Saturday, August 31, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Sips and Bites – Bumper Summer Crop Edition

Sips and Bites – Bumper summer crop edition

As I head off for a family holiday I thought I’d leave readers with a bumper, omnibus edition of Food for Thought, sharing some summer food and wine finds, and offering thanks to some friends and readers along the way.

I recently tried the recently-opened Amaya Express at 489 Brant St in Burlington. While it wasn’t very express when I visited (they were still working things out in the open kitchen), the service and the food were very good and dishes fairly priced. Their d├ęcor (unadorned pastel walls and barnboard) and menu are not what I’d call the traditional Indian we are all familiar with. “It is more a take on Indian street food, Indian with a twist!” said the friendly manager, Sachin, a member of the family that runs the Toronto-based Amaya food group.

My daughter – a butter chicken specialist – declared their version top notch: I loved the small pot of smoked

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Media Release- The City of Hamilton begins 2014 Budget Process


The City of Hamilton begins 2014 Budget Process

HAMILTON, ON – August 27, 2013 –The City of Hamilton’s 2014 budget process is underway and citizens are encouraged to take part. Upcoming workshops and General Issues Committee (GIC) meetings

Mayor Bob Bratina on the Prospect of Running Again for Mayor

Hamilton Mayor, Bob Bratina
In tandem with asking the question of former mayors Eisenberger and DiIanni, we also asked our current Mayor, Bob Bratina the same question with respect to the prospect of Clr. McHattie running for Mayor. Here is our Q/A with Mayor Bob Bratina.

Can we get your reaction to the The Spec's story today about Clr. McHattie possibly running for Mayor?

It would not be appropriate in the midst of a council term for the mayor to make campaign-related comments. There is still much work to be done by this council over the remaining year of the current term without the distractions inherent in pursuit of change. I would say however, who wouldn't want to be mayor of a city that is by almost every measure one of the most successful in the province, and indeed in the country? At the end of the previous term we were in some disarray with so many difficult problems needing solutions, which subsequently for the most part have been solved. Any candidates coming forward now will need to present compelling reasons to change the current path which has brought so many benefits to the residents of Hamilton. There are problems remaining to be dealt with, among them the way we handle public funds. We need to do a better job of living within our means and making better decisions on how tax money is spent. I will be addressing this in my next State of the City speech early in the new year. It is at that time when candidates who formally declare as candidates for council should bring forward their platforms.
Bob Bratina, Mayor

Please Note: The Hamiltonian will not publish comments that are unprofessional involve name calling or are otherwise disrespectful. If your comment does not appear, consider rewording it and resubmitting.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Former Mayor Fred Eisenberger on the Prospect of Running for Mayor

Former Mayor Fred Eisenberger
In light of the Spec's story today, in which Clr. McHattie stated that he may be considering a run for the Mayor's chair, we asked a few people for their views. The following is our Q/A with former Mayor, Fred Eisenberger:

Can we get your reaction to the The Spec's story today about Clr. McHattie possibly running for Mayor?

Thank you for your inquiry . Now, more than ever, our City needs strong leadership , clear vision and a well developed plan , along with the ability to collaborate effectively, build positive relationships with all of our institutions, organizations, and other levels of government , and to build pride and confidence in our community and its people. I have been encouraged many, many times over the past few years to give the important position of Mayor of the city of Hamilton serious consideration again, and I am. My focus has always been to build a clean, green and prosperous city that will once again embrace innovation, ambition and compassion to the benefit of all the diverse people that make up our city. I am consulting broadly on all of this throughout the community. I thank all of those that are sending me notes of encouragement and I look forward to making my final decision in the coming months. I will be sure to keep all of the media posted.Cheers Fred

Please Note: The Hamiltonian will not publish comments that are unprofessional involve name calling or are otherwise disrespectful. If your comment does not appear, consider rewording it and resubmitting.

Former Mayor Larry DiIanni on the Prospect of Running for Mayor

Former Mayor, Larry DiIanni
In light of the Spec's story today, in which Clr. McHattie stated that he may be considering a run for the Mayor's chair, we asked a few people for their views. The following is our Q/A with former Mayor, Larri DiIanni. Our Q/A with Larry took a bit of a playful tone over a series of emails. .

For publication purposes, can we get your reaction to the The Spec's story today about Clr. McHattie possibly running for Mayor?

Anyone who thinks he/she can do the job should run. Good luck and may the best candidate win. 

So, for publication. Does that mean that you are considering it?

I am not considering it at all.

Okay. We will ask it this way- will you consider it at any point prior to the next election?  

Are you trying to encourage me?

 Lol. We are interested in the truth ;-)

I have told you the truth. I am not contemplating any run for office. Lots of people want me to but I have been there and done that. Scout's honour. 

Please Note: The Hamiltonian will not publish comments that are unprofessional  involve name calling or are otherwise disrespectful. If your comment does not appear, consider rewording it and resubmitting. 

And the Results Are In......

The Ward 2 Participatory Budgeting results are in. They are diplayed below. The Hamiltonian congratulates and thanks all who made this meaningful process possible!

The Participatory Budgeting Office is pleased to announce the results of the past weekend’s
vote on the 2013 Ward 2 Participatory Budget.

Click here to see the results. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pic of the Moment

Girls group "The Boys" takes the stage in Winona. 

Media Release Day 2: The Vote on Participatory Budget


“I did my civic duty. Least I could do after all your hard work,” said Mrs. Sherwood, 94, as I lifted her collapsible walker out of a volunteer’s van. The resident of Corktown neighbourhood had arrived at Queen Victoria Elementary School, where I was putting up posters redirecting residents across the street to Corktown Park. Mrs. Sherwood had walked several blocks from her home and was determined to vote.

A volunteer and I drove Mrs. Sherwood to the polling station, then back to her home. As we pulled up to her house, I realized I had spoken to Mrs. Sherwood four months ago; a team of volunteers and I had spent a weekend knocking on doors in her community.

As we open the polls this morning for the second and final day of voting, it is with Mrs. Sherwood’s spirit that my team and I will greet residents of Ward 2. I hope her example will inspire you to vote, as well.

Around midday Saturday, Joanna Millions, a member of the PBW2 planning team, resident of Stinson, and poll supervisor for the Christ’s Church Cathedral polling station, tweeted a photo of a 14-year-old resident completing his ballot behind a privacy screen.

Shamso Elmi, an interpreter for PBW2, organizer of the Central assembly, and deputy returning officer for the Beasley Voting Van, contacted HQ in the afternoon requesting more Somali-language ballots. Soon after I received a request from Sean Pittman, organizer of the Durand South assembly and poll supervisor for the YWCA polling station, for more Chinese-language ballots.

On Saturday, dozens of residents without citizenship – many who do not speak English – participated as civic equals to citizens. The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion deserves our thanks for organizing the translation of the ballots.

Today, the polls will remain open until 5pm, except a special poll outside our headquarters which will remain open until 9pm. The voting places are:

- Bennetto Recreation Centre (450 Hughson St N)

- Christ’s Church Cathedral (252 James St N)

- YWCA (75 MacNab St S)

- Corktown Park Pavilion (Forest Ave & Aurora St)

- Volunteer Hamilton (267 King St E)

Our fleet of voting vans will be parked in strategic locations today. This morning, they will be accessible to residents attending Sunday service at Philpott Memorial Church, Church of the Ascension, First Pilgrim United Church, Stewart Memorial Church, and One Community Church. This afternoon, one van each will visit Baywoods Place and Durand Seniors Residence. Throughout the day, they may be found in places such as Gore Park and Pier 8.

The ballots will be counted at and the results will be announced from 267 King St E tonight around 10pm EST.
For information:

Norman M. Kearney
President & CEO, Participatory Budgeting Hamilton
267 King Street East, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 1B9
Tel: 905.523.4444 x 112 | Web: www.pbhamont.ca

Thursday, August 22, 2013

SIU Investigation into Mesic- Duration - Hard to Predict

The following is a Q/A with the Special Investigations Unit, which is investigating the circumstances around Steve Mesic's death:

I am contacting you in relation to the Special Investigations Unit’s investigation of the Steve Mesic matter, in which Mr. Mesic was shot and killed in a confrontation with the Hamilton Police. We respect the fact that you cannot release details of the investigation. We are simply wanting to know the timelines that you are working with. Can you advise as to when the investigation started and when it might conclude? What would be the next steps beyond that? 

Resposne from the S.I.U.

The SIU investigation into the death of Mr. Mesic is ongoing.

As I’m sure you can understand, each incident we investigate is different with its own set of requirements and procedures. Thus, it’s hard to say how long an investigation will take.

To read about what the S.I.U. does, click here. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Police Chief Glenn DeCaire- on Next Steps re: Mesic Tragedy

Whenever there is a tragic death, people naturally want answers and they usually want them quickly. This certainly applies to the tragic death of Mr. Mesic which was the result of a matter with police. We checked in with Chief Glenn DeCaire to get an understanding as to the process that is being followed to allow for these answers. Here is our Q/A with Hamilton Police Chief Glenn DeCaire. 

Q. There continues to be much controversy and concern over what may be police use of deadly force, specifically as it may relate to the Mesic case . Can you explain to Hamiltonians the process you are embarking on to ensure that these matters are thoroughly investigated and addressed? What timelines are you working with and why is this the most appropriate way to proceed?

From Hamilton Police Chief Glenn De Caire:

Ontario Regulation 673/98 outlines the law in relation to Special Investigation Unit investigations. The Regulation states that the Police Service and members of the Police Service shall not, during the course of an investigation by the SIU, disclose to any person, any information with respect to the incident or the investigation. Policies and procedures currently in place protect the interests of everyone involved and are within governing legislation.

As a Service, we are committed to open and transparent policing. We will respect the legal process while co-operating fully with the SIU.

We do not have a timeline from the SIU on when their investigation will be completed. Once it is complete, there will be further proceedings which include a mandatory coroner’s inquest.

The loss of life is a tragedy. The family wants answers and the family deserves answers. The Hamilton Police Service is committed to answer any and all questions related to our involvement through multiple systems of oversight and accountability. We will respond, fully, in the appropriate legal proceeding where the evidence of the Service will be presented, tested under cross examination and a legal decision rendered.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Marie’s Menus – Going Social

Marie Pavone
Marie’s Menus – Going Social

I’m pleased to offer up the second serving stemming from my serendipitous discovery of food-related contestants participating in the Innovation Factory’s recent pitch contest

As she sits at my kitchen counter, Marie Pavone, runner-up in the hotly-contested event, is the epitome of poised charm. Trained as an engineer, the Ancaster mother of two, is cool, calm and in control. In fact, at times I feel like the one being quizzed: as she jots her own notes, she wants to know what my favourite restaurants are, and whether, as a food writer, I’d be interested in contributing to her potentially soon-to-be-revamped MenusOnly website which already has an average of 7000 unique visitors and 20,000 page views monthly.

I ask her to tell me about her pitch at Innovation Factory as I had had to leave before she got up on stage. She wants to give me some background first. She started the site about 7 years ago after a brainwave: about to go out to dinner after work with some friends, she Googled for a new place to go.

Finding navigating multiple websites and locating different menus time-consuming, she said to herself, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a website where all the menus were there for that city? That was when the idea was born.”

Pavone’s LinkedIN profile articulates her original intent succinctly. “My goal with MenusOnly.com is to

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Picture of the Moment

The Human Race performs at Music in The Village at Ferguson Station (Ferguson and King streets). 

Music in the Village can be seen every Wednesday and Friday, noon-2pm in the month of August. 

Check out the great acts that perform, there.

The Pearl in Peril? Update from Barbara Milne

Update: This matter has been postponed and will likely resume on September 3rd or 4th. 

Zoning and Court Update from The Pearl Company:

I am so baffled. It is a good thing that the demands of The Pearl Company and vicinity keep Gary and I so busy. It helps distract our minds from the fact that our zoning issues continue to be unresolved seven years later.

Our case, which came to by-law court last summer, was heard by a justice of the peace, Justice Casey, of

Monday, August 12, 2013

Michael Desnoyers- on "Aerotropolis"

In light of the ongoing controversy over the use of the airport lands and  "aerotropolis", The Hamiltonian had a chat with Michael Desnoyers about this ongoing battle. Enjoy our chat with Michael.

1. HPD and EH are appealing the OMB Aerotropolis decision to divisional court. Such a move would ordinarily require proof that the OMB erred in a matter of law. You mentioned that there are many errors in law that the OMB made. Can you identify a few of the more serious ones and explain why you believe these are “appeal worthy”.

The Leave to Appeal was filed on behalf of HPD only. EH remains a party to the OMB process and is supportive of our decision to proceed in this manner. In our Notice of Motion (Leave to Appeal) there were 12 items identified as grounds for the motion. The majority of these are related to the failure of the OMB decision to rule on the city’s adherence to specific items covered by the PPS and PPG. For example; the board did not rule on the illegality of the use of the 25 year planning window by the city. The requirements are to be based upon a 20 year window and the additional 5 years results in an over designation further exasperating the urban sprawl and destruction of prime agricultural food lands. Another example is that the Board did not rule on the requirement of the city to demonstrate how it would achieve the provincially mandated density targets. The proposed Aerotropolis will be approximately 70% occupied by low density warehousing and logistics companies. This was outlined in the Phase 2 report submitted by the city hired consultant group and would require that significant higher densities be accomplished throughout the city to achieve the minimum guidelines set out by the province. In essence the city has been throwing darts at the target and missed wildly but the plan is to still move forward.

2. What do you say to those who may argue that you have had a fair say before an independent body, and that failure to accept that decision ventures into a form of obstructionism?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Then and Now- with City Manager Chris Murray

On this edition of  "Then and Now", we turn our attention to the follow up post the ending of the city's contract with Dialogue Partners. You may recall that the city ended their contractual relationship with this firm, due to some mishaps in the implementation of an engagement strategy. The city signaled that follow up work would continue independently of the firm, and that the city would carry on with its own solution- some of which would involve reaching out to local people/groups that may be helpful with the engagement piece. 

So....you may be wondering...what has happened since? Where are we on this? Join us on this voyage from Then to Now, with our Q/A with City Manager Chris Murray:

Q. No doubt that Hamiltonians would like to see the city move past the controversy and failed partnership surrounding the previous engagement with Dialogue Partners. Prior to that departure however, there were significant tax dollars invested in the engagement initiative with an assurance that the work done with Dialogue Partners would not be wasted and that the city would move forward with a new strategy that would see that the work continue and presumably, meet its objectives. Can you provide clarity as to how that work is continuing, what outcomes are expected, when those outcomes will be achieved and what value for money will Hamiltonians ultimately get in return for this effort and investment?

Thanks for the opportunity to share with you on behalf of the staff team what our next steps and goals are in moving forward with our community engagement work. Our team is made up of staff from across the

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Baffoh Family Press Conference- Thanks Police and Public

The Baffoh Family at a news conference, in which they thanked the public and the police for their support and efforts in the arrest of those who are believed to have murdered their son, Daniel. With thanks to The Spec, click here to see the news conference. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mayor Bratina- On Aerotropolis

Mayor Bob Bratina

We touched base with Mayor Bob Bratina on the direction that Aerotropolis seems to be taking and the continued resistance to it by some.  Enjoy our Q/A with the Mayor.

In the past, you expressed concerns over the feasibility of Aerotropolis and whether it was a prudent direction to move in. Recently, the Ontario Municipal Board has supported the city’s direction to move forward with Aerotropolis. Most recently, Hamiltonians for Progressive Development and Environment Hamilton signaled that they will be appealing the OMB’s decision to Divisional court. Apparently, these groups believe that there is merit at having a higher body take a second look at this issue, and continue to believe that the aerotropolis direction is wrong for Hamilton. 

Without commenting on any details, were your reservations addressed by the OMB decision, or do you still have some concerns about Aerotropolis. As information pertaining to this matter has continued to come to light and unfolded, was that information enough to alleviate your concerns or are you still uneasy about this matter, particularly as to how it may impact Hamilton taxpayers in the short and longer terms?

The Mayor replied as follows:

The concerns I have always had regarding aerotropolis include; strong rejection of the plan by the residents of Ancaster as demonstrated by an overflow crowd at special meeting of the planning committee at Merritt Hall several years ago; continual failure of the Vision 2020 metric "Number of Hectares of Agricultural Land Lost due to Official Plan Amendments"; failure to abide by the Council-approve Agricultural Action Plan

Monday, August 5, 2013

Media Release- Hamiltonians for Progressive Development takes fight to Divisional Court


Hamiltonians for Progressive Development takes fight for sustainability to Divisional Court

Hamilton, Ontario – August 5, 2013 – Hamiltonians for Progressive Development (HPD) has served notice that it is challenging the Aerotropolis scheme in court, by appealing the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision to allow massive urban sprawl into Hamilton’s foodlands.

The Aerotropolis, now re-branded as the Airport Employment Growth District, is the City’s plan to build a giant industrial park in the lands around the Hamilton International Airport. The plan has been highly controversial since it was first proposed, with community groups like HPD arguing that the Aerotropolis is

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - How Green Does Your Garden Grow?

Dean Hall of Growing Green Hamilton
How Green does your Garden Grow?

Space in my last round-up column precluded going into detail about a serendipitous meeting with two food-related entrepreneurs at the Innovation Factory’s recent pitch contest. Since then I’ve interviewed each of these go-getting Hamiltonians, and this week am pleased to tell you about Growing Green Hamilton’s Dean Hale. (Look for my piece on Menusonly.com’s Marie Pavone in the next column).

Dean is a passionate believer in the square foot garden. As the name suggests, this concept, developed by Mel Bartholemew, is an intensive, compact grid-based system that can produce 5 times the yield of a conventional row garden. “A 4 x 4 square foot garden

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hiring a Contractor? Read this.

As part of a press release in which a certain unlicensed roofer in the area  pleaded guilty to 11 counts of contracting without a Building Repair Contractor’s Licence, John Lane, the Manager of Building Inspections issued the following advice for Hamiltonians who may be hiring a contractor. We thought we'd share it with you in the event that you are looking for a contractor.

Info for Home Owners When Hiring a Contractor:

The City of Hamilton’s Licence Code 07-170, clearly states that in order to operate as a tradesperson engaging in Building Repair, Drain Repair, Heating or Plumbing work, they must be licensed. Building Services recommends homeowners take additional care before hiring a contractor or before signing paperwork for repairs. Some tips when deciding on a contractor include:

• Call the City to determine if the contractor is licensed at 905-546-2782 and press '3' for licensing.
• Don’t be pressured into signing anything.
• Always get a written estimate and three (3) other independent quotes, get a fully itemized estimate, and make sure the details get written into a contract.
• Shop around if you are asked to give a down payment of more than 5% to 15% of the total contract price.
• Determine if the job requires a Building Permit. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that a Building Permit is obtained, when required, prior to beginning construction.
• Watch this short video on more tips: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE5vTlRUY2Q

If residents have concerns about contractor activities, they can contact the Building Services Division at 905-546-3950 or go online to: www.hamilton.ca/buildingpermits or www.hamilton.ca/tradelicence. The Ontario Renovators' Council (Ontario Home Builders' Association) provides a consumers' guide to the Standard Renovations Contract outlining detailed tips. Other helpful resources for residents include the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org/canada) and Consumer Protection (Ontario) that offers consumer protection information and a "Consumer Beware" list at www.consumerbeware.mgs.gov.on.ca.

Thanks John for this information.