Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Link of the Moment

How they voted in July, from our friends at C.A.T.C.H. Click here to go there.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Chat with Colonel Geordie Elms

Enjoy our chat with Colonel  Geordie Elms, Special Assistant to the Mayor.

1. Can you tell us about your role: what it entails and how it came to be? 

It came about following last years Garrison Remembrance Sunday Parade to the Cenotaph. During his remarks the Mayor noted his hopes for a few projects he feels are important to commemorate the contributions of successive generations of Hamiltonian men and women who have served Canada in uniform. He noted the success in naming "Veterans Way" and also his hopes for the Gore Park Revitalization project to include elements that mark our city's military heritage and contributions. Any who know him know that the Mayor know has a passion for Hamilton's heritage and history. He studies it keenly and his interest in this area has always been evident, as Mayor, on Council and as a broadcaster. Following that Remembrance service, I emailed him and noted that I had been impressed by his commitment in this particular area and asked if he had any use for a recently retired army officer who was offering himself as a part time volunteer (not a job applicant). The Mayor accepted the offer and we have taken it from there.

2. Why is the role important and is there an increased importance of the role, based on the time we find ourselves in? In other words, to the extent that we did not have the role in the past, why is timely to have it now (assuming it is timely)?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Dead Soldiers

Dead Soldiers

It is not every day that one gets invited to dine with a General. Particularly one who fell on the field of battle two hundred years ago!

It was just such an invitation I received from my sister-in-law, and of course accepted with alacrity. Thanks Adrienne. With a grandish title herself (Regional Project Manager for the Western Corridor War of 1812 Bicentennial Alliance), she was down to film some morning show segments with Lori DeAngelis for CHCH TV, as well as ensure that Major General Isaac Brock got to all the events during his historic walk from “Muddy York” (aka Toronto) to Port Dover.

The dinner in question held in the Round Room at the Temple of the Scottish Rite of Hamilton was warmly hosted by the Hamilton Branch of the United Empire Loyalists, many of who turned out in period costume. I sat between the General and a Captain of the Caldwell Rangers (played by Zig Mistiak, Chair of the Brant County War of 1812 Committee.)

The charming Bob Rennie UE (the initials after his name mean he can trace his lineage to colonists who

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Media Release - 10th Annual Arts of August Grand Finale

Media Release


10th Annual Arts of August Grand Finale

HAMILTON (August 2012) – All summer long youth around Hamilton have been creating beautiful works of art related to peace, equality, love and culture. On Thursday, August 30, 2012, the public is welcome to

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

True of False?

One of our readers suggested to us that the press release around the construction of a new grocery store in Jackson Square, was not accurate and that perhaps the information made public was made in haste.

We decided to check this out further. Here is our question to Yale properties, and their reply:

Q. We are wondering how hard of a commitment you have for a grocery store to be set up in Jackson Square by Nations Fresh Foods. Is there a hard commitment or are they in exploratory mode? In other words, how firm is this prospect?

I am pleased to confirm that the recent announcement that Nations Fresh Foods will be opening in Jackson Square is correct.

We are long passed the speculative stage and are in the planning mode for construction to commence this fall.

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Scott Kyle
Yale Properties Limited

Thanks Scott for the clarity. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Mustard Seed- Hamilton's Cooperative Grocery

People's Food Co-op in Ann Arbor, MI
We chatted with Emma Cubitt of The Mustard Seed- Hamilton's Cooperative Grocery store, about the good work they are doing. Enjoy our chat.

1. What are the goals and objectives of The Mustard Seed project and what is the nature of what you do?

Our goal is to open a community-owned grocery store. We know many people want to eat local, wholesome food but don't always know where to find it. This is an opportunity for us to learn together about where our food comes from, and to nurture the connections with the people who produce our food.

2 As the city contemplates a food strategy, is there a fit for efforts such as the one you are leading? If so, what might that fit be and what is needed to take it to the next level.

Absolutely. The Mustard Seed is committed to making sure everyone in our community has access to wholesome food. We are still in development, so now is a great time to be part of the conversation with our civic leaders.

A primary principle of co-ops is concern for community, so we see The Mustard Seed as contributing to a local food strategy. We are committed to just interactions between the various stakeholders in our local food web - producers, workers, & consumers. We've seen how 30 other food co-ops respond to these needs in their communities, and Hamilton can learn a lot from the success of others.

There are efforts already underway to address food issues in our city, one being the Hamilton Food Charter, which I would recommend everyone learn about and sign up for. Their goal is to create a healthy, sustainable and just food system in Hamilton. There are many people in this city who are passionate about access to good food. Hamilton has more community gardens than ever before and collective kitchens happen all across the city.We can also look to other communities to try to bring new initiatives in that really work, such as The Stop community food centre. Collaboration on all these initiatives will be key, and having one web presence that brings all this together is something that has been on the Community Food Security Stakeholders Committee wish list for a long time.

3 What challenges have you encountered and how did you overcome them?

Hamiltonians are generally unaware of food co-ops, so education has been really important. Once people understand how democratic ownership and economic vitality in our agricultural sector can come together to promote access to local food they get really excited. A lot of people feel uncomfortable with the grocery industry status quo, but don't realize they can change things.

4 What successes have you achieved and what difference are they making?

Over 1,000 people gave their input in our market research survey on what they would like to see The Mustard Seed become. Now a team of people is working through those ideas with the goal of opening the store in the next 6-12 months.

5. What is your reaction to the announcement that a full scale grocery store will be opening in Jackson Square. Is that a good thing, in your view?

It's great for Jackson Square and downtown residents. It promises the spectrum of international foods, which many people will appreciate. Our focus is on how our local economy can be strengthened by the food choices consumers make while reducing the environmental impact of our globalized food system.

6. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about the Mustard Seed coop?

The Mustard Seed will offer Hamiltonians the chance to take ownership of their grocery buying decisions while exercising an important role in shaping the economic and social vitality of our community. If you are interested in joining this journey, please take a look at our website for info on ways to get involved. The more help we have during the development stage, the sooner the store will be able to open. It is awesome to see our community work together!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Core Groceries

Fresh food and a possible 200 jobs brought to the core- that's what is anticipated as Nation's Fresh Foods will open in Jackson Square next spring. The new grocery store will be located in the west end of the mall, near Bay and Market Streets. Jackson square elevators will be revamped with new elevators that will allow grocery carts to be taken to the parking lot. (see Spec story here, or purchase the print version)
A full service grocery store with an emphasis on ethnic foods, the installation will fill a gap that has long been flagged in around the core.

In a release on his blog, the Mayor stated:

The long awaited, and much anticipated, downtown core grocery store is about to become a reality in Jackson Square. I was delighted to receive notice of the signing of the deal that will bring an exciting new full service supermarket operation to augment the Farmer’s Market and other food specialty shops in the area.

There have been a number of such proposals over the past year, and we may well see others established downtown. From my perspective as Mayor, this is great news beyond just the provision of a much needed service to residents and workers in our downtown. Decisions like this are not made lightly. Our downtown has passed a major test in terms of this investment because we have overcome the detriments of the past such as insufficient customer base, lack of consumer purchasing power, and perceptions of insecurity.

New residential units are being built at several locations; average income has been increasing along with jobs and currently we have about 23,000 people working in the core; and Chief Decaire’s policing initiatives including the Action Team have made residents feel more comfortable visiting our downtown. I live downtown, and most of us who do, will tell you that it is not unsafe or uncomfortable. In fact, this past Hallowe’en we had 150 children stop at our house for treats. They’ll soon have another store to shop for those treats and all their grocery needs. My thanks to our new business owners for showing confidence in Hamilton and giving us what I’m sure residents will discover an exciting new food shopping experience.

Are you pleased to hear this news? Your thoughts? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Go Down Gamblin?

You may have seen this post before, as it was previously run on The Hamiltonian. Amid continued speculation about whether we are looking to land a casino in Hamilton (transparently or not) - see Dreschel's article here, or buy the print version) , we thought we'd re-run the article below. Please feel free to add additional comments.

Go down gambling, say it when you're running low
Go down gambling, you may never have to go

That's an excerpt from a Blood Sweat and Tears song entitled "Go Down Gamblin". And likely a fitting number for the sentiment expressed in Yves Dubeau's piece below: 

Will Hamilton city council be hungry enough for revenues from gambling that they will contemplate applying to the OLG for a casino in the Hamilton area? The OLG,  currently forming a strategy to revitalized itself,  will be closing some casinos and opening a new one in the GTA. 

At first glance the temptation of generating additional taxes through gambling casinos could be lucrative. Casinos' business models relies on addicted gamblers versus social gamblers to succeed corporately. Without the problem gamblers,  they financially fail.

Casinos, for most of the people, offer hope versus entertainment for the social gamblers and the government becomes party to the havoc that problem gamblers disseminate on their families. On a piece on CBC radio on Sunday morning it was said for every problem gambler, it costs family members upwards of $10,000 in bad debts. It was also said that gambling is a form of taxation for the people who would not normally pay income tax due to low income. Will the temptation of council to apply for a casino license reflect the will of Hamilton taxpayers?

By Yves Dubeau

Thanks Yves for your submission to The Hamiltonian

Do you think Hamilton should signal an interest in getting a Casino, or are you of the mind that Casinos only invite social problems? (article initially run March 2012 and comments added in March, remain on the thread. Please feel free to add new comments)) 

Double Vision- Which do you prefer for West Harbour?

A proposal put forth by a group of North End residents, may see a vision for the west harbour lands, transformed from a commercially laden area ( as was approved by the city earlier this year), to a residential area, bringing with it townhouses, condos and shared public spaces. 

While this re calibrated vision relies on CN moving its Stuart street rail yard to allow for this vision to be realized, Clr. Collins was willing to explore the possibility in tandem with an alternative option; should the CN yard not be moved.  Collins' motion passed, allowing the city to include a Plan A and Plan B scenrio in their study. The Mayor will bring the issue forward when he meets with CN in a few weeks, on other matters.  See Spec write up here, or purchase the print version.

Which vision would you support? The one that was previously approved with an emphasis on commercial activity, or the citizen driven one that calls for residential?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Secrets, secrets

It appears as though there is no shortage of secrets in Hamilton these days. As reported in two separate articles in The Spec (see them here and here, or buy the print version), the secrets revolve around  building a casino in Hamilton and around the Pan Am Stadium build. In both cases, it seems that councillors are being kept out of the loop.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Boss is Back

There's a new boss in town.




Doors: 7:00PM Show: 8:00PM

Tickets on sale Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 10:00am

Tickets available at all Ticketmaster outlets, Copps Coliseum Box Office

Charge by phone at 1-855-985-5000

Tickets (incl. GST) $67.50 & $115.00; Reserved Seating

Bratina on Eisenberger and DiIanni

In light of some indicators that former Mayors Eisenberger and DiIanni may consider running for mayor next term, we asked Mayor Bratina the following:

Recent responses to queries made by The Hamiltonian of former Mayor Larry DiIanni, and of former mayor Fred Eisenberger made by The Hamilton Spectator, are less than definitive in terms of whether either or both gentlemen will be running for office in 2014. It seems that neither have ruled out the possibility. You previously stated to CBC Hamilton “ “I’ve taken a pummeling about who I am, and my character and all of that, which has led some people to believe that I’ve been scared into a corner and I’ll just quietly walk into the sunset.” It sounds as though being “sacred into a corner” or quietly walking into the sunset, doesn’t sit well with you. Assuming you will be seeking a second term, would a challenge for the job, from the two former mayors concern you at all, or cause you room for pause? 

The Mayor responded as follows:

It’s not surprising to me that there is great interest in the position of Mayor of the City of Hamilton. There has not been this level of new growth, economic activity and positive developments for the City since the 1970’s. We are the envy of many Canadian Cities so of course there will be those interested in assuming the role of Mayor. Under the Municipal Act the head of council has special responsibilities outlined in section 226.1 that include promotion of public involvement in the municipality’s activities, so I would certainly not discourage anyone from participating in future elections. However we are not even half way through the current term and the nomination process will not begin until January 2014. With so much work to accomplish and so many files such as all-day GO train service, the Pan Am stadium, rapid transit, the OLG casino initiative, Randle Reef, the McMaster Downtown project, the new strategic plan and so on, I really don’t have much time or interest to spend on this kind of speculation. When the time comes I’ll be happy to participate in discussions about the future of our Council, but now is not the time. To the gentlemen in question I extend best wishes and thanks for their past contributions to Hamilton.

Bob Bratina, Mayor,
City of Hamilton.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tweet of the Moment

"Absolutely not! What a pathetic assertion. As the person who initiated the Censure it had everything to do with Bob not WFT"

Clr. Merulla to Laura Babcock in reference to Laura tweeting John Best's piece, as featured in The Hamiltonian,  in which Best says that he believes that the censuring this spring of the mayor had more to do with HWT politics than it did about a raise given to his assistant.

Did the Mayor's Censure Have Anything to Do with HWT?

John Best of The Bay Observer
In a post on The Hamiltonian, former mayor Larry Di Ianni made a suggestion that potentially, a driving factor with respect to The Bay Observer's coverage of the Hamilton Waterfromt Trust issues, is that the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Peggy Chapman, had previously covered the topic in her previous role as a journalist with The Bay Observer. Specifically, Larry said " it has been speculated that because Peggy Chapman of the Mayor’s office worked in the Bay Observer and wrote about this issue prior to her current position, these HWT criticisms are just a continuation of earlier involvement. True or not? Maybe the media and/or the office of the mayor can clarify this. That’s all!”

John Best has responded on The Bay Observer. As the response is anchored to DiIanni's comments on The Hamiltonian, we are posting John's response verbatim below, although we also encourage you to visit his site, The Bay Observer, by clicking here.

Here is John Best's response to DiIanni's comments on The Hamiltonian:

A few weeks ago on the Laircast hosted by Laura Babcock I was asked if the mayor’s office played any role in my articles regarding the Waterfront Trust. The answer then and now is a flat no. Neither the mayor nor anyone in his office has provided me with the information that has been published in the Bay Observer. The fact is I deliberately avoided asking them for information, even though I was entitled to ask, because of the very fact that Peggy Chapman had worked for me in the past. I saw how vicious and bullying this council can be in the wake of the mayors questioning of HWT finances last fall. First they orchestrated a humiliating standing recorded vote even though most of council didn’t have a clue what they were voting on, but knew it was better not to anger the HWT supporters on council. I also believe the censuring this spring of the mayor had more to do with HWT politics than it did about a raise given to his assistant. But the point is, I didn’t ask for their assistance, for the reasons above, because frankly, I didn’t need it; and they didn’t offer any.

Notwithstanding the Laircast interview, Larry Di Ianni writing in the Hamiltonian said, “it has been speculated that because Peggy Chapman of the Mayor’s office worked in the Bay Observer and wrote about this issue prior to her current position, these HWT criticisms are just a continuation of earlier involvement. True or not? Maybe the media and/or the office of the mayor can clarify this. That’s all!”

She did write about it—under my editorial direction—not because she had any axe to grind with the HWT.

So to the other point raised by my friend– what is the Bay Observer’s agenda? Quite simply it is to tell the truth about an organization that is but a symptom of a much bigger problem at City Hall, one that previous mayors have not tackled publicly but are fully aware of;–the control of council and staff by a handful of councillors. Trying to put a stop to this erosion of democracy and good governance is what cost former city manager Doug Lychak his job. He tried to weed out staffers who he felt were “too political.” He made enemies by doing so. We didn’t vote to have our council and civil service run by a small cabal of councillors (one of whom recently pronounced the word as if it were CABLE as in CABLE 14, but I digress). All you have to do is look at who the staunchest supporters of the HWT are and I rest my case. Taken to the worst extreme, certain staff of the city risk becoming part of a taxpayer –supported re-election mechanism for incumbents. That’s what the Bay Observer articles are about. Given the personalities that we the voters have placed on our council we need fewer agencies, boards and commissions with no accountability—not more.

Your thoughts? Is it possible that there is a connection between the censuring of the Mayor and his questioning of HWT finances-  as John  Best believes?

Picture of the Moment

From the lens of Angelo Noto Campanella.

The Bangles at Festival of Friends.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

DiIanni says "Give me a break!"

With all the comments with respect to Larry DiIanni's role on Cable 14, we asked Larry the following:

 Some of our readers believe that your hosting Cable 14 shows, is really  about you wanting to maintain a public presence, to bolster your chances  in a future run for Mayor. How do you respond to that? If you remain  undecided as to whether you will run for Mayor, when, if at any time,  would you see it as not appropriate to continue with Cable 14?

Larry's response:

Really? There are readers out there who care about what I'm doing? They need to get a life. The last thing on my mind is running for any elected office. I have done enough of that. Tell them to continue watching Cable 14 to be informed and entertained (I hope) and should my left ear twitch, don't mistake it for a signal of political interest. On the other hand, the colour of my ties on alternate weeks may just portend unintended political ambitions. Be on the lookout!
Give me a break!

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Tale of Three Mayors

“It’s not something I’m planning on, but it’s certainly not something I’m discounting either."

That's a quote from former Mayor Fred Eisenberger to The Hamilton Spectator, in relation to whether he would consider another run for office in 2014.

Eisenberger will be stepping down as president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) at the end of the year. Citing the toll that commuting to Toronto is taking, Eisenberger said that it was not something he would like to continue doing in terms of its effect on his quality of life. (See Andrew Dreschel's article here, or purchase the print copy).

The photo up top shows Eisenberger being greeted by another former Hamilton Mayor, Larry DiIanni following last term's election results, where both Larry and Fred lost to current Mayor, Bob Bratina.

Notable quotes:

"I would like to be the mayor in 2015 if all the circumstances are right and I am able to do a good job for the city of Hamilton" Mayor Bob Bratina

“It’s not something I’m planning on, but it’s certainly not something I’m discounting either." Former Mayor Fred Eisenberger

"The election is fully 2 years from now. Anyone who tells you definitively what he-she is doing 2 years from now isn't telling you anything reliable. So if I say, yes I'm running' or 'No, I'm not running.' Equally would be unreliable." Former Mayor Larry DiIanni

Would you welcome a rematch including Bratina, Eisenberger and DiIanni?  Or are you hoping for additional alternatives?

Motion of the Moment

Click here to see a motion on a Food Strategy for Hamilton. 

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Simply Simon's

Matsuri Sushi - Simply Simon’s

I distinctly remember the first time my wife (my exceptional first-line-of-defense-editor-in-chief) and I went to Dundas for Sushi about seven years ago. Yes, really. While the combination of Dundas and Sushi in a sentence may seem incongruous, bear with me.

I suppose we may have noticed the restaurant sign when we were doing our weekend shopping at Cumbrae’s, an expensive but excellent old-style butcher. We decided to pop across the street for an impromptu lunch. As we entered we were greeted by a loud “Namaste” from a bespectacled gentleman who was efficiently slicing fish of some kind behind a refrigerated display.

While there were tables available, we opted to sit at the counter. Putting ourselves in his hands may have endeared us to the Chef, Simon Wong as our relationship has blossomed since then. Over the course of our meal – and as he prepared a steady stream of orders - he

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Perspectives Virtual Panel - On the Water

In this beautiful summer weather, we are sure our Perspectives Virtual Panel would much rather be taking in the Waterfront, than writing about it. Having said that, here is a question we put to them concerning the Hamilton Waterfront Trust:

(Note: The responses may be long, but there is richness in them. The Hamiltonian does not edit responses- they are posted verbatim to ensure a true representation of the underlying views and perspectives)

Q. The Hamiltonian has posed 10 questions to executives of the Hamilton Waterfront Trust (HWT). We have also asked for the assistance of Clrs. Farr, Jackson, Merulla and Collins to help facilitate answers to the 10 questions. Clrs. Jackson and Farr are councilor members of the HWT board of directors, while Clr. Collins had been a long standing previous member of the board.

The questions and the responses to date, are found here http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2012/07/hwt-qas-fact-check.html

You will note that 60% of the questions remain largely unanswered.

Upon review of the questions and responses to date, or lack of responses, what would you advise council to do? Do you beleive that Hamiltonians are entitled to answers to these questions and if so, why is it important for Hamiltonians to receive answers to these questions?

I applaud the efforts by The Hamiltonian in bringing issues of interest and of importance to light.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Larry for Mayor?

The image to the left depicts Larry Di Ianni during his Hamilton mayoralship. Despite a failed attempt to reclaim the title last time around, speculation about Larry running again next election, persists. 

So, we asked Larry the following: 

Q. Any truth to the rumour you are running for mayor?

A. Let me be more precise. The election is fully 2 years from now. Anyone who tells you definitively what he-she is doing 2 years from now isn't telling you anything reliable. So if I say, yes I'm running' or 'No, I'm not running.' Equally would be unreliable.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mark Leslie's Haunted Hamilton

From the Dark Lady, who famously haunts the old Customs House on Stuart Street, to the legend of William Black, the lonely coachman whose spirit still wanders the woods at the Heritage Ruins in Ancaster, Hamilton is alive with ghosts from the past. A decade's worth of research isn't enough. There is still a world of stories, legends, and folklore waiting to be told. This book is your ultimate guide to uncover the unique and historically haunted treasures in our city; read through it, learn, explore, and get up close and personal with the ghosts of Haunted Hamilton.

That's a excerpt from Mark Leslie's book Haunted Hamilton, The Ghosts of Dundurn Castle and Other Steeltown Shivers; and as the by-line suggests, it's authentically Hamilton.

Published by Dundurn, the book, which is well written, draws upon historical references, mysteries, legends, files from the paranormal group Haunted Hamilton, and first-hand personal experiences to create a spell binding account of Hamilton's supernatural side. It is well worth a read and makes for a great camp fire book, bedtime toe curler or a good read for anytime when your imagination wishes to take flight. 

Chapters include: The Customs House, The Ghosts of Dundurn Castle, Bellevue Mansion, Battlefield House Museum, The Devil's Punchbowl, The Hermitage, Auchmar House, Woodend, Burkholder Cemetary, Whitehearn Mansion, Mount Albion Falls, Dundas District Elementary School, The Hamilton Armouries, The Waterdown Ghost, Haunted McMaster, The Tivoli Theatre, Gus's Ghost Story, The Tombstone Ghost, A Westdale Ghost and Haunted Pubs. 

All cloaked in Hamilton, it is a unique offering. You learn more about the book here. It can also be purchased here. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

John Hertel- On HECFI

Relative to all the attention on HECFI, we asked John Hertel the following:

 Q - The primary driver for a request for proposal for the HECFI businesses, appeared to be concern for the taxpayer subsidy, largely driven by poor fiscal results on behalf of HECFI. Parking for the moment any reasons that may have contributed to those results, what is left is an appetite to explore different options- hence the RFP. Contending with that history, and regardless of the fact that leadership changes were made at HECFI, what is HECFI's staff's competitive edge that they bring to the table in their bid? Why should Hamiltonians keep the door open to the option of bringing HECFI under the control of the city's economic development department?

That's a very fair question, and one that we asked ourselves internally as we prepared our strategic plan in January. The fundamental principle in our plan and in our presentation to GIC earlier this month is that "The Status Quo is Not An Option". Every organization needs to reinvent itself on a regular basis, and we clearly needed a new model if we were to earn the privilege of continuing to manage these iconic venues. The easy part of the answer is that we have an amazing team of skilled veterans and new faces. They are passionate about customer service and our new model. Our client and patron survey feedback clearly demonstrates that the team is consistently delivering outstanding convention and entertainment experiences.

Link of the Moment

Clr. Judi Partridge continues to lead the way, with a stellar example a good citizen-centred website. Click here to go there.