Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Clr. Terry Whitehead- on LRT

Please enjoy our chat with Clr. Terry Whitehead on the topic of LRT. 

In the past, you have stated that you are a person who will listen to facts as they unfold, and are open to changing your position on things if the facts warrant it. Can you explain what reservations you have related to LRT. What are the top concerns you have and are those concerns serious enough that you may eventually opt to register non-support, or is the nature of your concerns such that you are simply needing clarification?

The Rapid Ready report which the previous council adopted was all about getting ready for rapid transit. The report talks about what needs to be done to get our city to a place where the implementation of a rapid transit system will be a success.

I, along with the rest of my council colleagues endorsed that report unanimously.

I continue to support the Rapid Ready report and had I the opportunity to receive this report today, I would do so again.

My top concerns are: 

  • The current B-Line ridership peak time peak direction is only 444 people. The remaining traffic is on the King/Main local buses that have closer stops. Changing our stops from the current 3-400 meters to 800-1000 meters will mean those riders will need to walk much farther to reach

Motions in Motion: Councillor Green Calls for Police Surplus Reallocation


May 31, 2016

Councillor Green Calls for Police Surplus Reallocation

Councillor Matthew Green (Ward 3, Hamilton-Centre) has submitted a Notice of Motion at General Issues Committee to require the Hamilton Police Service to transfer back the 2015 year-end operating budget surplus back to the Hamilton Police Service Tax Stabilization Reserve as per the Police Board and the City of Hamilton’s stated policy.

“The Tax Stabilization Reserve is set up as a part of responsible fiscal management to help offset increased budget demands year-over-year, drawn from years that present a surplus like 2015. The Police Board chose instead to transfer the money directly to another reserve in violation of their own policy,” says Councillor Green.

In addition, the Hamilton Police Board chose to exceed Council’s approved funding cap of $5 million when they transferred the surplus money to the Hamilton Police Investigative Services Division Headquarters capital project.

“The City agreed to a capped five million dollar contribution for a new forensic facility, contingent on funding from upper levels of government. Any additional monies above and beyond the $5 million dollar contribution ought to be discussed and approved by Council. This is again another example of the need for Police Services Act reforms,” says Councillor Green.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Reply to City Solicitor's Reply

The following is Mr. McNie's reply to the City Solicitor's reply to his open letter:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Episode 6 of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns" - the Billion Dollars

It's been some time since we've released an episode of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns" but with the inspiration of LRT, we thought it was time.

In this episode "the one with the billion dollars" we find Mayor Eisenberger shooting himself in the foot with his Clint Eastwood style edict "Put up or shut up", intended to call his council to commit to LRT or else put a cork in it. It turns out the Mayor had to turn the cork around and recall his words, adding his regret for the phrasing.

Meanwhile Light Rail advocates sense turbulence and reignite a call to action, reminding others of the decision points and debates already exhausted. It's groundhog day all over again according to them, while far from the glare of an election, some politicians  engage in what appears to be a rethink.

LRT champion Ryan McGreal appears on The Hamiltonian, re-explaining the evolution of this issue and the anticipated benefits of proceeding. He'd later call the questions posed, "pointed". 

With one billion dollars on the line (pardon the pun),  some appear miffed that the issue is even being debated while others appear to be making room for what they perceive to be a giant white elephant coming our way.

So what to do, in light of all this? Call a referendum? Wait, no. Not a referendum.  Let's kick the can  and delay the vote for a few months, sending troubling messages to the Premier in terms of a solidified and final commitment to LRT.

Current Transit Director, Dave Dixon, soon to be flying the coop in favour of a new position elsewhere, in an interview with The Hamiltonian, says the following  "Operational economies of scale are directly proportional to ridership – ie. rail has much higher operational costs per hour than bus, but also has the potential to carry a far greater number of customers (through train-lining) – so cost per customer will vary depending on what ridership ultimately materializes." likely creating worry lines on several foreheads (cue Botox ad).

And in an op ed in The Hamiltonian, we find this statement "And with that comes the political problem with this particular transformation effort. If we accept the premise that LRT is not a response to a universal feeling of disharmony with a present condition, it will be understood as a choice made by politicians to move toward a heavier investment in public transit at the expense of available road space to drivers of vehicles."

Will Hamilton City Council move forward with LRT? Will the vote be deferred again? Do we have the necessary ridership for ROI purposes? Will the Mayor prevail? Can the 1 Billion be repurposed or it is strapped to LRT? When will it all appear on Netflix?

Stay tuned and find out as this episode of As Hamilton Twists and turns concludes. 

Cue the tape (preview of next episode appears) Fade to black as Clr. Whitehead is seen standing and making a point......

City's Solicitor's Response to Open letter

The following is city solicitor Janice Atwood-Petkovski's response to the open letter from D. Scott McNie, found by clicking here. Ms. Atwood-Petkovski's response is posted verbatim:

Following the incident of February 26, 2014 referred to by Mr. McNie, in addition to reviews and investigations of the incident itself by the Integrity Commissioner and the Police, the following actions have undertaken:

· The Councillor rose publicly the next morning at General Issues Committee to address the meeting and publicly apologize to Mr. Joey Coleman for the incident the previous evening. The apology is archived on the City’s website in the audio/visual recording of the meeting and publicly available.

· A review of relevant Workplace policies and procedures was undertaken by City administration which resulted in revisions to the City’s Workplace Violence Prevention policy to include conduct exhibited by elected officials. Amendments were adopted by Council November 2015.

· A Council-directed comprehensive review is currently underway which includes a review of security video monitoring equipment as well as related policies and procedures, which will report back to General Issues Committee prior to the 2017 Budget cycle this fall. This review will look at current practices relating to security personnel as well as practices related to video surveillance systems.

Janice Atwood-Petkovski
City Solicitor
City of Hamilton

Open Letter to City Solicitor

May 27, 2016

Dear Ms. Atwood-Petkovski,

On Wednesday evening I was escorted from the city council chambers by security. My two signs, 'Justice for Joey Coleman' and 'Joey Coleman deserves a public apology from council' were not allowed according to the City Clerk's office. I left my signs as directed in the lobby and returned to the public gallery where three or four other residents were sitting.

I was attending the meeting to show support for my 'Open Letter', a council agenda item.1 I hoped for a public apology to Joey Coleman from council. I was also aware the city clerk's office had sent council and management a 'High Importance' e-mail about my wish to see Councillor Ferguson's public apology included in the public record. The e-mail advised, "The inclusion of the apology in the Feb. 27, 2014 GIC minutes would require an amendment by Council."2

I was very disappointed. My fundamental charter freedoms were denied when I couldn't display my important messages.3 This is wrong. Then council failed to discuss my letter's concerns and no one attempted to correct the 'missing' minutes. Minimizing the seriousness of what happened on Feb. 26, 2014 is not the way to build a healthy, engaged community. The former Integrity Commissioner found current Police Board chair Lloyd Ferguson violated the Code of Conduct, Sections 45 a) & b) involving 'harassment' and 'abuse, bullying or intimidation'.4 Which is NOT serious? And...
  • Why didn't the city immediately call police when staff discovered the video's unauthorized editing and why wasn't the video properly protected in the first place?
  • Why didn't the city release the city hall surveillance video long ago, before it was shortened, if it 'set the record straight'?
  • Why isn't Councillor Ferguson's 'public' apology part of the city's public record since he was 'given the floor' by the chair and his apology included all of us, "the public"? 
  • Why hasn't the city yet responded to Joey Coleman's reasonable 2014 request for "a serious conversation at City Hall about bullying and violence?"

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.


D. Scott McNie


Mayor Eisenberger and Members of Council
Mr. Chris Murray, City Manager
The Integrity Commissioner for the City of Hamilton
Ms. Sandra Walker, CUPE 5167 President
Ontario Ombudsman's Office

Local Media

'Open Letter to Mayor Eisenberger and Members of Council', Scott McNie, May 10, 2016  copy of e-mail by Acting City Clerk, J. Pilon to council concerning Feb. 27, 2014 GIC meeting minutes, May 24, 2016  3 copy of e-mail by journalist Joey Coleman to City Manager, Chris Murray concerning violation of Scott McNie's  rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 2(b) "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication", and link to 2014 municipal sign court decision between Gammie v. Town of South Bruce Penninsula, May 25, 2016  4 Council Code of Conduct, Section 17ab - Harassment, (*not 45ab)  5 e-mail by Joey Coleman to city officials requesting protection of security video, Feb. 27, 2014 (part of Basse Report, Feb. 25, 2015) City of Hamilton Press Release, 'Ferguson says public release of security video shows real picture', Nov. 23, 2015  7 Councillor Ferguson's public apology, "I want to apologize to, for last night to Mr. Coleman.  Following a very heated council debate as all of you know I left council and was wanting to speak with staff and a fellow councillor on a confidential matter.  Mr. Coleman was standing behind us.  I asked Mr. Coleman to step back and tried to move Mr. Coleman out of the way.  It was unacceptable and I apologize to Mr. Coleman, members of council and the public for my actions. Thank you.", temporarily stored audio/video, city archives, Feb. 27, 2014  joeycoleman.ca/In Regards to Councillor Lloyd Ferguson's Use of Force Against Myself', Feb. 27, 2014
Note: The Hamiltonian will be asking the city solicitor if she would like to respond via The Hamiltonian. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

With David Dixon, Transit Director- On LRT

Enjoy our chat with David Dixon, Transit Director for the City of Hamilton. 

1. Given that you will be leaving the city soon for a new opportunity, can you provide some parting advice on LRT and its potential implementation in Hamilton. What things do you believe we need to look out for and what traps ought we avoid (if any)? 

Good transit needs to be rapid, reliable and frequent. I believe the semi-segregated design currently under consideration will fulfil all three elements.

2. Recently, there have been some councillors who are questioning whether LRT is right for Hamilton, despite previous support and despite the 1 billion dollar funding commitment from the province. What is your read on this. Is this something you had expected and what do you think it means?

As a transit professional and advocate, I believe all transit improvements are positive. This is a large, complex and transformative project – conversations will occur along the path to fruition.

3. How critical is it to have the right numbers in terms of the amount of people using transit, as we approach an LRT implementation? Do you think those numbers will be there for Hamilton and if they aren’t or if they fall short of what is ideal, what do you think the consequences may be? Can we recover from that? 

Like any transit service, the service loading standard should guide the amount of service provided. With rapid transit, a service frequency standard is sometimes also imposed. Operational economies of scale are directly proportional to ridership – ie. rail has much higher operational costs per hour than bus, but also has the potential to carry a far greater number of customers (through train-lining) – so cost per customer will vary depending on what ridership ultimately materializes. 

4. If it were up to you, where do you think we’d get the best value for the dollar- implementation of LRT as envisioned, or expansion and modification of current systems (busses etc.)? 

Both are important and will be required in Hamilton depending on growth patterns and areas of intensification. We must expand the local transit system as growth occurs, and hopefully, add service frequency to lead ridership growth – I am confident we will find a way to do this, particularly in light of the recently announced Federal transit funding.

5. Given the ongoing question of how much widespread support there is for LRT, do you believe a referendum on the issue may be helpful? 

 This is a policy issue currently being debated in the appropriate forum.

Thanks Mr. Dixon for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Article of the moment

Click here to see it. From our friends at C.A.T.C.H.

Friday, May 20, 2016

On Greenbelt Protection- Fruitland/Winona

Members of the Fruitland Winona Stoney Creek Community Association for Safe and Healthy Neighbourhoods are applauding the Ontario's government's decision to keep the E.D. Smith lands under Greenbelt Protection, under the leadership of Minister Ted McMeekin.

"Members of the association have fought hard to protect the natural beauty and greenspaces found in the Winona area, including going to the OMB at their own expense to fight a secondary plan that continues to threaten the greenspaces and the unique micro climate in this area. " said Hamiltonian Publisher and President of the Fruitland Winona Stoney Creek Community Association for Safe and Healthy Neighbourhoods. "We will continue to be watchful and responsible stewards."

DiFalco adds "We must find a healthy balance between development and protecting our natural resources. We have always said that we are in favour of development that respects our people, our environment and that does not severe our natural resources or our unique capacity for tender fruit farming and
 does not expropriate people from their homes . Unfortunately, the city's secondary plan does not appear to be as vigilant." 

The following is our Q/A with Minister McMeekin:

Can you advise as to the status of the E.D. Smith lands relative to the Greenbelt? Will these lands continue to be protected under Greenbelt legislation?

The E.D. Smith lands that were requested to be removed from the Greenbelt are not included as part of the proposed amendments announced last week. At this time there are no plans to remove these protected lands from the current Greenbelt boundaries.

We have started public consultations to receive feedback on the proposed amendments. We will be having a series of open houses in communities across plan areas, and those interested in learning more about the proposed amendments can visit one of those.

All the materials that will be available at the open houses, including the draft changes to the plans are posted on the co-ordinated review website along with a guide summarizing the key changes www.ontario.ca/landuseplanningreview.

Anyone can submit feedback on the proposed changes through the form online or through the mail. The proposed changes are also posted on the Environmental Registry and the Regulatory Registry. The deadline for comments is September 30, 2016.

Eleven open houses will take place over the next several weeks in communities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. A session is being held in Hamilton on Tuesday, June 21 from 5-8pm at the Hamilton Convention Centre. For an up-to-date list of locations and venues, please visit the ministry website (www.ontario.ca/landuseplanningreview).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

With Clr. Aidan Johnson- On LRT and Referendums

Enjoy our chat with Clr. Aidan Johnson

You were recently cited as saying that a referendum on LRT would not be effective as it could oversimplify complex issues and it would be expensive to administer. 

1. Notwithstanding, would this not be an opportunity to ascertain with a higher degree of assurance what the will of Hamiltonians is where LRT implementation is concerned, particularly in light of the low turn out in the 2016 municipal election? 

 A referendum would not necessarily be the opportunity you suggest, as a referendum necessarily requires people to vote on a narrow question, and does not give options for answers beyond “yes” and “no”. The true will of the public could thus well be obscured by a referendum, rather than clarified.

2. As this issue has and continues to breed controversy, would the cost of a referendum and the finality it would bring to the question of LRT support, not be worth the expense? 

I disagree. The huge cost of a referendum is a factor that we need to take very seriously. It is a key factor in my opposition to the idea. Council must respect taxpayers and the principle of fiscal responsibility.

3. While you appear to have a valid cautionary point with respect to the oversimplification that a referendum can bring, referendums have been used effectively to determine other complex matters. Why couldn’t it work in Hamilton on the LRT issue?

 Sometimes referenda serve democracy. In this case, the question of LRT and transit planning is too complex to be an appropriate set of questions for a referendum.

Thank-you Clr. Johnson for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian

From the Lens of Ron Ogulin

Click on pic to enlargen

Ron Ogulin is a talented local photographer, who specilaizes in shooting by Hamilton shorelines.  Enjoy this shot by Ron. 

If you are a photographer who would like to submit a picture for consideration, please send to admin@thehamiltonian.info

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Eisenberger Shuts Up and Puts Up

On the heels of Mayor Eisenberger declaring that council needs to "put up or shut up", where the decision to implement LRT is concerned, the Mayor appears to have recognized that his language, while well intentioned, had the potential to inflame. Consequently, according to a Spec article (see it here or buy the print copy) , the mayor has expressed regret at his choice of words and is calling for calm and patience.

It seems the Mayor has elected to shut up and put up, at least pending further discussions. 

McGreal - on LRT

With all the talk about a "put up or shut" vote on LRT, as the Mayor puts it, we thought we'd check in with Raise the Hammer Editor Ryan McGreal. Enjoy our Q/A with Ryan.

1. After a significant dollar commitment from the Ontario government, and after years of study and debate, the notion of a “put up or shut up” vote as described by Mayor Eisenberger, will be put to council to take a measurement of the support for LRT. In light of the aforementioned debate and commitment, does the call for a vote surprise you and what do you take away from this development?

Councillor Merulla's motion surprised me because Council has already consistently voted for LRT in an unbroken chain of motions dating back to 2008, when Council first

Integrity Commissioner- Value for Money?

While Hamilton deserves some credit for the installation on an Integrity Commissioner, it is undeniable that the it has been a rocky road in terms of the timing, quality and usefulness of the investigations conducted thus far, and the value that Hamiltonians are getting out of having the position of Integrity Commissioner.

We thus asked the city if there are any plans to do a value for money audit on the Integrity Commissioner position. The following is our Q/A:

Does the city have a plan to do a value for money audit for the position of the Integrity Commissioner? If so, when is this slotted for and if not, why is this not being considered?

The City’s Audit Services Division does not have a plan to conduct a value for money audit of the Integrity Commissioner. The Audit Services Division conducts audits of such things as City programs or services; the Integrity Commissioner does not fall into these categories. That office is responsible for the Code of Conduct for Members Council.

Can you provide Hamiltonians a copy of the plan for value for money audits that are in progress or scheduled to occur?

Council recently approved the work plan, for the next two years, of the Audit Services Division. I have attached the work plan to this email. The work plan begins on page 12. Please click here to see it. 

Your thoughts? Are you satisfied with the city's position on this matter? 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bubble Trouble?

Clr. Collins thinks a referendum on the LRT issue is necessary to ensure all Hamiltonians are heard. Clr. Merulla appears to believe that a referendum is like a poll or snapshot and should not be relied on. Further, he seems to suggest that it is a cop out of sorts on the leadership front. Clr. Green suggests a referendum is irresponsible and 'ridiculous', given that the funds are coming from the province. Clr. Aidan Johnson suggests that referendums can over simplify complex issues. (see Spec article by clicking here ) 

While all these varying opinions swirl about, it is undeniable that the 2014 election yielded a turn out of only 34.02% of eligible voters. 

The LRT issue sounds like it is bubbling to the surface once more. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Media Release:Hamilton Light Rail Launches Renewed Engagement in LRT Project

Hamilton Light Rail Launches Renewed Engagement in LRT Project

Citizen engagement, Council support essential to ensure Provincial investment is successful.

Hamilton, Ontario, May 13, 2016 - Hamilton Light Rail is launching a renewed effort to engage Hamiltonians in local consultation and advocacy to ensure that the Provincial investment in Light Rail Transit (LRT) for Hamilton is successful.

A year ago, on May 26, 2015, the Ontario Government announced full capital funding for LRT in Hamilton. This was a hugely exciting milestone after years of planning and advocacy, but there is still a lot of work to do before the project is completed.

Recent developments, including the selective leaking of information to the press and the level of leadership demonstrated by City Council on LRT, are cause for concern. To that end, Hamilton Light Rail is announcing a renewed effort to engage in local debate as the project unfolds.

"Strong provincial and citizen leadership is largely responsible for the success of the Light Rail project to date", says HLR spokesperson Nicholas Kevlahan. "It is essential that there continues to be strong citizen-led engagement to ensure that the Hamilton Light Rail project will realize its full potential."

Three essential points will be reinforced in Hamilton Light Rail engagement efforts:

1. LRT is a transformative investment that will not only help Hamiltonians move effectively, but will also attract new private investment, drive economic uplift through the LRT corridor, and help meet our intensification targets under Places to Grow. LRT is central to the City's long-term strategies for land use, transportation and economic development.

2. The Hamilton Light Rail Transit project is a Provincial project, and ultimate decision-making rests at the provincial level and their representatives locally. Having done its due diligence to study the LRT proposal and formally requested full capital funding for LRT, City Council must now continue to show leadership by supporting the successful implementation of this Provincial investment.

3. Direct citizen-led engagement was a major part of ensuring that the Hamilton Light Rail project was approved by the Province, and ongoing citizen-led engagement is essential to its continued progress moving forward.

About Hamilton Light Rail

Hamilton Light Rail is an independent group of citizens who believe that Hamilton needs an ambitious approach to economic development and urban revitalization based around high quality rapid transit. To that end, we are dedicated to promoting the goal of building a light rail transit (LRT) system in Hamilton.

Hamilton Light Rail is strictly volunteer-based and is not affiliated with the Corporation of the City of Hamilton or with any commercial interests. We are citizens who want Hamilton to enjoy the many benefits of light rail transit.

For media inquiries, or comment from Hamilton Light Rail, contact:

Nicholas Kevlahan

Hamilton Light Rail Spokesperson

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Billion Dollar Question

Call it cold feet, a political spin on buyer's remorse or sober second thoughts but Hamilton City Council is undeniably questioning itself on the LRT issue.

With a billion dollars on the line, the mere fact that a vote is being planned for councillors to put there support for LRT on record, signals  a potential fracturing of the degree of support for what amounts to the biggest transformation being contemplated for Hamilton in recent history. 

Prior to the notion of a vote being called. The Hamiltonian published an article outlining the political perils of a transformation initiative. You can read that article by clicking here.

While there is a detectable sense of frustration from Mayor Eisenberger, the LRT question may once again become an open wound. And with a voter turn out of just 34.02% in the 2016 election, politicians may rightfully be leery about where the will of the people can truly be mined.

Stay tuned as the billion dollar question continues to be churned.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Picture of the Moment

Our Publisher and Stoney Creek Citizen of the Year for 2013, Teresa DiFalco with Mayor Fred Eisenberger at the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce's Stoney Creek Citizen of the Year ceremony.

Media Release:City of Hamilton successful in insurance claim to replace mishandled funds

For Immediate Release

City of Hamilton successful in insurance claim to replace mishandled funds

Hamilton, Ontario – May 9, 2016 – The City of Hamilton has been successful in a claim to its insurer for approximately $1 million relating to a loss arising from the mishandling of funds by a former employee in 2013.

The City conducted both an internal investigation and retained a forensic accountant to conduct an evaluation. Both the internal investigation and the forensic accountant’s work validated the mishandling and were used to support the successful claim to the insurer.

Additionally, the City’s internal investigation and the forensic accountant’s evaluation identified areas for improvement to City of Hamilton cash handling processes and those changes in procedures were implemented following the audits. We continue to work with the Hamilton Police Service on this matter.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mayor Eisenberger on LRT Support

Mr. Mayor:

We note that a council vote to reaffirm support for LRT is expected to come to council. After all the debate and discussion that has occurred concerning LRT, some may be left to wonder why this vote is necessary. A) Do you believe it is necessary and B) do you think it is just as much a test of leadership as it is a vote as to whether there is reaffirmed support for LRT? Please elaborate in any way you see fit.

The Mayor responded as follows: 

“I fully support Cllr. Merulla’s motion to re-affirm Council support for the billion dollar LRT investment in our community. We have in past ensured majority support to move forward with the project. There are new details presented in the first part of this year which all members of council need to be fully aware of. In order for us to achieve success with the project, it would be prudent for us to ensure the community that continued council support is firmly in place. I look forward to ongoing community engagement and dialogue with Metrolinx, Staff and Council.”

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Motions in Motion- LRT Anyone?

The following motion has been submitted by Clr. Merulla and seconded by Mayor Eisenberger.  It seeks reaffirmation from council in terms of its commitment to accept provincial funding for LRT. 

To read The Hamiltonian's article, LRT- The Political Perils of Transformative Change, click here

Moved by Councillor Sam Merulla ;

Whereas the Province of Ontario, in May 2015, announced $1.0 billion in funding for Hamilton’s B-line (and north spur) Light Rail Transit (LRT) project which begins the implementation of the City of Hamilton’s rapid transit strategy; and

Whereas the provincial funding covers 100% of the capital cost of the LRT project which includes investments to renew critical City infrastructure such as sidewalks, road surfaces, water and sewer lines along the LRT corridor; and

Whereas the City of Hamilton has already entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with Metrolinx signaling the City’s intent to work collaboratively with Metrolinx to fully implement the LRT project; and

Whereas it is acknowledged that the LRT project is one part of the City of Hamilton’s broader transit strategy as outlined in the City’s Rapid Ready report and Ten Year Transit Strategy

Therefore, be it resolved, that Hamilton City Council reaffirm the acceptance of the $1.0 billion dollar investment in infrastructure and public transit that the Province of Ontario has provided for the express purpose of completing the LRT project.