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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Metrolinx on Unexpected Pressures- LRT

In light of what could be a series of unexpected costs related to LRT implementation, we asked the following of the city, who redirected our question to Metrolinx. Here is our q/a with Metrolinx:

With respect to LRT implemenation plans in Hamilton, can you advise as to how much of the funding has been set aside for any unexpected pressures/surprises that may arise that will require resources and effort? 

Metrolinx's reply:
Apologies for the delay in responding to your request regarding the Hamilton LRT.

Metrolinx does not release detailed budget information prior to the procurement process in order to ensure a competitive bidding process.

Media Release:Statement From Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR EISENBERGER ON TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE PROVINCE REGARDING THE RESTRUCTURING OF US STEEL.

HAMILTON, ON – September 21, 2016 – The Provincial Government announced this morning that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bedrock Industries Group to facilitate the restructuring of U.S. Steel.

This proposal is welcome news to Hamilton as it represents a potential solution for sustaining operations, retaining jobs, pensions and benefits for active and retired USSC employees, which is of the utmost importance to our community‎. We will continue to monitor ongoing operations at the Hamilton facility.

The City of Hamilton has a clear and vested interest in promoting the economic development of our city. Support for the development of industrial lands and ensuring the continued protection of our environment remains a priority. We look forward to continuing to serve as a key stakeholder and informant to this process.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Media Release: Hamiltonians Against High Hydro



















Hydro Horror in Ontario


If you've checked your mail box today and opened up a hydro bill that looked more like a mortgage payment, welcome to the club.

There is an ongoing issue for residents and businesses across the Province of Ontario, and that is the cost of hydro. One would assume that while we generate hydro-electricity from what we like to call our great wonder of the world (Niagara Falls), we wouldn't be left needing a hand up off the floor after we drop from shock each time we open envelopes from our hydro providers..

When did this madness begin?!?!?!

Well, you can thank previous Liberal Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty. In February of 2009, the Ontario Green Energy Act was introduced into the Ontario legislature. The purpose of the act was to create "green" jobs, encourage energy conservation, and create and expand renewable energy.

How has this act stacked up when it comes to creating jobs?

George Smitherman, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure at the time proclaimed the GEA promised to create around 50,000 jobs. In 2013 the Liberal Party admitted that only 31,0000 had been created. Critics have confirmed that this number is problematic because many of these jobs are "indirect" and in 2011 a report by Ontario's Auditor General Jim McCarter found most of these jobs were short term (less than 3 years) and in construction. Another issue regarding jobs and employment with the GEA was that another report found that for every 1 job created in the renewable energy sector, two to four jobs are being lost in other sectors due to the high costs of electricity prices.

A major study done by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) in 2015 reported that 1 in 20 businesses said they expect to shut down in the next five years due to the continuing skyrocketing costs of hydro prices. Due to high energy costs, businesses have little money left to expand , hire new employees, and make improvements or investments .

Ontario is seeing a steady decline in employment opportunities and abilities for residents to gain work through existing industry or the creation of new small businesses due to the impacts of energy costs.

What are some of the factors driving up the costs?

Global Adjustment fee

After the creation of the GEA a new fee called the Global Adjustment Fee began being charged to Ontarians on their hydro bills. This charge is included in your cost and billed to you and included in with your per kilowatt hour charges for home owners, renters and small businesses. Due to it being included in the cost, it means the amount is hidden. It is said to be 7.9 cents per kilowatt hour or $77 of every $100 billed. This means for every $100 billed the actual used cost of energy is only $23.

For larger business and industry, the fee appears on a separate line on their hydro bills.

Please visit the link for a story on the breakdown of the cost.

Delivery Fees

This is another area where residents and businesses alike are being hammered, even when their consumption is low. One man took to twitter in April to show his bill where he received a $113 Delivery Charge even though there was no hydro usage.

Most families around Hamilton and the GTA that I've spoken to have reported Delivery costs in the amounts of around $185-$200 a bill. Rural areas are seeing much higher fees.

How does this effect businesses?

I recently had the opportunity to see a comparison of a bill from a gentleman who owns a chain of convince stores in Ontario. The delivery fees for one month to his store in Ottawa through energy provider Hydro Ottawa was $708.71 while the cost for delivery to his store in Kemptville with Hydro One had a staggering cost of $1,435.84.

So what does the delivery rate even do?

The Delivery Rate is the cost to move electricity to your home, it is their charge to "deliver it" Part of it is a fixed rate cost and more is added as your hydro consumption increases. Costs are said to go back into the maintenance of lines, up keep of the system , and to help deliver hydro to new customers.

Again , there are other issues with these delivery charges as well. Some stem from when a customer has not used energy, or when they do not have a line or service connected to their property. This is the case for a man just north of Kingston, Ontario who is suing Hydro One after a tree took out the power line to his cottage property and he was continuously charged a delivery fee even though the lines were never re-connected and power not restored to the property.

As you can see, there is clearly a problem here.

So what does the government plan to do to help out home owners and businesses?

After proroguing the legislature last week, Kathleen Wynne announced the government will be removing the 8% provincial portion of the 13% HST from hydro bills . It was also announced there would be more help for large businesses owners and industry, and rural customers.

But how does that add up?

With home owners receiving an estimated $130 "savings" a year, it is not much. That is literally 90 or so coffees from Tim Horton's, or perhaps a week's worth of groceries for two people,, not even enough for a four person family.

Rural residents are said to be getting about $540 in saving a year. Again, depending on the size of their bill in comparison to the 'savings", this may be pennies on the dollar.

According to the Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, the more you use, the more you will save. Unfortunately, this logic just doesn't add up. Ontarians just want to see lower bills made possible by making changes to the failed energy policies, not increases in the provincial debt or monies be removed from one program to subsidize another.

This program is said to start in January of 2017. There is one catch though.. where exactly is the money coming from? You see, the government cannot just remove taxes from goods and services, so they must subsidize this cost to pass the "savings" on to you.

What does that mean?

You are literally taking money from your left pocket just to put it in your right.

Where exactly is the money coming from and for how long will this program be in effect?

No one knows. Finance Minister Sousa could not provide an answer when asked last week where the estimated one billion dollars would be coming from, and Kathleen Wynne had an entirely different story when she explaned where it is coming from.

http://globalnews.ca/video/2938581/liberals-wont-say-how-long-hydro-rebate-will-remain-in-place
So what can we do ?

Well, we've tried to conserve energy and that has only resulted higher prices, and in needing to sell excess hydro off at a cheaper rates to neighbours in other provinces or American states. Some critics have argued that the GEA needs to be scrapped and the 20 year long renewable energy contracts given out under the GEA need to be ripped up.

Aside from the growing rates of hydro prices, Ontario residents and businesses are also preparing for the introduction of "cap and trade" which will see their energy bills rise as well. And just like your Global Adjustment Fee, it will also be hidden in your costs and not openly displayed on a separate line for your viewing.

On top of this as well, last week CUPE announced that they will be suing the Ontario government in regards to the sale of Hydro One to private interests.

While the next election isn't until the spring of 2018, residents of Hamilton have decided that there is something else we can do to try and get a better "deal" on hydro.


Protest.

On Wednesday, September 28 at 5 p.m at City Hall, Hamiltonians will have the opportunity to speak out and share their hydro horror stories with other residents, businesses, local politicians and party affiliates.

I am asking that everyone who is fed up with this ydro boondoggle come down and join us as we rally against high hydro costs, the sale of Hydro One, and the mismanagement and abuse of our energy sector.

Please visit the Facebook event page for more information and contact info.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1577987359177634/

Sarah Warry-Poljanski

  

References :
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Ontario- Unplugged?

The following excerpt is fairly typical of the emails we have received on the issue of recent increases in Hydro bills:

" I just opened my hydro bill. I almost fell off of my chair. It went up by over $300. And it's just my daughter and I here. And we do our laundry on weekends, we stay away from peak periods and even run our dishwasher in the middle of the night. I replaced my lights with LEDs. What the hell is going on???? And why do we need this 8% rebate? As if that's going to make up for it. I can see people losing their homes because of this. It's like paying a small mortgage. Can you please cover this? It's outrageous!!!!!"

In that spirit, please share your stories. Did your bill go up? By how much? What do you think of this? Are costs spiraling out of control? Your thoughts? 

Media Advisory: Mayor Eisenberger in Eindhoven, Netherlands for 2016 Global Forum/Shaping the Future Conference

September 19, 2016, Hamilton, ON – As part of the Intelligent Community Forum Canada delegation, Mayor Eisenberger is attending the 25th edition of the Global Forum -Shaping the Future – International think-thank on the digital future, in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

A result of the Mayor’s Intelligent Community Task Force that was established this past March to explore and address how the City of Hamilton builds an Intelligent Community, attending the forum provides an opportunity to gain further information on the digitalization of our city.

“We need to address the digital divide and the need for harnessing the digital world to create jobs, connect our citizens and provide access for all,” said Mayor Eisenberger.

The Global Forum, created in 1992, brings together more than 300 participants from around the world. They provide an arena for dissemination and exchanges of ideas, and opportunity for developing innovative solutions and partnerships in building a more connected city and a more intelligent community.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Media Release: Bus Stop Posters Intended to Provoke Thought

Have you noticed new I AM AFFECTED posters in Hamilton bus tops, libraries and recreational centres across the city?

During the month of September, these posters have appeared in 73 highly visible bus stops across the City Of Hamilton. The posters are part of a campaign intended to educate citizens on the effects of the Canadian Indian Residential School System.

The Our Voice. Our Truth posters were first unveiled earlier this summer in a moving launch at Hamilton City Hall. Nine unique posters and banners have been created.

Lyndon George, the Clinic’s Aboriginal Justice Coordinator, who heads up the YÉN: TENE initiative came up with the idea of the posters.

“The campaign was developed to initiate conversation and provoke thought on the Canadian Indian Residential School system and the intergenerational trauma caused by that system,” states George.

The campaign’s second phase called I AM COMMITTED will be rolled out at a media event later this month. Some of the individuals featured in the posters will be at this event and will share their stories. Details will follow.

George acknowledges help from community partners like the Professional Aboriginal Advocacy Networking Group (PAANG), the YÉN: TENE Advisory Committee and the City of Hamilton. Legal Aid Ontario provided funding for the posters.

YÉN:TENE works to improve access to justice for Aboriginal people in Hamilton and surrounding communities. In 2013 the Clinic embarked on a collaborative journey with Aboriginal agencies and networks to build relationships of respect and trust. The initiative has been named YÉN:TENE, a Mohawk phrase meaning “You and I will go there together.”

Friday, September 16, 2016

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Sips and Bites

Sips and Bites: A is for ANNA, B is for BIG HEAD, BLACKTREE & BUNDT, and C is for CHILIFEST 

Here is an exciting grab bag of upcoming and recent events for readers.

A is for ANNA: The wonderful Anna Olson (lately of all those Home Hardware ads on TV and print, and truly an extremely talented chef and baker) will be at Springridge Farm, near Milton, Saturday, September 24 at 2pm. She’s releasing her new book, Bake with Anna Olson, and to participate in a meet and greet with her sign up on the website. While there you can also check out the October 1st event with perennial visitor, and tallest chef in Canada, Michael Smith. A prodigious author, with a great


Monday, September 12, 2016

Let's Put the Brakes On LRT- by NOHAMILTONLRT


Let's Put the Brakes on LRT

When it comes to Hamiltons LRT there are two very different trains of thought. There are a few very vocal groups who seem to think they know what is good for all of us and think they speak for the masses. But there is a silent anger brewing for those who feel their voice has been ignored, who think this is some legacy project that caters to a few thousand, will cost a fortune and will radically change the landscape of city that is just now coming into its own.

No one is against good sensible transportation, but when it serves only a few, one has to ask , is this what Hamilton really needs? More growth is happening on the city's mountain, and yet they have virtually been shut out of this debate.

In a time when technology and ride shares, like Uber and autonamous vehicles have expanded transportation around the world, that will virtually change the way we move around, does it make sense to spend a billion dollars on a system that is already outdated?

In urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver density and population demand high speed track service. 1.8 million riders are moved in Toronto every day. Hamilton simply doesn’t have that ridership to successfully sustain an LRT profitably.

"It will be great for area businesses proponents argue." Nonsense. The proposed route reveals stops don’t even go near existing businesses, eliminating over 34 bus stops from the main bus route , as well as the other buses that travel the route.. And of course we are assuming those businesses will survive the many years long construction. In Toronto, the St Clair track construction lasted 5 years. Many years longer than scheduled, marred by unforeseen infrastructure issues and cost over runs that went 40 million over the initial 60 million dollar budget.

Customers avoiding traffic jams disappeared and hundreds of businesses were shuttered. Today businesses along St Clair track face a repeat of interrupted business as the tracks are torn up again because of mistakes made during that original construction.

Along Eglinton, construction of new subway tracks has been going on for more than 2 years. Traffic is snarled 24 hours a day. Businesses are being decimated. That project is also delayed and nowhere near finished, and already it too is over budget. For 6 months residents put up with the constant drum of jack hammers and the hum of boring machines. Traffic in the area is terrible. Motorists and heavy construction vehicles anxious to avoid it have turned once quiet residential streets into busy thorough fares. Lawn signs warning of children at play are everywhere. This is a reality facing Hamiltonians.

Need more proof of Metrolinx’s failures? The UP express, a link from Union Station to Pearson Airport, a must have built for the Pan American games has been rife with problems. It doesn’t serve anywhere near the 2.5 million people that it was intended to service. Daily ridership is actually less than current daily ridership of the HSR B-line bus which is the reason it costs so much and loses money.Trains sit empty and prices are simply too high. For $ 12.00 one way ,taxis and Uber are the better way to go. Already Ontario tax payers are out of pocket half a billion dollars for the ill thought project. And its now you, the tax payer who are subsidizing it to the tune of 20 million a yr. Requests for the Ombudsman to review what went wrong have been shuttered. An investigation by the Toronto Sun revealed Metrolinx, the government agency responsible for building Hamilton's LRT, revealed through leaked emails that they told the transportation minister a review was “unwelcome”. How does an agency with a spotty record of incompetence since 2006, that has been the subject of several auditors reports showing a record of being late, and running over budget avoid such scrutiny?

In a recent radio interview Sam Merulla, a proponent of the LRT, was asked what due diligence the city has taken to avoid a repeat of such mistakes with Metrolinx. His response; “he trusts Kathleen Wynne and Metrolinx to do the job right”.. Really? What an incredulous statement given the failed track records of both. It makes one wonder how Hamilton City council can go ahead with something so expensive without a thorough investigation into previous mistakes that will cost the tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars for years to come.

Last week expropriation notices went out to 45 Hamilton land and business owners who will be told the government is taking their land for track construction. Up to 250 letters will go out in total. Owners should be paid market value for their land, but that is still to be determined. Some will welcome the purchase , others won’t. For them it’s tough luck. As stated by LRT proponents it is “short term pain for long term gain”. Expropriation is almost impossible to fight unless of course you have more money than the government.

My family owns Gilbert's Big and Tall which has been part of Hamilton's landscape for 63 yrs . To date it is uncertain as to what will happen with respect to expropriation but our concern is how will the many years of construction affect our business which is our livelihood? And while some derelict properties wont be missed, there will be historical landmarks that will be demolished that will forever change this city. Are Hamiltonians ok with the wrecking ball taking that kind of History from our city?

Everyone wants good transit. Growing cities need it, Hamilton is no exception. But simple, logical questions must be answered before city streets are dug up and traffic and local business disrupted. Have city officials reviewed Metrolinx projects to assure past mistakes aren’t repeated? Have provisions been put in place guaranteeing tax payers wont be on the hook for late construction. A third party will own and operate the LRT system while Metrolinx will receive the revenue .

Will city officials be sourcing LRT cars from Bombardier which has a terrible track record? They are now 2 years late delivering Toronto 204 street cars, and 50 million over budget. Is this the company Hamilton Council plans to get LRT cars from? Have contracts been written with clauses protecting tax payers if delivery of product is late? As well as project cost overruns?

Have officials factored in traffic impact, not just to main thruways able to deal with construction vehicles and increased traffic, but to small communities along the LRT Route that will be flooded with motorists trying to make up for lost time? Already changes along the arterial routes such as Herkimer, Charlton and Cannon streets have become limited due to bike lanes and parking, what will happen when more traffic is diverted onto them?

But the real question is whether the $ 1 billion should be used for an LRT which is already an antiquated system that will need continuous repair , upkeep and maintenance where costs will fall on the shoulders of all the Hamilton tax payers even though the LRT will service a small portion of the population. Or should we consider implementing newer more progressive technology such as BRT or autonomous vehicles? Can Hamiltonians accept seeing local businesses struggle or shuttered, buildings and landmarks demolished? Does Hamilton really need this, or is this simply a legacy project for a few politicians anxious for a ribbon to cut and a photograph to hang on their wall? Who will ultimately be accountable for this project if it proves to be a mistake?

If you would like to contact the No Hamilton LRT Group, you can do by accessing one or more of the following:

Web Site: www.NOHAMILTONLRT.WIX.COM/MYSITE
Email: NOHAMILTONLRT@OUTLOOK.COM
Facebook: NOHAMILTONLRT

Please note. People who submit comments and solely use the handle "anonymous" will not have their posts appear. To have your post appear, you must abide by the site policies and either use your real name, or choose a handle.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Anonymous?????

While The Hamiltonian continues to encourage our readers to use their real names when they submit their comments, we continue to respect the fact that some people may not be comfortable doing so, for a variety of reasons. Thus, we continue to allow for anonymous comments, providing such comments abide by the The Hamiltonian's policies.

However, many anonymous posters are  using the handle anonymous  to sign their posts. As you can imagine, when many people are using the same signature - anonymous- it becomes impossible to discern which comment belongs to which anonymous poster. This frustrates the reader's ability to follow the thread, and also results in confusion for those trying to get their views across.

The Hamiltonian cannot rely on a technology solution to force people to type in a handle (if they are not prepared to use their real names). This is because the technology platform we use, does not allow for this. As many of you know, from time to time, we plead with our readers to use a unique handle. This results in some short term success, but the trend reverts back. 

At our last team meeting , we discussed some non tech solutions to this problem. One suggestion was that we allow a grace period, but at a point in time, we do not publish any comments that are solely signed anonymous. This will force submissions to include a handle.

  Your thoughts? Any other ideas?

Please note: we are not looking for opinions as to whether to allow anonymous posting, because we have thoroughly considered that topic in the past. We are asking for ideas on how to manage the abundance os posters who use anonymous as their handle.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Link of the Moment

Please click here to see a schedule of upcoming LRT meetings that the city will be hosting.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Media Release:ntario Ministry of Transportation’s (MTO) Transportation Tomorrow Survey launches tomorrow

Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s (MTO) Transportation Tomorrow Survey launches tomorrow in the Greater Toronto and Greater Golden Horseshoe areas

HAMILTON, ON – September 6, 2016 – Staring tomorrow, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will launch its seventh Transportation TomorrowSurvey in municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Greater Golden Horseshoe areas, including Hamilton.

The survey represents a partnership between the Ontario government, the Toronto Transit Commission, Metrolinx/GO Transit, and 19 municipal/local governments in the Greater Toronto Area and Greater Golden Horseshoe Area. It will collect information from more than 163,500 households on the travel habits of residents and help in the long-term planning of the transportation systems in these regions.

The survey will consist of telephone interviews or online survey of a randomly selected sample of households in the survey area. The survey is voluntary and all information collected will be kept confidential and cannot be traced back to individuals or households.

“We value the input provided by Hamilton citizens on their daily travel patterns. The confidential information gathered through this survey will help shape Hamilton’s transportation plans and investment decisions for our quality of life and health, supporting our economic growth and improving our environment,”said Alan Kirkpatrick, Manager of Transportation Planning for the City of Hamilton.

The Transportation Tomorrow Survey has been conducted every five years since 1986 and the City of Hamilton has participated in all seven surveys. Information gathered from the survey will inform all major City of Hamilton transportation-related planning initiatives, including the city-wide 10-year Transportation Master Plan, Cycling Master Plan, Pedestrian Mobility Plan and other significant planning initiatives.

The survey results will be released in late 2017.

For more information about the survey, contact the Ministry of Transportation at 1-800-268-4686 or visithttp://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/transit/transportation-tomorrow-survey.shtml


Monday, September 5, 2016

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