Thursday, November 24, 2016

Media Release:Hamilton City Council Approves 2017 Rate Budget

HAMILTON, ON – November 24, 2016 - At its meeting on November 23, 2016, Council approved the City of Hamilton 2017 Water, Wastewater / Storm Rate Budget with a combined residential rate increase of 4.85% effective January 1, 2017. The average resident’s bill in 2017 will be $660.95 for a household consuming 200 cubic metres of water annually representing an increase of $30.60 annually.

Hamilton has one of the oldest and most complex water and wastewater systems in Ontario and this rate increase supports Hamilton’s ongoing efforts to address the infrastructure deficit and attain a sustainable level of funding for this critical system. This rate increase reflects a prudent investment for present and future generations while balancing residents’ ability to pay. Hamilton’s rates continue to remain among the lowest in Ontario.

For more detailed information, please visit www.hamilton.ca/Budget2017

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cats and Dogs

Enjoy our chat with city staff concerning rules and direction for cats and dog licensing. 

Recently, the city has been looking at the prospect of licensing for cats. Has the city conducted research on how other municipalities have handled this issue? Of so, what have you found? If not, why not?

As part of our research, we surveyed various municipalities in Ontario and across Canada to discuss their animal licensing programs. Programs were measured not only by the amount of licenses issued, but how the money was being used.

Municipalities with successful programs have the capability to help the community with controlling the cat population problem through affordable and accessible spay/neuter programs, responsible pet ownership education programs and adoption programs. Successful programs have a combination of education and enforcement. Owners need to know what the benefit is of a licence and how the fee is being used effectively.

Through cat licensing, the City of Hamilton would be able to become involved in helping cat owners with the responsibilities of being a pet owner and addressing the city’s cat population problems without affecting the City’s tax base.

Why are there different rules for cats verses dogs and are there plans to harmonize these issues.

The City of Hamilton has a “Responsible Animal Ownership” by-law that applies to all owned or kept animals. Currently, the by-law requires that only dogs and pot-bellied pigs be licenced. Staff are recommending that cats be included in this requirement.

This by-law supports responsible pet ownership in that it prohibits all pets from roaming free when

Media Release: Skelly Calls in City Auditor After Cost of Housing Project Soars

Ward 7 Councillor Donna Skelly will ask Hamilton City Council to approve a motion, asking for Hamilton’s Director of Audit Services, Charles Brown, to investigate why costs of proposed improvements to a CityHousing seniors’ residence have tripled.

In 2015, council approved $350,000 from the ward 7 area rating budget to cover the cost of improving the entrance, and to expand the parking lot at Mohawk Gardens, a CityHousing seniors’ facility. The $350,000 was part of $800,000 to be used on improvements to CityHousing units within the ward. Earlier this month, Skelly was shocked to discover the cost of the project has skyrocketed from $350,000 to more than $1.1 million. Further, almost $115,000 has already been spent in consulting and engineering fees, without a shovel in the ground.

“I find it disturbing that this project has ballooned to more than triple the original estimate. I also want clarification as to whether any of the work was tendered and answers as to why we were not using Hamilton companies for the bulk of the work.” Hamilton Councillor Donna Skelly

Councillor Skelly has met with the CEO of CityHousing Hamilton, Tom Hunter, and City Auditor Charles Brown, to discuss the matter. She has also notified the chair of the board of CityHousing Hamilton about her request for an audit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Media Release: Statement from Mayor Eisenberger on Recent Committee of Adjustment Member Actions

HAMILTON, ON – November 22, 2016 Yesterday Mayor Eisenberger met with the chair of the Committee of Adjustment, Mark Dudzic and committee Member Dave Serwatuk.

Concern over the inappropriateness of displaying a hat with political connotations at a quasi-judicial committee which he has the pleasure of serving on, on behalf of the City of Hamilton, and speaking publically about the matter afterwards was reiterated to Mr. Serwatuk.

‎Below is his fulsome apology that Mayor Eisenberger committed to share.

Subject to a motion at council to have our staff prepare for approval a code of conduct and training for this committee and others, Mayor Eisenberger has accepted Mr. Serwatuk's apology and considers this matter closed‎.

Apology from David Serwatuk, Committee Member:

“To the Great City of Hamilton

Regardless of my or anyone’s personal, political, religious or social belief. I fully acknowledge and understand that any display of such belief should never be shown or displayed at a Judicial or Quasi-Judicial public meeting. I truly apologize for what transpired at the Committee of Adjustments meeting last week, November 17 2016. it will never happen again. I intend to discuss this with committee at the next hearing both to apologize and suggest ways to make it not happen in the future.”

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Season’s Eatings: Comings and Goings Edition

Season’s Eatings: Comings and Goings Edition 

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I enjoyed 24 hours of food and drink unlike anything we’ve experienced in recent memory. Several of the experiences were private at the homes of friends, but there are two publicly-accessible highlights I particularly want to share.

Get yourselves down to Bolete in St Catharines. You’ll be glad you did, and glad you were still able to easily book a table and experience a creative menu that changes every week. The opening of this stunning new restaurant, helmed by Chef Andrew Macleod, has been one of the most anticipated in the region in years.

Readers will perhaps remember Macleod from past columns where I wrote about his talents as the chef at Spencer’s on the Waterfront, or perhaps winner of the Chef Street Fight at Centro Market a couple of years ago. Macleod won this year’s prestigious Garland Canada International Chef Challenge in PEI, and has been working hard to get

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Statecraft- On Decision Making Sanitation

In a recent article in The Hamilton Spectator on the topic of ranked balloting (see it by clicking here or purchasing today's print copy) and the General issues Committee 9-5 vote against it, perhaps the most profound and important statement was made by Matt Jelly who said " Yet another governance issue that shouldn't be in the hands of council incumbents."

And while Mayor Eisenberger and councillors such as Green, Merulla, Farr and Skelly proved that, in this instance, they could elevate themselves, it remains true that council sometimes wanders into matters that include an ingrained conflict of interest. 

Another example is the idea of an Integrity Commissioner, and the form it takes in Hamilton. This position reports to council and, in the past, through queries by The Hamiltonian to this office, it has been made clear that the position considers itself as reporting to council. In essence, we have created a position that is charged with ensuring councillors abide by the code of conduct, under threat of repercussions (no matter how limited these are), but the position remains essentially beholden to council.  Some may suggest this would explain some questionable decisions coming from that office. 

The Ward boundary discussion is another example where council has involved itself and attempted to shape the discussion and decision. Some suggest it is doubtful that they would have even engaged at all, preferring to preserve the safety of the status quo. In fact, the matter has been deferred before, and gained urgency only on the heels of citizens who threatened to take the matter to the OMB.

And it is pretty safe to assume that the notion of term limits for city councillors will never find expression, save for a critical mass demanding it across the province, or , at least, as a pilot in a city. 

Good governance involves making all efforts to serve the public in the best way possible, uncontaminated by personal conflicting interests. If Hamilton is to graduate to the next level of governance capacity, it must find a way of referring decisions that pose a conflict,  to the very people whom they are beholden to; the citizens of Hamilton. 

The Hamiltonian

Monday, November 14, 2016

Media Release: City of Hamilton Seeks Volunteer Snow Angels

HAMILTON – The City of Hamilton is looking for volunteers to help eligible seniors and people with disabilities with snow removal for this upcoming winter season (November 2016 - March 2017) and be recognized as a Snow Angel.

Snow Angel volunteers must be 14 years of age or older, reliable, and physically able to participate in snow removal. Becoming a Snow Angel is a great way for families and friends to spend time together and for high school students to obtain their community volunteer hours.

Snow Angel volunteers will receive the following items as a thank you:

· Winter hat, winter gloves and warm socks donated by Mark’s Work Warehouse;
· Thank you lunch for all volunteers;
· For high school students: a confirmation letter to earn volunteer hours for graduation.

To register as a Snow Angel volunteer contact the Snow Angels’ Hotline 905-523-1910 or email NAS@hamilton.ca
For more information about the Snow Angels program visitwww.hamilton.ca/snowangels

Friday, November 11, 2016

Working 9 till ?

Workin' 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin'
Barely gettin' by
It's all takin' and no givin'

These are lyrics to the classic Dolly Parton hit, but with overtime costs climbing for the City of Hamilton (see Spec write up here or purchase today's print copy), these lyrics may not be tumbling out of staff's lips anytime soon.

We touched base with Mike Zegarac, city Finance Director and asked him to provide some current and past charts of what the overtime actuals vs. projections were/are. Please click here to view the historical expenditures. Mike will also be providing a departmental breakdown in the near future and we will make it available when received. 

Your thoughts? 

Friday, November 4, 2016

From the Green Room- Media Release from Ward 3 Councillor Mathew Green

“On Monday, October 31st , I was informed that the OIPRD process was completed, and a decision rendered. I was made aware that that a Police Services Act hearing will proceed December 15th regarding my OIPRD complaint involving my April 26th arbitrary street check.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Media Release: Eastmount School Fashion Incubator Motion Carried at General Issues Committee

Eastmount School Fashion Incubator Motion Carried at General Issues Committee

Hamilton City Councillors have voted to direct staff to investigate the feasibility of a fashion incubator at the Eastmount Park Elementary School site.

The motion was moved by Ward 7 Councillor Donna Skelly during Wednesday’s General Issues Committee meeting. “I am looking to create a home for Hamilton’s fashion industry on the mountain, without relying on tax payers” Councillor Skelly said, “My intention is to have the private sector partner with the City, to offset the operating costs of the project.” The ward 7 Councillor was pleased her motion was seconded by Councillor Merulla, who represents Ottawa Street, one of the best textile districts in the province.

“Hamilton is a creative and innovative city, with a growing fashion industry. A fashion incubator would create space and opportunities for local talent to connect, work, and build their trade,” said Councillor Skelly.

“The Concession BIA is very happy to see initiatives that are drawing eyes up to the mountain,” said Cristina Geissler, Executive Director of the Concession Street BIA. “As the oldest shopping district on Hamilton mountain, anything that promotes local talent – and gives the arts and entrepreneurs opportunities for exposure is a good thing for the economic development and growth of our city.”

Eastmount Park Elementary School was built in the 1960s, and closed in June 2015, because of declining enrollment. The 29,138 square-foot school building sits on just under 0.7 hectares of property fronting onto East 26th street, and is surrounded by Eastmount Park. The City of Hamilton acquired Eastmount Park Elementary School in August 2016 from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. The $1,025,000.00 sale was made possible by a contribution from the Ward 7 area rating fund.