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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Garden Fresh – Relaunching the Rock Garden

Garden Fresh – Relaunching the Rock Garden 

The drone footage shows just how stunning the re-launched Rock Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens will be. The inter-twined paths of the new year-round perennial gardens are sinuous as vines, and the waterways feature state of the art programmable lighting and sound. The nearly-completed and fully-accessible Visitor Centre features a leaf-shaped roof, restaurant, and banquet space for 120 guests. There’s also a million dollar courtyard with water features that will accommodate 2 - 300, and the venerable tea house has also had an upgrade.

As part of a focus group, gathered in the RBG boardroom earlier this month, I was there to provide feedback on the food-themed grand re-opening events tentatively scheduled for May 13-15 2016. The Rock Garden was first built in 1931, and the recent transformation of the beloved space has entailed no less than $20 Million of public and private funds. For that kind of investment expect fireworks. Or better yet a spectacular light show, set to music, showcasing the history of the RBG.

The RBG Board want the events to become a premiere annual fundraiser, and the plans are nothing if


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bratina's Back

Former Mayor Bob Bratina is back, and in a big way. 

Bratina dislodged Wayne Marston who for many years had a stronghold in the riding. 

The Hamiltonian congratulates Mr. Bratina and all who ran in the election.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Media Release: Women’s Firefighting Camp taking place this weekend

Women’s Firefighting Camp taking place this weekend

HAMILTON, ON – October 15, 2015 – Twenty young women aged 16-19 are set to participate this coming weekend in the first-ever Camp FFIT (Female Firefighters in Training) hosted by the Hamilton Fire Department.

Members of the media are cordially invited to see Camp FFIT in action on Saturday, October 17, 2015 from 1pm-3pm.

Camp FFIT provides young women with a unique opportunity to explore the fire service as a career. Activities include firefighting tasks such as search and rescue, hose techniques, climbing aerial ladders, donning protective firefighter gear as well as instruction on fitness and nutrition. Beyond offering insight into firefighting as a career, Camp FFIT seeks to boost the confidence and leadership skills of these young women.

The camp will take place at Hamilton’s Multi Agency Training Centre, Building “C”, 1227 Stone Church Road East (at Nebo Road), Hamilton, Ontario from October 16-18, 2015.

Camp FFIT began in 2009 as an initiative of Ottawa Fire and Fire Service Women Ontario (FSWO), and has since spread to a number of Ontario cities.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear Hamiltonian.....

The following is an email we received from one of our readers who has asked to remain anonymous. We are sharing it with you for thought and commentary

"  Hamiltonian

Watch as you will see a line of politicians from local ones to provincial and federal, line up and give sound bites to news agencies about how it is a travesty that U.S. Steele is leaving pensioners in a bind. It's the popular thing to do. Give a "caring sounding" sound bite and be on the right side of the issue.

What I would like to know however, is what these people did prior to the U.S. Steele deal going bad. Did they keep in touch with the executives  at U.S., Steele? Did they meet with them to get a sense for how things are going? Did they send the message that their involvement in our local economy is important and we want to ensure they suceed?

Or, are they just lining up now for the sympathetic, vote winning sound bite?"

Media Release: Mayor Eisenberger joins Big City Mayors from across the Country in call to make cities a ballot box issue on voting day.

Mayor Eisenberger joins Big City Mayors from across the Country in call to make cities a ballot box issue on voting day.

Hamilton, ON – October 13th 2015, As part of the Big City Mayors Caucus of FCM, Mayor Eisenberger joins fellow Mayors from across Canada encouraging you to make our City a ballot box issue on October 19th 2015.

Mayor Eisenberger and Canada's Big City Mayors are calling on the 21 million Canadians eligible to vote to make their vote count on October 19th. Make it a day where cities from coast to coast to coast are heard at the ballot box.

Throughout the federal election campaign, the Mayors have consistently advanced practical solutions to the challenges Canadians face every day. This includes reducing commute times, and ensuring safer roads and bridges, cleaner water and more affordable housing.

This coordinated call for action by Canada’s Big City Mayors illustrates the collective will of Mayors to work together, and as effective partners with the next federal government.

About FCM: The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of municipal government. In leading the municipal movement, FCM works to align federal and local priorities, recognizing that strong hometowns make for a strong Canada.


Friday, October 9, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hamilton, ON, October 9, 2015 – Statement from Mayor Eisenberger on the decision delivered today from Honourable Mr. Justice Wilton-Siegel regarding the US Steel motions.

Late this afternoon Honourable Mr. Justice Wilton-Siegel delivered his endorsement of USSC motions. Once the explanation has been released, City staff will assess whether or not to appeal this decision.

It is our understanding that the reprieve being sought is on health benefits. We understand USSC is still operating under a court monitor and is our understanding will continue to pay regular pension obligations to retirees. Losing health benefits will impact our USSC retirees, we are hopeful those in need can access existing Provincial programs such as the Trillium Drug Program.


The City of Hamilton will continue to monitor the CCAA process and work with both the unions and Province.

Mayor Eisenberger's concern continues to be for all employees, pensioners and their families who are affected by this situation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

For Immediate Release - Open Letter From Mayor Eisenberger Regarding US Steel

October 7th, 2015, Hamilton, ON – Mayor Eisenberger remains firmly behind the retirees and current workforce of US Steel Canada.

Following his request on September 18th for a response from all parties in the federal election to the question “what actions are they prepared to take to protect all involved” he has issued the following open letter.

Hamilton has a long and storied past of making steel; and I am confident that steel-making in our city will continue long into the future. Having said that, we all know that times are uncertain and globalization is part of what we as governments must constantly address.

A potential court decision signifying that US Steel Canada would be relieved from paying nearly $6M in municipal taxes would be significant. A court ruling as such would also signal a profound impact to our community in many ways.

Indeed, US Steel Canada pays approximately $6M in taxes to the City. And if a ruling were to be made, beginning in 2016, those tax payments will cease. The loss of $6M a year (equivalent to a 1% tax increase) compounded year after year would have a tremendously negative impact on the City’s finances.

But this issue goes far beyond tax revenues for the City; this speaks to the effect of a potentially higher and higher property tax bill on our workers, pensioners and senior citizens; who are our friends, family and neighbours.

There are approximately 7000 US Steel Canada pensioners living in Hamilton who are already feeling the stress and anxiety of the bankruptcy proceedings which could cut and/or eliminate their pensions and health benefits. The ripple effect of pension and benefit reductions, coupled with higher property taxes is a serious concern that cannot be ignored. Those 7000 pensioners also have spouses and families.

We’re looking at direct and indirect impacts to tens of thousands of citizens.

The City of Hamilton Steel Sub-Committee, along with a united Council, has been studying and reporting the social impacts to our community for quite some time. The committee deserves recognition; and their hard work on this matter will continue.

We have seen such potentially negative outcomes before in Ontario, notably when the auto sector went through similar proceedings. Their bankruptcy process also affected tens of thousands of people in communities throughout Ontario. Like the auto sector, US Steel operations also has direct and indirect impacts on many other communities and cities in the province.

In those cases, the Provincial and Federal Governments realized the ramifications of a failing auto sector and intervened to protect pensioners and workers. 20,000 people in Hamilton and the golden horseshoe is also significant, and requires immediate action. Those numbers are startling, and I would suggest even more serious considering who is impacted.

Right now, no one is talking about the seriousness of this issue. While the issues are being addresses in the courts, our government officials and the leadership in the sector must realize how significant the issue is and must take action. We need reassurance that a plan is in place for our most significant and impacted residents.

We call on the Federal and Provincial governments to collectively commit now to ensuring that USS pensioners, employees and the City of Hamilton are protected during these trying times.

Yours Sincerely,
Fred Eisenberger

Mayor
City of Hamilton 

MEDIA RELEASE-GTHA Mayors and Chairs Call on Federal Party Leaders to Address Infrastructure Deficit

Hamilton, ON, October 7, 2015 - GTHA Mayors and Chairs Call on Federal Party Leaders to Address Infrastructure Deficit

Mayor Eisenberger, alongside other GTHA Mayors and Chairs met yesterday at Toronto City Hall to discuss areas of shared concern. Resulting from the discussion was the unanimous agreement to call on federal party leaders to address the infrastructure deficit in our region.

Co-Chairs Toronto Mayor John Tory and Durham Regional Chair Roger Anderson signed the attached letter on behalf of municipal leaders; and encouraged other GTHA Mayors to add their signatures as well.

Recognizing Municipal governments need a strong federal partner in meeting the needs of the region’s growth and approximately six million people, Mayor Eisenberger and other GTHA colleagues look forward to responses from the party leaders.

About the GTHA Mayors and Chairs - Since the 1990’s, municipal leaders across the GTHA have met two or three times a year to find common approaches and solutions to pressing issues.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

MEDIA RELEASE Hamilton Community Foundation report shows economic revitalization is evident – but not widely shared

Pressure on rental housing market foreshadows a looming housing crisis

HAMILTON, ON –Improved unemployment rates, a booming real estate market and an influx of young adults are proof of Hamilton’s “economic renaissance,” but the prosperity has not reached across the city, says a new report from Hamilton Community Foundation.

Hamilton’s Vital Signs, issued today shows, for example, that rents have risen by over four percent in one year and rental vacancy rates have dropped to an unhealthy level of 1.8 percent, foreshadowing a looming housing crisis. Unemployment rates are better than the provincial average, but some 57 percent of Hamilton’s workers are in “insecure employment” with less access to benefits and pensions, the highest rate across the GHTA.

“This Vital Signs report reaffirms many reasons for the city’s new sense of energy and optimism,” said Terry Cooke, President & CEO, “but also that disparity remains a critical issue. Many Hamiltonians still struggle to secure basics such as safe, affordable housing, secure jobs and an income above the poverty line.”

The new report, prepared by Hamilton’s Social Planning and Research Council digs deeper into evidence of the city’s revitalization and looks at areas including employment, housing and government support. It also presents a range of potential policy solutions to economic disparity that have been successful in other communities.

Cooke says sharing knowledge is an important part of the foundation’s goal of informing and engaging citizens on local issues. “Organizations, businesses, local government and individuals have put their confidence in Hamilton, and the positive results are clear,” he says. “But we can’t afford to lose sight of those who are falling farther and farther behind or the renaissance may be short lived. We need to call on governments at all levels – especially as we head into a federal election ‑ to commit to affordable housing and other policies that allow all citizens to share in Hamilton’s success.”

Other key findings in the report:

· The Hamilton’s growth rate of 20-to-29 year olds was the highest since at least 1987.

· The number of people on social assistance has fallen faster than any Ontario city since the recession, but remains above the provincial average.

· Almost one-third of Hamilton households rent their dwellings compared to 22 percent for the province; but the number of units in the primary rental market has dropped, including almost 2,000 due to approval of condo conversions.

· Hamilton’s very low vacancy rate is leading to higher rents, especially for the smallest units most often occupied by the lowest-income renters. The lowest-income renters already pay an average of 69 percent of income to rent, leaving them at high risk of homelessness if their housing costs increase.

· The top three locations of jobs in Hamilton are in the central lower city, the Mountain and the industrial waterfront. Despite the decline in industrial jobs, those that remain continue to be of relatively high quality.

· For almost four in 10 of Hamilton’s insecure workers with children, access to childcare limits their ability to work, compared to less than one in 10 for secure workers.

· Hamilton’s youth unemployment remains more than double the average for the general population. The percentage of youth 15-to-24 years old who are employed has dropped significantly in the last few decades with now only slightly more than half employed in part-time or full-time jobs.

The full report including links to source data, is available today at www.hamiltonvitalsigns.ca