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Monday, December 30, 2013

Ice Storm- Disaster or Relief?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Pic of the Moment

Click on pic to enlarge
Sherman Falls lights up.

Pic is courtesy of Paul Arnold @parnoldontario

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Link of the moment

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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Peace on Earth.

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

Teresa DiFalco and The Hamiltonian Staff

Sunday, December 22, 2013

City Continues to respond to storm

City Continues to respond to storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

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

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

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


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

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

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


Mayor Bob Bratina

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Injured Hamilton Police Officer Dies

















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

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

The Hamiltonian is saddened by this announcement.

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Culture, Strategy and Casualties

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

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

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

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

Some quotes as per The Spec's write up:


Murray knows the buck stops with him.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mayor Bratina- on Recording of In-Cam Meetings

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

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


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

Mayor Bob Bratina

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

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

2014 Tax-Supported Capital Budget

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

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

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

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

Key investments include:

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

2014 Rate Budget

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

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

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Professor Marvin Ryder- On City of Hamilton Absenteeism Stats

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

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


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

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


Hamilton and the Secret Service

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

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

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Signs

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

With thanks to our friends at CHML. 

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

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

Sips and Bites – December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Friday, December 6, 2013

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bus Lane, Butani and CHML

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

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, December 2, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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