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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Question of the Moment

Can it be the answer?

A Shout Out to Staff on the LRT File

We thought we'd take a moment to recognize city staff for the good work and professionalism they have been displaying on the LRT file. 

It is often difficult speaking "truth to power" especially when the LRT issue has caused such division amongst council and the public. 

Still we find staffers such as Paul Johnson, Chris Murray, Gary Moore and we are sure countless others, doing their best to fulfill their roles of providing good information and advice to their political masters. 

We are also certain that additional information requests to help make a determination on this thorny issue has caused staff to be working long hours behind the scenes. In addition, the media lens can offer up yet another challenge and on behalf of The Hamiltonian, we can only say that staff have responded to our requests respectfully, promptly and professionally. 

On behalf of The Hamiltonian and all of us, thank-you.

The Hamiltonian

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tips

The following are some tips on conversing online on The Hamiltonian or at other sites:

1. Be prepared to be right and wrong. Someone once said that it takes no special talent to be mean.  Conversely, it takes great strength and eloquence to concede part or the whole of a position you took, when necessary.

2. Argue your points with spirit but don't surrender your respect for others.

3. Don't attempt to ridicule others by referring to them by anything other than the proper name or handle they identify themselves with. 

4. Whether you agree with others, understand that they are here because they have an interest in the well being of our great city. That, we can all agree on.

5. Don't make a nuisance of yourself. The Hamiltonian remains a not for profit service to Hamiltonians, and it is unfair to expect our staff to intervene in schoolyard like tactics. 

6. Try to have fun. Its all about our great city.

Pipe Dreams or Needed Enhancements?

Despite clarity being provided at the recent meeting, there appears to continue to be some confusion, at least amongst some, with respect to the need for replacing pipes in the LRT corridor, should the LRT project proceed. So, we went to  Gary Moore, Director of Engineering Services, City of Hamilton.

The following questions pertain to the pipes within the context of Hamilton’s 11km proposed LRT line:

1. In a recent meeting, it was said that these pipes are 20 years in to a 100 year expected life span. Is this true? 


This was a generalized statement in regard to the overall life left in the underground infrastructure as an asset class. It was meant to confer the idea that the underground is in very good condition and is relatively early in its life cycle condition. Relatively speaking, approximately 20 years old out of a one hundred year expectancy.

2. If LRT was not planned, or if the LRT plan does not go forward, would the city be doing any significant work related to pipes on this stretch, or are they in stable/good shape to continue on as is, barring any catastrophe? 

We don’t see any large scale work expected in the corridor to deal with condition, however there may be capacity related works to permit development that have to be done.

3. If LRT was to proceed, what is the opportunity(ies) that present themselves related to pipes/infrastructure, and how would the city seize them? What is their worth to the city? 

The single largest opportunity with respect to the underground infrastructure and the LRT is with respect to upsizing to facilitate development and address existing capacity issues. To construct the LRT, Metrolinx would have to move just about every pipe in the corridor. Although the network of pipes, both water and sewer, are in good condition they have been placed over a long period of time, as required and not necessarily in the optimal location or arrangement but economical at the time. This provides for an opportunity to have the system optimized and upsized at a fraction of what it would have cost the City to do the same work on its own. This work is conservatively valued at $160M to $180M+/- and the cost to City by leveraging the LRT work is estimated to be less than $10M.

4. With respect to the opportunities you may have identified in the answer to question 3 above, are these essential changes that the city would otherwise have done within the foreseeable future, or are these simply opportunities that are based incidentally, should LRT proceed? In other words, are they must haves that would have otherwise been done, or nice to haves based on opportunity to get them done?

They may or may not be done as they may be unaffordable otherwise. If the work was not done it would not eliminate the opportunity for development along the corridor but it would increase the Developer’s cost to the point where it may not be as attractive an investment. The underground infrastructure work, associated with the LRT initiative, should be seen an opportunity to get something that would be very beneficial and likely otherwise unaffordable.

Thanks Gary for this information and for your prompt response. 

Note: Comments that are disrespectful or otherwise unprofessional will not be published.If you don't see your comment published, rethink how you are conveying your thoughts.

Quote of the Moment

"The reality is, social media is too often a swamp of derision, rudeness and bad manners. The belittling excesses we're witnessing over the LRT debate are, regrettably, to a large extent also a sign of our times. But this dark side of the LRT debate goes well beyond social media or personal encounters."
Andrew Dreschel of The Hamilton Spectator


The Hamiltonian agrees that discussion can often times become belligerent in all forums, and hopes that we can model good behavior here while discussing LRT and any other issues.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

LRT-The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?

There is no doubt that ailing infrastructure is a real problem for many municipalities.  However, attaching the problem to LRT may result in casting LRT as a misdirected solution. Hamilton is attempting to find the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs. If it proceeds with LRT as its choice, the fact that it will involve access to and replacement of a selected 11km stretch of infrastructure is incidental.

While allowing that some incidental benefits would result, by virtue of access and repair/replacement/and enhancement (in some cases) of infrastructure and technological features, the thirst to address these issues which, arguably should have been done as part of good statescraft and governance, may be having the adverse affect of sending LRT adrift.

As part of Tuesday's meeting, a certain degree of strain was apparent in efforts to cast LRT as an opportunity for replacing and upgrading underground pipes, allowing for upgrades in utility technologies and even a reference to the mitigation of storms caused by climate change. Staff did an excellent job of responding forthrightly to questions concerning auxiliary benefits a LRT implementation could offer.

For example, staff indicated that the pipes along the stretch were in pretty good shape and one staffer stated that they were 20 years in, on a 100 hundred year life expectancy. Having said that, the staffer also allowed for the opportunity of upgrading the pipe to a bigger capacity.

And while we would not dismiss that this type of implementation, based on its degree of  penetration of existing infrastructure, can provide for auxiliary benefits albeit confined to an 11km stretch that may, in some cases, have a greater city wide impact (but not necessarily the case in all instances), treating LRT as salvific in this context, can serve to make people wonder about whether we are considering its implementation for the right reasons.

Hamilton is attempting to find the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs. We sincerely hope that it finds the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs.

The Hamiltonian

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Taking Care of Business- Tanya Smith Photography

Tanya Smith
In this edition of Taking Care of Business, feature whereby The Hamiltonian features a local business, we weclome Tanya Smith of Tanya Smith Photography. Enjoy our chat with Tanya:

1. Your photography business is located in the Cotton Factory. Why did you choose Hamilton and how long have you been in business in Hamilton?


Honestly, Hamilton was not my first choice. In fact it was not even on my radar, but I knew exactly what I wanted in a studio, but all I was finding was boring office spaces with low ceilings, no windows and beige carpet. When I started investigating more creative spaces, there was Toronto or Hamilton. Toronto was too far for me to drive, not to mention way too expensive, so I decided to check out the Hammer. The Cotton Factory was suggested to me, and the minute I stepped in the front doors, I knew I had found the new home for my studio. It was love at first sight! Brick walls, amazing windows with natural light, 18 foot ceilings, original hardwood floors- it's a photographers dream come true! And only 30 minutes away. I have been there for almost 3 years.

2. What sets your business apart from other like businesses? 

 I specialize in photographing women. I wont shoot your wedding, or your babies, but I am very good

Friday, April 21, 2017

With Paul Johnson- on LRT

Enjoy our chat with Paul Johnson Director, LRT Project Coordination, Light Rail Transit Office .

Mr. Johnson:
Can you advise if any representatives from the utility companies or cable companies have approached the city with any plans or proposals to conduct any upgrade or repair work on the 1km LRT stretch, should the project proceed? If so, what is the nature of their proposals.

Paul replied:

Third party/private utilities deal directly with Metrolinx on this project. I asked Metrolinx for a statement regarding your question below and their response was as follows:

“There is ongoing engagement with private utility companies. Part of this engagement involves identifying potential enhancements that they may require in the corridor. At this stage in the project, these discussions with utility companies are ongoing and at this time there is no further information to share.” 

Thanks Paul for facilitating this response. 

Episode 9 of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns"

In this episode of As Hamilton Twists and Turns, the one dubbed "Heroes and Villains", we find both Mayor Eisenberger and Clr. Terry Whitehead potentially being cast as heroes or villains depending on which side of the LRT fence you are on.

Clr. Whitehead can be cast as the hero for delaying  a key vote that could have seen the end of LRT.  Likewise, the Mayor has a strong claim due to his relentless and heroic efforts in selling the perspective on the value of LRT.  

Conversely, Whitehead could wear the villains mask by, according to some,  being an ongoing thorn in the LRT file, while the Mayor can do the same for, according to some, trying to push a solution that is not right for Hamilton.

Many of the other councillors have figuratively jumped into costumes while a few stragglers are eyeing them. 

To complicate matters further, a poll reveals that 55% of decided respondents are not supportive of LRT, while The Hamiltonian warns of the marginal value of such polls, given where we have been. For her part, The Premier refers to the 1 Billion as designated for transit in Hamilton, adding that she hopes it's LRT. 

In the interim as our heroes and villains clash, our friends at The Hamilton Spectator featured a quite telling front page picture of audience members asleep during the marathon Tuesday meeting that ended in a deferral.

And while LRT's secondary benefits are being touted as something akin to the best thing since sliced bread, former Mayor of Hamilton and current M.P. Bob Bratina submits his thoughts in The Hamiltonian.

Could it get more interesting? Almost certainly. Stay tuned and sharpen your fingernails....

Fade to black with Paul Johnson looking a little tired, turning to Chris Murray; Clr. Whitehead trying on a cape while Mayor Eisenberger opts for Captain America style shield bearing LRT on its face. M.P. Bratina at his keyboard.....


Missed Episode 8? Click here to go there. 


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The LRT Matrix

After a marathon meeting, the Mayor very wisely asked staff to develop a matrix that would assist council in making a decision with respect to LRT and its fate. The Mayor asked that the benefits of going forward are clearly laid out, as well as pros and cons. Clr. Whitehead asked that risks also be included.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mayor Eisenberger Keeps Pushing

With a crucial vote that may effectively derail Hamilton's LRT objectives, the Mayor continues to go all out to persuade his colleagues and Hamiltonians. The following is an email the Mayor sent this afternoon to his council colleagues, copying the media.


Colleagues, Attached is a great article about the economic uplift realized and to be realized in Kitchener/Waterloo as a result of their LRT investment. According to Regional Chairman Seiling the 13 station stops has already generated 1.8 Billion dollars of investment around them. That does not include the additional investment that have been realized in between stops. Please read the article for added additional information re: real estate forecast. http://www.cushwakewr.com/news/right-track-real-estate-insights-region-waterloo-rapid-transit-system
Cheers Fred

Monday, April 17, 2017

M.P. Bratina- On LRT Survey Results

M.P. and long time friend of The Hamiltonian, Bob Bratina, had this to say about the results of the LRT survey: 

"The Provincial Government will now be aware of validated public opinion re LRT as they approach a difficult election. Council should now consider presenting options that benefit all area ridings based on the Premier's commitment to Hamilton transit funding. The Rapid Ready Document which calls for transit ridership growth as a precursor to future LRT. The Province made it clear that Regional Express Rail is now driving transit planning which could help accelerate half hour all day GO Train Service from Stoney Creek to the GTA, especially in view of the recent Federal announcement of $196 million in funding for the Burlington-Stoney Creek corridor."

And the Survey Says......

55% of decided respondents are against LRT. 

63% believe that a referendum should be held prior to a decision being made.



See Spec story here. 
See Polling for Numbers here. 

LRT and the Wisdom of Solomon

As the Mayor continues to double down on LRT, doing his best to convey the value of going forward, the question remains whether his colleagues are convinced.

No doubt, the project is large and complex and presents inherent risks, which is true for any such large scale project.

Some have proposed that the LRT solution is a solution that gets at our ailing infrastructure, and while that argument may be relevant, it may put the transit component of LRT in a secondary light. Does that add or detract from the value of LRT as a transit remedy; you decide.

Facing death by delay, Wednesday's vote will be very telling. With 30 million dollars  already spent, will council see Wednesday as an opportunity to curtail the spending on a project that is not right for Hamilton, or will it invest in LRT as the right solution for Hamilton?

One thing for certain, this moment will require the wisdom of Solomon.

Update: The Spec is reporting that the results of the city wide survey reveal that 55% of decided respondents, are against the project. See full article here

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Easter

For those who subscribe to the Christian faith, have a blessed and Happy Easter. For everyone, Happy Easter and happy holiday. 

The Hamiltonian

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pic of the Moment

Mayor Fred Eisenberger at his visit to the Waterloo Region’s LRT.

Here is the text of the Mayor's letter to Councillors, that was included inn this media release:



Dear Councillors,

I would like to take this opportunity to update you on my visit to the Waterloo Region’s LRT open this past Saturday.

As I arrived at the LRT’s maintenance and storage facility in Waterloo, I could not help but be impressed by the crowd of more than 1,000 people who lined up to see the LRT car and inspect the first LRT car firsthand. There were literally people of all ages on hand, from small children to seniors.

I was greeted at the open house by Ken Seiling, Waterloo Region’s chair. He explained to me that Waterloo Region has branded its LRT with the name ION. GrandLinq is the Region’s public-private


With Clr. Skelly- On LRT

Enjoy this Q/A with Clr. Donna Skelly:

Clr. Skelly: You have long been rather fearless about expressing your concerns about the LRT project.

Many are marrying the LRT funding to an opportunity to refresh our infrastructure and address other longstanding concerns. What do you say to those who warn that turning our backs on the 1 Billion is also akin to a missed opportunity to address our other related needs?


I have been consistently opposed to the LRT for a number of reasons. The funding package offered to us by the province could, in my view, be better spent on more modern transit options; such as electric buses. The money could also be used to expand GO service, and address the bottleneck at Aldershot. This $1 billion has never been about infrastructure, as the infrastructure that would be replaced has a lifecycle of between 10 and 15 years remaining. If the money can be used towards updating infrastructure, there are many other projects in the city with a higher priority.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - A Slice Off the Old Block

A slice off the old Block

A month or so ago, a cooking buddy gave me the heads up about a new place in Burlington I had to visit. Thanks Chris!


Barely into its third month of business, the Block Company’s website is as full of promise as the newish John Street store. The brainchild of restaurant business veteran, Troy Smith, the narrow shop features a refrigerated case containing an enticing array of cured meats and premium cheese.

Smith’s friend, Chef Joshua Ross, is lending a helping hand to get the business off the ground. He says “It’s all about the best of the best, so the public can have access to restaurant quality charcuterie and special cheeses.” The latter are mainly local artisanal offerings, including great ones from the Upper Canada Cheese Company in Lincoln, New Hamburg’s Mountainoak and Gunn’s Hill in Woodstock. There are also international gems like the sumptuous – and mortgage-worthy – Truffle Sottocenere from Italy, among others.

Smith says “My charcuterie and cheese is forever changing, hence why I don’t have an online menu. We have a community board here at the shop where locals make a list of things they would like to


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Polling for Numbers

Policy by polling is a very slippery slope and resorting to it to inform the LRT debate is more a reflection of desperation than anything else. 

It seems that some politicians are investing in an expected "ah ha" moment that would fall out of the poll. Let's assume that 80% of the people polled felt LRT was a great idea. Or that 80% felt it was a terrible idea. What does it really tell us, and should we hang this decision on a poll?

We suspect that what all sides of the equation would agree on, is that LRT is a big project; one that is rife with layers of complexity. That inofitself is not sufficient to determine its fate. Many projects are by nature, complex. 

And so after years of consideration, votes, information packages, debates,briefings and the like, are we to believe that a poll of 2100 people no less, could help tip the balance?

Polls are useful tools and they have a time and place. Effective community input is a critical component of any endeavor, and input on the LRT project, if anything, has been abundant and spirited.  

We hope the poll is administered as effectively as possible and its results beyond dispute. But even so, what will it prove and what does it say about Hamilton's ability to make appropriate decisions? 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Episode 8 of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns"

In this episode of As Hamilton Twists and Turns, entitled the Hanging by the Fingernails one, we find Mayor Eisenberger seemingly miffed at Clr. Partridge's op ed, in which she states that she can no longer support the LRT project . The Clr. is already being criticized by some from the LRT lobby who have referred to her rationale as "absurd." 

Meanwhile, desperate attempts are being made to remind Hamiltonians of the history of the support behind the project as well as attempts to marry the 1 Billion dollar influx of cash to a remedy for aging infrastructure and other aliments that plague Hamilton.

The warning that it's LRT money only, and it will be reallocated almost immediately to others who are pining for this type of funding, has taken on a darker shade, perhaps demanding of a horror movie soundscape. As the pressure continues, the Mayor may be swinging his squash racket a little bit harder these days.

While Eisenberger gets full points for plowing ahead in the face of greater degrees of resistance, the real question is whether the tide has turned. And if it has, will LRT be found washed ashore, another victim of polarization, politics and ?

Stay tuned, and hang on by your fingernails....

Fade to black with an image of Clr Partridge speaking to her constituents, Clr. Whitehead speaking to Clr. Skelly while the Mayor and others huddle.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The 1 Billion $ Dazzle?

Mayor Fred Eisenberger
Enjoy this Q/A with Mayor Fred Eisenberger:


With the 1 Billion dollar influx of committed cash from the province for LRT, the allure of the money to construct a new public transit system in the form of LRT is understandably attractive. However, some may wonder whether Hamilton has been “dazzled” by the money, to the extent that certain necessary conversations have not been adequately pursued.

For example, is there a concern that the future driven implementation of LRT may result in a system that becomes largely outdated, before it is active? More specifically, have there been adequate conversations about technology trends as they apply to the future alternatives people will have such as self driving cars, electric cars and “car to go” systems for example? In essence, is there a danger that the 1 Billion dollar investment is leading down an entrenched path that is somewhat blind to future trends and innovations in transportation, possibly creating a burden to the taxpayers of Hamilton and frustrating the pursuit of better transportation technologies? 

Mayor Eisenberger responded: 

It was determined that LRT was the preferred technology for the B-line corridor for many reasons including the fact it would move high volumes of people in a rapid, reliable and safe way. LRT will also operate along a corridor with a higher density of population and jobs.

Self-driving vehicles, although an exciting prospect, would not serve the same functions as an LRT along the B-line corridor because these vehicles continue to be single occupant vehicles with dispersed origins and destinations.

Implementing LRT does not preclude the City from exploring other transportation innovations as a complement to our overall transit and transportation plans.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Perspectives Virtual Panel- On LRT








As efforts related to LRT implementation continue, short of a final approval, The Hamiltonian thought it timely to check in with our Perspectives Virtual Panel on LRT. Enjoy our Q/A with the panel:

As Hamilton continues on the path of developing and implementing LRT, short of a final approval, more and more information is coming to light in terms of the associated risks and benefits.

On the risk side however, the requirement for a healthy critical mass of people who use transit, is signaling trouble ahead. Combined with HSR rates and the challenges associated with ridership, some


Friday, March 3, 2017

Mayor Eisenberger- on Hydro Costs

With all the angst concerning hydro bills and questions about what the city is doing to advocate on behalf of Hamiltonians, we checked in with Mayor Eisenberger.

Mr. Mayor:

As you know, Hamiltonians continue to be concerned about the increases in the cost of hydro. We’ve been recently advised that Hamiltonians Against High Hydro group are planning a protest rally for March 8th on a related matter.

We respect the fact that you nor city council has ultimate control over the setting of hydro rates in the city or in Ontario. However, given the sustained angst that hydro rates are causing and the ongoing concerns of Hamiltonians, what measures has the city taken to advocate for Hamiltonians in this regard? Will any further measures be taken beyond what may have been done to date? If so, what is the nature of those measures.

The Mayor responded as follows:


"We continue to communicate with our Provincial partners, reiterating our concern over the rising costs of hydro and the impact it has on our residents, businesses and city operations.

The goal of municipally owned Local Distribution Companies such as the newly merged Alectra is to keep the cost of electricity distribution as low as possible.

On March 2nd the Ontario Government announced measures to reduce electricity rates by 25%.

Additionally, lower income residential customers enrolled in the Ontario Electricity Support Program could see an approximate 48% reduction in their bill. This announcement is a welcomed step for our community.”

What are your thoughts?  Is the Mayor and the city doing enough? What, if anything, should be done additionally? 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Upcoming Protest Rally

The Hamiltonian has received the following notice of a protest rally to be held March 8th.

On Wednesday, March 8 at 6 pm the Hamiltonians Against High Hydro group will be holding a rally outside City Hall to "protest" the pay of the Mayor and Councilor Pearson.

We are asking that the money the Mayor and Councilor receive (from rate payers who are already struggling) be put in to a designated fund so that Hamilton residents can apply for help and receive a certain amount of money to put towards their hydro bill if they meet criteria that would be set by the city.

Thank you,
Sarah Warry Poljanski

http://www.hamiltonnews.com/news-story/7159778-hamilton-mountain-councillors-urge-politicians-to-donate-board-salaries-to-hydro-fund/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/eisenberger-hydro-earnings-1.3996869

Monday, February 27, 2017

With Paul Johnson- on The Bay Street LRT Stop

Enjoy our chat with LRT Project Director Paul Johnson, on the topic of the possible Bay Street stop. 

In August 2016, The Hamiltonian interviewed officials from Portland Oregon to get some insights into their LRT experience and lessons learned. This exchange could be seen here: http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2016/08/a-portland-perspective-on-lrt_23.html

When asked specifically about lessons learned and things to watch out for, one of the pieces of advice is quoted below:

"Probably the biggest lesson I've learned, is as we build extensions to the line, be careful of how many stations you put in. The number of stations and the travel times...so, it's a combination of how often do you stop and how important the stations are. We basically have a very long line and to get from one end to the other takes you a long time. So, be careful about the number of stations you put in. I think you need to find a balance between what's there today, what can you imagine can be there in the future, what are great bus connections, ...but everybody wants a station and you need to be frugal with those as you look at that extension. Make sure you're smart about when you're putting those in. Because it's really about high capacity transit. It's not a bus. There's a tool for every kind of transit.

In light of this, and assuming LRT proceeds, and in the context of a contemplated Bay street stop, can


Picture of the Moment – 15th Living Rock Soupfest

Click on Pic to Make it Bigger
Our Food for Thought columnist, Alex Bielak, will be one of the foodie judges for the 15th Living Rock Soupfest tomorrow, Tuesday February 28th, 11:00am-9:00pm at the Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen’s. There’s entertainment, and local celebrities and politicians come out to serve soup and help with the event. Proceeds from this popular event support youth-at-risk and tickets are available at the door: opening ceremonies are at 11:45. Drop on by to support a great cause.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Classic Rock Show- Hamilton Place

Quite possibly, The Classic Rock Show is the best classic rock show on the planet. Starting off strong with Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love the eight piece band made up of two male and one female vocalist, two lead/rhythm guitarists, a bass player, keyboard player and drummer, churned out masterful renditions of classic rock standards. 

Song after song was executed precisely as initially recorded, virtually note for note. The band's accuracy was so exact that they demonstrated an uncanny ability to play songs in perfect sync with the songs' originals videos that were often projected during the song. 

There were multiple standing ovations and priceless moments too numerous to mention. From the hard hitting Texas rock of ZZ Top's La Grange  to the epic Bat Out of Hell, the band energized the audience throughout.  Simmering down only for a moment to deliver an unplugged version of Led Zeppelin's Going to California, the band proved that they in fact are masters of the alphabet of classic rock. A show well worth seeing. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

LRT- an Oh My moment?

LRT continues to present a myriad of conversations and challenges, in a way fairly typical of a project this large. To date, in the face of these challenges, camps have become apparent and tough questions continue to be asked by some. 

Is it unusual that something this big would cause angst, divisiveness and deviations from original plan? Not really. It would be remarkable and arguably impossible to think otherwise. 

And while the camps are clear and there appears no sign of individuals becoming dislodged from their entrenched positions. today, as reported in the Hamilton Spectator (click here to go there or purchase today's print copy), Clr. Merulla has indicated that he plans to bring forward a motion asking Metrolinx to estimate the latest cost to the city if the project were abandoned. 

Your thoughts? Do you support the Clr.'s intended query and are we at a place that we need to understand this sooner than later, or do you remain confident that LRT will prevail in Hamilton? 

Please note: The Hamiltonian will not publish comments that are not professional, that seek to name call or attack others or that are otherwise not in keeping with the spirit of the intent of this publication. Click here for further details.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Media Release: HCA 2016 Photo Contest Winners Announced

After a yearlong contest and nearly 1,000 entries, the top prizes have been awarded for the Hamilton Conservation Areas 2016 Photo Contest.

The complete gallery of winning photos can be found by
clicking here. 






Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Hamiltonians


The photos above are of great Hamiltonians who added colour, passion, honour  and spirit to our great city.  

Whenever publishing a tribute of this nature, there is always a risk of having missed someone. The collage above is by no means all inclusive. Please feel free to add names of people you'd like to see mentioned. 

In honour and in memory of these, and other great Hamiltonians who left us too soon. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In Honour of the Late Marvin Caplan

Marvin Caplan
The Hamiltonian is saddened to learn of the passing of Marvin Caplan. Marvin was a friend of The Hamiltonian and a member of our Perspectives Virtual Panel. Marvin recently posted his views on a number of topics in The Hamiltonian, including LRT.

We will miss Marvin and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Judi and his family. Below is Mayor Eisenberger's sentiments on behalf of the city.


STATEMENT FROM MAYOR EISENBERGER ON THE PASSING OF FORMER WARD 1 COUNCILLOR MARVIN CAPLAN

January 31, 2017 Hamilton, ON – I am saddened to learn of the sudden passing of former Ward 1 Councillor Marvin Caplan this afternoon.

In addition to serving on Hamilton City Council, Marvin was an accomplished clothier, real estate professional and consummate volunteer with many community organizations.

On behalf of the City of Hamilton, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife Judi and the Caplan family. In his memory we will fly the City flag at half-staff until the funeral; details forthcoming.

RIP Marvin, our City is all the better for your service.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Motions in Motion

CITY OF HAMILTON MOTION

Emergency & Community Services: 
February 6, 2017

MOVED BY COUNCILLOR S. MERULLA……………………………….

SECONDED BY MAYOR / COUNCILLOR…..………………..……………

WHEREAS ending chronic homelessness has been identified as a community priority in Hamilton and;

WHEREAS research has shown that Housing First is a proven housing intervention for addressing chronic homelessness and;

WHEREAS studies regarding Housing First interventions demonstrate that 80% - 85% of program participants remain housed after one year and;

WHEREAS the City of Hamilton has demonstrated success in reducing chronic homelessness through the use of Housing First strategies and;

WHEREAS in 2016 Hamilton exceeded our target by housing 200 chronically homeless individuals; and

WHEREAS 92% of these individuals have remained housed and;

WHEREAS in February 2016, Hamilton identified through our Point-in-Time Count approximately 350 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.

WHEREAS it is more cost effective to provide permanent housing to someone who is experiencing chronic homelessness than to manage their homelessness through emergency shelters or hospitals and;

WHEREAS studies show that savings come in the form of the foregone emergency, crisis or specialized services (hospitals, shelters, jails etc.) no longer utilized by people once they are housed and their lives are stable and;

WHEREAS the savings can range anywhere from $17,000 to $80,000 per person, per year if they are permanently housed and;

WHEREAS It is estimated that the average cost of housing an individual through Housing First interventions is $27,000 and;

WHEREAS the funding available to support Housing First services in the community falls short of what is required to fully address chronic homelessness in Hamilton and

Therefore be it resolved:

a) That the Mayor correspond with the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada requesting the Government of Canada to adequately fund the City of Hamilton to deliver the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) program. The letter shall request an annual funding enhancement in the amount of $1M until March 31
, 2019 which is over and above the $4,228,254 already being granted to the City to provide homelessness programs and services through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy; and,

b) That Mayor correspond with the Minister of Housing requesting the Government of Ontario to adequately fund the City of Hamilton as Service Manager to deliver the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) program. The letter shall request an annual funding enhancement in the amount of $3M which is over and above the $19,073,700 already being granted to the City to provide homelessness programs and services through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Eisenberger/Whitehead Issue Joint Statement to The Hamiltonian re: LRT

On the heels of The Hamiltonian and our readers expressing a sense of disappointment as to Mayor Eisenberger's and Clr. Whitehead's refusal to engage and respond to questions we posed to them re: LRT, (see them here) they have issued a joint statement which is written below. We appreciate receiving this statement, which addresses some of the questions.

Working Together for Better Transit

"It is true that Councillor Whitehead and I have disagreed, at times, on the implementation of Light Rail Transit LRT in the City. Nevertheless, we have long been committed to working together for the betterment of our transit system in Hamilton. We both agree on the fundamental importance of an improved HSR to the economic and social wellbeing of our city. We recognize the tremendous spur to economic development a strong transit system represents to the city. We both agree on the environmental benefits derived from increased use of our city’s transit system. All in all, there is far more that we agree on then disagree in our vision for a modern, efficient and accessible transit system for the City of Hamilton."

Mayor Fred Eisenberger

Councillor Terry Whitehead

Friday, January 27, 2017

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- The Best of Taste of Burlington – A view from the Kitchens

Click on pic to enlarge it
The Best of Taste of Burlington – A view from the Kitchens 

As I mentioned in my 2016 year-end column the Taste of Burlington has morphed into a once-a-year promotion. The sold-out launch took place earlier this week, and saw a hard-fought contest among 20 or so restaurants for Best Taste and People’s Choice honours. The prix-fixe event actually runs February 20 – March 12, 2017 at 25 of Burlington’s restaurants, including some not present at the launch. It’s a great opportunity to sample their offerings at modest cost.

This year Ivy Bar and Kitchen won both Best Taste and People’s Choice awards, with a tasty crab & blue cheese crusted flat iron steak, honey-glazed Brussel sprouts, grilled pepper, fingerling potatoes fried in duck fat, and roasted garlic and rosemary jus. They unseated The Queen’s Head Pub, who won both awards last


Media Release: Opioid Response Summit brings together cross sector partners to coordinate collective response

HAMILTON, ON – Yesterday Mayor Fred Eisenberger, and Dr. Jessica Hopkins, Associate Medical Officer of Health convened a broad representation of community partner organizations discuss opioid misuse. The meeting was convened in response to growing concern about opioid misuse, rising overdose deaths, and the presence of high potency opioids like carfentanil in Hamilton.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Eisenberger, Whitehead- a No Show on LRT Questions

With differing opinions on the value of, and implementation strategy for LRT, and with Mayor Eisenberger and Clr. Whitehead disagreeing on many aspects of the issue, thus adding to the controversy, we reached out to both of them in an attempt to have them enunciate, amongst other things, their vision for Hamilton as it relates to transit.

It is with a sense of disappointment that we report to our readers that both the Mayor and the Clr. refused to engage. While atypical of both, The Hamiltonian sees this as a mis-step and a failed opportunity to respect the interests of Hamiltonians. If they have a change of heart, we will reconsider their positions.

Here are the questions we posed:

 It is clear that you share differing views on LRT and its planned implementation in Hamilton. The Hamiltonian believes that with a complex project such as LRT, all views regardless of perspective, are poised to add value to the LRT decision and its potential implementation. It is in that spirit that we asking you both to reply to the following questions for publication purposes in The Hamiltonian. 

1. Specific to the future of Hamilton which would include a refreshed transit system, what is your vision for Hamilton in this regard. Said another way, if we get it right, what would it look like in the short, medium and long term?

2. Switching now to the current plans for LRT, what are the major questions that give you pause. Conversely, what is it about the current plans that provide you with assurance that we are proceeding down the right path?

3. Taking the politics out of it, how will you work to ensure that the politics do not degrade your obligation to Hamiltonians to champion the right solutions, and have frank and honest, respectful  discussions about the strengths and vulnerabilities of any given plan. 

4. You both seem to have a different perspective as to the value of LRT as it is presently being planned.  Do you allow that there is value in your differing views and arguments?

5. Is there anything else you’d like Hamiltonians to know about your perspectives on the LRT issue.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Media Release:Mayor Eisenberger, Public Health Convene Opioid Response Summit


HAMILTON, ON – January 10, 2017 – Mayor Fred Eisenberger and City of Hamilton Public Health Services convenes Opioid Response Summit scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2017 to discuss opioids and the emergence of high potency opioids, such as carfentanil, in Hamilton. Invitees include representatives from the Coroner's Office, Hamilton Police Service, Hamilton Paramedic Service, Hamilton Fire Service, emergency departments, primary care, community health organizations, addictions and harm reduction services, and housing, along with those with lived experience.

“All opioid misuse is a concern as it harms individuals, families, communities, and also puts pressure on first responders, the health care system, and community services” says Dr. Jessica Hopkins, City of Hamilton Associate Medical Officer of Health, “this summit is about mobilizing key institutions to better understand our collective challenges and opportunities to effectively prevent and respond to increased overdoses.”

“This is an issue we take very seriously. Ultimately we want to prevent overdoses and deaths, and promote health in the community” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “I had the opportunity this past November 18, 2016 to listen in on the day long Opioid Conference held in Ottawa. This has been characterized as a crisis in Canada, with dire warnings and predictions for the situation worsening in the Eastern Provinces.

I am proud to champion this issue and continue to lend my support in convening a table of local leaders and stakeholders to forge a partnership to deal with this together. Additionally, I will be participating in an observation with the Van Needle Syringe program in the next couple of weeks to observe firsthand the situation in our community at street-level.”

City of Hamilton Comprehensive Approach to Drug and Substance Misuse

Locally Public Health Services uses the Four Pillar approach to guide work to decrease the risks of drug and substance misuse in Hamilton and optimize health in the community. The Four Pillar approach involves: Prevention, Harm Reduction, Treatment, and Enforcement.

Harm Reduction acknowledges that people do use drugs and is about preventing the harms caused by drug use through interventions to decrease the health effects and keep individuals, families, and the community safer. Immediate goals of harm reduction include saving lives, decreasing disease, and improving public spaces; while longer-term goals may help clients to better engage in the health or social service system leading to the potential to decrease or stop drug misuse.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Cost of Taking LRT?

Based on a number of queries we received about what the net cost of a fare will be to a customer who will use LRT in Hamilton, and based on some other concerns regarding hydro rates, we touched base with Metrolinx. Enjoy our chat with them:

Light Rail is largely dependent on hydro. With the increases in hydro costs, some are wondering how this will impact the costs associated with running LRT and whether the increase in hydro costs in Ontario will cause an increase to the price of a LRT fair. Can you comment on this, and are there any plans to mitigate the costing to LRT operations for hydro expenses? If so, how will this take place and for how long?

The project team is currently working in partnership with the local hydro utility (Horizon) to assess power requirements for the project. Final costs, and the impact of those costs on the proposed fare will depend on the results of this work. This will be confirmed through the procurement process to select the proponent that will build and operate the project.

As part of the procurement process, bidders will be required to propose options to reduce energy use both to reduce operating costs and to enhance sustainability.

Most people will appreciate the fact that implementing LRT is a complicated project involving many moving pieces, many infrastructure challenges and many partners in the mix. It is also a multi year endeavor. Regardless, everyday Hamiltonians have a legitimate claim to distilling all that into a simple question: At the end of the day, how much will it cost me to get from McMaster University to Eastgate Square, using a LRT to HSR combination? Has there been any modeling of this cost and if so, can you share a range associated with the fare costs. If that is a cost to be determined by the results of a future RFP process, how can a cost/benefit be projected at the onset, without modeling this cost consideration? In absence of some sense of final costs to the consumer, some may suggest that we are embarking on a large and complicated project, blind to the net impact on the end user. How do you respond to that?

Fare levels have not yet been determined, however both the City of Hamilton and Metrolinx share a common goal of ensuring that transfers between HSR and the Hamilton LRT are seamless and easy.

Decisions on operating and maintenance costs, including LRT fare revenues and fare integration with local transit services will be addressed through the Operations and Maintenance Agreement between Metrolinx and the City of Hamilton. This agreement will be negotiated prior to contract award in 2018.

A business case for the Hamilton LRT was completed by Metrolinx in cooperation with the City in 2010. The final report is available on the Metrolinx website at: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/projectevaluation/benefitscases/Benefits_Case-Hamilton.pdf

Monday, January 16, 2017

Media Release: Funding Available for Access to Outdoor Education


For Immediate Release: Monday, January 16, 2017

The Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) and Hamilton Conservation Foundation are pleased to offer the 2017 Access to Outdoor Education Transportation Grant for At Risk and Inner City schools participating in the HCA’s Outdoor Environmental Education Programs.

The Access to Outdoor Education Transportation Grant is an initiative of the Hamilton Conservation Foundation and is supported in part by the Edith Turner Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation. The focus of this grant is to provide free transportation to those schools that face economic challenges and provide an opportunity for less fortunate students to connect to nature and the outdoors through active, hands-on, learning experiences.

This grant is available to eligible Elementary & Secondary schools in the Hamilton area that participate in the HCA’s Outdoor Environmental Education Programs.

We are proud of our on-going partnership with Hamilton area school boards and are delighted to offer this transportation grant for schools that otherwise may not have been able to afford the cost of bussing.

Applications are now available at www.conservationhamilton.ca for interested schools. Limited spaces are available and schools will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Classic Rock Show- a Chat with James Cole

The Hamiltonian touched base with British Touring Car Championship racing driver James Cole, who off the track is a full time musician and tour promoter. James' latest endevour is his involvement in the Classic Rock show, which will soon be touching down in Hamilton. The show will feature the greatest songs right across the 'Alphabet of Rock', from AC/DC and Aerosmith to Eric Clapton, The Eagles, ELO, Lynyrd Skynyrd,Meatloaf, and Queen to The Who, Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and everything in between. It's a must see for fans of this era or fans of great music. To learn more about the show click here. To purchase tickets, click here. 

Enjoy our chat with James:

James- you have a fruitful career as a British Touring Car Championship racing driver. What drew your interest to the Classic Rock Show. What is the nature if your involvement and how did you become engaged in this? Are you still racing as well?

My relationship with CRS (The Classic Rock Show) started many years ago. CRS used to be a side project for the band Brit Floyd. It became apparent that Brit Floyd was going from strength to strength meaning there wasn't the time for some of the original members to focus on the show. It took over 3 years ago. I have the fun job of choosing the songs, tour ideas, etc… Its such a challenge but great fun!

Yes I am still racing, entering my 2nd year with Subaru BMR Racing in the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship). Fantastic Championship, lots of wheel to wheel racing and all Live on ITV4!

What makes the 'A-Z of Rock' for a World tour” special. What is it about the show that will dazzle fans?

The most exciting part of this years tour is we have made a deliberate effort to perform much more variety of bands than ever before. The classic rock genre is so huge now there is so much choice! I think we have a fantastic set which includes AC/DC all the way to ZZ Top and everything in between.

What makes the classic rock era so special and what would you say about it, relative to the newer music that is being released today?

That's a very difficult question to truly answer as I can only speak for myself, a guy who certainly wasn't around in that era. Few people would deny that this genre has some of the best music ever written under its wing, The Beatles, Zeppelin, The Stones, Hendrix, The Doors… I could go on…
I felt a very strong connection to this music from such an early age, maybe it's because I was brought up in Liverpool and my Mum always had a Beatles CD in the car. Hearing Status Quo for the 1st time made me want to instantly start learning the guitar. I guess the bug just grew and grew!


Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about this event, or about next steps in your career path?

For readers who may not have been to our shows before, please don't think of us as a ‘cover’ band. There are no wigs, costumes, etc… We are all about the music. I always try and use the analogy of an orchestra, we are a group of respectful musicians trying our best to perform these songs with a level of detail not done before. We want the audience to be able to close their eyes and be taken back to the 1st time they heard these songs on record or on the radio. If we can do that I’ll be very happy!!

Thanks James! A special shout out to our friends in Liverpool!

The following are video samples from previous tours:


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Media release: Mayor Eisenberger, Public Health Convene Opioid Response Summit

HAMILTON, ON – January 10, 2017 – Mayor Fred Eisenberger and City of Hamilton Public Health Services convenes Opioid Response Summit scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2017 to discuss opioids and the emergence of high potency opioids, such as carfentanil, in Hamilton. Invitees include representatives from the Coroner's Office, Hamilton Police Service, Hamilton Paramedic Service, Hamilton Fire Service, emergency departments, primary care, community health organizations, addictions and harm reduction services, and housing, along with those with lived experience.

“All opioid misuse is a concern as it harms individuals, families, communities, and also puts pressure on first responders, the health care system, and community services” says Dr. Jessica Hopkins, City of Hamilton Associate Medical Officer of Health, “this summit is about mobilizing key institutions to better understand our collective challenges and opportunities to effectively prevent and respond to increased overdoses.”

“This is an issue we take very seriously. Ultimately we want to prevent overdoses and deaths, and promote health in the community” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “I had the opportunity this past November 18, 2016 to listen in on the day long Opioid Conference held in Ottawa. This has been characterized as a crisis in Canada, with dire warnings and predictions for the situation worsening in the Eastern Provinces.

I am proud to champion this issue and continue to lend my support in convening a table of local leaders and stakeholders to forge a partnership to deal with this together. Additionally, I will be participating in an observation with the Van Needle Syringe program in the next couple of weeks to observe firsthand the situation in our community at street-level.”

City of Hamilton Comprehensive Approach to Drug and Substance Misuse

Locally Public Health Services uses the Four Pillar approach to guide work to decrease the risks of drug and substance misuse in Hamilton and optimize health in the community. The Four Pillar approach involves: Prevention, Harm Reduction, Treatment, and Enforcement.

Harm Reduction acknowledges that people do use drugs and is about preventing the harms caused by drug use through interventions to decrease the health effects and keep individuals, families, and the community safer. Immediate goals of harm reduction include saving lives, decreasing disease, and improving public spaces; while longer-term goals may help clients to better engage in the health or social service system leading to the potential to decrease or stop drug misuse.

Link of the Moment

Click here to go there....

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Predictions for 2016- the Results Are In

While The Hamiltonian has taken a break this year from asking for predictions for 2017, the following is a reprint of the predictions our Perspectives Virtual Panel made for 2016. Check out what they said against what transpired.

The instructions we provided were as follows:



Each year The Hamiltonian asks our Perspectives Virtual Panel do do a little crystal ball gazing and make their predictions as to what might happen in Hamilton in this new year.

Due to the popularity of the format we used last year, we once again asked them to capture their predictions in the form of a headline that might appear in a newspaper. We also invited them to create an optional one paragraph description under the headline to further explain it.

We suggested that headlines can be based on predictions that may come to be, and/or may be formed in a light hearted comedic way. The only thing we asked is that the submissions not be mean spirited or otherwise violate our site policy.

Enjoy these predictive headlines submitted by our Perspectives Virtual Panel:

Presented in alphabetical order by surname:

Predictions For the year 2016

Headlines by Graham Crawford

2 PROBABLES
City of Hamilton Pushes Ahead With Flawed Plan for Piers 7 & 8
Despite concerns expressed by a number of residents, the City of Hamilton is moving ahead with a plan to sell most of the land we own at Piers 7 & 8 to the private sector. Some members of the community voiced concerns about there being too little land allocated for public use other than a perimeter path along the edge of Pier 8. The City was criticized for putting money (sale price and new residential/commercial taxes) over bold designs for public space in the last remaining piece of publicly owned waterfront land next to widely admired and used Bayfront Park and Pier 4.

Council Votes to Support Innovative Plans to Address CityHousing Issues
The Board of CityHousing has announced an innovative approach to making a big difference to the lives of many people currently in, and currently waiting for, affordable housing. Through a combination of repurposing of assets, multi-level government partnerships, and innovative agreements with local developers, existing housing units will be repaired and new ones added in an ambitious 5-year plan. The plan required some true out-of-the-box thinking by Board members and Council. Although not a full solution to the complex challenges related to affordable housing, the plan has been hailed as being the most progressive and ambitious in decades.

2 IMPROBABLES
City Manager Releases Results of Dennison Benchmark Culture Survey
City Manager, Chris Murray, has agreed to Council’s request to the public release of results of an employee survey being used as a benchmark against which progress toward changing the damaged working culture at City Hall will be measured. Some Councillors were hesitant to push for the release of the information, but the majority said that openness and transparency outweighed the original decision to keep the data confidential. One Councillor said, “We bought ads in local media announcing we had been selected as one of the top 15 employers in Hamilton-Niagara, which I support. But, I also support sharing not only good news, but all of the news. We need to know where we stand, where we’re trying to go, as well as the kind of progress we’re making to close this very important gap. I want all residents to be part of this, not just a few select bureaucrats.”

Council Votes to Revisit Flawed Basse ‘Shovegate' Report and Apologizes For Their Silence in 2015

In a move that has caught many City hall watchers by surprise, Council has voted to revisit the report submitted by then-Integrity Commissioner, Earl Basse, regarding his much criticized investigation into ‘Shovegate”, the incident that saw Councillor and Police Service Board Chair, Lloyd Ferguson, physically grab and shove journalist Joey Coleman in the lobby of City Hall. After an oddly edited surveillance video was released that raised even more questions, Council agreed to revisit its nearly unanimous decision to receive Mr. Basse’s report even though he interviewed neither witnesses nor the victim. Council said, in a joint statement, they had erred in not questioning Mr. Basse’s decision to only interview Mr. Ferguson and including comments seemingly designed to provide a rationale, or worse an excuse, for Ferguson’s behaviours as well as comments that seemed to question Mr. Coleman’s journalistic integrity.

1 WISH
Council Agrees to Use New Our Future Hamilton Vision As Basis For All Council Discussions and Votes
Despite a discussion that at times bordered on the vitriolic, the majority of Councillors agreed finally to adopt the Our Future Hamilton Vision as its touchstone for the rest of this term of Council. The decision means the Vision, developed by an extensive consultation with tens of thousands of Hamiltonians, will be used formally in strategic planning, resource allocation, priority setting, and well as during Council debates on key, city-wide issues. One Councillor commented, “It’s about time we actually used the vision we created to help guide our discussions and decisions. Too often in the past, the vision was an exercise and not a strategic tool. I think adopting the vision in the way we have will keep us focused and transparent. It’s important for all Hamiltonians to see how what we decide contributes to helping to realize the vision we’re all chasing.”

Headlines by Larry DiIanni

Police Services Board Selects New Chief
After what was perceived to be a too authoritative choice the last time, the Police Services Board with Council's approval, selected Marineland's Barky the Trained Seal as the city's new chief cop.

Said, one Councillor on the Board, "We saved the taxpayers lots of money. Sardines are pretty cheap". And another boasted that 'carding' would not be allowed by Chief Barky. In fact, when it was suggested that it be outlawed, the Seal clapped vigorously. Another observer noted that Chief Barky pretty well likes and claps for everything he hears, making this one of the most peaceful tenures any chief will ever enjoy.

Police Services Board Selects New Chief...Again!
After a successful challenge by PETA, Hamilton's PSB has regretfully reversed its latest nominee, Barky the Trained Seal, in favour of a more experienced, albeit equally daring choice, for police Chief. The new nominee has much experience in the political scene at the national level which he has just involuntarily retired from. Although not coming from the police ranks, he has loads of expertise in law and order matters and consensus-of-one building. He has often taken the law into his own hands when the situation suited and has used force majeur to stifle opposition and silence those against his ways. Carding is not in the game plan for the new Chief, but outlawing 'barbaric multicultural practices like Oktoberfest and Festitalia are in his sights.

New Hamilton Chief Stephen Harper will move from Calgary to Westdale where he proudly says, "The West of the City is finally in!"

LRT off the Table for Hamilton

In a surprise announcment made by Charles Sousa, the Province is withdrawing its offer of $1.3B to construct a cross town LRT system. The Finance Minister cited delays in construction as the reason for taking the allotment away from the city. "Listen! Use it or Lose It! The Premier officially announced the money in the summer but I pre-announced last April 1 (see Di Ianni's 2015 headlines) nearly 10 months ago. That is ample time to at least put the first spike, if not the last, on the road. I see nothing and therefore you get nothing. Period." Mayor Fred Eisenberger, although dismayed, said that he understood the Finance Minister's Point, but vowed that with or without the Province LRT would find its way onto the 2018 re-election platform. "And that is a promise," he vowed.

Casino Sarcoa Opens to Great Fanfare
After the city's legal fight with the owners of Sarcoa over the noisy night club scene, a compromise has been found in a brand spanking new gaming casino. The loud thump of rock bands will be replaced by the mellifluous slot machine ringing of winning bells and chimes, which apparently only happen rarely anyway, satisfying local neighbours and pesky Burlingtonians.
Chief Croupier Graham Crawford was quoted as saying, "it's not as if I objected to all Casinos, it's just that the James Street location was a problem. And anyway, the job is fun!"

Ward Boundary Status Quo Rejected

Council rejected the citizen's panel recommendation for a status quo configuration on Hamilton City Council in favour of keeping all the same 15 wards, but forcing any mayoralty candidate to face off against 15 different candidates in each ward. "That is real change", cited one of the Councillors who scoffed at the prediction that Councillors would opt for the same-old, same-old. What if 15 different people win the mayoralty in each ward? , he was asked. "Well 15 heads are better than one, right?" was the terse reply.
It does make some sense if you don't think about it!

Headlines by Adrian Duyzer

Whitehead Proposes Moratorium On Downtown
Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead has proposed a sweeping moratorium on downtown. The motion begins with “Whereas, downtown. Need I say more?” does indeed go on to say more, including among its clauses the “immediate cessation of downtown” and the "renaming of the area formerly known as the 'lower city'" as the “Mountain Resident Highway Access/Parking Zone”.

Hamilton Adopts New Motto
City Council has voted in favour of adopting a new vision statement for Hamilton. The new statement, “To be the best place in Canada to adopt vision statements,” replaces the previous vision, which was "To be the best place in Canada to raise a child, promote innovation, engage citizens and provide diverse economic opportunities.” Although the decision was not without controversy, City Manager Chris Murray strongly defended the new statement, stating, “It was important to us that our vision be something actionable and achievable that builds on our strengths and proven capabilities.”

Bob Bratina Hires Military Consultant

In a move that has raised eyebrows in the community, Member of Parliament Bob Bratina has announced he has hired a military consultant. “Hamilton always has been, historically, a military town. It continues to be,” said Bratina, defending the decision. Asked why a military advisor was needed for the generally peaceful riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Bratina said he needed advice on dealing with memorial installations and the growing influence of “renegade urbanists and bloggers”.

Headlines by Marvin Ryder

Canadian Dollar hits 68 cents U.S.
Iran starting selling its crude supply without the shadow of embargo in January. This exacerbated the flood of crude oil in the world and the price per barrel of oil fell below $30 US in February. Alberta Tar Sands oil was being sold for less than $20 US per barrel. A third whammy happened when the Bank of Canada cut its overnight prime rate by another 0.25% followed a week later with the Federal Reserve Board in the US raising its prime rate by 0.25%. Just in time for the March school break, it took $1.47 Cdn to buy $1.00 U.S.

Honeymoon Ends for Trudeau Liberals

After enjoying almost six months of "sunny ways" with the Canadian people, the love affair with the Federal Liberals ended with the first budget tabled mid-March. Although the Liberals had pledged to keep the Federal deficit below $10 billion, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced an anticipated deficit of $15 billion. He cited a number of factors - lower than expected oil royalties, lower government revenues because of the "middle class tax cut", an inherited non-balanced budget from the Conservatives, and the need to spend more money on infrastructure especially in light of the green initiatives approved in Paris in December, 2015. Perhaps the biggest surprise was no discussion of legally distributing marijuana in Canada. Many voters had hoped marijuana would be available starting on 4/20/2016 but the Liberal budget set no timeline other than committing to "broad consultation" in 2016.

U.S. Steel Bankruptcy Imminent
In January, six days of hearings into the debts owed by U.S. Steel Canada to its American parent resulted in a March ruling by the judge that the parent is a preferred creditor owed almost $2.3 billion. By June, U.S. Steel in America had rallied the preferred creditors to bring an end to the court-ordered restructuring of U.S. Steel Canada. The creditors demanded payment of their debt and petitioned the court to put U.S. Steel Canada into bankruptcy while supervising a sale of assets. The situation for pensioners of U.S. Steel Canada remained confused as the unfunded liability in the pension plan was listed as a debt by the American parent company as part of its $2.3 billion total. The confusion only got worse after a provincial $3.0 million fund to pay benefits for retirees expired at the end of March. There was no additional money forthcoming to continue the post-retirement benefits.

Who Owes Tiger-Cats Compensation?
In May, the Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football Club filed a statement of damages against the City of Hamilton for lost revenue and inconvenience due to delays in the construction of Tim Horton's Field. Within weeks, the City filed matching claims against Infrastructure Ontario expecting I.O. to then file a matching suit against Ontario Sports Solutions. In a surprise move, I.O. did not file a suit as it noted O.S.S. had declared bankruptcy and had no money to pay. I.O.'s response was to ask a judge to dismiss the lawsuit saying the City's problems were with the stadium contractor. The City was reluctant to pay the Tiger-Cat damages with no prospects of recovering the money from another party. As the CFL season began, there were concerns about the fiscal health of the Tiger-Cats. The money from the lawsuit could turn out to be critical to the team remaining solvent.

Popular Local Citizens Named as Senators
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was faced with a large number of vacancies in the Senate. Though he pledged to reform the Senate, he had to keep the institution functioning until reforms could be decided. On April 1, Trudeau named forty Canadians to the Senate. These people came from every province and territory and, keeping with his cabinet appointments, were gender-equal. Hamilton saw two of its citizens appointed to the Senate. Ken Welch, the long-time sports journalist who lost his job in December, 2015, was placed into the Senate along with local environmentalist, Lynda Lukasik. Lukasik's appointment coincided with a new standing committee in the Senate on Environmental Issues.