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.


• 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


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


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


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:


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


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.