Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pic of the Moment

Hamiltonian Publisher Teresa DiFalco was on hand at midnight at A Different Drummer books in Burlington, for the release of the new Harry Potter book. From left to right, Ian Elliot- Owner, Derika Stewart, Teresa DiFalco, Lauraine Woods (who initially conceived the event and organized the events on site), and Vanessa DiFalco. 

For those who have not been to A Different Drummer, it is a charming bookstore and worth the visit. Click here for more details. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Media Release: Full Steam Ahead After Brown Confirms Hamilton LRT Commitment

All three major provincial parties support Hamilton's LRT plan, quelling concerns that the project might be de-funded after the 2018 election.

Hamilton Light Rail applauds Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Leader Patrick Brown on announcing he will honour the $1B commitment for Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) plan. Brown, who attended a Flamborough Chamber of Commerce lunch Monday, said "We have to respect the fact that there's a commitment to LRT, and I would honour that."

Brown's comments helped quell concerns that if the government changes in 2018, the LRT project would be de-funded.

This follows on speculation that anti-LRT Councillor and former PC candidate Donna Skelly was lobbying Brown to come out against the project, despite her pledge during her recent Council election campaign to honour the previous decisions on LRT by Hamilton City Council.

The City of Hamilton spent six years studying rapid transit and comparing various alternative technologies and routes before developing the LRT plan that it submitted to the Province for funding. Metrolinx undertook a benefits case analysis and confirmed that LRT on the B-Line provides the biggest overall benefit for the first phase of rapid transit in Hamilton.

The Province agreed with the City's analysis and committed full capital funding more than a year ago. The City has been working with Metrolinx to implement the approved plan.

"Hamilton has a firm commitment of $1B to fund LRT and we are already busy implementing it," said HLR spokesperson Ryan McGreal. "We are pleased to have all three major provincial parties on board with this transformative project."

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 benefitsof light rail transit.

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

Ryan McGreal
Hamilton Light Rail Spokesperson


Monday, July 25, 2016

Dr. Chris Higgins on Clr. Whitehead's work on LRT

The Hamiltonian has received the following link (click here to go there) from Dr. Higgins, as his observsations related to Clr. Whitehead's submission, found here

On LRT- The 1 Billion, Two Hundred Million Dollar Question

Sitting across the table from me, Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead sifts through a myriad of reports and data sources, related to LRT.

The Councillor  goes to great lengths to demonstrate why LRT as envisioned conceptually, fails the acid test once the data and all else is considered.

Whitehead's case is well researched.

Armed with binders worth of reports, and having gone  through the tedious excersise of cross referencing materials, following the numbers and shaking out the information, the councillor struggles with trying to make the current direction make sense.

"It's important we get this right." Whitehead says. "We're only going to get one kick at something like this, and we need to make sure it's right."

Methodically, the councillor takes me through a checklist of pre-conditions for LRT to succeed in Hamilton.  His list includes things like: 
  • need of destination to destination spine,
  • need for park and ride provisions
  • LRT as a response to a congestion problem- (which the councillor submits that Hamilton does not have)
  • need to incorporate burst lines as feeders 
  • need to increase ridership during peak hours to 2000, rather than the 1100 which the councilor submits begs riders off of lines that will continue to exist, thus seemingly making the 1100 number seem inflated or otherwise unreliable. Moreover, the councilor submits that even if we were to accept the 1100 number, it will still not be enough to make LRT self sustaining.
  • need to land assemble around the stations- which Hamilton is not doing. 
  • need for growing population and job centres around the stations

all of which the councillor has found problematic and barriers to success.

The councillor goes on to discuss the King street vs. Main street option and comes up empty when trying to find a compelling reason for King over Main. The Councillor talks about how there are significantly less heritage buildings to contend with in a Main street implementation verse a King, and how building a bridge as part of the King street option (at a cost of 30 million) would be unnecessary over a Main street approach. He also points out that King street is 500 meters longer, which drives out a cost of 30 million. He submits that King Street is plagued with a pinch point at the International Village with inadequate width to avoid traffic obstructions. 

Whitehead knows some are trying to label him an obstructionist. He points to his responsibility to excersize due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers of Hamilton; especially in light of anticipated ongoing costs.   He knows that a 1 Billion dollar offering weighs heavily on the discussion. So, the Councillor continues to look for a way to make it work, so that it makes sense for Hamiltonians.

But his efforts take him to a summary conclusion: two hundred million additional dollars over the next 10 years will have to be injected in order to address the pre-conditions that he has found necessary for LRT to have a chance of success. Much of the two hundred million, if not all, must be used to address the list of criteria referenced above. And this begs a further question as to whether LRT is, in fact, the best way to proceed. 

The councillor has definitely laboured over this matter and can't be accused of not doing his homework.  He has gone as far as creating a detailed webpage in which he shares his conclusions and sources. It can be found by clicking here. 

The Hamiltonian encourages our readers to read the webpage in its entirety and draw your own conclusions as to the councillor's research and arguments.

In the interim, Clr. Whitehead's arguments suggest that to get it right, LRT is really a 1 Billion, 2 hundred thousand dollar expenditure, if Hamilton is to increase its chances of making LRT work. And with that, the question is raised as to whether there will be a appetite to throw more money at the issue, or whether it is best to revisit the whole mode and design.

Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

Thanks to Clr. Whitehead for engaging with Hamiltonians via The Hamiltonian.

Note: The Hamiltonian will not post any comments that are disrespectful or otherwise unprofessional against the Councillor or others. Please debate the issues respectfully. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

With Police Chief Girt: On Forensics Building requirements

Many of our readers will know that the Police Services has, for some time, pursued funding for a new Forensics building. The following chat with Chief Girt explores this issue:

1. Chief Girt. We note that the funding for a new forensic centre that the police is seeking remains unresolved. Can you explain to Hamiltonians why having this centre is important. How will it help police and how what impact will it have on the best interests of Hamiltonians?

The highest priority for the Hamilton Police Service is the need to upgrade its Forensic laboratory. In addition, the Service is faced with a 50,000 square foot space deficit. To retrofit the existing Forensic Identification Unit (FIU) is an expensive option that would interrupt forensics operations and not address the Service’s overall space needs challenges. The shortfall in space has required the dispersion of various units of the Investigative Services Division in four different police facilities creating significant inefficiencies. This dual need was reviewed and acknowledged by the Hamilton Police Services Board in 2010 and re-affirmed in 2014.

The current FIU configuration and space allocation creates significant risk to the Service and the City

Monday, July 11, 2016

On Fire- With Fire Chief David Cunliffe

Fire Chief David Cunliffe
In this first edition of "On Fire" , a feature we hope to have from time to time in which we engage the city's Fire Chief for information on matters related to fire-fighting , we checked in with our new Fire Chief David Cunliffe. Enjoy our chat with Chief Cunliffe.

1. What will your focus be in the first 90 days of your role as the new Fire Chief. What will your priorities be and how will you approach them?

I have three main areas of focus for the first 90 days:

· To begin the process of filling the Deputy Chief vacancy
· To begin to work with my team on the development of the draft 2017 operating & capital budgets
· To provide support to my team to ensure that they are well on their way to successfully accomplish the goals set out in their 2016 work plans.


Given the significant change over in personnel that the HFD has been experiencing, one of my

Saturday, July 9, 2016

From the Lens of Ron Ogulin

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


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Checking in with M.P. Hamilton East-Stoney Creek , Bob Bratina

Enjoy our chat with friend of The Hamiltonian, M.P. Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and former Mayor of Hamilton, Bob Bratina. 

1. As evidenced by the reaction to Clr. Sam Merulla’s idea of having council hold a vote to re-affirm its commitment to LRT, Hamilton city council appears to be less than steady in its commitment to LRT with some councillors going as far as calling for a referendum on the matter. Does any of this surprise you and do you continue to have doubts about the viability of LRT in Hamilton? Please explain.

I am not anti-LRT, and I do not doubt the viability of LRT in Hamilton. The current B line proposal would not serve Hamilton's needs as outlined in the Rapid Ready Report. I support light rail transit, but would like to see it service the growth areas defined in the GRIDS final report. Improving Hamilton’s bus transit system along with a LRT system that provides transit options to underserviced suburban areas would be the best approach in my opinion.

2. It must have been very rewarding being elected as MP for Hamilton East, Stoney Creek. What is your focus as MP and how will you continue to be of service to Hamiltonians?

 Being elected as Member of Parliament for Hamilton East – Stoney Creek was a very rewarding experience, and I am honoured to represent our diverse and wonderful riding at the federal level. My focus as MP is to assist constituents with any and all federal matters, and to carry out the mandate of our federal government. I am currently working to ensure Hamilton East – Stoney Creek receives its fair share of funding for priority infrastructure projects in the riding. As Co-chair of the Parliamentary Steel Caucus, I am working on present and future steel issues related to production, workers, pensions and industry viability to provide federal attention and assistance where possible. I am also a member of two Parliamentary Committees, which include Veterans Affairs and Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. My committee members and I are conducting a study on service delivery to veterans, and studies on reforming the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act to be relevant in our digital age. When I am not in Ottawa for parliamentary business, I am in the riding meeting with constituents about federal and local matters, or attending events throughout the riding. Anyone wishing to book a meeting or pass along an event invitation is always welcome to contact our Hamilton office at 905-662-4763.

3. What advice might you have for Mayor Eisenberger going forward, as he continues to navigate through the LRT matter and other issues?

My main piece of advice for any Mayor is to continue listening to the people. As Mayor of Hamilton, I constantly walked around various areas of Hamilton, met with residents, and attended events to listen to what people were saying about issues.

4. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about your work as MP, or is there any other advice you would like to impart.

My work as a City Councillor, Mayor, and now a Member of Parliament is busy, at times exhausting, but always rewarding. I would encourage Hamiltonians of all ages who want to see change and progress to get involved in the political process, because it is through politics that change is created and things get done.

Thanks M.P. Bratina for engaging with Hamiltonians via The Hamiltonian. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Noise By-Law and Patio Music

Please see below, the reply to several questions we posed to City Manager Chris Murray on the noise by-law issue and Saracoa. Mr. Murray is presently away, and we received a reply from his staff. You will note that the part of the question that involves possible exposure, was initially left unanswered.

We have included our follow up question, and the reply as well.

Mr. Murray:

We are contacting you with a question regarding Saracoa’s patio music, which we understand has recently restarted.

1. Given that the city by-law prohibits live or amplified music for all restaurant/bar establishments that have patios, what measures is the city taking to ensure that either all restaurant/bar establishments that have patios are also afforded the same clearance and are allowed to have live or amplified music on patios or, or that alternatively, Saracoa be required to abide by the same by-laws that are in place for others.

2. Does the city recognize that unequal enforcement of this by-law may advantage or disadvantage some establishments over others and is the city not exposed if it allows such an imbalance to exist?

Yesterday at Planning Committee council approved a recommendation that Planning Division staff be directed to hold a statutory Public Meeting in October 2016 for the purposes of hearing public submissions on potential changes to the Zoning By-law, identified in Appendix “A” to Report PED16155, respecting live and recorded music and dance facilities on outdoor commercial patios.

The meeting will provide the public with the zoning options, and it is our intent to receive public feedback and provide advice on an option going forward. The City will also be considering best practices in other municipalities to understand how noise from patios is addressed in those municipalities with waterfronts.

A further report on the results of the public consultation will be brought forward to council later this year.

The part of the question that's asks about exposure does not appear to be answered. Is the city not worried that other establishments can argue that their business has been disadvantaged due to different allowances made to Saracoa?

We are open to feedback from residents and businesses alike when we have our October public meeting. They are welcome to bring those concerns forward.

Link of the Moment

Click here to find out more about the Concession Street BIA's "Sidewalk Sounds" series. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak -Taste Burlington, Nosh Hamilton

Taste Burlington, Nosh Hamilton (FFT-097)

This column features a long-standing event in Burlington and an important new initiative, championed by Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla, in Hamilton.

For the first time in several years I missed the summer launch event for the Taste of Burlington. The popular promotion – prix fix meals at some of Burlington’s best restaurants – runs July 17-31, 2016. I’m told about 350 attendees enjoyed some great food and drink.

Earlier this year I wrote predicting success for the Holiday Inn’s Alloro. They placed second then in the People’s Choice award at the Winter launch, and this summer upped their game to win in that category, and also the “Best Taste” with what sounds like a great dish: jalapeno infused bacon wrapped scallop served over coconut rice with a lemon aioli and mango/grilled pineapple chutney.

Taste Co-ordinator Linda Cvetanovic wrote “In the “Best Taste” category only a half point separated the top 3 with Chef Stephanie Brewster [about who I wrote effusively at the end of April] from the Greenhouse CafĂ© at the Royal Botanical Gardens securing the runner up spot (and 3rd place in for People’s Choice) with her goat cheese pannacotta with hibiscus gelee, passion fruit and pomegranate. Just a quarter of a point away was third place winner Chef Doran Abra of Water St. Cooker with a smoked trout crostini with radish-cucumber salad and Old Bay aioli.

Chef Mitchell Lamb of Stonehouse – surely one of the most consistent and innovative chefs in the region - repeated his third place finish in winter with a smoked paprika marinated tiger shrimp, jalepeno and cheese curd sausage, curried mango chutney and chimichurri.

In Hamilton, the remarkable upswing in the culinary scene over the past five or so years has led to the development of NOSH, a week-long celebration, formally supported by Council, that will take place during National Small Business Week (October 17-23, 2016).

Merulla, who is the NOSH Honourary Chair, said in a press release “Hamilton's emergence on a national scale is in part attributable to the rising food scene we have in the city – and it’s time to show that off.”

Despite an acronym that only a committee could have created (“NOSH stands for North Hamilton - including lower city, Outlying communities - former municipal entities, South Hamilton - including Binbrook, Glanbrook, and Mount Hope”) the intention is wonderful. It’ll be a showcase of Hamilton's culinary scene from Winona to Waterdown and is anticipated to have a selection of paid and free events for the community and visitors in which to participate.

I look forward to sharing more with readers as information becomes available.

To see all past columns please see (and “like”) the Food for Thought Archives
Alex (Alex can be reached on twitter @AlexBielak)