Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Supreme Decision

School boards are on shaky ground where the needs of children, and in particular special needs children, are not sufficiently met.  A decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Moore v. The North Vancouver School Board, requires that short of proving financial hardship, school systems must allow for the charter rights of children to access to education and in particular the case of "special needs children, to be met.  Read the decision by clicking here

With the closure of Parkview School recently being a significant controversy and with the seemingly ever present attempts to rationalize educational facilities,  school boards and others who have authority over our systems of learning, will need to be diligent in complying with the Supreme Court's ruling. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Key Restaurant Challenges - A Taste of Burlington (and beyond) Part 2

 Chef Michael Stauffer
and crew - Rib Eye Jacks
Key Restaurant Challenges - A Taste of Burlington (and beyond) Part 2

My last column covered the launch of the currently ongoing Taste of Burlington 2014 and revealed the results of my straw poll of 23 chefs, owners and other professionals present. I had asked who is producing the most innovative cuisine in our area, but had other questions too.

The second related to the biggest challenges facing the various establishments. Once again the answers were illuminating and thoughtful. They ranged from the almost cuss-word emphatic (“Weather!” was the succinct response of Mike Lorinczi, DOWNTOWN BISTRO’s owner) to longer responses falling into several categories.

They essentially break down to time, staff, competition, innovation and seasonality. Where to obtain a Chef’s hat also featured, but read on for that tidbit.

Primed by ongoing interactions with Chefs in Hamilton, I was frankly surprised by what I did not hear. There was not a single complaint about the City of Burlington! Clearly the folks at city hall understand the “destination” potential of a vibrant culinary scene.

Congruent with answers to the first question, several restaurateurs said they were super busy and their

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ira Rosen- New Development at 71-77 Leland Street is the right move

New Development at 71-77 Leland Street is the right move

The owner of 71-77 Leland Street has applied for change to the current zoning of that property. Owner, Mr. Zeljko Prica, President of KW4Rent Inc. (based in Waterloo), seems eager to work with, and consider input from, West-end residents, the City and the Community association. Additionally, the developers from The Prica Group, the ASP Design Group and Architect Atif Aqeel have impressive experience in this field. That experience includes the building and managing of student properties in Waterloo.

In an information meeting at Binkley United Church on November 12, 2013, the developers presented a proposal for a purpose-built apartment building geared towards students. I attended that meeting along with approximately 40 residents primarily from the Ainslie Wood Neighbourhood. The presentation included information on the proposed development, applications, technical studies and the next steps that will be taken by the developers.

The current zoning for the proposed site would allow for a 5-story residential apartment building with 40 to 50 suites that could possibly contain 4 to 5 bedrooms per suite. The number of potential occupants could vary between 160 to over 200. The current space has some abandoned derelict buildings on it that were originally zoned for industrial use and that zoning was changed in 2005.

The proposed 5-story apartment building would contain 129 bachelor suites, which were described as being very similar to hotels units. Each unit would be fully furnished to match the life-style of younger people and

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Santucci says a moratorium on school closures is the only acceptable olive branch.

In relation to this article in today's Spec (see it here or purchase today's print copy), Gary Santucci, engaged Hamiltonian and co-owner of The Pearl Company, argues for a moratorium on school closures.

School Board Olive Branch?

In the most cynical of moves to date in the matter of school closures, the HWDSB is once again trying to obscure the true facts of their proposed school closures;

  • Drop out rates that have ranged between 30 and 40 percent in the last 10 years 
  • Millions of dollars in deferred maintenance allowing the decay of our schools and our public investment 
  • Failure in advocacy to change the funding formula that they maintain is the root cause of their financial ills. 
  • A community consultation process that can only be described as "engineered" 
  • The failure to recognize the true nature of schools as communities. 
  • Complete disregard for our built heritage and sense of place. 
  • 32 million spent on a new office 
...and most important of all; They have failed and continue to fail to meet the needs of our children with special needs.

The olive branch is customarily offered to the opposing army. The HWDSB even got this wrong. The opposing army is the community, young and old, not Hamilton City Council who have chosen to be non-combatants believing this matter not to be in their purview. A moratorium on school closures is the only acceptable olive branch.

Gary Santucci

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Returning expensive and unaffordable streetcars (euphemistically referred to as LRT) to Hamilton is idiocy in my view!
1. They were taken off city streets 50 years ago because they SLOWED traffic (like school buses).
2. How would the SCs deal with the escarpment? Turn them into a funicular or cog railway (ubiquitous in the alps)
3. As for being 'green', liquid natural gas would be better and much less expensive and polluting than nuclear, coal and windmills given that the electricity must be generated somewhere but its OK as long as it is NIMBY!
4. Inflexibility and cost: unlike SCs, buses can readily adapt to servicing new suburbs and the traffic and pedestrian movement disruption needed to install rails and the power supply for SCs would be avoided.
5. Service to the elderly and/or disabled: What special facilities to say nothing of the extra risk of injury and time needed to access SCs would be required and how much would service be further slowed and complicated? 

Because of the gross incompetence of our Liberal government and their reckless spending e.g. Buying (to the tune of $1 billion) votes by moving generating stations from where they were needed to where they were not shows total disregard for sane fiscal policy and for the hard work that taxpayers must provide to generate income for such insane and self serving policies! Streetcars/LRTs are another example of unrealistic and vote-buying policies by a spendthrift and near-bankrupt government pretending to care about the environment.

Surely now is not the time or place to foist this expensive and second-rate Streetcar System on the taxpayers of Hamilton!

Sincerely, Michael Newhouse MD

Do you have a letter you wish to submit to The Hamiltonian for publication consideration?  Email us at admin@thehamiltonian.info

L.R.T. - Is it "all that?"

Despite the support for L.R.T in Hamilton, including the support of city council as a whole, many are still questioning L.R.T as a solution from a number of perspectives including: affordability, sustainability and flexibility.

Certainly there have been studies that support a notion that LRT, while more expensive to implement, has a better rate of return.

But serious doubts continue to be raised by others who are concerned on a number of fronts. Recently, a debate of sorts is taking place in an exchange of emails, in which the media and politicians and others have been widely copied. The exchange is between Mahesh Butani and Ryan McGreal. Butani, previous mayoral candidate and engaged Hamiltonian, questions, among other things, whether we really have evidence based defensible rationale for LRT. McGreal, editor of Raise the Hammer and a champion for LRT, points to the many studies and endorsements that have been secured in support of LRT. 

Many others have weighed in including Danya Scime, contender for Ward 13 who is very concerned that the money is not there, nor is there money to maintain LRT for decades to come.

The Hamiltonian, through this thread, invites anyone who wants to make a case for or against LRT, to step up and make their views known. The Hamiltonian remains committed to remaining neutral for the purpose of facilitating this discussion. 

Please include links to support your perspectives, if appropriate.

So give us your view. Is LRT all that?

"Early Birds" - Meet Sandy Shaw

Can you tell us why you chose to run in this election?

Ward 1 has been my home for over 25 years. My two grown children were raised here and now my two young grandsons are growing up in this same neighbourhood. Along the way I have made lifelong friends and have come to know many great neighbours, local leaders, dedicated volunteers, and community minded business owners. I have great respect for the former Councillors of Ward 1 and would like to build on this legacy. I am running in this election to serve a great community – a community that means so much to me and my family.

Can you briefly describe your experience, and/or what you believe you have to offer as a candidate?

The greatest strength that I offer as a Councillor for Ward 1 is Balanced Leadership. I have a broad range of experience in the municipal, not for profit, and corporate sectors. This has taught me that a balanced approach is the best way to build a great community.

I believe that a key role for a Councillor is Community Building. This was a lesson learned through my many years of working in community development for organizations such as the Social Planning & Research Council, and the United Way. Through this work, I was honoured to receive a Women of Distinction Award for Community Development and Social Activism.

As Ward 1 Councillor, I will bring an expertise in Good Governance. I was elected the first female board chair for a local financial institution, proving myself to be effective and accountable in such leadership roles. I earned the Chartered Directors designation from the Director’s College at McMaster University, developing critical governance skills and strong financial stewardship.

I also see Sustainable Development as an important goal for Ward 1. My expertise in social responsibility and community economic development will be a useful asset as we seek to achieve balance between commercial and residential interests. I am seeking the support of Ward 1 residents, so that together we can continue to build our vibrant, progressive and inclusive community.

Where or how can constituents learn more about you and/or contact you?

Please contact me anytime!
Email - ward1campaign@sandyshaw.ca
Website - www.sandyshaw.ca
Facebook - www.facebook.com/sshawForWard1
Twitter- @shaw_sandy

Friday, February 14, 2014

So far.....

Note: the picture to the left has been changed to reflect only registered candidates. We initially included a non registered person in error. 

Media Release- Ralph Agostino seeks Ward 3 City Councillor seat


Ralph Agostino seeks Ward 3 City Councillor seat

Hamilton, ON – Ralph Agostino will throw his hat into the municipal electoral race. The long-time Catholic school trustee will file his nomination form at Hamilton City Hall tomorrow Thursday, February 13, 2014 at approximately 4:00 pm for the position of Councillor for Ward 3, formerly occupied by Bernie Morelli.

Ralph Agostino is a long-time Catholic school trustee with the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. After twenty years of service, the Ward 3 and 4 Trustee is hoping to take his civic involvement to the next level.

“Having served the educational needs of Ward 3 constituents for the past twenty years, I believe I have the necessary experience to represent them well at City Hall,” says Agostino.

Agostino was raised in the Hamilton core. He comes from a long line of public servants dating back to the

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chair of the Board - Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board- on Parkview School

This question was posed by The Hamiltonian to Director of Education, John Malloy. The response is from Chair of the Board and Trustee for Dundas (Ward 13) Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Jessica Brennan.

Question originally posed to Mr. Malloy:

You have stated that the Park View program will be moved, in whole to Mountain Secondary and that Mr. Beattie will serve as Principal. It is our understanding that there will be no grade nine students admitted in the future. This seems to imply that the program will cease after the current students move through it. Can you advise as to what specific measures will be in place to insure that students who will need that type of programming going forward, and who are not currently part of the program, will have their needs met?

Response from Jessica Brennan

Thank you for your request to the Director of Education, John Malloy. As Chair of the Board I'd like to respond.

All current and future Grade 8 students moving to Grade 9 with a similar learning profile as Parkview

Video of the Moment

Click here to watch the meeting with respect to Parkview School closure. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Early Birds" - Meet Ira Rosen

Can you tell us why you chose to run in this election? What do you hope to accomplish?

I chose to run for Council because I care deeply about this community and the welfare of my Ward 1 neighbours the passion of the people and their dedication to these communities continue to inspire me. As a lifelong resident of Westdale, and a very active member of many organizations, I am very familiar with the concerns and issues specific to these neighborhoods. Through my volunteer work and collaborative efforts with a myriad of City Officials and agencies I have learned more about the Chedoke-Cootes community as a whole. It is my intention to energetically and effectively aid in the maintenance and growth of the strengths of Ainslie-Wood/Westdale, Kirkendall, and Strathcona and improve the weaknesses.

There are allot of exciting things happening in Ward 1 the University has indicated that there is a plan for more students residents on campus and this is welcome news , the amount of home conversions to rentals surrounding the University has gone past the tipping point and these conversions are now present throughout the Ward. I will to continue to work towards having purpose built student accommodations developed in our downtown area to help promote economic growth and diversity while taking some of the pressure off the local housing stock. I will continue to work with proposed development at McMasters Innovation Park the addition of a hotel and big box retail store could assist with areas economic growth and help create new jobs. The increase of our City budget is a concern because our taxes continue to increase however the levels of many of our services remain the same. The results of un wanted school closures in the area are yet to be seen but I will work towards making our community more balanced, and continue to assist helping those with lower incomes increase their financial opportunities ensuring that those who are new to Canada have a means to independently create stable and decent lives for themselves without further burden to permanent residents and make Ward 1 a truly special place for all to live, work, and play.

Can you briefly describe your experience, and/or what you believe you have to offer as a candidate?

During the past nine years I have been an active participant in the Ainslie Wood Westdale Community Association, Hamilton Police Services Superintendent's Community Advisory Council, McMaster President's Advisory Committee on Community Relations, Community Liaison Committee Rental Housing License Bylaw, and Open Streets Hamilton just to name a few.

Due to these strong a collaborative relationships with community members, city officials, Hamilton Police Services, McMaster University, and the Students association my efforts have helped to influence change. In the past several years, those efforts have led to more productive relations between the Police and the City By-law department, and we have seen improvements throughout the ward in response times and the way that many by-laws are being enforced. In 2007 I was approached by the Ward 1 Councillor to chair the Steering Committee for the Hill Street Dog Park located in Kirkendall and has since been active with any proposed Dog Parks in Ward 1. During my time a Bylaw Liaison with the AWWCA I spear headed a collaboration between the association , the McMaster Students Union, the Councilors’ office and the Hamilton Fire Department to perform a pilot project to inspect homes in the area to confirm they met with the present fire safety codes and have been a strong advocate for safety in the Ward. When needed I will work with our Provincial and Federal representatives who could assist to ensure that every Ward 1 resident gets the resources they need - be it education, food, transportation, availability of sports and recreation activities and peace of mind regarding their own properties." in 2006 Due to my efforts and dedication to our community, I was a recipient of the “Hamilton Celebrates VIP” award.

Where or how can constituents learn more about you and/or contact you?

I continue my volunteer work as Co-chair of Open Street Hamilton as well as the committee to determine the future of the Lawn Bowling Club House at Churchill Park, and the First Vice President of the AWWCA, I serve as a board member of Hamilton Jewish Federation as well as the Allocations Committee.

I can be reached at 904 540 9100 or via email at campaign@irarosen.ca to learn more you can also visit my website at http://www.irarosen.ca and can also be reached at my Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ira.rosen.98

Paul Berton- on Newspaper Endorsements of Political Candidates

An unscientific poll being conducted on The Hamiltonian, shows that over 85% of people who have taken the poll thus far believe that a newspaper should not endorse or recommend a political candidate in an election.

As The Spectator  in the past has recommended a political candidate, we thought we'd check in with friend of The Hamiltonian, Paul Berton (Editor in Chief of The Hamilton Spectator), to get his views and perspective. Enjoy our chat with Paul.

Here are the questions we asked Paul, followed by his reply:

1. Can you tell us why The Hamilton Spectator provides editorial commentary as to which candidate they would support for mayor. We note that this had (has?) been the practice. (note- we are not being judgmental in asking this question- we are simply asking so that readers can better appreciate the topic).
2. Why do some newspapers in general, do so?
3. Will The Spectator be endorsing or otherwise writing an editorial identifying which candidate they would recommend for mayor, this upcoming election?

Although The Spectator endorsed a mayoral candidate in the last election, we haven’t always done so. We receive as many complaints for not endorsing as we do for endorsing. So, as usual, we are in a no-win situation. 

Many readers believe we owe them and the community an endorsement, to spark debate if nothing else. This is the reason newspapers in general do endorsements, though I would add many do not: people believe a newspaper should provide leadership, especially as they have a unique perspective and perhaps even exclusive knowledge of candidates. Others say it tarnishes our ability to cover the news, though most of these would not really understand the separation between the news gathering operation and the editorial board. Also, such editorials are generally not as influential as people believe. Still, the perception hurts us.

We have not decided yet whether to endorse anyone in 2014. It will be a lively debate when we do.

Hope this helps.

Paul Berton
The Hamilton Spectator / thespec.com

Thanks Paul for your thoughts on this. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Shell Game...cont'd

As a follow up to this article (click here), we asked Mike Zegarac  of the city of Hamilton's finance department, the following questions:

1. Can you advise as to what the city has done to address the issue of monies being redirected outside of council's direction. What specific changes were made, if any, to address this problem.

2. How seriously is this matter being taken? Do you see it as a serious matter and can you explain how these set of circumstances were permitted to emerge.

We received the following response:

Council’s request in December 2013 for further transparency surrounding budget appropriation of funding for capital projects were addressed in part as early as February 5, 2014. At the General Issue Committee(GIC) meeting, staff presented to committee this week. City staff provide Council with 3 capital reports per reporting year, as of June 30th, September 30th and December 31st.

The referenced report that was brought forward to GIC on February 5th, was for the period beginning September 30, 2013.

The additional reporting through this report, more specifically Appendix B of the report, detailed the capital projects’ budget appropriations for the period covering January 1, 2013 through September 30, 2013. Staff will continue to provide this detail in each of the three reports per reporting year.

The practices related to budget appropriations for capital projects is referenced in the City of Hamilton’s Capital Closing Policy. More specifically, approval authority for the re-appropriation of funds in each financial year are at the same levels as the City’s Purchasing Policy:

a) Council must approve re-appropriations of $250,000 or greater
b) City Manager or designate must approve appropriations greater
than $100,000
c) General Managers or delegated staff be authorized to approve
appropriations up to $100,000.

The City’s Capital Projects Monitoring Policy is currently under review by the Financial Planning and Policy Division of the Corporate Services Department to establish a more detailed and directed re-appropriation policy. Staff are currently targeting bringing this policy to the appropriate Standing Committee or GIC in April 2014 .

Mayor Boasts of Hamilton's Reduction in Unemployment Rates

Go there by clicking here......

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Eisenberger Still Intent on Running

With Michael Baldasaro, Brian McHattie, Crystal Lavigne and Don Ross registered in the race for mayor, and with the expectation that Mayor Bratina will likely run again, we checked in with former Mayor Fred Eisenberger to see if he was still committed to running. Here is our Q/A with Fred:

Are you still intent on running for Mayor and when might we expect you to register?

hank you for the question and yes I intend to be a candidate for Mayor. In terms of registering, ‎it will be well before the close of nominations that is set for September 12, 2014.
Cheers Fred Eisenberger

Brian McHattie- on his Mayoral Bid

The Hamiltonian is committed to remaining neutral in our coverage of the race for mayor. Our goal is to provide Hamiltonians with good information direct from the candidates, so that our readers can form their own opinions. Thus, we will be reaching out, as much as possible, to all registered candidates, at various times.

The following is our chat with mayoral contender, Brian McHattie.

You will note that Brian's reply is in narrative form, as opposed to a Q/A response. Our questions to Brian were as follows:

What is your position on the following issues:

  • De-Amalgamation: Should we? Shouldn’t we? Is it feasible? Why? Why not?
  • Light Rail: Do you believe it is critical and essential? What is your position on Light Rail for Hamilton?
  • Casino : Where would you like to see a Casino? Are you supportive of the concept, in the first instance?
  • Term Limits: Do you believe that term limits should be instituted for city council and the mayor’s position? Please explain your belief in this regard.
  • Aerotropolis: Do you support decisions made thus far on the use of these lands? What do you think of those who are staunchly against the direction these lands are taking? Do they have a point. 
  • If you were elected as Mayor, what would you do in your first 90 days in office?
Brian has responded as follows:

First of all, let me thank the Hamiltonian for inviting me to participate in their election coverage. I really do appreciate the opportunity to discuss issues and to provide information. I know this won’t be the last time the Hamiltonian presents questions to me, or to the other candidates for Mayor. I look forward to continuing this

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- The Culinary Stars’ Stars - A Taste of Burlington (and beyond)

The Culinary Stars’ Stars - A Taste of Burlington (and beyond) 

Earlier this week I was invited to cover the launch of Taste of Burlington 2014. It was a busy event featuring 25 local restaurants: each served up a food sample aimed at enticing diners to try the promotional prix fixe menus that kick in from Feb 16th through to March 6th.

Given the number of food bloggers (or culinary writers as they were identified) in attendance, I knew there would be plenty of coverage of the dishes served, so I took a different tack. I posed four simple questions to the owners, chefs and front of house staff representing the various eateries to gauge what was happening in this part of our region. More on those later.

The dishes at the event were also judged by the 300 or so guests, and a panel of celebrity judges. You can see a full description of the results here: In summary, the judges voted the praline-rolled sweet potato donuts filled with Ontario maple cream – served up by the QUEEN’S HEAD PUB – as their top choice.

WEST PLAINS BISTRO shared the “People’s Choice” award for a complex and delicious roasted cauliflower soup. Co-winner, STONE HOUSE RESTAURANT, served up beer-braised short ribs with subtly-truffled turnip puree. Given what I’ve learned recently about fakery in the truffle business, I was happy to hear from Chef Mitchell Lamb that he is very careful to source pure truffle oil from his supplier of fresh truffles.

I’m grateful to my friend Heather Lang (check out her food and garden blog) for the use of some of her

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pic of the Moment

Photo courtesy of Joanna St. Jacques
Mayor Bratina stands with Parkview students in their rally to save the school. 

The Mayor met each student and marched with them prior to this shot being snapped. 

(click on picture, to see it better)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mayor Comes out Swinging in Favour of Keeping Parkview Open

As reported in the Spec, (click here or purchase today's print copy), Mayor Bratina has come out strongly in favour of keeping Parkview School open. The Mayor joins a multitude of others who are fighting to save Parkview from being closed. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Early Birds"- Meet Joseph Baiardo

Can you tell us why you chose to run in this election? What do you hope to accomplish?

As a former Trustee, I truly enjoyed the experience. It was an honour to serve with the late Fr. Kennedy and as my roots are in Ward 6 and as a father of three, I am confident I can continue with sound representation that ratepayers in Ward 6 demand.

My priority: To build on our existing strengths that make Catholic education unique and rewarding. An integration of our faith in every aspect of our students’ lives. To help build a system which will provide our children the sound foundation upon which they will experience an abundance of opportunities in the future. It’s more than just teaching religion; it’s about instilling hope, optimism, empathy and confidence in our children. It’s more than getting better grades in math; rather it’s about developing the critical thinking and problem solving skills they will need in their daily lives. It’s more than getting better literacy scores in EQAO ; it’s about developing effective oral and written communication skills necessary in this ever changing technological global business world. It’s more than Art class; it’s about ensuring a sense of creativity, curiosity and imagination. It’s more than participation in sports; it’s about sportsmanship, working with and making your contribution on a team. It’s competition.

With Provincial budget cutbacks along with declining enrollment, we must continue to be diligent in making the best decisions within the confines of a balanced and limited budget. It’s about our children. It’s about our future- I see no greater priority than them.

Can you briefly describe your experience, and/or what you believe you have to offer as a candidate.

I was born and raised in Hamilton and attended Christ The King and Holy Family elementary schools. Graduated from St. Mary’s High School and then went on to graduate with a Political Science/Public Policy

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hope Floats- The Fight to Save Parkview Continues

In a society where it becomes all too easy to become complacent and not engage in decisions that affect us, a young Parkview student is not taking the news that Parkview will be closing, sitting down. Jordan Williams' planned protest for Wednesday made the Spec (see story here or purchase today's paper), when posters that he hung on school property advertising the protest, were taken down. Meanwhile Jordan appears determined to not let anything stand in his way.

In tandem, concerned citizen Gary Santucci has written to the Premier, M.P.Ps, the Mayor, City Councillors and School Board Trustees,  asking that the decisions  that were recommended by the HWDSB North Accommodation Review be declared invalid and that the decision to implement those recommendations by the Board of Trustees be reversed, based on a paucity of public meetings that would allow for public input.

It seems the fight to save the school remains vibrant and is finding expression through many different avenues. 

Here is some additional information, provided by Mr. Santucci. 

It is with great dismay that we have learned of the closure of Parkview High School risking the future of our