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Monday, December 30, 2013

Ice Storm- Disaster or Relief?

Clr. Sam Merulla, through a notice of motion, is seeking to have staff explore the possibility of getting financial assistance from the Province  to deal with the fall out of the recent ice storm.   Here is the wording of his Notice of Motion:

Whereas the City of Hamilton was significantly impacted by the December 2013 ice storm and;

Whereas, the City of Hamilton and City property owners, residents and businesses incurred significant costs in responding to the storm and the effects associated with the storm and;

Whereas these costs may cause the City to be in a deficit financial position in 2013;

Therefore be it resolved, that City staff initiate discussions with Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing staff to assess if the City may be eligible for funding under the Ontario Disaster and Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP) and;

If the outcome of the discussions suggest the possibility of potential financial assistance from the Province of Ontario, that staff complete a formal application and any costs associated with the application process be funded from the Tax Stabilization Reserve

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Pic of the Moment

Click on pic to enlarge
Sherman Falls lights up.

Pic is courtesy of Paul Arnold @parnoldontario

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Link of the moment

How they voted in November. Click here to go there.....

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Peace on Earth.

Wishing you and your loved ones, and all Hamiltonians a very Merry Christmas and holiday season.

Teresa DiFalco and The Hamiltonian Staff

Sunday, December 22, 2013

City Continues to respond to storm

City Continues to respond to storm

HAMILTON, ON, Dec. 22, 2013 – Storm Update #2. – 8 a.m.

According to Environment Canada, the freezing rain storm will continue today for portions of Southern and Eastern Ontario. Additional freezing rainfall amounts on the order of 10 to 15 mm are possible today.

City staff continue to monitor storm conditions and respond to calls. Additional crews are also on standby to address any forestry related tree damage and downed branches.

Recreation centres remain open and programming continues. Some recreation centres are without power. These include Spring Valley, Carlisle, Valley Park, and parts of the J.L. Grightmire (Market St.) Arena in Dundas. Work continues to get those arenas operational. Please call ahead to confirm programming in your area.

More updates to follow throughout the morning as they become available.

Please monitor the latest forecasts and warnings from Environment Canada at www.weatheroffice.gc.ca.

During an ice storm, the public is reminded to:
• Make sure you are safe before assisting others
• Listen to the radio or television for information from authorities and follow their instructions
• Stay put until all is safe or you are ordered to evacuate

For more detailed safety information please visit our website and find out how to prepare for an www.hamilton.ca/emergency.

For any emergencies related to City-services, please call 905-546-CITY (2489). Our Contact Centre is open 24 hours a day.

To report a power outage or downed power line near you, call your Hydro provider: Horizon 24-hour hotline: 905-522-6611 or Hydro One 24-hour hotline at 1-800-434-1235.

For updates throughout the day, please visit our website at www.hamilton.ca and follow @CityofHamilton on Twitter.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mayor Bratina- on Casino, O.L.G. and his State of the Union Address

Mayor Bob Bratina
The following is our Q/A with the Mayor with respect to recent talk about his state of the union address.

Q. Mr Mayor: Some are crying foul over the OLG's funding of your upcoming State of the Nation address, alleging a connection between this funding and your perceived support for the notion of a casino in the downtown.  


Given that council has already arrived at a direction for any future casino considerations- whose preferred location is at Flamboro Downs, and given that there are those that allege that there is a relationship between your personal preferences for a casino location and the aforementioned funding for the State of the Union address, how do you respond to those suggestions and what is the context for the State of the Union address and the chosen venue?

Under their modernization program OLG will not be running a casino in Hamilton. A number of private bidders are expected, including current Flamboro operator Great Canadian Gaming. Both the City and OLG will have input on the selection of the successful bid based on the maximum net benefit to us as the host City and the Province as the regulatory body. No benefit will accrue to me or my office through OLG or any other sponsorship provided to the Chamber for this or any of their events. Finally, I have not come to any personal conclusions about the location of the proposed new casino operation in Hamilton since there is no information yet available on which to make a determination beyond our stated preference for the Flamboro site.

I have been invited by the Chamber to present my State of the City address to the venue of their choosing.


Mayor Bob Bratina

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Injured Hamilton Police Officer Dies

















Above,  is an announcement that appears on the Hamilton Police Services website.

Other media sources have reported that a firearm had been discharged and that the Officer shot himself. It is unclear if it was accidental.

The Hamiltonian is saddened by this announcement.

Update: It has been learned that the Officer who was injured by shooting himself in a police locker room, has passed away. The Officer's name was Ian Matthews. He was a Staff Sergeant. An account from Susan Clairmont, a Spectator reporter who knew Mr. Matthews can be read by clicking here or by purchasing today's print copy. Out of respect for the family, and pursuant to a request by The Hamilton Police Services of all media, The Hamiltonian will make no further inquiries about this matter at this time. Rest in peace, Officer Matthews. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Culture, Strategy and Casualties

"Culture has strategy for breakfast every day" It's an old adage often cited in the business world and in the case of the City of Hamilton and the City Manager's attempts to shape its culture into a more healthy one, the adage may hold true.

As reported in The Spec (see it here or purchase today's print copy), among other things,  a staff survey conducted in the Spring of this year, found that:
  • 25.7 per cent of city employees feel they've been pressured to compromise their ethics and values
  • 50 per cent of employees feel they can report misconduct without fear of retaliation
  • almost 60 per cent are unsure or disagree that their code of conduct concerns are handled properly
Juxtaposed against incidents such as a staff person stealing over a million dollars from the public purse, an incident of a staff member having sex on the job, the mass firing of select staff from Public Works for failing to put in a full day's work etc. , the findings seem to find rest on such examples.

While not necessarily totally causal, but certainly suspect, the revelation that the city has lost over 11.5 million dollars on sick time in 2013 alone, makes one wonders about correlation.

City manager Chris Murray recognizes the seriousness of these findings and ironically, despite his efforts to address matters, finds himself on the wrong end of these stats.

Some quotes as per The Spec's write up:


Murray knows the buck stops with him.

"I am the senior administrator and I take this job very seriously," Murray said, noting he expects council to hold him accountable.

Murray says it's impossible not to be struck by the statistic suggesting more than one-quarter of city staff feel pressured to compromise their ethics and values.

He points out that the vast majority of people who deliver more than 250 services on behalf of the city do it with "honour and provide a great service."

But as a concerned Mayor Bob Bratina noted at Wednesday's council meeting, imagine the outcry if 25.7 per cent of Hamilton police reported feeling pressured to compromise their ethics.

The Hamiltonian continues to support Mr. Murray in his attention to these issues and applauds his efforts through his five year plan to attempt to positively shape the culture and effectiveness of the city's workforce. The Hamiltonian has not lost sight of the fact that these findings, while stunning, do not take away from the fact that the vast majority of staff are doing good and conscientious work. Mr. Murray and his staff do however have a grave challenge ahead of them and we wish them the best.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mayor Bratina- on Recording of In-Cam Meetings

On the heels of renewed criticism from the Ontario Ombudsman, about the city of Hamilton not recording in camera meetings for future reference, we asked Mayor Bratina what he thought of the notion that in cam meetings ought to be recorded. Here is our Q/A with the Mayor:

Can you tell us what your personal views are with respect to the recording of in camera meetings. The city continues to come under criticism from the Ontario Ombudsman, and we were are wondering what your views are in this issue. Can you elaborate on the reason for your views and can you comment what you understand council’s views to be thus far on this issue?


The point of an In Camera meeting is that the information shared is retained only by those present, unless agreement is reached that it be made public. There are cases when openness and transparency would put the municipality at risk, meaning the potential of costly litigation. In Camera provides a level of spontaneity that can’t usually be present in public sessions. The ultimate test is whether we as elected officials hold and deserve public trust.

Mayor Bob Bratina

Hamilton City Council Approves 2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget and 2014 Rate Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hamilton City Council Approves 2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget and 2014 Rate Budget

Hamilton, ON – December 12, 2013- On December 11, Hamilton City Council approved the 2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget and 2014 Rate Budget.

2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget

The 2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget supports $288 million in infrastructure investments citywide. The 2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget focuses on balancing the City’s fiscal health, while continuing to invest in Hamilton’s future.

Council found savings by reducing proposed capital project budgets, deferring proposed capital projects, and reallocating proposed funding of capital projects. The total savings to the 2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget, as a result of the approved savings in the amount of $3,386,000 (0.5%), were applied to reduce the proposed 2014 tax impact.

The proposed tax levy increase of 0.5% dedicated to the Tax-Supported Capital Budget was reduced to 0% thereby reducing the proposed tax levy impact of the 2014 Tax-Supported Operating Budget from 2.8% to 2.3%.

Highlights of the Approved 2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget include enhancements to our built environment, meaning safer roads, bike lanes, transit, more parks and investment in our City’s waterfront. Additionally, this budget supports the well-being of our community with investments in long-term care and seniors centres, and recreation centres community wide.

Key investments include:

 $97 million investment in roads
$69.1 million for the Pan Am Games ($57 million subsidized by the province /Hostco contributions)
 $15.8 million for Transit
 $11 million investment in the Pan Am Precinct for recreation, parks and recreation/seniors centre
 $7.7 million investment in West Harbour Development
 $3.9 million Confederation Park Redevelopment
 $3.5 million for Parkland Acquisition
 $7.7 million to maintain and enhance Recreation Facilities citywide
 $1.7 million for Long-Term Care Homes “Lodges”
 $2.6 million for downtown area projects
 $2 million investment in Hamilton Conservation Authority and Westfield Heritage Village
 $0.6million for CityHousing Hamilton

2014 Rate Budget

The approved 2014 Rate Budget reflects Council’s ongoing commitment to implement a sustainable financing plan while funding necessary infrastructure and maintaining affordable water rates with an approved rate increase of 4% from 2013.

For an average household consuming 210 cubic metres of water the 4% rate increase translates into an additional $23 per year or 45 cents each week.

Hamilton’s rates remain among the lowest in Ontario with the following rates to come into effect January 1, 2014.


20131
2014
Increase
Water Fixed Charge (daily)2
$ 0.29
$ 0.29
$   -
     Consumption Charge Block 1 (cubic metre)
N/A3
$ 0.65
$   -
     Consumption Charge Block 2 (cubic metre)
$ 1.22
$ 1.29
$ 0.07

Wastewater/Storm Fixed Charge (daily)2
$ 0.29
$ 0.29
$   -
     Treatment Charge Block 1 (cubic metre)
N/A3
$ 0.66
$   -
     Treatment Charge Block 2 (cubic metre)
$ 1.22
$ 1.32
$ 0.10

1 2013 rates restated to reflect the rate structure changes effective January 1, 2014.
2 Rate is for a 15-20 mm meter which most residential homes have installed.
3 Two tier system introduced as of January 1, 2014 and did not exist in 2013.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Professor Marvin Ryder- On City of Hamilton Absenteeism Stats

In today's Spectator (read it here or purchase today's print version), it was revealed that the city will lose over 11.5 millions dollars in sick days for union employees for 2013. In light of this, we asked Marvin Ryder, Professor at the DeGroote School of Business, the folllowing:

Despite attempted remedies, the city of Hamilton is once again in a position to pay over 11.5 million dollars for sick time to union  employees for the year 2013. Can you speak about sick time issues  within large organizations. What factors contribute to high rates of  sick time? Which of these factors does the city have some degree of  control over and what should the city be doing to better manage this costly issue to taxpayers? Professor Ryder's reply is as follows:


Goodness. Where to begin. I think your question needs some context. * Is the City of Hamilton unique in paying "sick time"?

No. Every organization, regardless of size, has human employees and as humans, we get sick. So every organization, public and private, has to manage "sick time." Some small organizations have a simple approach- if you can't work, you don't get paid regardless of the reason. Most medium and large-sized


Hamilton and the Secret Service

City of Hamilton Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse has again missed a deadline for three investigation reports he was to deliver to council. Mr. Basse cites some intense forensic work and many interviews to account for the delay in two of the reports. The third is apparently complete but cannot be released until after December 17th due to some legal considerations. (see Spec story here or purchase today's print copy)

Mr. Basse' interpretation of provisions of the Municipal Act requires that he keep information pertaining to the progress of these investigations very close to the breast.  The Hamiltonian respects Mr. Basse's interpretation. Our title for this thread is tongue in cheek. We wish Basse well in his work and are looking forward to the results, once he reports them to council.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Signs

The sign to the left can be found on the storefront of a merchant who is located on King East. The sign warns that the business will not survive if the designated bus lane on King Street prevails. It then lists the city councillors who voted for the bus lane. The sign can be better seen by double clicking on it. 

With thanks to our friends at CHML. 

(have you seen a sign in Hamilton that makes a statement that should be seen? Send it to us at admin@thehamiltonian.info for consideration.)

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Sips and Bites – December 2013

Sips and Bites – December 2013

Some great places to eat, and wines to drink, are featured in this December round-up edition of Food for Thought. As this is published I’ll just have returned from a trip: It was for a meeting, but I took an extra couple of days to avail myself of the many culinary options during my first visit to a great Spanish city.

“Oooh...I'm jealous!” said Erin Dunham when she learned I was off to Barcelona. She’s Chef Matt Kershaw’s partner in Burlington’s The Alex and Hamilton’s Rapscallion, and was chatting with me online about their new venture, Two Black Sheep, on John St South in Hamilton.

“It is an oyster and charcuterie cocktail bar. We are making cocktails like a chef would; freshly squeezed juices and ingredients,” she told me. “It was inspired by a cocktail bar in San Francisco when we realized as much love could go into drinks as we put into food.” Very good point!

Their web site indicates they’ll “offer light fare of oysters, with a variety of garnishes; charcuterie and salumi; a selection of cheeses; and other offerings of pickled vegetables and crisps.”

Sounds like a neat destination, with less travel involved than Spain. So does Charred Rotisserie House on James North, which beckons with a neat logo, charcoal roasted chicken and “signature home made piri piri sauce.” Another I’m looking forward to visiting, 28 Lister Chophouse Grill, has announced it will finally be open for business in early January. It sounds as if they have been facing some frustrating delays because of construction and permitting issues.

They have apparently been keeping their other chops, the culinary ones, fresh by catering events in Hamilton and Toronto. I hear the food for a recent Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Business to Business event, held at the Tourism Hamilton Visitor Centre, apparently went down well… (To see some of their pictures check


A Call to Action - Federal Disability Legislation- by Aaron Urquhart

In this submission, Aaron Urquhart, a Hamiltonian,  makes an argument for the need for federal disability legislation. 

The rights of Canadians with disabilities have been sidelined by our nation’s governments for far too long. It is time for Canadians living with a disability to have their rights standardized by the federal government, in the form of federal disability legislation. This type of legislation, a “Canadians with Disabilities Act” of sorts would guarantee equal rights for all disabled citizens, removing any discrepancies currently seen throughout the various provincial governments. The task of enforcing basic rights for citizens with disabilities must not be sidelined at the federal level and passed on to the provincial governments. It is a national responsibility to make sure that all Canadians living with a disability receive the same rights with the same degree of enforcement nationwide.

Only the province of Ontario has any form of legislative protection afforded to the rights of the disabled.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Don Hull, Director of Transportation (City of Hamilton)- on Bus Lane Pilot

The Hamiltonian reached out to Don Hull, City of Hamilton Director of Transportation, for additional context and information on the King Street Bus Lan Pilot. Here is our Q/A with Don.

1. Can you give us some context around the designated bus lane pilot on King Street. How did it come about, what is it intended to do, and how does it fit within the broader context of a strategic transportation plan for Hamilton?

The City of Hamilton’s Strategic Plan assigns priority to improving the City’s Transportation network. The Transportation Master Plan (2007) for the City of Hamilton includes a transportation strategy that relies heavily on the advancement of public transit. As the City grows, we need to manage our travel demand. A modern, attractive and cost-effective public transit system will be key. Such a system includes service that people can depend on and one that gets them to their destination as quickly as

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bus Lane, Butani and CHML

Dec 4, 1:00 pm at 36:00 on the slider
To hear Mahesh Butani being interviewed on CHML's Scott Thompson show, click here and select the show, as seen on the graphic above. Mahesh's spot happens about 60% into the audio .  You can skip directly to it by clicking in the bar, approximately where the grey area meets the white area at 36:00 on the slider . 

Note: You must select December 4, at 1:00pm to hear the audio. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hamilton Bus Lane: Trials or Tribulations? - (Winter Update)

The Hamiltonian asked Mahesh P. Butani for an update as to his thoughts and observations relative to the downtown  bus lane pilot. Mr. Butani kindly submitted the following:

HamiltonBus Lane: Trials or Tribulations? highlighted the impact of a very poorly implemented bus lane trial, and the unintended consequences in planning.

A month has passed since the bus lane trial was launched. Much has been written about it. Almost all focusing on King Street, west of James Street, literally nothing on the impact it has had on east of James particularly east of Mary Street.

When forces at city hall do not consult constituents/stake holders in a planning exercise it is a cause for very serious concern to tax payers. But when the local media along with a few urbanist ideologues chose to misreport the impact of such a poorly planned exercise, it damages democracy itself.

The following are incontrovertible FACTS related to this trial bus lane -- which you will not find in the local


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Canada European Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (‘CETA’) and its effect on Municipalities

Ann Bruce
Among other things, Ann Bruce, a long-time Hamilton resident and friend of  The Hamiltonian,  has practiced law in Hamilton, Toronto and Cambridge and is a radio talk show host. A brief summary of her bio is included at the conclusion of this article. 

In this article, Ann focuses on the Canada European Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (‘CETA’), which Ann warns will  have serious consequences on municipalities, yet is is not widely understood and has not been widely debated.

1. Can you explain, in layman's terms, what is the Canada EU trade agreement and what are the potential impacts it will have on cities like Hamilton?

The Canada EU trade agreement is an extreme pro-corporate trade deal— the Canada European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (‘CETA’). On October 18, 2013, Stephen Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso signed this extreme “next generation” free trade agreement.

This Canada EU trade deal includes an unnecessary investment protection chapter with extreme investor rights and an investor-to-state dispute settlement process. EU investors will have new rights to sue our


Friday, November 29, 2013

Keeping DeCaire- Opinion

Hamilton Police Chief Glenn DeCaire
Update: The Police Services Board, in  a narrow vote, elected to accept Chief DeCaire's resignation. 

There is a move afoot to attempt to convince Hamilton Chief of Police Glenn DeCaire to reconsider his intention to leave Hamilton at the end of his current term (which ends next December). According to a Spec report (see it here or purchase today's print copy), Charles Juravinski, millionaire, Hamilton champion and philanthropist, is leading the charge and hopes to garner a groundswell of support for the idea. Mayor Bratina, who has been a staunch supporter of DeCaire's has already thrown in his support for the effort, sizing the Chief up as the right person for the job.

Our readers will recall that the subject of the police budget spurred an intense debate between DeCaire and Clr. Terry Whitehead, as to how much the budget should be. At the time, The Hamiltonian observed, and

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Protesting for Free

The following is Clr. Merulla's motion advocating for no cost protesting at the City Hall forecourt:

WHEREAS the City of Hamilton wishes to protect the democratic right of citizens to express their disapproval or objection to the policies and actions of government through group protests.

BE IT RESOLVED

• That the City Hall Forecourt continue to be made available as a space for protests to take place with no rental fee.

• That protest organizers be encouraged to provide notification of a planned protest to the Facility Help Desk of City Hall.

• That protest organizers who provide at least 48 hours’ notice of a planned protest after regular business hours (8:30 AM – 4:30 PM) be provided with access to indoor City Hall facilities at no cost, provided the space is available and/or does not conflict with other City of Hamilton business.

• That protests that include additional event elements, such as food preparation and service or amplified music, be required to comply with the guidelines for the Special Events Advisory Team (SEAT) to ensure public health and safety at the event.

• That the Special Events Advisory Team (SEAT) will attempt to expedite all protest-related applications, in recognition of the spontaneous nature of many protests.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

City of Hamilton preparing for snowfall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

City of Hamilton preparing for snowfall

HAMILTON, ON – November 26, 2013 –While the City’s snow reports indicate that Hamilton should only receive about 2-4cm of wet snowfall today and tomorrow, Public Works roads crews are prepared to keep Hamilton roads clear and safe for travel.

The City is monitoring weather and road conditions and will implement the usual snow clearing procedures as necessary beginning with Priority 1 roads such as the Linc, Red Hill Valley Parkway, escarpment crossings, arterial roads and areas of local concern. Clearing high priority roads allows police, fire and ambulance vehicles safe travel on our streets.


In the event of heavy snowfall or severe winter weather, the City offers these reminders.

Safe driving

If you must drive, reduce driving speeds and drive according to current road and weather conditions. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with appropriate tires, is maintained and equipped for winter conditions with windshield washer fluid, anti-freeze, blanket, etc.

Give plow operators room to perform their duties. Stay back at least 25 metres (80 feet) from snow plows, sanders and other equipment so the operator can see you. Visibility may be limited.

If you have a driveway, use it.

Residents are encouraged to park in driveways and stay off the roads where possible in order to assist in our snow clearing operations.

Snow clearing on sidewalks

The Snow off Sidewalks By-law says that all property owners (residents and businesses) must clear their sidewalks 24 hours after a snow fall. For more information: www.hamilton.ca/snow

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sue-table?

You will recall that in the past, The Hamiltonian had put pressure on the city to reveal to Hamiltonians how much money the city had spent to date litigating against the Federal government for matters related to the Red Hill Parkway. At first, the city resisted but with continued pressure and with the efforts of Clr. Merulla, the city disclosed the amount. 

Suffice it to say that significant taxpayer monies have been spent and continue to be spent in support of this lawsuit. In a write up in today's Spec , it seems that the debate over whether we should drop the law suit or continue it, is once again being visited. Clr. Brian McHattie is expected to bring forth a motion that would have us end this law suit. 

There are many reasons why the Clrs motion may make sense; including the twisted absurdity of using taxpayers money to sue another level of government who will also use taxpayers' money to litigate, over taxpayers' money. Making your head spin yet?

At the same time, the amount of funds already expended by the city of Hamilton in pursuit of this lawsuit, may make it a hard pill to swallow to back down.

The Spectator's view is that we ought to end this, noting that over 2 million dollars has been spent. 

As Clr. McHattie has signaled his interest in running for Mayor of Hamilton in this upcoming election, his position on this matter and whether he succeeds or fails, will be interesting to follow.  

Your thoughts? Should we end this or continue? 

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina on the Grey Cup Contest

The following statement is from Mayor Bob Bratina with respect to the Grey Cup contest:

There are so many aspects to the Grey Cup game and festival it's difficult to sum up in a few words. The city and province did an outstanding job in hosting the event. There was a sense however that it was one big pep rally for the Riders, including the CFL awards show.

There was a noticeable lack of other team colours and the Tiger Town Hospitality suite was almost completely taken over by Rider fans. The high moments for our team were the arrival of 130 fans on a last minute charter who roared Oskee Wee Wee in the Regina airport and the earnest support for the Cats by superstars Tom Hanks and Martin Short. 

As for the game itself I'll leave it to the experts for analysis of what went wrong. I can tell you that we have a great owner in Bob Young and a bright future under Coach Austin in our brand new Tim Hortons Field.
There is a lot to be proud of and excited about for Hamilton football fans.

 Finally, I want to thank Mayor Michael Fougere for his warm welcome and for the opportunity to present our cities on national media in a positive and dignified way.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Spirit(s) of the Season

Spirit(s) of the Season 

With Hanukkah and Christmas, not to mention Kwanza and New Year’s Eve upon us before we know it, I thought this column should bring some holiday cheer. Two recent events provided grist for the mill in the form of distilled products that would make any tippler happy.

In my last column I mentioned my serendipitous discovery of a new artisanal gin: Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers UNFILTERED GIN 22 was the base of the winning Apple Rosemary Collins cocktail mixed by the Earth to Table Bread Bar during Battledish on Locke St.

Very impressed, I visited the distillery in Beamsville to make a purchase, and subsequently had the pleasure of sitting down with the lanky, young distiller, Geoff Dillon, at the (wonderful) 2013 Ontario Culinary


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Flower Power

Despite challenges related to terrain, return on investment scaleability and potential for distracting drivers, Clr. Sam Merulla believes that a custom solution can be found in Hamilton that would see the city generate revenue from offering floral advertising spots on the Red Hill Parkway and the Linc. The City of Toronto has leveraged this opportunity on the Gardiner Expressway but, according to a Spec write up (see it here or purchase today's print copy), traffic volumes for a Hamilton deployment may fall short on the ROI test.

Still Clr. Merulla believes we can make this work, and perhaps we can. While the Clr. refers to it as a "no brainer" and may be underestimating what it might take to make it work, it sounds as though the push to try it out is worthwhile. 

What do you think? Do you believe we can make this work and is it worth pursuing? 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hamilton Short-Handed re: Police Officers

It appears as though Hamilton Police Chief Glenn DeCaire's case for Hamilton to hire more police officers, is getting support from a provincial report that cites that for the year 2012, Hamilton police had fewer staff per 100,000 people than police services in Toronto, London or Windsor .  For more details, have a look at The Spec's coverage here, or purchase today's print copy.



Giving Toronto Mayor Ford a Sign

In tandem with a decisive Ti-Cat victory over the Toronto Argonauts, assuring a place in the play-offs for the Cats, it is no surprise that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's misadventures and subsequent faux pas, factor into everything Toronto. In the picture to the left, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina, decked out in Cats' colours, poses with a fan who sends a clear message to our friends and neighbours in Toronto. The sign story was also carried in USA Today (see it here). Congrats to the Cats!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pic of the Moment

Fruitland-Winona residents continue to rally against the city's intent to dismiss a secondary preferred plan for the area that was developed cooperatively with city planning staff, city hired consultants, the councillors for Wards 10 and 11, stakeholders and community members over the course of many years through a committee commissioned by the city entitled the Community Advisory Committee. The city unilaterally introduced a new plan that it continues to push onto the community- a plan that was voted down by the Community Advisory Committee. The matter has the community outraged.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Food Swap Expands to Hamilton

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOOD SWAP EXPANDS TO HAMILTON

Hamilton, ON - NOVEMBER 16, 2013 - Food Swap expands on November 26, 2013.

Mark your calendars because the last Halton Food Swap of 2013 is coming November 26th and you’re invited to attend!

We’re expanding to include our friends from Hamilton and to celebrate, we’re taking our swap on the road to Johnny’s Coffee on Locke Street! It’s a fantastic place, so we’re really looking forward to hosting our swap there!

Curious about what happens at a food swap? Check out what happened at ourSeptember Food Swap!

So here are the details for our Holiday Food Swap:

WHO: YOU!

WHAT: Our holiday food swap

WHERE: Johnny’s Coffee (129 Locke St S, Hamilton, ON)

WHEN: Tuesday, November 26th

WHY: Because we love getting together to share and swap locally made and grown food.

Make sure you sign up for the swap, you’ll need a ticket to get in. Go to our Holiday Food Swap Eventbrite page to get your tickets today!

Press Contact:
Tahlia Dyer - haltonfoodswap@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Expressions

Former Hamilton Chief Financial Officer, Roberto Rossini, who now works for the City of Toronto, looks on as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is grilled for his misadventures. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Integrity Commissioner Report- For Review

If you care to read Integrity Commissioner Earle Basse's report with respect to the Bratina/Murray exchange, click here.

Integrity Commissioner finds Mayor Bratina Not in Violation of Code of Conduct

Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse has found that Mayor Bratina's comments to City Manager Chris Murray, during the course of a discussion on Light Rail Transit, were not in contravention of the Code of Conduct.

While Basse found that the Mayor's comments were angry and not appropriate, they fell short of a violation. Basse also considered Mr. Murray's take on this, in which Mr. Murray advised Mr. Basse that he did not feel intimidated or threatened by the Mayor's actions, nor did Mr. Murray  believe that his professional reputation had been injured (see full Spec story here)

Other senior managers who were near Murray advised that they also did not feel intimidated or harassed and that Bratina's tone was consistent with the emotion of the meeting. In his investigation, Basse noted that senior managers have a positive relationship with council, but often feel intimidated when making presentations. The Mayor noted that part of the report is directed to council.

The Mayor stated that his apology to Mr. Murray stands. 

Link of the Moment

Click here

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- #Battledish @LockeStShops #hamont

Naroma - Chef (King) Mario & guests -
Battledish Hamilton
Food for Thought with Alex Bielak-  #Battledish @LockeStShops #hamont 

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be one of the judges for the first, and hopefully not last, Battledish to be held in Hamilton. It’s an international contest with local chefs competing to eventually go head to head with others across North America for the best dish. The arena was Locke Street, eight restaurants entered the lists and the fair maids of Tastebuds Student Nutrition Collaborative were on hand to represent the beneficiary. (To get a great flavour of what was to go down see the entertaining WWE-style videos by SteelandtheCity.)

Having arrived at the charming, temporary Battledish operations centre at Ceylon Teabush, I organized my own tasting in the order courses of a meal might go. Soup by Chef Tor Krueger at the Cheese Shoppe on Locke, mains by Chefs Zelco Grahovac, Walter Roper and Manny Ferreira and Mike Tofano (respectively The Courtyard on LockeWest Town Bar & GrillEarth to Table Bread Bar and Ole Gourmet) and moving to sweeter offerings from Chefs Mario Spina, Nicole Miller and Josie Rudderham,


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Clr. Jason Farr- On the Dedicated Bus Lane

The following is a Q/A we had with Clr. Farr on the topic of the new dedicated bus lane (DBL) pilot.

Already one business (Hillbilly Heaven) has closed its doors due to the designated bus lane, its effects on traffic and speculation as to what the downtown might be like in the future. Please see the following story: http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2013/11/why-did-bailey-bail.html



How do you respond to Mr. Bailey’s views and forewarnings and, in particular, those small business owners who may have similar fears?

Thank you for the question, Hamiltonian. We continue to monitor the pilot and part of the measuring entails collecting feedback from those directly and indirectly associated to the lane.

You may want to verify the conversation we had at the IV AGM with the Chair or Executive Director. The


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Link of the Moment

Raise the Hammer Editor, Ryan McGreal in today's Spec. on the topic of new Transit Lane. See it by clicking here, or by purchasing today's print copy. 

Why did Bailey Bail?

Visiting HillBilly Heaven's webpage, one finds the descriptor "Hamilton's Infamous Southern BBQ". It could not have been easy for owner Cameron Bailey to respond to our request for clarity as to why he made a decision to close the downtown King Street location. Here is our Q/A with Cameron: (note: the question is in the future tense, as this question was sent last week)

We have learned that you are closing your downtown Hillbilly Heaven business, due to the dedicated bus lane that was recently implemented and its impact. Some might think that this factor, and the very short time it has presented itself, could not be the sole reason for the closure. Can you explain how much of a role did the bus lane factor play in your decision, and what else, if anything, may have also played a role. If it is primarily the bus lane, can you be specific in terms of the impacts that you experienced and the gravity of those? What’s next for HillBilly Heaven?

Let me preface my remarks with the following: Hillbilly Heaven is my business, my investment and I do not owe anyone an explanation of my decision.

As senior manager and business leader with GE Capital, we were constantly challenged to "see things as they truly are, not as you wish they were." I have tried to run my collection of small businesses with that as my guide.

Contrary to the simplistic view of many, it was not the 9 days of bus lane traffic that caused us to close. Rather, it was my view of both the short and long term future of King Street between Wellington and James.

This particular business successfully catered to people who drove in for a quick lunch or dinner. The additional traffic made that less attractive from a time perspective and our sales dropped significantly

Our short term future would have us operating at a loss, hoping that people would adjust. With winter coming on - and its reduction in walk-by traffic - our position would be more difficult by the day.

The long-term view became clear after Councillor Farr spoke at our BIA meeting last week.

With one breath he told downtown businesses that the traffic slowly crawling by us is a good thing because people will notice our stores and maybe brave the traffic to come back one day

In the next breath, we were told that the city will do what it can to ease congestion by re-routing traffic off King....away from our businesses altogether.

He also preached that the City needs to get the provincial transit money -- the LRT

I am convinced that the LRT is going to happen. Whether its needed or not, too many political friends stand to make too much money on it.

For me the question was brought into focus:

(A) close now and step away from the day-to-day frustration of watching your business erode?
(B) hang in and fight until the inevitable closure that comes with the LRT construction?

Either way, small business on King Street is at serious risk. For alot of us, with our lives invested, it will be a slow and painful death. 
Hillbilly Heaven was the first store to go but, sadly, it wont be the last.

Thanks Cameron for sharing your perspective.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Values at Stake in the Bus Lane Pilot- by Jeremy D. Wilkins

The following article was submitted by one of our readers, Jeremy D. Wilkins, in which he presents his views on the designated bus lane pilot in downtown Hamilton


Values at Stake in the Bus Lane Pilot

As children, we regarded the world in terms of pleasures and pains. ‘Good’ meant ‘pleasant’ or ‘satisfying to me’. When we didn’t get our way, we carried on like the sky was falling. As adults, we know this is silly. Adults appreciate values like moderation, education, discipline, even when they are unpleasant. Becoming an adult means, in part, shifting from satisfaction-centred decision making to value-centred decision making.

A bus lane debuted on King last week, and some voices would have you think the sky is falling in Hamilton. It is not. If you’re accustomed to zipping through town on King Street, the immediate consequences of the bus lane may be dissatisfying and unpleasant. But I think the adult drivers of Hamilton, even the ones directly affected by this project, are capable of appreciating the values at stake.

First, patience. There’s no call for hyperbole and hysteria. It will take some getting used to, but it’s not a catastrophe to wait ten minutes or have to drive all the way to Cannon Street to go around the Gore. When successful businesses market-test new products, they do it for more than a week. In the case of the King bus lane, it will take at least a couple weeks for everyone to adjust. Some will find a different routes. Others may decide to take the bus. Someone said signs should be posted as far back as Ottawa Street. For local drivers, a week or two of experience will be just as effective.

Second, there are a lot of interconnected pieces. This is a pilot, but we’re not just testing whether the bus lane makes bus transit faster. That was a sure bet. We’d also like to see what happens to bus ridership, what happens—over time—to the automobile traffic, what effects there are on street life, whether there is there a boost to local business. Only time will tell. These patterns will change gradually, with the accumulation of experience and lots of individual decisions.

Third, let’s not forget that the bus lane is carrying more passengers than all the other lanes combined.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Breaking Bad- Hamilton Edition. The I.C. Model

It's probably fair to say that Hamilton's deployment of an Integrity Commissioner may benefit from a rethinking of the model. 

In that spirit, we asked the following question of City Manager Chris Murray. The question is followed with his reply:

The recent concerns about the delays in completing investigations by the Integrity Commissioner, underscore an underlying issue that may point to a flaw in the construct,. Putting aside the specifics of issues related to the delays of the outstanding investigation results, and speaking in general terms. the relationship between the position of Integrity Commissioner (I.C.), and city council/the Mayor appears to carry with it an inherent conflict of interest. 


City councillors/ the Mayor who may, at any given time, be the subject of an integrity commissioner investigation, or be witness to matters in an investigation, run of the risk of being seen as interfering with the I.C. if they comment on his work. Likewise, any commentary, positive or negative made by a councillor/the Mayor, regardless of if the comment has merit, about the work of the I.C. may be received with suspicion.

Given this dynamic, would you consider making a case to amend the model to shift ownership over the relationship with the Integrity commissioner’s position to a citizen led committee that would provide the oversight and direction, at arm’s length from council, or other alternative models that would achieve this shift? The purpose being, to relieve the conflict of interest dynamic. We would appreciate hearing your thoughts and recognize that, incidentally, at the present time, you also fall within the category of people who have been witness or are otherwise involved in an active investigation- which perhaps points to another reason why a citizen led solution or similar model is warranted.


With respect to your comments and inquiry, I would say that both our City Solicitor and I disagree with the

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Note About Clr. Morelli

The Hamiltonian is saddened to hear that Clr. Morelli continues to struggle with some health related challenges. We respect his desire and right to privacy and wish him a speedy recovery. Our thoughts are with him and his family.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mayor Bratina on the New King Bus Lane Pilot

Pic is an excerpt from M. Butani's submissions
We asked the Mayor the following question about the new bus lane pilot. His response follows:

With the mixed reaction over the bus lane designation on King Street, we are wondering what your early thoughts on on this measure? Is it your sense that it will add value to the downtown area, or do you see it as potentially causing more issues than it solves? In the broader context, is there a fit for this type of measure, whether or not it has been optimally deployed in this instance?


Thanks for your question. My preference would be to wait for a while before making any speculative comments. High-functioning transit is generally associated with dedicated rights of way. Whether this application will create a net benefit remains to be seen.

Sincerely,
Bob Bratina, Mayor.


In addition, Clr. Farr sent an apologetic email for missing our deadline to receive his comments, due to being swamped. We advised him that we still invite his comments. and that  if he provides comments, we will publish them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mayor Bratina- on U.S. Steel Announcement

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina statement regarding U.S. Steel permanently shutting down blast furnace.

This announcement by U. S. Steel though unfortunate was not completely unexpected based on the reduced operations at Hilton Works. At this time, the city has incomplete information and the absence of hard facts on which to base a comprehensive response to this decision. It is for this reason, that I am requesting a face-to-face meeting with senior officials of US Steel as soon as possible at their headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

My first concern as Mayor is for the job security of local US Steel workers and the sustainability of pensions for our residents. Hamilton continues to remain the steel-making capitol of Canada with U. S. Steel’s continuing operations, and the Arcelor-Mittal Dofasco complex. There are only 30 blast furnaces still operating in North America and until today’s announcement 4 of them were located in Hamilton. Our city continues to be responsible for the production of one-third of Canadian steel along with millions of dollars of related products such as sheet steel for the automotive industry.

Hamilton’s economic development efforts over the past decade has resulted in our current ranking as having the most diversified economy in the country. The City of Hamilton deliberately chose this strategy to be able to sustain our growth and absorb the shocks of economic downturns and plant downsizing and closures.

         

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hamilton Bus Lane: Trials or Tribulations? - by Mahesh Butani

Update:  The Hamiltonian has asked the question below, of Clr. Jason Farr. We have yet to receive a reply. Should we receive one, we will publish it. 

Q. While some are celebrating the installation of a bus only lane on King East, some others, particularly those experiencing the impact east of James through to reportedly, Sherman, may not be as receptive. According to some photos and commentary (see it by going here  http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2013/10/hamilton-bus-lane-trials-or.html ) there are some who see this as a poorly executed pilot.

Now that you have seen the early results of this deployment, what are your thoughts in terms of its impacts

Friday, October 25, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Bagged! Reflections on Indian Food

Bagged! Reflections on Indian Food

Sometimes we simply don’t feel like cooking yet still crave something fast and tasty: something more complex than frozen pizza and on the table in half the time it would take to order and get delivery from a local ethnic restaurant. You get the mission: flavour, minimal prep/cooking, fast.

That situation arose this week after a long day in Toronto. I was glad I had a couple of fresh Sobeys “Blue Goose” (Certified Humane®) chicken breasts in the fridge, and usually have a variety of jarred or packaged sauces on hand for just such an eventuality.

I had recently picked up an Olivieri Butter Chicken “Fresh Sauce,” which, according to the packaging is “made with a blend of authentic Indian spices, tomatoes and cream… with no artificial preservatives, colours or flavours.” I also had two packages of vegetable curry in the freezer.

The latter were from superstar chef and cookbook author Vikram Vij and obtained from Goodness Me, one


Thursday, October 24, 2013

City of Burlington- On Community Engagement/Consultation

To learn what our friends at the City of Burlington are doing about online public consultation and citizen engagement, click here.

The Hamilton Civic League's Survey

The Hamilton Civic League is conducting a survey that we encourage you to complete. It can be found here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Failing Inadvertently

You may recall that Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse told The Hamiltonian (read it here) , that Hamiltonians and Council deserve an explanation as to the delays in his investigations. According to a Spec report (see it here or purchase today's print copy) , in a letter of apology,  Basse characterized the missed deadlines as an "inadvertent failure".  

He further advised that he misunderstood the sixty day deadline set by council, and has now asked for an extension until December 11 for three of four outstanding investigations. He also asked for an extension until November 13th for the fourth investigation report. Basse cited the number of witnesses he had to interview and the analysis he had to do, as reasons for the tardiness.

Council will be discussing his letter next Wednesday. Are you satisfied with Mr. Basse's explanation? What do you think the response from council and Hamiltonians should be? 

To see Mr. Basse's contract with the City, click here. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Picture of the Moment

Mayor Bob Bratina receives a warm greeting from Premier Kathleen Wynne, Saturday at Mac.

Friday, October 18, 2013

City Solicitor Previously Dismissed by City of Vaughan

Janice Atwood-Petkovski
Recently, The Hamiltonian was made aware of a story published in York Region.com (see the story here), which announced that several senior executives were dismissed by the City of Vaughan. That story ran June 29, 2012. The story has found its way on facebook recently and thus has been garnering some attention locally. 

One of the senior executives cited as being dismissed was Janice Atwood-Petkovski, the city of Hamilton's solicitor. 

We contacted Ms. Atwood-Petkovski, to afford her an opportunity to respond to some questions we posed to her, and also to allow her to add any information she would want to. Here are the questions we posed:

Through some information we received directly, and by way of social media, we have been made to understand that you had been dismissed, along with several other executives, from the City of Vaughan in 2012.

Given that this information seems to be making the rounds on social media, we are wanting to provide you with an opportunity to respond to the following questions:

1. Can you tell Hamiltonians whether you were dismissed for cause?
2. Is your current employer aware of this situation and was that information disclosed to your current employer prior to any job offer being made to you?
3. Is there anything else you would like to add?


We did not receive a reply from Ms. Atwood Petkovski directly, but we did receive a reply from the City of Hamilton's communications department which stated the following:

In terms of the inquiry below, I thought it would be more appropriate I share with you Chris’ response so far to other media outlets in terms of the matter concerning Janice.

Chris's reply:

Our due diligence was thoroughly carried out. I personally spoke with Janice's former City Manager as part of the reference process prior to making my final selection of a City Solicitor. I was very satisfied with what I heard and the references received.

As well, let me emphasize, I am more than satisfied with my decision to hire Janice and her performance for the City over the last nine months.

Chris Murray
City Manager

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Councillors Refuse Request to Poll Hamiltonians on Need for Tasers

According to a Spectator report (See it in today's print version), the city will only support the use of taser technology if the province funds the entire initiative. Marrying the request to the province's recent appetite to encourage the deployment of taser technology, may be a crafty political move- if it works.

It may be a head scratcher for some Hamiltonians to hear that part of the reasoning is that , as per Clr. Ferguson's quote in the Spec " It's important we don't kid ourselves. We don't have an extra million dollars". It wasn't too long ago that some councilors wanted to commit 17 million dollars to the Pan Am precinct while admitting that there was no certainty as to where the money might be found.

For the moment, the police will be looking at commencing some training with existing resources, although it appears as though the training will be nowhere near the scale required for a substantive implementation.

Clr. Clark was puzzled at how the city can be asked to poll Hamiltonians about a technology that "we know nothing about". 

Deputy Police Chief Ken Leendertse, in reference to life threatening situations, said "if you only have one option, which is a firearm, you have to use it. "