.

Q. What role has the city of Hamilton played in your musical career?

MR - "Motivated us to get out"....LOL..."I love it and its home. I love the people...I think anywhere you live there's a motivation to leave home, especially as a musician. We've toured and every time I come back I'm happy I live here"

MS - "The music scene is building(in Hamilton), there's bands to look up to and bands to have friendly rivals with" 

MR - "It's a big city. There's tons of loyal fans. The fans are amazing here. The other night(gig at Corktown) there were so many faces I didn't recognize singing all our songs"

MS - "It's definitely a dirty rock town"...LOL

Q. What would you say makes your music so unique/stand out?

MR - "In tiny ways I could compare it to stuff on the radio but nothing....for me, when I put on the radio and "Theory of a Deadman" is on, oh that's a band that sounds like this band and that band, and I don't think that we really have that. No one confuses us with anyone else. We all have our own style."

Q. What's up next for the 40 Sons?

MR - "We've been recording a full length album for about a year, just over. It's been a long long road. We're hoping to release it in February and then go on a tour.

MS - "And also the "Hurricane" (song). The premise for that was given to us by this guy, Showdown Joe, who works for the "UFC" (ultimate fighting championships), sportscaster commentator and has his own radio show. Try to think of the mind of a fighter and what they go through"

MR - "I've never been given a premise from anyone and told to "write about this". So it was a step in a much different direction than I usually take to write lyrics but it was fun."

MS - "That song is being used for the OHL(Ontario Hockey League) for their promo's for the whole year. It's great 'cause the NHL is out so it'll get a lot more air play."

MR - "It'll be on Leafs TV and Spike TV and maybe TLC....LOL"

The 40 Sons will be performing December 14, 2012 at The Casbah in Hamilton. If you would like to hear some of their music and find out more about them, follow the links below.


2012 Predictions

Happy New Year Hamiltonians!!!!  In the spirit of the new year, below you will find a series of questions we asked of our Perspectives Virtual Panel, related to their predictions for 2012.

Please feel free to contribute your own predictions in the comments section. And just for fun, at the end of this topic, we have included a link to last year's predictions for 2011. We thought it would be fun to look back and see which came to be. Enjoy!

1. What will be the most positive thing that will happen in Hamilton over the course of the upcoming year?

Construction starts on: 1) new Maple Leaf facility in Glanbrook Industrial Park; and 2) "new" Ivor Wynne Stadium. May see construction begin on the new McMaster Medical Facility in downtown Hamilton and may also see new construction