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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Parking the Problem?

The following is our Q/A with Chris Phillips- Lead of the West Harbour Waterfront Project

You are recently quoted in The Hamilton Spectator as characterizing Saracoa as a "key anchor” at the waterfront, yet Saracoa is expressing concerns around the future elimination of over 100 parking spaces, fearing that this may be part of an effort to “squeeze them out”. In conjunction with the difficulties they are facing with respect to the noise by-law and issues with respect to the decibel levels of the music that was played on the patio, one may understand why they would be reading it as such, agnostic as to whether that is truly the case.

You had indicated that parking would be provided for as part of a multi phase plan and that it may take the form of being part of another building or a centralized parking complex. Given the potential impacts that such a reconfiguration might have on businesses like Saracoa, and given your consideration of them as a key anchor, did the city reach out to Saracoa and consult with them as part of planning the parking reconfiguration. if so, what form did that take, when did it occur and what were the results? If not, why not?

First, thank you for your inquiry.

Sarcoa Restaurant has a lease on the site at the Hamilton Waterfront Trust Centre with the Hamilton Waterfront Trust, on lands that were formerly owned by Parks Canada, and are now owned by the City of Hamilton. The City knows that Sarcoa has rights to parking under its sublease with the HWT.

In practicality, the parking within the city-owned lands in the West Harbour area, primarily operate in a multi-use fashion. Williams Cafe patrons, trail users, cyclists, anglers, boaters, along with Sarcoa patrons, all utilize parking within the area for their various uses. I am sure that on busy evenings within the summer months, the reality may be that Sarcoa patrons actually utilize parking spaces within the West Harbour well beyond the 125 spaces identified in the lease, at no additional cost to either them or their patrons.

There is no expectation that re-development, which will take several years to complete, will remove parking available to Sarcoa under its sub-lease.

This is evidenced by the Pier 8 Urban Design Study which outlines a parking plan that would accommodate 1422 spaces within the development blocks, and another 56 additional spaces of on-street parking. The City is satisfied that these numbers can accommodate the parking demands for the new development as well as the existing uses such as Sarcoa, Williams Coffee Pub, and other uses.

As for the process that determined the future development of Pier 8, that decision was made over a decade prior to Sarcoa even opening their doors and their patio.

Approved by council in 2003, The “Setting Sail” Secondary Plan redefined the future land-use designations for most of the Pier 8 area to “mixed-use residential”, and also changed the future land-use designation of the former Parks Canada owned lands, to a combination of “Open-Space” and “Institutional”. These land-use designations reflected the existing use of the Parks Canada Marine Discovery Centre, which occupied the site at the time.

This Plan was not only well defined and debated publicly, but it was also the subject of an Ontario Municipal Board hearing and eventual approval. These are facts that were publicly available and could have been easily realized by Sarcoa’s operators during their own “Due-Diligence” process prior to entering into their existing lease.

Sarcoa Restaurant is a key-anchor to the West Harbour Waterfront today, and we hope for years to come. In the short-term, the reality is that nothing at all changes for Sarcoa restaurant or their patrons. The area will continue to operate just as it does today, and will only get better over the course of the next few years.

Developers, builders, financiers, and end-users from Hamilton, the broader GTHA, and even internationally, are all looking at this Re-Development as a great opportunity for a true urban waterfront destination. The size and scale of our Plans are truly transformational for the area and for the City. With their existing lease, Sarcoa restaurant is actually poised to not only take advantage of the substantial public investment that is happening on Pier 8 today, but will benefit further as Pier 8 becomes a "year round” destination, for residents and visitors alike.


Chris Phillips
City of Hamilton
Lead of the West Harbour Waterfront Project

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Sound of Music - with Herman Turkstra and Burlington Clr. Rick Craven

While our tag line "The Sound of Music" is somewhat trite, the issues surrounding Saracoa are far from trivial. The issue of the decibel levels of music played on its patio, and whether or not Saracoa was unfairly lead into an arrangement with the city that the city ought to have known was doomed to fail, continue to stir controversy, and are before the courts. Additionally, there is a parking issue involving the city's plans, that will impact Saracoa. The Hamiltonian has begun to explore these issues and we reached out to Herman Turkstra and Burlington Clr. Rick Craven as a starting point.

Here is our Q/A with Herman and Rick:

The following question were posed:

1. Given the history and the controversy around the agreement between the City of Hamilton and Sarcoa, do you support the notion that some sort of mediated solution and possible exception to the noise by-law as presently written, may be an appropriate path to take to resolve this matter? Or are you of the view that the by-law is the by-law and there ought to be no exceptions?

2. To the extent that you believe there may be room for a mediated solution, is there a form that would take that you believe would be acceptable to community stakeholders and residents? In other words, what might a solution look like?

Herman Turkstra's reply:

It may be helpful to bear in mind that the Sarcoa problem was only resolved when Burlington residents were able to involve their Mayor in the issue. It simmered in Hamilton for three years with little or no help from our own City Hall.

Harbour West Neighbours, an activist group in the North End neighbourhood, conducted research last year on noise by-laws in municipalities bordering Lake Ontario. Overwhelmingly, outdoor music is prohibited around the Lake. In Hamilton, that prohibition extends to every restaurant/bar patio in the City.

Any deal with Sarcoa alone raises very serious issues of fairness. When Sarcoa moved to outdoor music that lasted until 2 a.m. in the morning and was measured at more than 200% of MOE standards, Sarcoa took the 18-25 year old crowd of customers away from other Hamilton restaurants and bars which were complying with the by-law. I was advised that, in some cases, the reduction in customers was as much as a 50% diversion to Sarcoa, particularly in the case of several Hess Village operations. Thus, any change in the by-law needs to be applied across the City for all restaurants and bars.

If the prohibition is reduced across the city, I expect that any reduction in the current city-wide prohibition will engage residents throughout the City who live next to or close to patios. For Hess Village, for example, there are hundreds of apartments that would be impacted by a by-law change. The residents of those apartments were involved in a major effort to control Hess Village patio music and that war lasted for several years and was very lively. There are literally dozens of other sensitive locations where the patio music by-law protects residents. Any change would create huge conflicts.

In other words, the By-Law functions very well, is similar to what other cities do, and should not be changed. It may be helpful to consider that the By-Law simply enforces what the Courts have traditionally said - everyone has to consider their neighbours. The By-Law makes it unnecessary for residents to undertake expensive court action to stop unreasonable noise.


The only mediation needed is the amount of the damages to be paid by the City to Sarcoa for Waterfront Trust and the City having approved plans for a patio that I am told included plans for the installation of resources for sound equipment that inherently contravened the by-law. That damage mediation needs no input from community stakeholders. If our Mayor, (in his stated quest to move Hess Village to the waterfront as a welcoming gesture for the hundreds of people who are being invited to come to live in the future on Pier 8 next to Sarcoa) tries to change the by-law to permit live or amplified music on patios throughout the City to help Sarcoa's revenue stream and settle the lawsuit, I am confident there will be a strong push back from community stakeholders across the City including the North End neighbourhood. Much better to let sleeping dogs lie, leave the by-law alone and settle the law suit with Sarcoa with a cheque. The actions of the Waterfront Trust in this whole story are at the root of the problem.

Clr. Craven's reply:

No exceptions. The law is the law.

Please note: If anyone has an email address for either owner of Saracoa's, can you please send it to admin@thehamiltonian.info, or post it as a comment. We will not publish the email address, but will receive it. Thanks! The Hamiltonian

Monday, June 27, 2016

Burlington Street East Name Change to Nikola Tesla Boulevard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Burlington Street East Name Change to Nikola Tesla Boulevard and Sign Replacement

HAMILTON, ON – June 27, 2016 – Please note that a portion of Burlington Street East, from the QEW to 165 metres east of Ottawa Street North, in both directions, will be renamed to Nikola Tesla Boulevard.

Starting on June 29 to July 8, work crews will be replacing a number of signs on Burlington Street East and side roads. It is expected that work will be completed during the evening hours and some lane closures will take place.

On October 6, 2015 the City of Hamilton Planning Committee endorsed the idea of renaming Burlington Street to the Nikola Tesla Expressway. City Council approved the idea later that month.

For more information on the story behind Nikola Tesla Boulevard: https://www.teslaeducational.ca/city-of-hamilton-2/ and https://www.teslaeducational.ca/our-story-2/

New Fire Chief

David Cunliffe is the new Fire Chief for the City of Hamilton

Hamilton ON – June 27, 2016 – David Cunliffe has been appointed the new Fire Chief for the City of Hamilton effective immediately. David has been serving the citizens of Hamilton as the Deputy Fire Chief, Community Safety and Operational Services since 2007 and was Acting Fire Chief twice since 2007.

Community and Emergency Services General Manager Joe-Anne Priel says, “David has clearly illustrated he has the necessary skills and dedication to the Fire Department, Community and Emergency Services and the City of Hamilton. He has demonstrated significant depth in terms of Fire Service operations, and an understanding of the issues facing the service nationally, provincially and locally.”

David Cunliffe grew up in Hamilton and comes from a lineage of Hamilton firefighters with both his great grandfather and grandfather serving on the Hamilton Fire Department.

Canada Day Celebration with MP Bob Bratina

Click here for further details. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Episode 8 of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns"

In this episode of As Hamilton Twists and Turns, " the one with the big guns", we find Mayor Eisenberger reaching out to MPs and MPPs, unleashing  a letter of support for LRT and asking them to endorse it. And while some took the bait and provided a strong endorsement, others such as MP and former Mayor Bob Bratina - who in the past appeared to have serious reservations about LRT as it is presently envisioned, according to an aid, declined to sign the letter electing not to influence council's decision. (source- The Spec).

Meanwhile, The Hamiltonian, while unnerving some by continuing to remain neutral and allow for all sides of the discussion to be engaged, engaged its Perspectives Virtual Panel for their advice and found that for the most part, LRT seems to have met with representatives of the Virtual panel's support, albeit in different shades and colours. 

Meanwhile. some fundamental questions posed by The Hamiltonian, (see them by clicking here) appear unanswerable at present , prompting some to question whether the city can sufficiently pass a proof of concept test where LRT is concerned. 

And as quoted in the Hamilton Spectator, Mayor Eisenberger said " I think it's important for people to know how all the elected representative view this significant investment in the city of Hamilton." reminiscent of a pressure driven tactic, which in the past, backfired - click here for the "put up or shut up" ultimatum and how that ended. Still, the Mayor is earning full points by being present in the ring and continues to work this file, as he should.

But will it be enough? Will the "others think it's a good idea, so I should as well" mentality work, or is the real battle in the details? Will the mayor be seen to be trafficking in opinion rather than facts? And is the business case for LRT so strong that it will come to nullify any doubt? 

As the Clr. Terry Whitehead's of the world continue to delve into details and acid test the direction LRT may be headed, will it be the answers or lack thereof to the hard questions that win the day, or will the appetite for LRT be so pervasive that risks teeter between the reasonable and the mysterious? And will the newest Councilor , Clr. Skelly lend force to the acid test? 

All this and more as As Hamilton Twists and Turns continues....

Fade to black morphing between the following images - Clr. Whitehead at his desk reading reports and comparables, Ryan McGreal drafting an article on Raise the Hammer, Mayor Eisenberger speaking to a councillor with a serious look on his face,  Bob Bratina with a grin that could be saying -I told you so....the creative mind of Graham Crawford drafting a poster"

Missed the previous episode of As Hamilton Twists and Turns? Click here to go there. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

In Honour of the late Mahesh Butani

The Spectator's tribute to Mahesh can be found by clicking here, or buying June 24th's paper. 

Mahesh Butani was a passionate individual who was steadfast in his convictions. His love for Hamilton was second to none, and we are deeply saddened to learn of Mahesh's passing.

We thought it most fitting to honour Mahesh by reposting an answer he gave to a question we once asked him in The Hamiltonian:

If you had the undivided attention of all Hamiltonians, including city council, what would you say to council, and what would you say to Hamiltonians, in terms of advice on how we can better succeed as a city?

To the Council:

Endeavour to meet at least one other councilor and their family for an informal dinner once a week through the term, in spite of conflicting agendas and schedules.

Always be wary of forming a quorum at barbeques, games and chat rooms.

Stay the course on the vision of making Hamilton a ' People's Place' as per the internationally recognized definition of the term, in spite of conflicting agendas.

Hand over the baton with grace when you feel you have given your best to the community and have nothing more to contribute to the ever evolving public good in rapidly changing times.

To Hamiltonians:

Form new Citizens Talent Banks and not new Watch Groups.
Start trading in innovative ideas amongst different talent banks and the Council.

Collaborate with your Councillor to achieve your aspirations for Hamilton.

Don't be afraid in forming a quorum at barbeques, games and chat rooms.

Stay the course on the vision of making Hamilton a 'People"s Place' as per the internationally recognized definition of the term, in spite of conflicting agendas.

Mentor with grace those who you feel are capable of leading the next guard to enhance the ever evolving public good in rapidly changing times, and show up to vote for them when your time comes to take a stand.


Rest in Peace Mahesh. You will be missed!

The Hamiltonian

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hip?

The following email exchange is between Clrs. Green and Skelly with respect to a motion of Clr. Green that seeks to purchase public broadcast rights to live stream the Tragically Hips final show on Aug. 20th .

Whereas The Tragically Hip are perhaps the most Canadian Band of all time

And whereas front man Gord Downie is considered the voice of a generation

And whereas it has been announced that their final Man Machine Poem National concert night on Aug 20th is to be broadcast to the public on CBC television.

And whereas ticket scalping has made attending these concerts difficult for the local fans

Therefore be it resolved that staff urgently explore the feasibility of purchasing public broadcast rights to live stream the Tragically Hips final show on Aug. 20th at Gage Park or another suitable city owned location and report back on a cost recovery strategy for the lowest possible ticket price for the general public.


Dear Councillors. I understand your interest in webcasting the Tragically Hip concert but I must stress that I believe this is an area that council should not be delving into. Securing broadcast or multi platform rights for any concert or public event can be costly and should be left to the private sector. There is massive interest in the upcoming Tragically Hip concert. If it can be webcast I am sure other more experienced and more suitable companies / promoters are already exploring the options. We should not use taxpayers money asking staff to look into something that does not fall under our mandate. The CBC and private broadcast companies have the resources and experience to pursue such matters. I think we should leave it to the professionals. Regards Councillor Skelly


Councillor Skelly,

I’m already told that countless municipalities across the country are looking into doing the same given the circumstances of the Band and the deeply regarded band’s Canadian culture impact. In fact, it is my understanding that the Band is actually hopeful that the public can come together around this tour through the CBC Live Stream and their management team is open to working with interested partners.

Furthermore given that this is being streamed by the CBC which of course is a publicly funded broadcast corporation, it appears that government is already fully participating in this Nation building event and local partners have already indicated that it’s not all the complicated. You may remember the public screenings of the Pan Am Soccer games that were wildly popular last summer?

Having said all of that, the beautiful thing about our democracy is that you will have the opportunity to vote against the Public Interest of live streaming the last performance of The Tragically Hip.

Thank you for your advanced comments on the matter. My motion stands and I am hopeful to have broad support.



Councillor Green. I appreciate your comments but I stand by my earlier views. Clearly the recent developments have created a great deal of interest in the “Hips” upcoming series of concerts. Members of the private sector have already shown an interest in broadcasting and or webcasting the event. I am confident that our staff will work with any company or organization that comes forward with a plan to do so . Having said that I do not feel comfortable spending tax dollars “purchasing public broadcast rights to live stream the Tragically Hips final show.” Like you, I respect our democracy and look forward to voting on your motion. Respectfully Councillor Skelly

I am most interested in seconding this motion.‎ I would suspect it we will easily find an avenue to make this cost nutural (sponsors) and free to the public given the national interest. I would also welcome a "pass the hat" scenario during the live stream of the TV event, where all proceeds go to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada (or the charity of the Hips choosing).
JCF (Clr. Farr)



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Marvin Ryder- on LRT

Marvin Ryder who is a member of our Perspectives Virtual panel, was on vacation when the latest assignment was issued. He thus asked if he could submit his views upon his return. Please find below Marvin's reply to our questions:

It is dawning on many that LRT is both a large and long-lived infrastructure investment for Hamilton. The project would be simpler and less costly if tracks were being laid on barren ground but to have the right impact, tracks are being laid over other infrastructure (like sewers, water lines, gas lines, phone lines, etc.) buried in the street. The infrastructure under the ground has to be in perfect condition - if a water main breaks, the 12 kilometers of LRT shuts down. This makes it unlike the bus system we have. One small breakdown and nothing works!

Along with track, LRT consists of a number of stops. These are more than a place to board or disembark from the LRT - these are designated nodes/hubs of future development. Condos or commercial developments constructed over the next 25 years will be located near those hubs. We are arguing about the need for LRT and the route now. We will argue about the hubs/nodes next.

Does Hamilton need an LRT in 2016? I don't think so. We don't have enough transit users today. But over the next 25 years, Hamilton is supposed to grow by 100,000 to 200,000 citizens. Assuming we honour the greenbelt and end suburban sprawl, the only way to accommodate these people will be through intensification. Reminiscent of Europe, people will buy flats or condos rather than a house on a plot of land. Community parks and recreation spaces will become more important. The intensification will most likely be driven in the urban part of Hamilton - people in Rockton or Elfrida or Carlisle need not worry about seven story buildings. Thus an LRT constructed in the next five years is to serve the Hamilton of the next 25 years. You don't wait for the intensification to happen and then build the infrastructure; you try to get out ahead of it. For those who live in Dundas or Ancaster or Waterdown or even Stoney Creek, the LRT will likely have little impact on your life. But the impact of the new citizens choosing to live and work in Hamilton will grow the assessment base and should help ease the sting of municipal property taxes.

Do I think the LRT will lead to an economic boom? No. It is the increased population which will demand more products and services. The LRT will drive the choices of where the new housing and commercial developments will happen. Too often in Hamilton, people look to the "one big thing" which is supposed to fix everything. If only Hamilton had an NHL team or a casino or a new football stadium or an LRT everything will be rosy. On its own, the LRT will not make life better but it sends a signal to those entrepreneurs who want to build and invest that Hamilton is a city that is ready for the 21st. century.

I know that provincial dollars come from the same taxpayers who fuel the federal and municipal governments. Still, this offer of funding cannot simply be ignored. My advice is to reconfirm the commitment to LRT. We do not need a referendum. Councillors are elected to represent their constituents but also, sometimes, to lead constituents. We constituents tend to focus too much on the present and what we can touch, and too little on the future and the possibilities in front of us. Once reaffirmed, the focus should shift to finding the right route. You only get one chance to build infrastructure like this - we have to get it right. (I don't think we got the siting of the stadium right but LRT location is ten times more important!)


Marvin Ryder

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

LRT- Answers to Follow

The following questions were posed to City Manager Chris Murray. The reply to the questions was submitted by Kelly Anderson, APR | Manager of Communication; Engagement Light Rail Transit (LRT) on behalf of Mr. Murray:

You recently stated that work on LRT continues, even as the matter is again being discussed at the council level.

1. Given that the planned installation does not go from destination to destination, but rather is a destination to node concept, and given that the first phase of LRT does not proceed to Eastgate, when might the public know the following:

a. How much a fare will cost to from Mac to Eastgate, assuming that there will be a transfer from LRT to busses along that route.

b. Whether there will be a premium attached to traveling by light rail, based on its features.

c. How much faster or slower will traveling by LRT will be, relative to the alternatives.

2. While 1 Billion in provincial funding is a welcome influx of funding, the average Hamiltonian may be wondering how we can make a determination that LRT is the right choice, unless the questions above are known. Do you believe that to be a fair assessment; why or why not?

3. If a premium were to be attached to traveling by LRT based on it being more modern, reportedly faster etc., do you worry that the nature of public transit will cease to be affordable in a city where poverty continues to be a important concern. What measures might be considered to mitigate this?


Reply:

Fare levels have not yet been determined. As part of the project implementation, Metrolinx will work with the City of Hamilton to examine operating and maintenance options. Decisions about who will operate and maintain the LRT – including decisions about fares –are expected to be made over the coming months in conversations between the City and Metrolinx.

In terms of the speed of LRT, a study is ongoing to project travel times and will be shared with the public in September as part of the Environmental Assessment Addendum process. HSR is also working on bus realignment plans and schedules to feed the LRT line.

We are in the first year of an 8-year project and there are many details to be confirmed as we move through the process. This is typical for a major infrastructure project of this magnitude and complexity. We understand that there are a lot of outstanding questions in the community and we will continue to provide the most updated information through the LRT Subcommittee of Council as it becomes available.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ward 7 Clr. Donna Skelly- on LRT

Please enjoy our chat with Ward 7 Clr. Donna Skelly on the subject of LRT.

1. Do you believe the call for a vote to reaffirm support for LRT was necessary? Please explain your answer. 


 I do not believe it was necessary to call for a vote to reaffirm support for LRT. Instead of “reaffirming support” the motion has raised many, many questions while prompting residents , who until recently had not been engaged in the discussion, to voice their opinion both in support of and against the proposed plan.

2. Are you in favour of a referendum with respect to LRT, to gauge the will of Hamiltonians across all wards?

I would support a referendum.

3. What would be the top reason(s) why you might support moving forward with LRT, and what are the top reason(s) that might give you pause?

Since Councillor Merulla’s motion to “reaffirm support” for LRT, I have been meeting with stakeholders and guaging support for the billion dollar transit plan. I have visited Kitchener Waterloo to see their LRT project, York Region to look at their BRT service and will be heading to Buffalo on Friday. I continue to question the location of the proposed line and the necessity of the project. All of the transit studies before council have stated that LRT should not be built without first addressing difficiencies in the current transit system. I want to see an expanded bus service across all of Hamilton as well as improved connectivity between the lower and upper parts of the city and improved GO service. This should be the priority for council.

4. Is there anything else you’d like Hamiltonians to know about your considerations and thinking with respect to the LRT question?


I would add that the city should wait until all information requested has been made available before moving forward with LRT. 

Thank-you to Clr. Skelly for engaging with Hamiltonians via The Hamiltonian.

Please note  The Hamiltonian will not publish comments that attack the Clr. or one another. Nor will we publish any comments that are unprofessional or otherwise disrespectful. Please feel free to agree or disagree with one another respectfully. Thank-you

Friday, June 10, 2016

Checking in with the Chief - Chief of Police Eric Girt

Chief Girt

We thought it would be timely to check in with Chief Eric Girt. Enjoy this Q/A with the Chief. 

What will your priorities be in the first 90 days as Police Chief?


The primary focus continues to remain on public trust. It is a continuous work in progress and we work to maintain it daily. I will remain focused on Community relations, by continuing to work with and meet with external agencies, committees, advocacy groups and partners in the delivery of service. Internally, I will communicate our priorities and strategies to the front-line, mid-level managers, senior command and the Hamilton Police Association. Full implementation of technology to enhance our crime analytics ability to mine the data we currently have is paramount. We remain focused on financial accountability and will continue to reduce costs where possible, avoid costs and work through collaborative means both with external agencies and law enforcement partners to increase public safety. The acquisition of proper forensic facilities is an obvious priority. Wellness and mental health strategies both external and for our own members also continues to be a priority.

Do you think there is any advantage of having worked your way through the ranks? If so, what lessons have you learned along the way that will help guide you as you execute your new role?

There are several advantages of working through the ranks here. First is the knowledge of the organization, all of the units that comprise it and how the internal systems work to serve the public. That is, how do all the parts work together and what processes make it work efficiently or more effectively. It is also about the people that make up the organization and knowing their strengths and how best to develop those assets. Mentoring, development and succession planning is critical for our organization.

Continuing to build relationships is also important for our Service. We have used the “wraparound” and “hub” principles within this community for years and this is obviously what the province and municipality are looking at to provide co-ordinated services to those we serve. Having knowledge of formal institutions, not for profit agencies, community groups and advocacy groups and continuing to enhance those existing relationships over the long term is critical to all our success.

As Chief, you may be faced with fighting for what you would consider a necessary budget to provide police services reasonably to Hamiltonians. In the past, this has been a topic of great debate. How will you handle the pressure you might face from politicians to curb spending, while keeping the safety of Hamiltonians at the forefront. And how will you deal with the fact that the majority of the police budget is not within your direct control?

As you know under the Police Service Act we have five core areas to deliver public safety within the community. We continue to focus on prevention as a more cost effective method than enforcement. When we do enforce the laws it is critical to also provide service to the victims of offences. This is my responsibility as well as the Hamilton Police Service Board and we will continue to work together through governance and operations to deliver that service. We are well aware of the continued need to serve those with mental illness, addictions and people faced with poverty on a daily basis. When we can realize efficiencies in serving those most in need, such as our most recent initiative, the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT), we meet two needs. Most recently the Crisis Response unit is now integrated with the Social Navigator Program and the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) program in the newly created Crisis Response Unit. This unit has allowed front line officers to return to other duties while we assist persons in crisis in getting the help they need through less intrusive means, in concert with external agencies that have the expertise to assist them. We understand financial restraint and the need to be creative. Through our MCRRT program, we continue to save thousands of hours for our frontline and while doing this, most importantly, we are responding effectively to the needs of people in crisis. What drove this initiative was a compelling need as I said earlier. Funding was also a part of it, and we were able to deliver enhanced service with our partners from St. Joseph’s Healthcare. As well, on the funding side, this was accomplished through LHIN, Local Health Integrated Systems of Hamilton. This is the way forward. Identifying need, being responsive, finding an effective solution, delivering better service.

We need to be just as creative to meet capital expenditures. We have an identified need for a new forensics building. We have secured one third of the funding, however, have yet to realize any provincial or federal monies. We will continue to seek funding.

In the past Chief DeCaire showed very staunch leadership in standing his ground on a number of issues, including what he believed to be reasonable increases to the police budget. Some may be wondering the degree to which you will stand firm for your convictions- even in the face of political influence and pressure. Can you comment on that?

As a Deputy Chief of both Field Support and Community Policing, I was part of the Command Team during Chief DeCaire’s tenure. We worked together to develop the budget, assess the needs to deliver public safety and then, most recently, deliver the lowest budget in 16 years. I will remain collaborative with our Senior Command to deliver the budget as a team. Further, as the resource for the Board for the last two rounds of bargaining, I am aware of both salary and benefits and we have worked hard to balance the needs of the public with those of our members. One of the areas is obviously the provision of preventative programs to ameliorate the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We remain committed to our three pillars – prevention, intervention and post vention. As you know many of those strategies involve external clinicians with the expertise to provide service. This is often done through our benefits program. Similar to my earlier comments on public safety we know that prevention is less costly then intervention after the fact. Our goal is to keep our members resilient and healthy so that they can continue to do the often difficult job that they do.

The Hamiltonian wishes you the best as the new Chief of Police. Is there anything you’d like to let our readers know, relative to your new role and your focus?

Our focus is public safety. We are here to help people, to protect those who cannot protect themselves and to help solve and manage problems for the greater good. We are in the business of working with people and with providing solutions, exploring innovative alternatives and doing so in a compassionate manner.

To maintain the public trust, we will continue to respond professionally, with our compassion and empathy, when people ask for help. This applies to our citizens and our members. I believe we are capable of meeting the challenges we will face through the knowledge, skills, and abilities for us all. We choose to help and we have chosen to serve our community. I am proud to serve with the men and women of Hamilton Police.

Thank-you Chief Girt for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

In tribute to Reverend Brother Michael Baldasaro

There was no-one quite like Michael Baldasaro, except perhaps Walter Tucker, his long time friend. Michael was a true original with a unique spirit and was a relentless passion for the causes he believed in.

If one did not know Michael, you might have found his appearance rather offputting. But Michael was a brilliant conversationalist, a bright and learned man and a man blessed with life experience and wisdom. 

He was fearless as he stormed our country's highest courts to stand up for his beliefs. As leader of the Church of the Universe, Michael held fast to his spirituality.

Michael will be dearly missed by Hamilton and by Hamiltonians. He was truly, "The Baldasaro".

Rest in Peace Brother Michael. 

The Hamiltonian

Please feel free to post your tributes and recollections on the life Michael.

Statement from Mayor- re: passing of Michael Baldasaro

June 9th, 2016, Hamilton, ON – I am saddened to learn of the passing this morning of Michael Baldasaro at the age of 67.

Michael was true champion of Hamilton. His commitment to the City and his Church of Universe community was unwavering, but more importantly a genuinely nice man. I will miss his passion and good humour.

On behalf of the City of Hamilton, our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues. We are sorry for your loss.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Perspectives Virtual Panel- on LRT

It has been a while since we've engaged our Perspectives Virtual Panel, but seeing that LRT is once again becoming an issue, we decided to ask them the following:


Given that conversations are once again in play with respect to whether LRT should be implemented in Hamilton, what advice might you have for councilors?

Is it your recommendation that we stay the course and implement LRT as has been envisioned and earmarked for 1 billion worth of funding from the province? Do you believe a referendum on the issue may be helpful? Or, is it your advice that we take another look at this and reconsider our options?


Here are their replies:, in alphabetical order by surname

Given that conversations are once again in play with respect to whether LRT should be implemented in Hamilton, what advice might you have for councilors?

Major projects are difficult to implement as they require teamwork and strong communication to all stakeholders. Council has the opportunity to lead this project and mitigate any negative impacts on businesses, traffic, the city's reputation and relationship with the province. They can achieve this by resolving their debate quickly, streamlining and improving their communications, and striking a task force to provide solutions to the challenges that arise. Communication is critical and must improve immediately.

Is it your recommendation that we stay the course and implement LRT as has been envisioned and earmarked for 1 Billion worth of funding from the province?

Eight years of studies, millions of dollars and dozens of council votes have taken place to get this provincial investment of 1 billion dollars. No LRT means no MONEY. Hamilton would have to give up this investment and get back in line for any other provincial transit funding with no guarantees of receiving that funding. This a once-a-generation investment and has a myriad of benefits for the entire city over the long run including tax revenues, investment, improved transit, urban intensification, competitiveness, image, and much more. Council must conclude its circular arguments and pernicious politics on LRT and start communicating as a team on merits, steps and issue mitigation strategies.

Do you believe a referendum on the issue may be helpful?

Absolutely not. A referendum in this case is a cynical political tool that over simplifies the issue. A Referendum allows councillors to abdicate their duty to review ample evidence on LRT benefits for all Hamiltonians and city-build accordingly for the good of the whole.
Laura Babcock

My knee jerk reaction to the LRT was, 'Hell yes!" I was raised in Toronto where the Subway transformed the city. (I rode the Toronto subway the second day after it opened.) Two of our sons live in London where life would be incredibly difficult without the "tube." I know firsthand how important good transit can be. As president of the Downtown Hamilton BIA, along with then lawyer, Ray Harris, I met with Dale Turvey, then the Grand Poo bah of transit in Hamilton to question the removal of electrically fuelled trolleybuses in downtown Hamilton. I first moved to Hamilton in the late 70's when city council turned down a free LRT from downtown to the top of the escarpment fully funded by the Province.

Yes they did! Almost 30 years ago the City of Hamilton Turned down a $128,000, 000 gift from the Province of Ontario.

OK, OK. As a former member of Council, I know that it in not unusual for our City Government to act foolishly.

But a Conservative friend of mine suggested that I read the report about the LRT. Since I was no longer on council, I read the report. You should too. (find the link) (Councillors often know the right answer without reliance on facts or educated opinion.)

The conclusions of the report indicated that many of the outcomes of more rapid transit could be achieved by another forms of rapid transit. Dedicated bus lanes should be able to move as many people in close to the same amount of time as LRT. The costs would be much lower, the disruption for the merchants along the route would be minimised, and the transit results - the number of people moved in far less time - would be similar. So - why wouldn't we choose the less expensive, effective, flexible, and locally controlled solution to more rapid transit?

Duhh! The answer is pretty clear. A vociferous chorus of opponents to dedicated bus lanes convinced

Media Release: Council Approves new Strategic Plan

HAMILTON, ON – June 8, 2016Tonight, Council approved the 2016-2025 Strategic Plan for the City of Hamilton. The Plan features the City’s Vision, Mission, Culture and Priorities. The plan and priorities were informed by over 54,000 resident aspirations gathered through the Our Future Hamilton engagement initiative and input from more than 3,200 staff conversations.

"The City of Hamilton’s newly approved Vision, To be the best place to raise a child and age successfully, and Mission, To provide high quality cost conscious public services that contribute to a healthy, safe and prosperous community, in a sustainable manner, acknowledges our diverse community and recognizes that all ages and stages of life play a role in a vibrant community," said Mayor Eisenberger. "The inclusiveness is in the spirit of the contribution all citizens make and of our breadth of services and support for everyone in Hamilton."

“Hamilton’s new Strategic Plan will guide our decisions and investments around the services we deliver to the community for the next ten years,” City Manager Chris Murray said. “We will be establishing performance measures to track progress as we seek to continuously improve, show value to the taxpayer and achieve the goals Council has established.”

For more information please visit www.hamilton.ca\strategicplan



Monday, June 6, 2016

Credit Due....

Kudos to Clr. Tom Jackson who successfully fought to have Hamilton's vision statement include the phrase " The best place to raise a child and age successfully". The Hamiltonian applauds the Clr. for leading the way for this change.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Episode 7 of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns"

In this espisode of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns", the liar, liar pants on fire, episode, we find Clr. Terry Whitehead releasing a detailed response to questions posed by The Hamiltonian regarding his top LRT concerns and other LRT related matters.

The Hamiltonian immediately came under fire by a select few, for simply asking the questions, while Clr. Whitehead was flooded with objections and counter arguments to his responses.

The whole thing continued to spiral out of control via social media, culminating in Clr. Matthew Green not calling Clr. Whitehead a liar, but stating "I'm not calling @terrywhitehead a liar...but it appears he's a "stranger to the truth" on LRT."

Just prior to that tweet, the veteran Councillor tweeted to Clr, Green "the truth will prevail! not a good way to get councillors to support your point of view. Good way to alienate however."

Meanwhile, The Hamiltonian's Perspectives Virtual Panel is preparing to weigh in on the topic, featuring people like Ryan McGreal, Herman Turkstra, Marvin Caplin, John Treen and others.. .

Stay tuned as "As Hamilton Twists and Turns" continues to twist and turn with this story.....


Missed Episode 6? Click here to read it. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Media release: Mayor Eisenberger Speaks Out in Favour of a National Housing Strategy

HAMILTON, ON June 2, 2016 – At today’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Big City Mayors Caucus, Mayor Eisenberger reinforced the importance of a National Housing Strategy.

One in five in Hamilton lives below the poverty line. One in four children lives in poverty.

Today, over 5,900 households in the City of Hamilton find themselves on the social housing wait list. This is the highest our wait list has ever been. Affordable housing has been and continues to be a priority for us here in Hamilton.

Over 2,800 people accessed emergency shelters in 2015. The rapidly growing cost of housing is making it increasingly difficult for many Hamiltonians to own a home or to rent an apartment. The average two-bedroom apartment in Hamilton now costs more than $920 a month.

The announcement in the recent 2016 federal budget, of funding for affordable housing and homelessness initiatives, is welcome. We are encouraged that the federal government has committed to addressing housing issues.

The Homelessness Partnering Strategy currently funds and monitors programs that assist households to prevent homelessness or obtain housing. Our 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Action Plan is committed to strategies and measures to increase our supply of affordable housing.

We have been a national leader in helping to pilot the 20,000 Homes initiative. Our recent Point in Time Count speaks to the unacceptable, affordable housing shortfall in our community and the continuing challenges we experience in housing our homeless.

On May 11, a motion was passed by city council calling for a significant investment in people. The motion represents a total of 50 million dollars invested over 10 years in affordable housing and the reduction of poverty. Further, Council has committed over $1.1 million dollars this year to housing subsidies to improve the affordability of housing for low-income residents. The City also voted to contribute over $3.8 million dollars to social housing repairs. We are committed as a city to doing our part.

“I am joining in the call for the development and implementation of a national housing strategy.” said Mayor Eisenberger, “This is an opportunity for all three levels of government to collaborate in providing affordable housing in our city and across Canada.”

Homelessness and poverty are unacceptable in our city. Together we can make Hamilton the best place to raise a child and age ‎successfully.