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Monday, January 11, 2016

Green- Not Greed- A Chat with Rick Breznick

The City of Hamilton is on the cusps of making recommendations and adopting decisions that will have an irreversible impact on the use of lands that are presently protected by Greenbelt legislation. The issue is what lands , if any, are to be removed from or included in the Greenbelt. Once agricultural lands or lands presently protected under the Greenbelt get removed from the Greenbelt and are available for development or other purposes, the chances of recalling such lands for agricultural or other natural purposes are remote.

Stewardship of such lands is thus of utmost importance and requires a short, medium and long term strategic view of how lands are utilized. Hamilton is blessed with having land resources that are invaluable to food growth and other important uses. As an example, the micro climate found in Winona is unique through North America and had provided fertile lands for tender fruit growth and other farming needs. Likewise, the need to protect strategic land assets across all of Hamilton and its amalgamated areas is likely the most important strategic decision that will be made in term of our future.

The Hamilton is thus kicking off a series entitled Green Not Greed, that seeks to bring to light issues that ought to be considered related to Greenbelt protected lands.

We begin our series with a chat with Rick Breznik, a Hamiltonian from the Watertown area who has been very vocal on this issue. Enjoy our chat with Rick:

1. From a series of emails you have sent to the media and to city councillors and other officials, it is clear that you have concerns around the treatment of greenbelt lands. Can you describe what your concerns are?

The City of Hamilton's staff report and recommendations is advising the City Councillors, the public and the Ontario Ministry that their recommendations are based on public input. This is false. The recommendation to remove the specific lands in Waterdown, east of Centre Road and south of the Waterdown Bypass, were not one of the recommendations they sought public input on through all 4 of their open houses. The specific recommendation was made by them after public consultation was completed. Therefore they are giving everyone the false impression this particular recommendation was reviewed by the public.

2. You are alleging that city staff have mislead council on the recommendations for changes to the greenbelt. How exactly are you alleging that this occurred? What form did it take and what impact do you believe it has?

As stated above, it is because this specific recommendation was never reviewed by the public (like the other specific additions and removals were) but the report gives the impression the public reviewed and commented on the specific recommendation. When you read their detailed report, they advise that this specific recommendations came out after they reviewed public comment. However, there is no specific recommendation from the public recorded in any of their reports to remove this specific area. In addition, this specific area would not have been re-reviewed by the Stakeholders, which includes the Hamilton Conservation and Halton Conservation Authorities. There is nothing stated in their report that they re-contacted the Stakeholders and specifically the two conservation authorities, for their comments on this recommendation.

3. You have asked for specific contact people in the Ontario Government who could address your concerns, if the city is unprepared to do so to your satisfaction. Has your request been responded to and have you received any response from the city on the issues you have presented? If so, what was the response?

Attached is their response to my earlier emails.( Please click here and here to see the emails ) They did not provide me with any contacts in the Ontario Government as requested. Attached is my latest email response back to them.

4. Why should people care about the issues you have raised? What would you recommend they do to get involved?

The specific area also contains a PSW (Provincially Significant Wetland). This is not mentioned anywhere in the detailed Dillon consultants report that tries to justify the removal of this area. Therefore even the consultants and City staff report recommendation are missing key information that unless known by the decision makers, unfairly tries to justify their recommendation to remove the specific area from the greenbelt.

5. Is there anything else you’d like the public and/or city/government officials to know about this issue?

I have dealt with city staff before. The average single person's input means nothing and we are usually tagged with the term NIMBY if we live anywhere near items we comment on. There are always many issues to a recommendation, but unless they are fairly provided and commented on, poor decisions will continue to be made.

My email asked for public consultation on this recommendation. The City Council ended up requesting staff to sent a letter to those affected by this recommendation. What we received was a letter re-stating their recommendations to council. Any input we give now to that letter is not going to be added to the report or brought back in front of council for review. Therefore as it sits right now, their falsely stated recommendations to Council, the public and the Ontario Ministry will remain as is.


Please note: some email addresses that would not be ordinarily available to the public have been blanked so as to not unduly reveal email addresses. The rest of the email content has been left untouched. 

28 comments:

  1. the sounds of crickets in Waterdown are silenced, while the sounds of crickets reach a crescendo at City Hall. Truly shameful (although not much of a surprise)
    I encourage you to get some names on a petition, give the "we" you reference a tangible shape. I would like to sign it.
    I applaud your activism, too many in this community are sitting on their hands

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  2. I am from the east end the same thing happened out here. They had all those meetings for years and made us believe that they were listening. But they just did what they want and the only one laughing are the developers who will be making a fortune. The tender fruit lands and the E.D. Smith lands which decades was fruit farming, they are trying to take out of the greenbelt. Its disgusting and Brenda Johnson should step down as counselor. I thought she was going to be good for out here but she has shown her true color. I went to a conference by the Ontario government and there were tons of people upset upon losing our greenland and agricultural lands. I am sad for the people of winona area and for Hamilton. The Hamiltonian picked a great and perfect subject for this. It is greed that is going too ruin the area.

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    Replies
    1. The Hamiltonian needs to ask the previous owner of the E.D. Smith lands what kind of conversations he had with Brenda Johnson.

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  3. http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2010/11/public-facades-shadow-planning-and-make.html

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  4. I've often thought that the city should cease the PICS and other "engagement" sessions. They do take a lot of time and money to stage, and that is all they are is staging. They march to the =drum of certain interest groups and community engagement, longer term public interest and respecting the views of those who already live in communities, is not something they are interested. I think they should be honest and cease adding insult to injury by opening tax money on these make believe sessions. I read the link that Anonymous provided above, and am reminded on just how corrosive these make believe sessions are. Until Hamiltonians become truly invested and remove multiple term councilors, it will never heal. I feel bad for those who seek to preserve green spaces and fertile lands. Unless the ontario Government holds the line and refuses to budge on releasing these lands, Hamilton city council will make it a free for all. You are quite correct that there is no recalling these lands. the damage that will be done will be irreversible.
    Sorce

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  5. The whole Development Charges BS had me totally confused!
    Of the $9,150 / unit charged for DC, $4,699 is allocated to roads. The rest is needed for water management, police, rec, etc etc etc.
    If the city is spending 85% of the DC on roads, the other much needed infrastructure and services is suffering.
    And leads to even more deficits that ultimately the taxpayers are responsible for.
    Time to wake everyone up !!!

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  6. Good article in Dundas News / The Spec
    Hope McMeekin sets Hamilton straight: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6227015-affordable-housing-protecting-tender-fruit-lands-creating-provincial-park-on-mcmeekin-s-2016-to-do/

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    1. I hope that the Minister has the strength and courage to hold firm and protect the greenbelt. In Winona, the ED Smith lands have always grown fruit trees until the owner figured if he removed them and sold the land for development purposes, he'd make more money. In fact, there is a farmer on that land now. How can anyone expect us to believe that suddenly that land is not good as agricultural land? Ridiculous. I do not think Brenda Johnson has what it takes to be a representative of the people.

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  7. shorter socre: its expensive for the government to consult with citizens, the government often ignores its citizens requests, so we should abandon the concept of the government consulting with its citizens. until we get rid of the lifelong councillors that are the real problem. so, ignore city hall cause theyre liars, dont interact with the civic government cause they cant be trusted, then magically all the bad councillors will quit to be replaced by quality individuals for the first time ever. socre wants term limits for councillors but lifetime appointments police chiefs.

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    1. You almost got it right. Remind me not to hire you are my press secretary. I've presented the blunt truth. People like you who are apologists for shoddy performance fall nicely into the culture of low expectations category.
      Sorce

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    2. im not an apologist. im a realist. i have worked with different city organizations, groups and committees for things like neighbourhood safety, policing, recreation, arts, and other civic issues. worked alongside other people as we organized, volunteered worked and helped improve the city. did every part of the process work? no. was it perfect? no. were there setbacks? yes. did the city screw us over renage and back out of commitments? sometimes. is the city a better place for all the hard work we did? yes yes and yes. my question: what have YOU done for the
      city?

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    3. its clear that socre has never been involved with local isssues or civic engagement in hamilton before. people go into the civic engaement process KNOWING they will never accomplish everything they want. that the city will obstruct and drag its heels and try to protect the status quo. we work with city hall and fight city hall ANYWAY. think about socre sitting in his basement typing angry comments waiting till the perfect set of coucnillors sit in session. then and only then, when we have the bestest most perfect city council will he come out of his hole and start the messy hard work hes been avoiding.

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    4. Let me get this straight. You log on as anonymous and claim that you have done this and that. Which carries the same degree of verifiability as if you were to say that you're a monkey that can type.

      Don't try to present me. You're not good at it. Work on presenting yourself first.
      Sorce

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    5. fine dont believe me,i never expected you to and it wasnt about what i have done. its about what EVERYBODY else has done while you do nothing. you cannot dispute that THERE ARE people have done what i describe. you arent denying that PEOPLE do what i describe, are you? of course not. so THEY, these other people ARE doing the hard work on transit, feeding people, protecting their neighborhood, volunteering while YOU sit and wait for nirvana shangri la that will never come. glad thats settled.

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    6. Your assumption that I have done nothing is ludicrous. I really can't give any credence to someone who throws out such wild and baseless statements.
      Sorce

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    7. really? first: YOU SAY i assumed youve made no efforts in terms of civic engagement and thus you can consider my views and opinions worthless? i stated my efforts and you assumed i was a liar. right? so we can feel free to disregard the your views due to your rude and ignorant accusations. second: i DID ASK you what you have accomplished or attempted in terms of effort (many times) and never got a response (of course)

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  8. i feel quite strongly that there is a photo of benito mussolini hanging in the parlour of the score family homestead.

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  9. Now that the Urban boundary expansion for the Airport Employment Growth District has been legally established, all remaining lands and those along Book Road that McGuinty kept out of the green belt for his friend who wanted to open an theatre in the country side should be placed in the Greenbelt. However, council chose not to do this. Hopefully, the Province steps in and does it.

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  10. The Hamiltonian AdminJanuary 13, 2016

    Sorce and all others. Please refrain from personal attacks. Can we please debate the issues.

    Thank-you
    The Hamiltonian Admin

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  11. my issue WAS socre stating that its acceptable and yes, even beneficial if we disenfranchise people and take away ordinary citizens democratic right to engage municipal government. why? cause the process is flawed and the results imperfect. and to save some pennies on the tax bill. funny if it wasnt so terrifying.

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  12. I will respect what The Hamiltonian admin has asked us to do. I will further explain my statement:

    My statements were specific to this city at this point in time. They were not general statements to be applied in a general way. So, your characterization of what I said is inaccurate and incorrect.

    To be very clear:
    1. Hamilton has a problem with public engagement. Time and time again they have shown that it is just a facade.
    2. Many (not all) multi-term councillors are doing more damage than good and ought to be replaced. i do realize that this is subject to a democratic process, and that the public are, for the most part, uncaring- as evidenced by the dismal voters turnout. Hamilton is a oligarchy.
    3. Until we focus on the real problems, things will not get any better.

    Ion the spirit of discussion, if ytouy want me to list the councillors that i believe should step down or be replaced, i'd be happy to do so.
    Sorce

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    Replies
    1. yes, lets see your list of councillors that should step down or be replaced. DO NOT omit your process and means of replacing these councillors. by the by, it would be great if this process was presently legal and constitutional but i will listen to whatever.

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    2. Hard to talk with someone who insists on putting words kin your mouth. I didn't say there was an easy way to achieve this. Omg the contrary, with dismal voter turn outs and the fact that we are in a oligarchy, there is no ready short of term limits or people suddenly waking up, and/or we have a true mainstream media.

      But here we go, just to show my willingness to be cooperative:

      Must Gos

      Farr, Merulla, Collins, Jackson, Pearson, Johnson -ward 11),Ferguson

      Not worried about Eisenberger for now, he's harmless and somewhat inconsequential
      Sorce

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  13. "My statements were specific to this city at this point in time" so suspend democratic initiatives HERE and NOW and bring them back when who says so? you? your points: 1. yes, its often a facade, but with diligence and hard work occasionally the outcome is good. 2. more turnover at last election than in how many years? ten, twenty? what are you waiting for? 3.many many people HAVE focused and worked to improve things. they have worked WITH city hall AND battled city halls incompetence and low culture of expectations. how do you think ANY change or improvement happens here or anywhere else? by "temporarily" disenfranchising citizens while we wait for an election where every single city councillor is a first time rookie electee? thats your recipe for success. do you give us our rights back then?

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    1. It would be a lot better if people who work to make things better, such as many people on this place (me included), can do that on an even playing field and not with the lure os special interests groups and certain councillors salivating and being puppets.

      But then again, what do i know.Maybe being part of the Culture of low Expectations is the way to go.
      Sorce

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  14. Too bad the discussion has been derailed. BACK TO BREZNIK'S points. He is credible, and hard working (I've stood shoulder to shoulder with him on issues in the past). He has got up the nose of staff by being persistent and they don't like being called out. The city's PICs etc around the Waterdown Rd issue have been lamentable and it took Burlington to stand up to them and get partial satisfaction.

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  15. I am glad we have people like Rick. Out in the east I watched Cal Difalco take on the city for over 5 years. That man was brilliant and he did not back down. But the city just kept rolling over everyone. It is not enough to have some good people. You need an army. I am so disgusted with what happened out in Winona. I don't know these politicians go to bed at night. No conscious I guess.

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  16. This is a very good and necessary series. I am not surprised that the mainstream media is dong very little on this topic. My only hope is that the province turns down all application to remove lands from the greenbelt. Hamiltonian is notoriously strategically short sited and eager to bow to the interests of developers. Now back to the mainstream paper. The front page is about a photographer and a picture is shown. Also, there is a story about Garth Brooks tickets. I can hardly wait to read it.

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