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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gunshots Awaken Local Business Owners

Barbara Milne,
Co-Owner of the Pearl Company
"It's not an option not to carry on". That's a quote from Barbara Milne, co-owner of the Pearl Company, in response to bullets being shot into the Pearl Company in the early morning hours, shattering glass through a fire escape door, not far from where she and co-owner Gary Santucci sleep.

The couple (Santucci and Milne), have earned iconic status in Hamilton for their fierce and relentless battle to clean up the area where they live  from prostitution, drug deals and other street crime, in favour of transforming it into an area that celebrates the arts. 

Police were called to the scene immediately and detectives have been assigned to the case, Fortunately, Milne and Santucci were reported uninjured save for the shock of the incident.  For full details, click here to see The Spec's report, or purchase today's print copy.

In addition to their fight for a transformed neighbourhood, Mr. Santucci has also been advocating for transparency of the Waterfront Trust's finances as well as , most recently, a halt to the planned demolition of Sanford Avenue School.

" I think Gary and Barb have been the best thing for this community", said a neighbour who did not want to be named, to The Spectator. The Hamiltonian shares that sentiment and hopes the Police are able to make an arrest in this matter. The Hamiltonian encourages anyone who has information on this matter, to contact the Police immediately. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AFTERNOON FIRE FORCES TENANTS TO EVACUATE BUILDING

HAMILTON, ON – January 31, 2013 – The Hamilton Fire Department responded to a report of an alarm condition in a 22 storey high-rise apartment building located at 20 Emerald Street North, Hamilton at approximately 12:45pm this afternoon.

Upon arrival, firefighters confirmed a working fire in a unit on the 14th floor of the building and smoke conditions on the 14th floor of the building.

The fire was quickly extinguished and crews immediately started ventilation procedures in order to clear the building of smoke. No injuries were reported and all residents of the building have returned to their apartment units.

Firefighters contained the fire to the one apartment unit and damage is estimated at approximately $10,000. The cause is under investigation and Hamilton Police Services have secured the scene pending the arrival of an Investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Hamilton Fire Department recommends that citizens who live in a high-rise apartment building take the time to review the posted ‘Occupants Procedures’ contained within your buildings Fire Safety Plan, a copy of which is posted on each floor of your building.

For more information on fire safety, contact our Fire Prevention Division at 905 546-2424 ext. 1380, weekdays between 8:30am and 4:30pm or visit our web-site at www.hamilton.ca/fire.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Spec and Sanford School

The Hamilton Spectator covers the Sanford School controversy. Click here to see their write up, which refers to The Hamiltonian, Raise the Hammer and others who have been either covering this issue, or advocating for it.

Additionally, this article (click here) may be worth re-reading. 

Mayor Bratina's State of the City Address- in full

State of the City

This is my third State of the City Address and as with the first two we are presenting in different areas of Hamilton to reflect on and reinforce the strength, heritage and importance of every part of our City.

It is appropriate that Stoney Creek is our venue today because of its importance to the economic well-being of our community. I want to thank today’s program sponsor, KUBES whose success has derived from the very things I want to talk to you about today.

Kubes Steel offers a range of custom roll form services for structural steel sections, metal sheet, tube, angle, pipe and beams. Their expertise has made them a leader in architectural exposed structural steel projects throughout North America.

Kubes Steel is the result of over 3 decades of investment in founder Joe Kubes' vision which is a vision that we at the City of Hamilton would do well to emulate…. to be the best at what we do by Investment in plant,


Stinson on Sanford

We asked Harry Stinson, what he thinks of the Sanford School issue. Here is our Q/A with Harry:

Many advocates are fighting to save Sanford Avenue School from demolition. Do you think the decision to demolish the school is prudent, or are you of the mind that it can and should be re-purposed? Can you elaborate on your answer.

Sanford School can and should be saved. 

I don't recall any effort to offer it for sale (for redevelopment, or adaptive reuse of any kind). It is quite possible to integrate park space onto the site, (it that is truly the need). Preservation and re-use of grand older buildings like Sanford is exactly appropriate for Hamilton's character. I really don't think they tried very hard to save it and the local community may have been slightly manipulated in the process.


Interesting that Public Works "needs" to use the building at the moment (maybe for a rest stop or discount gravel store.....)


Thanks Harry for your views on this! Visit Harry by clicking here.

Was there Proper Community Consultation re: Sanford School demo?

In the ongoing controversy regarding the approved  demolition of Sanford Avenue School, The Hamiltonian was copied in an email from Gary Santucci, which raises concerns about the degree of consultation, the form it took or did not take, and the outcome. It appears that this email was also sent to all of council, members of the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, as well as local media and others. 

The following email is rather lengthy. It is provided in full:


Public Consultation in a so-called "Code Red District"

Much has been written concerning the socio-economic conditions in our Downtown core neighbourhoods, particularly reports published in the Hamilton Spectator under the banner of "Code Red". Like it or not these

Happening today



Monday, January 28, 2013

Saving Sanford

Click here to see a video produced by proponents who want to save Sanford Avenue School from demolition. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Clearing the Aer-otropolis

The OMB Aerotropolis hearing has come to an end. Here is a summary from Larry Pomerantz, Chair, Hamilton Civic League. With thanks to Larry, the HCL, Hamiltonians for Progressive Development, Raiuse the Hammer and all others who took voiced their opinions on this far reaching and important matter.

Here is the summary:
The OMB Aerotropolis hearing has now concluded. On Wednesday, the entire day was consumed by testimony of participants.

I was so impressed with the quality, variety of issues presented and overall performance of each and every


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Let's Make a Deal?- with Dialogue Partners.

It seems that the City and Dialogue Partners have moved into "Let's make a deal mode". The Spectator has received a copy of a letter which was not marked confidential, but  that the city chose to keep confidential on the advice of their lawyers, that outlines what Dialogue Partners is prepared to offer to resolve the outstanding issues. The details are here (or purchase the Spec's print version). The offer entails $61,600.00 to be paid in kind (not in cash) by providing specified services to the City. One of these services, valued by the firm at $2,400.00 is for revising the project timeline. 

Apparently, Dialogue Partners rejected a proposal by the city which suggested that they reduce the remaining cost of the project by 50%. Presumably, that would have meant a real cash lost, rather than an in kind offering. As reported in The Spec. the firm stated "“We believe this would devalue the meaningful process that has been designed, devalue the voice of all residents and our ability to serve them effectively, and devalue our services and the services of citizen engagement overall.”

Their letter also stated "“We believe we have the experience and ability to facilitate and report on this important conversation, and we stand by the process we have designed,”  “However, if Dialogue Partners has become a roadblock to achieving this important conversation because the dialogue is now about us, then we respectfully suggest you choose to work with another consultant.”

Do you think council ought to end its relationship with this firm and choose another consultant? In that event, should they file a suit for damages? Do you think they should accept their offer to settle this matter for $61,600.00 in in kind offerings that the firm has determined? Do you think we should present the rejected offer again as the city's final offer to settle? Or do you have another idea? 

Council has delayed making a decision on this matter. There is time to weigh in with your thoughts. 


Sanford Avenue Survival Plan, dead?

The following email thread and write up was copied to The Hamiltonian, as well as other media sources, by Gary Santucci. Due to the length of the write up, we have not formatted it. It appears largely as it was received. The text is verbatim, as received.

Sanford Avenue School; The Politics of Demolition and a Co-opted Process

Before we embark on the timeline, let's be clear about one thing! The effort to save Sanford Avenue School began within the walls of Hamilton City Hall at the Municipal Heritage Committee and ended at the hands of Hamilton City Council. It revolves around a report passed by the Heritage Committee, endorsed by the

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Checks and the City- Opinion

As the controversy ensued over the City's arrangement with Dialogue Partners, an Ottawa based firm hired to run a public engagement campaign on civic priorities, The Hamiltonian deliberately took a relatively muted posture, electing to see how the facts unfold.

However, as council once again approaches this matter, we our sharing our opinion.

Clearly mistakes were made, from many angles. The request for clarification as to what the abbreviation H.S.R. means, seems to have been one of the lightening rods for the ensuing controversy. The request for


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Media Release- Transforming the Royal Connaught Hotel

For Immediate Release

Valery Homes and Spallacci Group launch The Residences of Royal Connaught transforming the legendary Royal Connaught Hotel into a residential community, signifying a new era for Hamilton

January 22, 2013…Hamilton – As one of the most significant project announcements this year, The Residences of Royal Connaught by Valery Homes and Spallacci Group will be a testament to Hamilton’s revitalization - transforming one of the city’s most iconic landmarks into a new destination residential address.

Paramount to Hamilton’s downtown renewal plan, the iconic Royal Connaught Hotel site will once again emerge as the focal point of The Residences of Royal Connaught, a condominium development that will reclaim a city block in Hamilton’s historic Gore Park district. Preserving the original Edwardian-facade of the existing buildings, The Residences of Royal Connaught will introduce 700 new residential condominium units into the heart of the city.

Integral to the project is the launch of over 13,000 sq. ft. of boutique retail that will revitalize a commercial footprint that wraps from King Street along Catherine street to Main. A new seven-storey podium designed to complement the historical facade of the Connaught Hotel will anchor the residential community and feature a galleria including restaurants, cafes, and shoppes mixed with pedestrian spaces at ground level, and a public square with outdoor seating.

The combined portfolio of Ted Valeri of Valery Homes and Rudi Spallacci of Spallacci Group represents


Monday, January 21, 2013

Citizen Engagement RFP

Click here to view the Request for Proposal document that the city issued, in which  Dialogue Partners became the successful proponent. You will note that the RFP is laden with contractual language and it would appear that it serves as a component of the overall contract assembly, which would include the RFP submission, which would have contained more details on deliverables and timing. 

It is our understanding that the RFP submission provided by Dialogue Partners which resulted in their successful bid for the work, cannot be released publicly until council ratifies its release. The Hamiltonian will endeavor to receive a copy for your review, once it is available.

The Hamiltonian would like to thank the city for proving the RFP and clarification on this matter. Our coverage will continue....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It Happened in a Flash....

..and our very own Ange Noto Campanella was there. Click here for more pics.

Is There a Contract for the $376,000.00?


See RFP here

Update: The city describes the RFP as follows:  The RFP or Request for Proposal is the procurement document issued by the City. The RFP in a nutshell outlines all the legal terms and conditions including insurance requirements, outlines the process that will be used to score proposals, provides the forms to be completed in order to bid – Form of Proposal and Form of Proposal – Cost Proposal and outlines the Terms of Reference for the Work – what the City is looking for, the time frame, the proposal requirements etc..

The city will be sharing a copy of the RFP with us, and we will, in turn, make it available to our readers. Stay tuned.....

In the recent controversy over the city's arrangement with Dialogue Partners, the notion of a $376,000.00 contract with the firm has been referenced in the local media. The Hamiltonian was interested in seeing a copy of the actual contract. Specifically, we were interested in learning what the specific deliverables were, the timing of these deliverables and any other parameters of the contract.

It appears as though, there is no contract; at least, not a standard one.

Here is the email we received from the city:

The City frequently does enter into a separate contracts for many acquisitions of goods and services. In these cases the contract is formed by a combination of the RFP, the bidders submission and the City issued Purchase order. The RFP is available now and the bidders submission will be available after Council ratifies GIC’s recommendation to release the document at the Council meeting Wednesday January, 23, 2013 . After Council approval Clerk’s will post it on Thursday for Public viewing. The recommendation approved at GIC was that the proposal be released as a public document and uploaded to the City’s website. My understanding from Clerk’s is that the recommendation from GIC does not become official until Council ratifies it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - A Coffee Drinker’s Dilemma

A Coffee Drinker’s Dilemma (Part 1)

Like many, I love a great cup of coffee in the morning. Most of my life my preference has been for espresso, and latterly decaf espresso. I love it so much, my graduation present to myself 30-years ago was a heavy-duty manual Gaggia machine to replace the little stove top espresso makers still in the basement.

Once the brewing head on the Gaggia succumbed to metal failure I quickly got another, a Saeco: after a decade of regular use it became terminally clogged with lime buildup and exploded in the kitchen one morning. A noble end to a good friend.

Lesson learnt, I now regularly de-scale my current Saeco semi-automatic. Not as finicky as the manuals, it


Jon Wells- Death's Shadow

Death's Shadow, by Jon Wells (who is a published author and also writes for our friends at The Hamilton Spectator), is a true to form riveting page turner. Recounting true crime details of four murders in Hamilton (some of which remain unsolved), Jon skillfully captures all aspects of intrigue, while weaving in the human  impacts of these tragedies, as well as the grisly and often shocking details of the murders.  Second to none with the best of true crime novels, the book has the added lure of  Hamilton settings and backdrops.  As one reads through the book, one can't help but think "hey- I've been to that place, or I've driven by that place, or I know that family". Often times the book leaves you to think "I can't believe that happened in Hamilton". 

Our reviewer read the 246 page book in three sittings over last weekend- it was that interesting. 

You can purchase the book directly from the Dundurn Group by clicking here. It is available in e-copy or in hard copy. It can also be purchased online through other online book stores.

Congratulations to Jon for writing such an interesting book! A must read for Hamiltonians.


Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

Friday, January 18, 2013

Links of the Moment

Mercantis seeking to postpone 1 million dollar savings until 2014. Spec story here, or buy today's print version.

Plans for the Royal Connaught. 
Spec story here, or buy today's print version.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why the Mayor Wasn't There

We asked Mayor Bob Bratina why he was not in attendance at the Casino engagement event that was live streamed from City Hall. The Mayor's response is as follows:

Councillors were not intended to participate, but to listen to the debate. I would not want my presence or reactions to be seen in any way as supporting either side of the issue. I also wanted to watch a large part of the Virtual Forum to determine its integrity and potential for future city decision-making situations such as the discussion tonight.
Bob Bratina, Mayor

Pic of the Moment

Citizens gather at City Hall, to discuss the Casino matter. 

Picture is from Joey Coleman's live stream.  Special thanks to Joey for all the good work he continues to do for our city.


Special mention to Chris Murray for doing an excellent job of moderating, and to the organizers for providing  multiple input streams (live, phone, written questions/comments/ live chat screens). This is a stellar example of citizen/city engagement!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

CODE RED: a Neighbourhood Discussion with Guest Speaker Steve Buist

MEDIA RELEASE : CODE RED: a Neighbourhood Discussion with Guest Speaker Steve Buist

The Central Neighbourhood Association invites all Hamiltonians to a neighbourhood discussion on CODE RED, the Hamilton Spectator's award-winning series on the social determinants of health in Hamilton's neighbourhoods. Award-winning Investigative Journalist Steve Buist of the Hamilton Spectator will deliver at presentation on the series, followed by a Q&A, on Monday January 21st, 2013 at 7 pm at Artword Artbar at 15 Colbourne St (between James St N and MacNab St N).

STEVE BUIST has won three National Newspaper Awards as an investigative reporter and feature at the Hamilton Spectator. He's also been named the country's Investigative Journalist of the Year on three occasions, as well as Ontario's Journalist of the Year three times. Steve was the first Canadian winner of the Hillman Prize, handed out annually to the best piece of journalism related to social justice issues for his 2010 Code Red series. Buist has a science degree in human biology and has become a leading voice on the topic of the social determinants of health.

This event is hosted by the Central Neighbourhood Association, bounded by Main St W, James St N, Stuart Street and Queen St N. However, this event is free and open to all Hamiltonians who would like to take part.

If you could kindly pass on this information in advance of Monday's event it would be greatly appreciated. Our facebook event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/465909753470503/?fref=ts

Thank you,
Matt Jelly
Central Neighbourhood Association

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Chief Wins the East

At the Stoney Creek Municipal Centre, police chief Glenn DeCaire delivered a compelling presentation as to why Hamiltonians should support the police budget request. Crime statistics and trends were presented on an array of slides, all carefully explained by the Chief. Types of crime, Hamilton's crime severity profile, prevalence of crime, trends, trajectories and the message behind the numbers were masterfully spoken to by DeCaire.

Notably, in attendance were Clr. Terry Whitehead, who is on the Police Services Board as well as its chair , vice chair and other members. The Chief proceeded flawlessly, making complex information easily understandable. The budget increase would translate to $30.00 per household, or $12.00 per person.

During the post presentation question and answer period, the audience made it clear that if the city was to find savings, it should  not be from  the police budget. At one point, a school principal, accompanied by his vice principal, spoke eloquently about how the police were making a difference in their school, in a proactive and supportive way. The principal stated he could not imagine his school operating optimally without the police liaison officer they currently have the service of.

Equally as eloquent was Clr. Whitehead's comments to The Hamiltonian after the session. The Clr, cautioned about affordability and the fact that $30.00 may be a breaking point for those less fortunate or seniors on a fixed income. He also stated that while the Chief's perspective was through a certain lens, a councilor's lens is broader.

As previously stated, The Hamiltonian does not believe there are heroes or villains in this discussion, but that the discussion will likely lead us to a better end result. It would have been helpful for The Chief and the Police Services Board to provide these sessions jointly, so as to ensure that all sides of the issue were conveyed, however the audience appreciated the Chief's efforts and his engagement of them.

The Chief definitely won the East. The message from the audience was primarily- find savings elsewhere -don't find it in policing.

Special thank-you to Chief DeCaire for engaging with Hamiltonians, Clr. Whitehead for sharing his perspective, Joey Coleman for the live stream and all those who attended the meeting.


Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

Media Release- New Direction for 18-22 King St. East

Wilson Blanchard announces new direction for 18-22 King Street East as part of their plan to revitalize Gore Park

January 15, 2013...Hamilton – Wilson Blanchard Management Inc. has announced plans to withdraw the Demolition Permit Application for 18-22 King Street East.

Wilson Blanchard’s original plans to revitalize 18-22 King Street East have been revised to preserve heritage components of the existing façade. Encouraged by an important community debate, Wilson Blanchard is working with the city and architect David Premi to explore new options.

“I appreciate that Hamiltonians care about the history of their city. We’ve been looking long and hard at all the options and feel confident about this new direction to preserve the façade of 18-22 King Street East,” says David Blanchard, VP of Wilson Blanchard Management Inc. “While the larger plan for the redevelopment of the south side of Gore Park will take a significant amount of time to complete, this is something we can move forward with immediately,” says Blanchard.

No stranger to the often challenging process of preserving heritage buildings – with a resume that includes the restoration of the 1928 Pigott/SunLife, the 1908 Landed Banking building, the 1929 Bank of Montreal, as well as the 1950s Modernist low-rise at 1 Hunter Street East – Wilson

Blanchard will pursue a new feasibility study and structural evaluation to determine how the 18-22 King Street East façade will fit into the larger scope for Gore Park.

“We are excited to see the original façade of 18-22 King East contribute to Gore Park’s revitalization and offer new residential housing downtown and ground level retail that will reanimate a vital portion of King Street East,” says David Premi, Principal of david premi Architects inc (dp.Ai).

A motion will be presented to Hamilton City Council on January 23 at 5 p.m. to place 18-22 King Street East on the Municipal Register of Property of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest.

Better Late than Never?

A “colossal cluster screw-up". Those were the words reportedly used by Clr. Merulla to express his concern about the potential consequences of council's decision to postpone a decision as to what to do with the Dialogue Partners contract.There were other councillors however, who took a more tempered tone.See full Spec story here or purchase the print copy.  

In the interim  staff are working on providing answers to questions that were raised in camera. Those answers are expected at the January 23rd council meeting, as well as a recommendation by staff on what to do about the matter. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sanford Avenue Demo Continues to Spark Dialogue

Further to the following exchange (click here), on the topic of Sanford Avenue School and its planned demolition, the diaolgue between Gary Santucci and City Manager Chris Murray continues, as reflected below:
Dear Mr. Santucci,

In response to your request for additional information, responses are provided below,
in red font for your Items 1) and 2).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Open Letter to Hamiltonians from Dialogue Partners

January 14, 2012

An open letter to the citizens of Hamilton, 


We are writing this letter to acknowledge the challenges of the launch of the Our Voice Our Hamilton public engagement project and with the sincere hope of restarting our conversation. 

Together with our partner, the City of Hamilton, we chose to be silent the last few days and listen to the comments that have been made. We now know this silence was a mistake and we are sorry. We believe in having conversations even though at times they may be difficult. We believe in inclusion, diversity of opinion and respect for all. These are values we hold dear and our silence has been contrary to those values, so we are asking you now to begin this conversation with us again. 

To start, we would like to take responsibility for many of the events that have transpired since January 7th. Specifically, we are sorry for asking for clarification about what HSR is, and for planning an event on January 17th which conflicts with another community event. We take responsibility for the security breaches on our website that allowed a hacker to insert a virus and for not being more rigid with our moderation of our Community Priorities survey. We created the Pinterest page and therefore take responsibility for the images that appeared there. For this we are sorry. 

We want you to know we take these things very seriously. We are 9 months into a 13-month contract to consult, listen and talk to ALL citizens of Hamilton and engage you in a rich and meaningful conversation to identify your values and priorities, and to hear suggestions you have to help build the City that meets your needs now and in the future.

 We hope you will give this important conversation a chance.

 There is an impressive desire of the people in Hamilton to participate. We have already seen this through Twitter, Facebook and online surveys. We have received a variety of comments and input that include support for small business, understanding poverty, ambulance wait times, transit improvements, snow clearing, the Casino, City website, City ownership of golf courses and much more. We hope this passion will continue to be put towards this important conversation. 

Many people have called and emailed us asking that this conversation continue, saying they are being drowned out by a few loud voices. We want to hear all those voices - loud and quiet. Everyone needs a voice now. 

This conversation needs to happen in a meaningful and respectful manner, where there is caring and consideration for everyone involved. Everyone deserves the right to a voice and to be treated with respect. There will be differences of opinion and viewpoints and this conversation will be better because we didn't only have discussions with people who agree with us, but with people who don't as well. Every citizen of Hamilton should feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts in an environment that is free of bullying, intimidation and defamation.

This is a conversation we want to have and one we are hearing the citizens of Hamilton want as well. 

Sincerely, 

Stephani Roy McCallum, 
Managing Director Dialogue Partners

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mayor Bratina on the Dialogue Partners issue

Mayor Bratina talks to Bill Kelly about the public relations fiasco. Click here and listen to Hour 1 of the January 10th show.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Chief and the Grief - Opinion

Click on image to enlargen
"It’s cheeky, it’s cocky, it’s chutzpah on parade."

"De Caire is taking his cause, crime stats and emotive message of community safety to the grassroots."

Those are two statements found in Andrew Dreschel's column today, in which he takes Police Chief Glenn DeCaire to task for what Andrew characterizes as "a deliberate end run around the directions given him by his masters, the seven-member police services board."

Andrew's column is here, or can be read by purchasing the print copy. 


The invite from the Chief is in the context of Community Town Halls. The purpose stated in the notice is to "hear your comments on the Hamilton Police draft 2013 budget" Further, if citizens cannot attend, it invites comments at the following email address police@hamiltonpolice.on.ca

Suggesting that receiving direct input from the very people whose safety you are tasked to ensure, is somehow inappropriate, presents as a peculiar argument if we accept that authentic citizen engagement is a pivotal piece to democracy. The allegation of the "end run" does not recognize that the end (the population of citizens whose needs are to be addressed), are a key component in the discussion. Although it is alleged to be a "tactic", the Chief seems to get that.  It would also be peculiar for the board to give the Chief direction not to consult the very people who the service is to protect. 

And as far as we can ascertain, the Chief will be focused on the needs of Hamilton Ontario- not Hamilton Washington, or Hamilton Illinois ;-)

The Hamiltonian encourages all Hamiltonians to take the opportunity afforded by the Chief to provide your input. 

Link of the Moment

Click here

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gaffe of the Moment

P.R. Fiasco  or see Spec coverage here

Tough Questions re: Sanford School Demolition

Gary Santucci continues to ask tough questions around the demolition of Sanford Ave. School. Here is the latest string of emails, as shared with The Hamiltonian:

Chris Murray
City Manager
City of Hamilton

Mr. Murray

Thank you for your response to my inquiries in the previous email. I have reviewed your email and have a few points for clarification and a few requests for additional information. I have quoted 5 excerpts from your original response and have formatted my questions in bold type. Just as an aside, I read with interest that the City has engaged the services of a consulting firm to work on a City Public Engagement Initiative. This is indeed good news and I would be more than happy to participate and be interviewed by the consultant.

Sincerely yours
Gary Santucci
Publisher / Editor
The Pearl Review

Re: Sanford Avenue School Timeline

1.) "Unfortunately, I am unable to stop the demolition as you have requested. The demolition permit


Is HECFI Proving the Point?

Although the need for public top up money to help HECFI operations has steadily declined since 2010, it is still expected to require $350,000.00- $425,000.00 in taxpayer money, in addition to the 2.8 million annual grant it already received, to manage its 2012 fiscal year. See Spec report here

Two private sector entities: Global Spectrum and Carmens Group, are positioned to manage the operations of Copps/Hamiltomn Place and the Convention Centre respectively, this spring.

Do you think that HECFI, through its ongoing need for subsidy, has proved the need for a new model of management? Or do you believe that the issues that have given birth to the need for subsidy, will prove an equal burden to the private sector operators?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Understanding Aerotropolis

"Understanding Aerotropolis" is perhaps a "made you look" type of headline, given the fact that Aerotropolis (aka- the airport employment growth district) continues to be very poorly understood (universally at least), which continues to be disturbing especially in light of the large investment and impact it will potentially have.

As explained in a recent CATCH release (see it here), the consultant who has been hired to defend the city's position on the expansion before upcoming OMB hearings, seems to have revised the number of net developable hectacres that he believes are necessary to accommodate an industrial expansion forecast out to 2013. The new number represents a decrease of 127 hectacres from the previous number, which the consultant attributes to a calculation error found in previous reports. 

The Hamilton Civic League is holding a public meeting on Wednesday evening in city hall starting at 6 pm to provide information on the status of the aerotropolis battle. The OMB hearings start Monday, January 14 at 10 am in the Albion Room of the Convention Centre. 


The Hamiltonian encourages all Hamiltonians to pay attention to this issue and become informed. 

Newly released CATCH article can be seen here. 

In Honour of Joan....

Remembering Joan Roberts, a founding member of CATCH.

 See C.A.T.C.H. write up here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Exploding the System

“Exploding the System” - Caveat Emptor

“Caveat Emptor” means “Buyer Beware,” and is one of the few phrases I’ve retained from my middle school struggles with Latin. It sprang clearly to mind recently as I was driving back to Hamilton munching on some exotic snacks.

After delivering my daughter back to her domicile after the Christmas break I made a pit stop in a large Chinese grocery I had noticed on the way to her apartment. I love the distinctive smells in such ethnic emporia as well as the mounds of unfamiliar products.

I meandered around the aisles wondering what on earth some of the products might be and how I could use


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mahesh P. Butani- On Demolition Control

Prior to September 20, 2009, all demolitions in Hamilton were recommended by the Economic Development and Planning Committee to Council for consideration or directions.

Back then, the Director or Acting Director of Building and Licensing / Building Services Department, had to be specifically authorized and directed by council to issue a demolition permit:


New Year's Message to the Police Service, from Chief DeCaire

Police Chief Glenn DeCaire
The following New Year's  message was sent from Police Chief Glenn DeCaire, to the members of the Hamilton Police Service. We are publishing it here verbatim with thanks to the good women and men of the Hamilton Police Service-  on the beat and behind the desks. 


Your Value in Policing

As we bring in 2013, we remain committed to public safety and the advancement of this great Police Service to what I believe will be another banner year for our members.

Maybe you've noticed how much attention and public discourse our 2013 budget request is getting. Funding and staffing is, and always will be a critical issue for the citizens and our Service and much discussion is focused on 'cost' but little discussion is focused on 'value'. The Command will continue to present our needs which are based in sound research, policing best practice, excellence in service


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Musical Notes - Engine Empire

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews Engine Empire: Most Lovable Band in Town With an Edge

I normally start my introductions of a band by telling the story of when I first heard of, or seen the band, but in this case I can't recall for sure It's almost like they appeared out of nowhere. What I do remember is that every time I've gone to see them play,  the

venue is jumping and the dance floor is full; there is even a fan who dances on stage at every show. The fans in the audience are singing every song, and the smiles and laughs from the stage infects everyone in the house. Their music is fun and very different from any other band in town, I guess you can say it's eclectic or has an edge. In the late 60's and most of the 70's there was a band delivering a new sound almost every month, since then most of the music I've heard is a regurgitation of all the old sounds, Engine Empire has introduced a new sound to my ears. The bands that I can compare this new sound to were also innovative and eclectic at the time, Laurie Anderson, B.B. Gabor and maybe some Martha and the Muffins thrown in; and every time I listen to them a new eclectic band comes to mind. After today's listen I'm hearing progressive rock sounds reminiscent of King Crimson. Engine Empire's music is not for the faint of heart, it's new and edgy get yer copy of the newly released cd called "Frisbee Club" and hear for yourself.

For this interview I decided to do something different, something that I don't think would of worked with any other band, I brought Wine and Crayons. Before I continue with the results of this strategy I better introduce the band. Ania Fritch on guitar and vocals, Adam Fritch on Guitar(both Adam and Ania will play either rhythm or lead and sometimes both), Heather Mueller on Bass, and Greg Lewczuk on Drums. I must also mention, I've also seen Adam and Heather trade guitars and then maddness ensues...just kidding...wellll maybe a little maddness...LOL...I hand Ania the crayons and say "Draw me your most memorable music Experience" Ania yells "CUBA!"..."Cuban Musicians. (see drawing upper left of this article) Everybody in Cuba plays an instrument and if they don't play an instrument they dance. Everybody knows how to Meringe like a mother..." Adam - "Two years ago Ania's mom &; Boyfriend and my mom, we had so much fun. My mom bought a couple of bottles of 40 Creek Canadian whiskey at the duty free, and she just loved this band because they were just so good, they're just ON. They give you so much energy, not a bum player in the lot. My mom gave them the whiskey and the bartender said "...don't give that to them..." They don't treat their musicians well at all. They blow people away and they get treated this way, and they do it every night with tons of passion, tons of professionalism, and they just do it and knock it out of the park despite the fact that they're being treated that way. I made sure that I went behind the stage when I gave them a bottle of wine."

(Whilst our conversation was happening Adam noticed a neighbor was putting out a Fooseball table at the curb for garbage pick-up. We decided to wait an hour or two and then go grab it. I was in. Not half hour went by when the neighbor came over and asked if we were interested in a Fooseball table...LOL...The universe provides...ha ha.)

ANC - The name Engine Empire, how did that come about?

Ania - That took us about 8 months. That was the hardest part about starting the friggin band I swear to god. We had songs, we had been jamming and we still needed a name.

Adam - We had a show coming up, we really needed to decide now. So we thought, what do we dislike least? Our band is horrible about agreeing on things, we all care about it so much that we have a hard time coming to a single agreement.

Ania - We had tossed around so many names. We wanted something big sounding, and I wanted Alliteration. Originally we were gonna call it Empire Engine but there's a search engine on the internet, so we just flipped it and there we go.

ANC - How do you go about writing songs. What's the process?


Ania - We always write the music first. Always always. We usually come up with a riff. We write riffs, that's what we always do. We've got 3 of these little voice recorders, and that's why we bought IPODS, just 'cause our voice recorders kept running out of room.

Adam - We use them more for that than anything. The sound quality is pretty good.

Ania - Then we go through the riffs and find the ones we love and we try to patch them in. It's like a quilt. That's what we tend to do, and then a melody happens. And then usually if I'm writing the lyrics I count out how many syllables I need to complete the melody. Adam is way better at writing lyrics. The lyrics that I write just happen to be whatever syllables I choose or whatever words happen to fit in the melody line.

ANC - It's great that I like your music but honestly, you guys could write crap and everybody is still gonna love you. (This is when the wine I brought really came in handy)

Ania, Adam, ANC - CHEERS! (CLINK)...LOL...

Adam - That needs to go on paper. Angelo is a great interviewer!

ANC - When your writing music what artists influence you?

Ania - Usually it tends to be what artists we're listening to at the time. Vampire Weekend has inspired us a lot over the last year.

Adam - (to Ania) I think what's funny is that you get inspired and say "I wanna write music like this" and then I'll write a few riffs that are like that and then you kinda build the rest out of it.

Ania - (to Adam) Well Maybe.

Adam - (to Ania) Well "20 Dollar Bill", I came up with that riff and your like "I got this"...LOL...I don't find that anything influences me when I'm writing, it's just a riff. Here's an idea that came to me, I didn't come to it, it just happened.

ANC - Do you realize that there is a musical renaissance going on in Hamilton and that your band is a part of it?

Ania - That's awesome, YAY! I think a lot of people are moving to Hamilton from Toronto. No one can afford to live there(T.O.). People are realizing that, Oh, Hamilton is cheaper, awesome. And I love this city, I'd never move. I love it! I've never been to B.C. man...LOL...I wanna stay in Hamilton.

ANC - What bands in the city do you guys like?

Ania - I like The Arkells

Adam - (To Ania) You like The Dirty Nil.

Ania - I like The Dirty Nil. I saw them live and the excitement on stage was amazing. New Hands!!!

Ania, Adam and I - I REALLY DIG NEW HANDS!!!

Adam - I think they're the next big thing to come out of Hamilton. For me, I miss "Cursed". That's my background, when I really started going to shows. Hard core Punk Rock shows. I miss "Cursed" so much...lol. They were so great! So much evil energy, I just loved it.

Adam and Ania - Sarah Good!!!

Ania - Wait till you see her. She is in so many different projects right now. If ya wanna talk about uber talented Hamilton musicians that nobody knows about yet, Sarah friggin Good!

ANC - What role has the city of Hamilton played in your musical career?

Ania - Oh everything! This band would not exist if it wasn't for this city. I swear to God.

Adam - Particularly Doors Pub actually.

Ania - We wouldn't be married if it wasn't for this God Damned city.

Adam - It's a fact.

Ania - This city has made this band hands down! I moved to this city to go to school and meet the people I met and always continued to play guitar. The Doors Pub is where I was able to finally gain a bit of an audience and meet the people I really wanted to meet. That's where Adam and I met. This city has absolutely shaped this band. It has given us the opportunity to play where as I don't think we'd be able to get the kind of audiences we get in Toronto or anywhere else. Here it's a big music scene but it's also a small music community.

Adam - As far as the Doors Pub being an influence and the genesis of it all really 'cause I was going to Mohawk College for Child Youth Worker, met a good friend who dropped out in first semester, it was his birthday on the Wednesday and he had his party at the Doors Pub. Ania and Jeff (guitar player Ania was playing with) had just started doing the open mic a week or two before and so we met that night. I thought, this girl is way outta my league...lol...and so I kept going back week after week and...

Ania - I thought he was just a big fan of the music.

Adam - And that is true, you're an amazing musician, there's no denying that....so honestly, if Mohawk didn't have the Child Youth Program...it's all very...the Universe was talkin'.

Ania - I've thought about it and there is no where we could move to do what we wanna do, as far as a DIY band. You couldn't do this anywhere else. I'm sure if we move to the east coast we could probably get a grant, but we'd be on the east coast ya know...lol.

Adam - ...lol...Surrounded by extremely funny people.

Ania - Here we have friends and we're close to family.

Adam - That's what keeps us here more than anything. That both of our families are super close. My Mom is in Burlington. Ania's Mom is in Brantford and we're super family oriented people. That is really important to us! Moving away is just like...and Hamilton is the perfect size, and it's got all that under achiever aspect to it ...lol...like the underdog.

Ania - I love the underdog. That's been my mentality forever. It's always been rebel, rebel, underdog, underdog, and that's what Hamilton is.

Adam - When the recession hit, Hamilton is saying "What are you talking about? We've got this covered"...lol..."It's not a problem, we'll keep going."...lol...Hamilton has a great strength to it.

Ange, Ania and Adam - "CHEERS" (wind glasses clink)
ANC - What do you think it is that makes your music so unique/stand out? ( I gotta mention that for the usual questions I ask for all my interviews, I used the deeper voice with a serious look on my face...lol)

Adam - The funny thing about that is that we don't see it that way. I think a lot of our songs are very different from each other and maybe that's it, because we don't tend to repeat ourselves. We're pretty eclectic.

Ania - That's what people tend to say. You got a rock song, you got a country song, you got a russian song. We just happen to write what we wanna write in the moment and then we end up liking the song.

Adam - That's why it's hard to pin down influences. It all comes from everywhere. How to best service the song, that's what's important.

Ania - We sometimes consciously make a choice to do weird little things in a song so it's not predictable, cause if it's predictable then we're bored. Imagine the people listening.

Adam - If we're bored with a song, it's gonna come across. People will go, "Oh, you're doing this for another 4 beats because the part some how demands it, we very consciously like 4 times!?" Oh God no, 2 times, or maybe 3...yeah, 3 works lol.

ANC - Tell us a little bit about your unique merchandising scheme for your newly released CD and what's next for Engine Empire?

Adam - As for other material, I swear we have two other albums worth, really we do.

Ania - We wanna record the next two albums hopefully relatively quicker than this one.

Adam - It took two years from beginning to end.

Ania - As far as the merchandise...we were sitting around here (backyard patio) BBQing and drinking, talking about Frisbee and Frisbee club thing that we've been doing for a couple of years, and it's basically this, (BBQing) and then go to the park and thrown the frisbee around and then we'd come back and get drunker lol...that's what the club is all about. So then we decided, that's what we'll call the album cause that's what we do. Then after talking about that we got on the subject of vinyl and then the comparison between the look of frisbees and vinyl was made and boom, the idea was born cause it was something we could do quickly.

Adam - With the digital downloads on the back of the frisbee. I hope this goes into the interview. PV Imaging - Paul Vermaat was absolutely integral and Melanie Olds as well. Paul and I spent many nights designing the album cover. He did all the inserts. He's got all the computer savvy  I was just there to oversee it basically and guide us in the direction that I felt the band...

Ania - Without those two, this album would not happen. Any new band that wants work done, and done well, should definitely go to Paul and Mel.

Ania and Adam - Those two listen to what you want and make it better!

Adam, Ania and I - "CHEERS to Paul and Mel" (clink)

Adam - All the merchandise, Paul and Mel made it happen. They are even helping us with the next step, setting up the website, getting us on I-tunes and Amazon and all that stuff. They continue to be super supportive and they come out to the shows and sing along to every word. Their voices are hoarse the next day and they even did some back up vocals on the album.

Ania - Now for what's in store for Engine Empire; we wanna record another album.

Adam - We do have a video coming out soon by Craig Watkins.

Ania - Featuring our nephew.

Adam - We had this funny idea and Craig was generous enough to donate his time and incredible talents for video and post production. His talent and drive is unbelievable.

Also, as far as things coming up. We did "The Store" (movie by Hamilton filmaker Craig Watkins) opening, and Dave Beatty of QED Media filmed it. Amazing guy and so generous. He's been very supportive as well...(in unison) "CHEERS to Dave Beatty" (clink) Dave and Alex Zafer. They video taped our show and are making videos of that. They're gonna do 3 or 4 videos of our live performance. They're doing a lot for us as well.

Adam - Another person I'd really like to give a shout out to is Darlene McNeil. Lives two doors over. Amazing poster artist. She just keeps getting better and better. Another reason to love Hamilton. Her artwork is so good!

If you want to find out more about Engine Empire and where they'll be performing next go to their Face Book page :

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Engine-Empire/110590662295321


If you want to purchase the newly released cd Frisbee Club follow this link:
http://www.last.fm/music/Engine+Empire/Frisbee+Club

A new website for Engine Empire is under construction and will be available soon.

2013 Hamilton Predictions

As 2012 drew to a close, we asked members of our Perspectives Virtual Panel to give us their predictions for 2013. Here are our questions and their predictions. 


1. Will Hamilton get a casino? If so, where will it be?

The Casino will go on Pier 8 displacing 750 new homes planned for that location over the dead bodies of the downtown urban dwelling families who will live next door to it. (You read it here!)
Herman Turkstra

Tough call. City Council will welcome a casino but with many restrictions - probably only at Flamborough

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and yours a prosperous and joyful 2013.