Monday, April 30, 2012

Start Me Up

As many of you will know, the pilot project that council embarked upon that changed the start of city council meetings from 7:00pm, to the new time of 5:00pm, is soon nearing an end. The City can benefit from some feedback from you, as to whether you'd like to see the new time continue beyond the pilot project. Please take the poll on the right hand side, and use this thread to add any additional comments you may have.

Clr. Partridge- On Term Limits

Clr. Judi Partridge and her thoughts on Term Limits

Thank you for the question on term limits. I believe our democratic process already provides the means to vote in the candidates that voters feel will do the best job representing the ward. If you look at the long-term serving councillors, it generally is voters outside of their ward who think they should go. They consistently win the election by a large majority within their own ward. Very few win by a small margin - that says a lot about the work they do for their residents. As a new councillor, I can tell you there is great value in the knowledge gathered by being a long-term councillor. It provides for a lot of collective brain trust around the table. That has huge value to the taxpayers, yet not many voters would say so. Another issue is finding candidates that are qualified to hold this office. It is not an easy position. Without a qualified opposition candidate, many voters will stay with the incumbent. Bigger still, is the issue of low voter turnout on election night. The real challenge has become voter apathy.

Thank-you Clr. Partridge of engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Matt Jelly - On term Limits

Enjoy our Q/A with Matt, with respect to term limits.

Q. We are wondering if you would share your views on municipal term limits. Are you in favour of term limits in Hamilton? Why or why not?

A. My views on term limits have evolved over time. As someone who does want to see some turnover on council and the school board, as well as a number of governance reforms such as ward boundary review, I do understand and somewhat share the frustration towards long-term incumbency. But I do feel our best way to deal with that frustration is to push for increased voter engagement, not just at election time but between elections, and to encourage good candidates to seek office. Incumbents do enjoy a natural advantage, but it is possible to oust incumbents with a strong organized campaign, and a candidate who presents a compelling alternative.

In the case of our longest-serving incumbents, in many cases the reason they stay in power is the lack of strong challengers. If the majority of the electorate does want to vote an incumbent back in, term limits does seem somewhat anti-democratic, as much as some may not like the result. Implementing term limits does include an inherent assumption that a new councillor is automatically better than an experienced councillor- which may not always be the case.

It may also be worth pointing out that term limits cannot be imposed by council itself, but rather through a change to the Municipal Act, something the current provincial government has in the past chosen not to do.

Clr. Whitehead - On Term Limits


Terry Whitehead responds in the comments section. Our Publisher responds to Clr. Whitehead. 

In our quest to test the temperature as to what people think about installing municipal term limits in Hamilton, we decided to ask selected councillors for their views. This one is from a seasoned Councillor- Terry Whitehead :

Q. We are wondering if we could get your views on municipal term limits? Would you support the idea? Why or why not?

A.Fundamentally to have democracy is about having choice. To undermine that principal would mean we are no longer having a democracy. The only elected Government position that has term limits that I am aware of in North America is the President of the United States of America. Wonder why?

Since amalgamation over two thirds of the city council has changed. Many incumbents have been defeated.

I believe those who drive this agenda are failed candidates or those whom support candidates that have failed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Disney Difference

Last week, The Hamiltonian attended a seminar facilitated through McMaster University's DeGroote School of business. The session, which featured the Disney Institute, an arm of Disney that teaches Disney's approach to business excellence, delivered the whole day affair, complete with tangible examples on how Disney succeeds with their businesses, instruction and a multi media delivery of the session. 

The Disney folks conceded that some of what they were saying are common business best practices, but offered that such practices often fail at implementation. What was clear is that Disney knows how to implement. They clearly demonstrated, in detail, how they have taken their vision for the organization, and made it live and breath with meaning, at every level of the organization; from their employees, whom they call "cast members" to their customers whom they call "guests".

Disney demonstrated how they are able to design, develop, nurture, expand and sustain a prevailing positive culture that is responsive to guests, cast members and the company's financial goals. The take away for us, was Disney's know-how related to weaving values into a culture and their ability to make it stick. The $500.00 per attendee fee was well worth it, and McMaster University's  Degroote School of Business did a fine job of hosting the event.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Marty Hazell - on Illegal Dumping Pilot Project

Marty Hazell is Senior Director of Parking and By-Law. We thought we'd check in with Marty and speak to him about illegal dumping and the new pilot project being led out of his office.  Enjoy our Q/A with Marty:

1. The effort to curb illegal dumping, has been reduced from the initial ask of 1 million, which would have utilized by-law officers, to $225,000.00 utilizing part time students. We note that you stated that this is a compromise which would likely not be as effective. Despite that, is there a value for money business case for the $225,000.00 and if so, how would you express it?

Using students to provide proactive enforcement of illegal dumping violations is low cost, but it will likely not be as efficient or effective as using Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) Officers because students cannot lay by-law charges. Instead, the students will collect information and evidence, which will then be passed along to Officers who will be able to lay charges as time permits.

To-date, reactive or complaint driven enforcement has not been effective in collecting the necessary

In Tribute to Reverend Brother Walter Tucker

Please note: Members of the Church of the Universe, or friends/family of Walter's in Hamilton or at large are more than welcome to be here and express your thoughts. Welcome. 

With sadness, we learned that Rev. Walter Tucker passed away. Rev. Tucker was a kind soul and a true Hamiltonian. He will be sadly missed. 

The following is a notice posted by his long time friend, Rev. Michael Baldasaro:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the Streets- An Invite

The following is a copy of an invitation that Gary Santucci has sent to Mayor Bratina and City Councillors.  It was shared with us by Mr. Santucci

Dear Mayor Bratina and City Councillors
The recent court decision that changed the prostitution laws that is now being appealed by our Federal

Thursday, April 26, 2012

At the Hall

At last night's city council meeting, the following occurred:

Charlton Hall

In a 12-4 vote, council decided to deny Charlton's Hall's request to move to a Corktown location. The decision is proving controversial in light of Chief Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall's advice to council that taking such a position may be in violation of Human Rights legilsation/principles. This is not the end of story, as the Executive Director of Charlton Hall vowed to bring an appeal before the OMB.

Perhaps Clr. Whitehead made the most profound statement when he said "“I have a son who’s autistic and he has a damn right to live in Corktown. I find it quite embarrassing that a community that’s supposed to be giving can say no to these eight women.”

Ward Boundaries Petition

Upon recognizing a petition holding 680 signatures reqesting that city council review its ward boundaries, council has until July 24th to do so, or else risk an appeal to the OMB. The matter was referred by council to a future meeting of the General Issues Committee. The matter seems to have created great unease amongst those who worrry about the issue causing divisions between rural and suburban areas.

With thanks to our friends at The Hamilton Spectator

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Clr. Farr - On Term Limits

Q. At a town hall meeting, you expressed support for term limits for city council. Can you advise as to whether you continue to hold this conviction and, if so, if you will be bringing the matter forward in any way, for further exploration?

A. Thank you for the question. To paraphrase:  at the Town Hall, I did express that I do not see any issue with term limits and referenced the fact from a personal perspective (progressing with ones career, etc.)  I also stated that I very much understood the issue from the other side.  That the job of City Councillor can be very fulfilling and I completely understand one (any Councillor) wanting to continue with the role when the feed-back from the constituent(s) with respect to ability is positive.  It is work that is sometimes difficult, but often rewarding.

This said, I have no intention of bringing the issue forward.

Perspectives Virtual Panel- On Term Limits

We asked our Perspectives Virtual Panel the following question about municipal term limits in Hamilton:

The notion of term limits for city council has once again re-appeared, finding its way on The Hamiltonian, talk shows and other media sources. Peculiarly, it has re-emerged well in advance of the next municipal election.

Some argue that term limits are necessary in Hamilton. Some who are of that view, point to the fact that many of our councillors are multi-term councillors and who, in their estimation, have had their day. Along these lines, people argue that being a councillor should not be a career but a public service, and that term limits should be in place. Still others react to what they see as a failure to deliver on some issues that were deemed to be of importance (Pan Am., etc). Finally, people in this camp will argue that incumbents have too much of an advantage by virtue of name recognition and familiarity, and that term limits would inject needed new blood and ideas.

Those who hold the opposite view will often label term limits as being "un-democratic" citing the election process as the legitimate way to elect council and that term limits are unneeded and that voters can decide on their own.

In the context of poor voter turn outs, particularly at the municipal government level, the debate as to what constitutes reasonable representative government, becomes murky. Some would shift the onus entirely or substantively on voters, to be more attentive and engaged. Others argue that people do not necessarily have the time to follow the issues, understand them and sustain engagement. 

Our question to our Perspectives Virtual Panel is in a Hamilton context. Do you believe it is time for term limits? Or are you of the view that the municipal electoral process should be left alone? Please explain your answer and feel free to argue either side. 

Here are the responses from the panel:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Forcing the Issue of Re-Drawing Ward Boundaries

A petition requesting council to reconsider ward boundaries, has secured 680 signatures- 180 signatures over the minimum requirement of 500.

The petition has been delivered, and is expected to be discussed at Wednesday's council meeting. Council technically has 90 days to address it, else risk a hearing before the OMB. 

Do you support the effort, and regardless of whether you do or you don't, do you applaud this demonstration of citizen engagement? 

Working Hard for the Money?

The 2011 Sunshine List revealed that 749 employees of the City of Hamilton, were paid more that $100,000 per year in 2011. This prompted us to inquire of the City Manager, how many of those employees had a performance contract/agreement in place for the 2011 fiscal year. For those who did have a performance contract/agreement in place, we asked how many were deemed to have met their performance commitments. We did not ask for personal information, but for aggregate data.

A performance appraisal or contract, is a commonly used mechanism for organizations to ensure that employee performance is aligned with organizational objectives and that employees are earning their pay by performing according to expectations.  In some cases, it is an instrument to manage employee performance, up to and including dismissal or to support promotions. We were particularly interested in those making over $100,000.00 in 2011. 

The city has advised that due to various methods used to gather this type of information (ranging from manual systems to varying computer systems), it is not possible to provide this information. It thus appears as though there is no way, at present, for the city to assure itself and Hamiltonians, at a summary statistical level, as to how many people receiving over $100,000.00 per year, are performing to standard and/or have a finalized performance appraisal/contract in place. 

Canada Fully Deserves Three More NHL Franchises- Says Conference Board

You may recall that The Hamiltonian interviewed Mario Lefebvre, Director Centre for Municipal Studies from the Conference Board of Canada. The interview, which can be found here, focussed on a study that the Conference Board completed, that suggested that the city of Hamilton was a viable choice for a NHL team.

Subsequent to that, The Hamiltonian contacted the corporate office of the NHL, and asked them to comment. Our Q/A with the NHL can be found here.

Today, we were contacted by the Conference Board of Canada to make us aware of a blog that Mr. Lefebvre wrote on the topic. It can be found here.

Link of the Moment

How They Voted in March (Click here), From the good people at C.A.T.C.H.

Friday, April 20, 2012

There's Something Happening Here

There's something happening here
What it is,  ain't exactly clear

That's an excerpt from the lyrics to an old Buffalo Springfield classic entitled For What It's Worth, but it also captures the mood of an evolving process that is happening in Hamilton.

With the advent of alternate information sources such as The Hamiltonian, Raise the Hammer and the like and the great work of people like Joey Coleman , Matt Jelly and others, opportunities for Hamiltonians to become more engaged in matters of local government, have never been better. Add to that, the mutually rewarding relationships that are beginning to be nurtured between MSM sources such as The Hamilton Spectator, with sources such as The Hamiltonian, Raise the Hammer, Cable 14 and others, and one gets a sense of a unique mix of media prowess that is taking centre stage in Hamilton. And let's not forget our new partners, CBC Hamilton, for good measure and our friends at CHML.

What will all this amount to? "What it is, ain't exactly clear", but what is clear is that a better engaged citizenery with increasingly seamless access to various media and information sources, can only make us a better city; one whose citizenery will contribute to and drive  the shape of things to come.

The recent petition with respect to the re-drawing of ward boundaries is one example of this exciting evolution. The movement was covered by Andrew Dreschel in the Spec, by The Hamiltonian, on Raise the Hammer, on Facebook, on the MyStoney Creek blog, Twitter and likely other sources in tandem. Without particular reference to the aforementioned petition effort, there is bound to be some awkwardness, and perhaps false starts as this mix of media and citizen champions continue to find their way through this new dance. But the music is definitely playing and it's being heard.

Yes, there's something happening here....in Hamilton!  Stay tuned. 

Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

Update on Brian Hatch Complaint to Integrity Commissioner

Our Publisher Teresa DiFalco spoke by phone with Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse today. Mr. Basse advised Teresa that he expects to have his report to council by mid-May. 

Mayor Bratina- On Term Limits

Q. Mr. Mayor: Previously, you made comments that your tenure as Mayor would be a short one- or words to that effect. One might infer from that comment that you saw your service as Mayor as a public service within a specific time limited period (self imposed it seems in this case). Given that sentiment, regardless of how that ends up translating, would you support the notion of term limits for municipal council, if the citizenry had enough support for the idea, and if the proper process for achieving term limits was followed?

A. The issue to me is less about term limits, more about good governance. The debate here is about whether or not there are better ways of choosing members of Council. Another option apart from term limits is election at large where all voters cast ballots for every member of Council. This approach could lead to a smaller Council since in theory it would eliminate or at least diminish extremely parochial attitudes that can occur among elected officials. Governance expert James Milway wrote a discussion paper called Opportunities for Improving Municipal Governance in Ontario in which he stated the following: "The ward-based electoral system coupled with the legislated weakness of the mayor contains no formal mechanisms to ensure a corporate perspective is taken in Council decisions." Corporate Perspective means the best decision for the entire community. It strikes me that the public often feels left out in some of the larger questions such as the Pan Am stadium site or LRT planning. Our most difficult issue, area rating, was solved in part because of Mayor Eisenberger's Citizens Panel, which I supported, and which provided another set of eyes and some extra time to assist the Council in coming to a good decision. Councillors elected at large might be more open to input from residents in the absence of the safety net provided by their own Ward electors under the current system. There also needs to be a mechanism that allows for broad public input on policy proposals being dealt with by elected officials. In some cases referendums might be the preferred approach for proposals such as term limits or changes to Municipal Structure.

Bob Bratina,

Thank-you Mr. Mayor for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian. 

Note: The link to James Milway's Opportunities for Improving Municipal Governance in Ontario , was provided by The Hamiltonian. 

Kitchener Mayor- Carl Zehr on Radial Separation By-Law

Mayor Carl Zehr of Kitchener
Update: Mayor of Sarnia, Mike Bradley , offered the following comment after reading Mayor Zehr of Kitchener's responses:

"Sad. Sarnia worked with the Dream Team and eliminated the discrimination bylaws two years ago. Either it’s the right thing to do or it’s not."

Here is our interview with Mayor Zehr of Kitchener

1. The City of Kitchener has decided to maintain its radial separation by-law despite cautions from Chief Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall, who warned that such policies fly in the face of human rights principles and are discriminatory. Can you share your perspective on this matter and explain why Kitchener has chosen to retain this by law?

Actually - the matter is still the subject of an ongoing legal proceeding with a group calling itself the Dream Team. Nonetheless, the City of Kitchener is working with the Dream Team and the Human Rights Commission to reach an agreeable solution. In addition to participating in a mediation and provincial roundtable on the topic, our Planning Department is undertaking a review of the separation distance regulation.

2. Relatively speaking, was this a tough decision? Did it require a lot of debate and discussion or was council more or less aligned going into it?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Clrs. Whitehead and Duvall - On Ward Boundaries

You may recall that we asked a question about the re-drawing of ward boundaries of Clrs. Whitehead and Duvall. We'd like to thank both Clr. Whitehead and Clr. Duvall for responding to our question. Please find below, the original question and the response:

Q. We can appreciate concerns with respect to duplicating the costs of re-drawing ward boundaries by re-drawing these boundaries prematurely . However, would you see any value in designing and invoking a staged approach? Such a staged approach would get architected in advance, and would get exercised as population growth throughout the city materalizes. In other words, set up a model, in advance, that reacts to the changing demographics, as they occur, in accordance to pre-defined thresholds. Is this not work that can be done in an anticipatory way, so that we are prepared while not incurring duplicate costs? Such an approach may also include a more immediate adjustment.

We would like to thank the Hamiltonian bloggers for your patience and your interest in our response regarding comprehensive Ward Boundary Review.

The question of why Council decided to defer the comprehensive ward boundary review is quite simple; timing and cost. The cost of a review would be approximately $250,000. The cost of supporting just one more ward office would be approximately $200,000 a year. There are other incidental costs that may increase any implementation. One time cost would include set up cost, potential appeal costs etc. Secondly,

On Citizen Engagement- With Clr. McHattie

Enjoy our chat with Clr. Brian McHattie on an example of  his efforts to engage citizens in decision making in his ward.

1. You have chosen to engage a representative sample of constituents from  your ward to assist you in determining how to apply 1.6 million dollars for ward related projects/needs. We note that you called for volunteers from all  ages and walks of life to become involved in having input. We believe this is a shining example of good citizen/councillor engagement. Some might caution that despite how well this effort is orchestrated, you may end up with unhappy people whose projects/interests may have not made the final  list. Or, unhappy people who chose not to participate but nonetheless are  disappointed with the outcome. We are sure this has occurred to you and  despite these risks, you have elected to proceed. Can you share with us your  thinking and why you believe that this is an approach worth investing in?

It has been my experience that during any public consultation process (or voting process for that matter)

A Sunny Day for Bratina

The $8000.00 payment to Chief of Staff Peggy Chapman, authorized by Mayor Bob Bratina, did not break any city rules. Council came to that conclusion after a confidential meeting. You may recall that the mayor came under fire, after Ms. Chapman was found to be on the 2011 Sunshine list of employees who made over $100,000.00. Making the list was, in part, due to the $8000.00 payment.

The current policy allows for such payouts due to extenuating circumstances. The Mayor cited his Chief of Staff having to work through her vacation to deal with issues raised over a controversial pay hike of $30,000.00 granted to her, as the reason for the pay-out. Some councillors expressed concern over the interpretation of extenuating circumstances but absent a more specific definition of the term, Mayor Bratina's decision was deemed to be within the rules. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tweet of the Moment

Should there be a counter petition, why does that worry you? Diversity of opinion is good, no? Or is groupthink preferred?

Larry DiIanni on a counter petition to re-drawing of ward boundaries. 

Citizen Engagement- Re-Drawing Ward Boundaries

Note: It appears as though there is no electronic version of the petition as of yet. Click here for a link to a paper copy that can be printed out. 

Despite council's decision to defer the issue of re-drawing ward boundaries to the next term (as did the previous council), a group of citizens will have none of it. (see Spec article here)  A petition is afoot to force council to consider the issue within this term. The objective is to adjust a suggested imbalance in voting power, caused by wards having an equal vote regardless of their population. Re-drawing boundaries is said to correct this imbalance by recognizing representation by population. Learn more about this movement here

While interesting in of itself, coupled with recent stirrings that might have term limits being visited, this may be a sign of change for Hamilton. Citizen engagement is beginning to take shape en masse.

The following article is from M. Adrian Brassington who, in cooperation with a Christopher Cutler and the Facebook group, is taking  a lead role in the effort. The article takes the form of a Q/A, in which both the Q's and A's were written by Mr.  Brassington 

Q: What can you tell us about the 'Ward Boundary Reform' movement in the city?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Questions Pending Answers

Here are a question that we have asked, and its status:

To Clr. Johnson:  

Q. The Hamiltonian has interviewed biologist Dr. Joe Minor, with respect to his perspectives of PFOS contamination. The interview can be found here http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2012/04/dr.html

What do you think the city’s role should be with respect to addressing the PFOS contamination issue? After reviewing Dr. Minor’s comments, as made to The Hamiltonian (see them here http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2012/04/dr.html ), is there anything you would like to add in terms of your views on this matter?

Status: No response

Note: The Hamiltonian will post replies, if we receive them, verbatim. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Q/A With Clr. Merulla- on Mayor Bratina

Note: This topic has veered toward the issue of term limits.  The original topic is still represented by the Q/A with Clr. Merulla. We have permitted this thread to evolve, as it seems that there is interest in this topic, and the discussion has been respectful and interesting. The Hamiltonian will do something more formal on the topic of term limits, in the near future. 

Here's a Q/A with Clr. Sam Merulla

Q. You have been very watchful when it comes to Mayor Bratina's comments to media sources; most recently with any overtures he may have made with respect to Hamilton's possible interest in a Casino. Some may suggest that the Mayor needs latitude to express his opinion independent of council when he is voicing his individual opinion and, in consultation with council, as the voice of council. In essence, trying to find a balance between the Mayor being able to lead the city, either through seeding ideas that he espouses personally that are subject to council's approval, or by officially being the voice of council and the City.

The sensitivity around this issue may cause a degree of discomfort or ambiguity with respect to what would be acceptable. What advice might you have to strike this balance, so that our Mayor does not feel unduly stifled?

A. I have faith we as a council will move forward with the will of council prevailing subsequent to Mayor Bratina recognizing what the will of council is through a consultative process with the majority of council. I also want to thank Mayor Bratina for thanking me and my leadership on the City Motor Hotel issue and accordingly I want to thank Mayor Bratina and council for their support.

Thanks Clr. Merulla for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dr. Joe Minor- On PFOS Contamination

Dr. Joe Minor
Dr. Joe Minor is the local biologist who discovered high levels of PFOS in a ditch leading away from the airport. The matter of contamination remains unresolved. We thought we'd ask Dr. Minor a few questions with a view toward getting his perspective:

1. The issue of contamination by virtue of PFOS that has spread downstream from the airport, is an issue that you have been very vocal on. In layman terms, can you explain the following to Hamiltonians: 

What is the issue?
What areas have been affected?
How have we confirmed that there is contamination?
How long has there been an awareness of the issue?

What is the issue? 

The problem is that a polluting industry was located at the headwaters of multiple watersheds in an area of “High Groundwater Vulnerability”. Over the years the airport has polluted with fuels, metals, glycol (de-icing fluid), cleaning agents, oil, grease, hydraulic fluids, and perfluorocarbons (PFCs: many forms including PFOS, PFOA, and PFECHS). PFOS is currently a concern because it persists in the environment, it concentrates up food chains (because it sticks to proteins), and there is a rapidly growing medical literature that indicates numerous health problems are positively associated with even very low amounts of PFOS.

What areas have been affected?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hamilton Celebrates National Volunteer Week

Hamilton Celebrates National Volunteer Week

Send a thank-you message via Twitter using the hashtag #VHNVW

HAMILTON – Sunday, April 15th marks the start of National Volunteer Week. This event recognizes and celebrates the passion, action and impact of volunteers across Canada.

The recent Vital Signs report published by the Hamilton Community Foundation highlights just how much Hamilton has to celebrate this coming National Volunteer Week (NVW). Vital Signs reports that 56% of Hamiltonians volunteer. That is higher than the national average; 45% of Canadians volunteer.

Volunteer Hamilton invites Hamiltonians to celebrate the impact of volunteers in our city by tweeting messages of appreciation using the hashtag #VHNVW. During National Volunteer Week, Volunteer Hamilton will retweet and display messages of thanks on a twitter fall display at our 267 King Street East storefront office.

Volunteer Hamilton’s Twitter feed can be found at www.twitter.com/#!/VolHam

About Volunteer Hamilton

Volunteer Hamilton has been serving the Hamilton community for over 45 years. We set the standard for engaging the community in volunteerism. Through leadership, education and advocacy, we promote and link organizations, businesses and individuals to embrace volunteerism. Volunteer Hamilton is a United Way supported agency.

On Target

With the advent of a number of American brand name retail stores establishing a presence in the Hamilton area, we thought we'd ask Target a few questions. 

1. Target’s planned presence in the Hamilton area, will see Target unseat stores such as Zellers, which have been around for a very long time. Can you tell Hamiltonians what Target might offer? In other words, what is your competitive edge and why should Hamiltonians be receptive to Target?

In explaining who Target is and how we are unique, I think it is important to think of Target through three different lens – guest experience, community partner and employer. From a guest experience perspective, Target is focused on bringing the true U.S. Target brand experience to Canada. Our Canadian guests (just an FYI that three million Canadians shopped at Target in 2011) have told us that they want the true Target experience when we open stores in Canada – the one they have come to know and love when they cross the border. This means clean stores, wide aisles and exceptional merchandise at affordable prices. We are committed to delivering on our brand promise of Expect More.Pay Less and you will see this reflected across all categories of the store. As you may know, Target partners with well-known

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

CEO and President of Tradeport - Frank Scremin

Frank Scremin
We decided to check in with our friend Frank Scremin,  President and CEO of Tradeport to chat about some of the dynamics that are playing out in the airline industry and how they may impact Tradeport. Enjoy our chat with Frank.

Q. With the rise in fuel prices, the fragile state of ORNG air ambulance and any anticipated business from that provider, and the general decrease in flight traffic over the same time last year, can you comment as to how you will confront this problem from Tradeport's perspective, to maximize the chances of the airport remaining viable?

Fuel prices are a vital concern to homeowners, motorists and the transportation industry. We believe the current "spike" in fuel prices reflects global concerns about political instability in the Middle East, particularly Iran. These circumstances are global in nature and influence the world price of oil. As such Hamilton and the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport are not impacted any more adversely than other Canadian airports. Fuel costs are an integral part of inflation. Significantly increased fuel costs do have a negative impact on the economy and this affects Hamilton in the same way it does other communities.

Our central location in the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk and Brant regions and within the broader

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley- On Radial Separation By-Law

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley
The Hamiltonian reached out to Mayor Bradley of Sarnia, to ask him some questions about he and his council's considerations while deciding to eliminate their radial separation by-law. Join us in our chat with Mayor Bradley of Sarnia. 

1. Can you tell us a little about the lead up to the decision council made to eliminate the radial separation by-law. Relatively speaking, was it a tough decision that required a lot of convincing and debate, or was there a good degree of alignment going in to it?

I was contacted by the local Community Legal Assistance office here two years ago to bring attention to the discriminatory nature of our zoning bylaw to group homes. In turn they had been contacted by a group of ex psychiatric patients called the “Dream Team” that filed a human rights complaint against four cities including Sarnia, on our discriminatory bylaw's. The “Dream Team” selected four cities at random across Ontario to show the discriminatory practices in Ontario communities. After a review by Sarnia City staff the recommendation that was supported fully by Council

Clr. Ferguson on Complaints to the Integrity Commissioner

Clr. Ferguson has replied to The Hamiltonian  regarding complaints to the Integrity Commissioner. The Clr. was delayed due to fighting off an infection. We hope he is back to 100% very soon.

Here is our Q/A with the Clr:

Q. You are one of the councillors who is supporting the amendment to the integrity complaint process , which will deem a complaint null and void if a citizen speaks to the media, prior to the investigation completing. Some argue that this is an assault on free speech. How do you respond to those who suggest that this amendment is, in fact, indefensible and, are you having any second thoughts as a result of feedback you have likely seen from citizens and from others?

It is early days for the proposed changes to the contract and bylaw relating to the Integrity Commissioner. There were a six suggestions for changes that came out of the last meeting of the Accountability and

Clr. Merulla- On Complaints to the Integrity Commissioner

We have been asking some councillors about their position on amending the Integrity Commissioner By-Law, so that complainants will have their complaint nullified, if they speak to the media before the investigation is through. Here is our Q/A with Clr. Merulla:

Q. This question is with respect to the possible amendment to the integrity complaint process , which will deem a complaint null and void if a citizen speaks to the media, prior to the investigation completing. Some argue that this is an assault on free speech. How do you respond to those who suggest that this amendment is, in fact, indefensible and, are you having any second thoughts as a result of feedback you have likely seen from citizens and from others?

The issue was dealt with at the committee level and I have not voted on the issue. My position has been

Sarnia Separates from Radial Separation By-Law

The rules are " discriminatory and have nothing to do with planning and everything to do with negative stereotypes about disabled people" That's a quote from Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley on the heels of Sarnia electing to quash their radial separation by-law.  The by-law will be removed on Thursday. In tandem, Hamilton continues to struggle with this issue, as it tries to find a solution that would satisfy all

A recent study by the Social Planning an Research Council, complied by contacting 86 residents in various neighbourhoods,  found that over  50% of those who participated agreed that noone has the right to exclude anyone from their neighbourhoods. (The Hamiltonian cannot confirm that these results are statistically valid, given the small sample size.)

With the prevalence of Human Rights legislation and the watchful eye of Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall, it will be interesting to see if a solution can be arrived at that respects the intrinsic human rights that people have, while making other considerations.  See Spec write up here

Do you think we should take Ms. Hall's advice and follow Sarnia's lead by scrapping the by-law? What advice might you have for council?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mayor Bratina- on Radial Separation By-Law and Human Rights

Mayor Bratina was kind enough to answer a question we put to him re: the radial separation by-law and more specifically, Commissioner Barbara Hall's letter.

Here is our Q/A with the Mayor:

Q. How concerned are you with Human Rights Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall’s advice that Hamilton’s Radial Separation by-law may be in violation of the spirit and/or the letter of Human Rights legislation and sensibilities? Understanding that this will be a matter for the whole of council to decide, have you formulated your opinion on this matter? If so, what is your view and if not, how much weight will you put on Ms. Hall’s letter in your considerations?

I believe Council is proceeding properly with the file, and I would rather not engage in a discussion over our by-law at this time. However I will say that living conditions of individuals in care should always be our first consideration. The residential component of their treatment should not be based on the cost of real estate, but rather on a proper, healthy supportive setting. 

The difference here from the position stated by the Human Rights Chief Commissioner is that the clients of Charlton Hall are not living there by choice. Council has indicated its willingness to continue to pursue a resolution that is acceptable to all.

Bob Bratina, Mayor

Thanks to Mayor Bratina for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian

Clr. Partridge- On Complaints to the Integrity Commissioner

Q. You are one of the councillors who is supporting the amendment to the integrity complaint process , which will deem a complaint null and void if a citizen speaks to the media, prior to the investigation completing. Some argue that this is an assault on free speech. How do you respond to those who suggest that this amendment is, in fact, indefensible and, are you having any second thoughts as a result of feedback you have likely seen from citizens and from others?

Appreciate your question, this is the first opportunity for me to respond.

First let me clarify exactly what was voted on.The committee was discussing the new agreement for the Integrity Commissioner (IC) which is up for renewal. We voted to send six additional items to the city legal department for comment and recommendation on each item as an amendment to be included in the IC agreement renewal. The report will come back to the next A&T committee for further discussion with each item to be voted on.

One of the items was for the IC complaint application to include a clause, that the complainant agree to not speak to the media for the duration of the IC investigation. All information would be public once the IC had ruled on the investigation. I really don't see a problem with that.

Personally, I like to have all the facts before making decisions on whether or not to include that clause. Just because it could be a political hot potato is no reason to shy away from or disregard it. The role of a councillor is to receive all the facts, use sound judgment in deliberating and own the decision you make, which yes, sometimes requires a very thick skin. You don't go into politics unless you can take the heat. I believe strongly in the role of the IC and that there needs to be a fair, level playing field for both parties. I'll wait to see what the city legal department has to say.

Thank you again for the opportunity to respond.
with kind regards,

City Councillor Judi Partridge 
Hamilton Ward 15 Flamborough

Thanks to Clr. Partridge for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Collections for the Welcome Inn Food Bank

This is a quick notice that volunteers will be collecting donations for the Welcome Inn Community Centre Food Bank next Friday April 13th, at the corner of James Street North and Cannon Street, from the beginning of the Art Crawl around 7pm until 11pm.

Our food banks are currently very short on stocks, particularly baby formula. We will be accepting any non-perishable food item.

Also, if you're not able to make it to the crawl, Hamilton Food Share is always accepting financial donations, either in person, online or by mail. All the information you need is available here: http://www.hamiltonfoodshare.org/financial-contributions/index.htm

Thanks  Matt Jelly

Thursday, April 5, 2012


This item (click here) is still on our checklist. We will report back to Hamiltonians once we hear back from the city. Last we were told, they are working on compiling this information. 

Council/Staff Get Tough on Mitchell

Councillors recently voted to consider taking legal action against former Glanbrook Councillor David Mitchell, after Mitchell failed to pay back a debt of $1,645.00 that he owes the city.  Councillors also recently voted to fight Mitchell's application for a land severance on property that Mitchell owns. While Councillor for Ward 11, Mitchell was censured by council, for attempting to influence councillors around this land severance issue. Mitchell was also previously censured for trying to influence a police officer  to get out of a speeding ticket. 

Seems that council and staff are cracking down on the debt. They are are also opposing the land severance application on the basis that it violates several planning principles. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Radial Separation Policy Meets Human Rights

The following is a letter sent by Chief Commissioner, Barbara Hall to Mayor Bratina and Members of the General Issues Committee, re; the radial separation policy. 

April 3, 2012

Mayor Bob Bratina and Members of General Issues Committee
City of Hamilton
Hamilton City Hall
71 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y5

Your Worship and Councillors,

Re: Information Report on the Lynwood Charlton Centre (CM12005}

I am writing to restate my concerns about the human rights implications raised by the zoning application by the Lynwood Charlton Centre. As stated in my letter of January 24, 2012, applying the radial separation distance to this application makes one ask whether the City of Hamilton is creating discriminatory barriers for vulnerable people.

Over the past year, we have held an Ontario-wide consultation on the human rights issues faced by people with mental health disabilities. We heard repeatedly that the need for safe, effective housing, and the need to feel welcome and part of the community were key issues. We also heard about the damage that can happen when these needs are not met. So your decision on this centre has the opportunity to either make these vulnerable teenage girls feel welcome, or to inflict further damage on them.

In February this year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission published In the Zone, a guide to housing, human rights and municipal planning. This guide describes the systemic barriers that can be created when municipalities pass bylaws that do not take into account the people who may be affected. While barriers may be inadvertent, to the vulnerable person in search of housing, they are still barriers.

The Information Report on the Lynwood Charlton Centre illustrates some of the barriers we urge municipalities to avoid. The report talks about how a community agency can be prevented from, providing a vital service through a combination of forced service changes, financial obstacles, and arbitrary separation distances. 

Arbitrary separation distances can lead to contraventions of the Human Rights Code. I urge you to break down the barriers instead of building new ones.

As you move forward with this report and the zoning application, consider carefully the Human rights impacts on the vulnerable people who already live and use services in that community, whose lives will be affected by the decision you make. You have the choice to say "You are not wanted here" or to say "Welcome home."

The OHRC is available to assist you with this issue. For more information on human rights and housing, please contact Jacquelin Pegg at 416-326-9501 or via email at .Jacquelin. Pe,q.q@ohrc. on. ca.
Yours truly,
Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Chief Commissioner

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Charlton Hall - No Resolution Yet

Unfortunately, the search of an alternative location for Chartlon House ( a home for mentally ill girls) , aside from the Augusta Street option, has failed.

According to a Spectator report (see it here) the existing Charlton House is in need of 2.5 million in repairs and renos. (In January, the city estimated 1.2 million in capital investment) The Augusta street option runs into the radial separation by-law, in more ways than one. Technically, the by-law would prohibit a relocation to Augusta street, as the by-law deems how many of these like facilities are permitted to be in a particular location. Apparantly, there are already too many residential care facilities in the Augusta area- according to the provisions of the by-law.

It also potentially runs into Human Rights legislation in that some argue that having a radial separation by-law violates human rights, as we should not be zoning according to the characteristics of people. Clr. Farr continues to be defiant as to the potential impact of human rights legislation on the radial separation by-law quoted in the Spec as saying "There is a radial separation 300-metre rule — one that somebody in the business had to be well aware of.”

Brian Hatch on Free Speech and Gag Orders

The following article is authored by Brian Hatch of Ancaster. 

The Integrity “Gag” Amendment vs Free Speech

Much has been written about the proposed amendment to the integrity complaint process approved by the Accountability and Transparency Sub-committee that would force complainants to give up their right to free speech by requiring them not to talk to the media before the investigation is completed. The motion was approved by the Chairman,  Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, Councillor Terry Whitehead, Councillor Judi Partridge and citizen members David Broom and Laura Ryan. The motion was opposed only by citizen member Joanna Chapman. While others have written about this issue, I will give you my perspective from a very personal first hand level. After all I am the person who filed the most recent complaint. I am the person who dared on this occasion to speak to the media.

For the record, the investigation into my complaint is well into its fourth month with no end in sight.

Why I Went To The Media ?

First let’s be clear about the sequence of events. On Thursday evening Dec. 15th it was reported on the

Media Release

For Immediate Release
April 3, 2012

Critical shortage of baby formula at area food banks spurs Hamilton community to action… But where’s the Provincial Government?

Hamilton, Tuesday, April 3, 2012: As Hamilton Food Share loaded bulk purchases of baby formula and

other staples for distribution to city wide emergency food programs in time for Easter: representatives from

Monday, April 2, 2012

Clr. Whitehead- on Citizen Complaints to the Integrity Commissioner

Please note: We have made some final tweaks to this article, as per Clr. Whitehead's request and additions. In that light, you may wish to re-read it. The most substantive change was the insertion of the second last paragraph. 

We received this statement from Clr. Whitehead, with respect to citizen complaints to the Integrity Commissioner and the notion of deeming such complaints null and void, if the citizen spoke to the media. Here is what Clr. Whitehead had to say:

Most investigations are initiated quietly and until charges are laid, no one knows. The failed candidate that ran against Councillor Morelli launched a complaint and then went straight to the media. The finding by the investigator was there was no violation. In the paper it is front page news, when the councillor is cleared the story is buried. The councillor and family must live through the politically motivated comments over the months of the investigation and is not in the position to respond.

The city is not required to have a integrity commissioner. In fact most municipalities do not. It is being proposed that when the complainant signs the complaint form they will be required to sign a confidentiality form. He or she will do so voluntarily. If not then his or her complaint will not be investigated. It will be

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Link of the Moment

The Spec's Howard Elliott gives a compelling view on citizen complaints to the Integrity Commissioner and the notion of making such complaints null and void if the complainant speaks to the media. See it here

On "PeggyGate 1, 2 and?" The Hamiltonian's Opinion

Our series "As Hamilton Twists and Turns" is intended to offer commentary on issues facing Hamilton, while using a comedic approach to getting our perspective across.

On the issue of Mayor Bratina's handling of his Chief of Staff's pay raise, and the manner in which council has responded, I am sharing our opinion, from a more clinical viewpoint.

It is our view that Mayor Bratina made errors in the handling of this matter. The first is related to assigning responsibility for the decision to grant the raise, to the Human Resources department. Whether this was an error made "in the moment", or a calculated response, is a matter for others to determine. Specifically, the work that Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse is doing.

A troubling part of this error, is that it was needlessly made. Save for the optics of the quantum of the raise and the fact that the quantum would raise eyebrows and objections, the Mayor appeared to be within his right and budget to allow for the raise (given the rules that were in play at the time the decision was made). And in fact, a comparative analysis done by HR for the Mayor's consideration served to make his decision more defensible.