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Will Keesmaat’s First Rental Project Be in Hamilton

The Summary Note
Plenty in today’s newsletter, I write about a visit by former Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, Rob Fiedler dives into why the Downtown Secondary Plan saw major changes after its October draft, Hamilton’s Elections Office is looking to hire help but pay them below minimum wage, and some interesting stories from other municipalities.
Thank you to everyone who noted my grammatical error in the headline of the last newsletter. I apologize for that one.

Today from The Election Desk

The latest updates from The Public Record’s municipal election desk, visit our website for the latest updates, calendar of debates, and more.

New Candidates, Ward 7 Starting to Get Crowded
All but two of the nine present Catholic school board trustees have registered to run for reelection, and over at the Public School Board candidates who are known to harbour political ambitions beyond the name recognition building exercise of being a School Board Trustee have yet to declare their intentions.
The Ward 7 race, which if public opinion polls in the provincial riding of Flamborough-Glanbrook hold and Donna Skelly wins the MPP seat, will be an open seat has attracted its third candidate, who according to the City website does not live in the ward.
The first candidate is registered in Ward 8, Christopher Climie. Incumbent Ward 11 Councillor Brenda Johnson filed her paperwork quietly at the end of the day on Monday.
No candidates have yet registered in Wards 5, 6, or 14.
TPR’s full list of candidates includes Trustees and can be viewed here.

Candidates Start Their Campaigns with Slogans as they Test The Waters
Early days of campaigning are underway, with candidates tweeting (shameless plug: TPR’s candidate Twitter account list) and appearing at every event in their wards with more than a dozen people gathered. Ward 12 candidate John Scime issued his first newsletter this week, and Ward 9 candidate Cam Galindo released a sharp introduction video on his YouTube page.
Being so early in the campaign candidates are not saying much, most the material are feel-good generic statements of values as they try to determine what issues will connect with voters, as we await the outcome of the provincial election which will determine the course of Hamilton’s LRT project.
Can I use the term “third rail” for something which will be powered using overhead wires?
The Dundas Star interviewed the first two Ward 13 Council candidates; John Mykytyshyn says if elected he’ll “work tirelessly to have Dundas have its own ward again”. I look forward to asking Mykytyshyn his plan to do this. The Ontario Municipal Board ward boundary decision was clear that Hamilton Council cannot give disproportionate weight to Dundas compared to areas of the city with higher concentrations of visible minority voters. The obvious means of this is to increase the number of wards in Hamilton, however, Hamilton already has the most municipal politicians per capita of comparable cities. (Page 24 of Toronto’s Ward Boundary Review)
In Ward 2, incumbent Councillor Jason Farr has yet to launch his re-election campaign as this Tuesday’s O-Show discussed the growing desire of some in Ward 2 for a candidate who lives in the ward. Farr lives in East Hamilton just east of Gage Park.
City Hiring Elections Voting Staff at Below Minimum Wage
Hamilton’s Elections Manager is seeking election day staff to work at rates below Ontario’s minimum wage laws. A posting on the City of Hamilton website says that Election Assistants will be paid $160 for working 12 hours on election day, the $160 payment includes pay for two hours of training. Assuming this election that elections staff will get an hour unpaid lunch (which has never happened before) the hourly rate for Election Assistants will be $12.31 per hour. It’s $11.42 if they don’t get an unpaid lunch.
Ontario’s minimum wage is $14 per hour. The City of Hamilton is required by law to pay minimum wage.
Greeters will be paid $130 for the day, including the training, putting them at $10 per hour if they get an unpaid lunch break. Without that lunch break, the pay is $9.29 per hour.
Deputy Returning Officers will be paid $200 for the day, which if they get an unpaid hour for lunch, means $15.28 per hour. If they don’t get an unpaid lunch, they’ll barely make more than minimum wage at $14.29 per hour.
Busier polls are known to take more than one hour past the 8 p.m. close to complete voting of those in line, and counting, meaning some staff will be even less than the already below minimum wage rate.
Join The Public Record’s Coverage: Send Us What the Candidates are Sending You!
Be part of The Public Record’s Election Team, send up photos and scans of candidate materials, screencap Facebook ads that you see in your social media feed, and help all Hamiltonians know what the candiates are staying. Email them to, we’ll post all candidate materials to our website.

New on The Public Record

Jennifer Keesmaat Meets McMeekin at City Hall – 191 York in Play?

Famed former Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat was in Hamilton Monday for meeting with local MPP Ted McMeekin. TPR’s Joey Coleman spotted them at City Hall, and writes why the meeting between Hamilton born Keesmaat and McMeekin should be viewed through the lenses of the ongoing manoeuvring by McMeekin on affordable housing and specifically the property at 191 York Blvd.
Asked the purpose of their meeting, Keesmaat and McMeekin smiled but didn’t say.
The pieces are in place for a deal at 191 York – Keesmaat is looking for her first project, the City is looking for a partner, $9.51-million is already on the table – plus the value of the land – as the municipal contribution, planning approvals are effectively guaranteed, and the City already has policies in place to waive application and development charge fees.
Full Story on The Public Record
FIEDLER: Downtown Secondary Plan Gives Clearer Permissions Because LPAT Puts Planning Control in Hands of Council

The latest from Rob Fiedler on how the Downtown Secondary Plan changed to respond to the new Ontario planning regime with LPAT giving local Councils control of planning from the OMB.
Full Story on The Public Record


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Hamilton News Briefs

Air Quality Problems Across Hamilton, At Same Time Dofasco Emits Thick Black Smoke

Hamilton’s air quality has been amongst the worst in Ontario the past couple days, with Hamilton’s downtown air quality monitoring station last night reporting a high risk Air Quality Index level of 7 last evening at 10 p.m.
This comes as Dofasco continues to emit thick black smoke in the Hamilton’s air shed, telling local media that they are refurbishing a smokestack and that this will continue for at least a couple more days.
The black plume of smoke is clearly visible hanging over the City and has been subject to many tweets. CHCH speaks with local non-profit Environment Hamilton, Dofasco would not speak on camera to CHCH
Basic Income Pilot Featured on PBS News Hour
Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot here in Hamilton is the subject of a report on PBS News Hour. The report focuses on hopes Basic Income will reduce bureaucracy and red-tape; assist clients to pursue education, and improve the quality of life for recipients.
The PBS report brings a barely heard point of view on the basic income pilot. John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty tells PBS his organization is concerned that basic income will drive down wages and increase privatization of public services.
“You’re shopping for health care, you’re shopping for housing, you’re shopping for public transportation, child care, all these things. And this is the prevailing agenda at the moment. And a basic income system takes us in that direction.” “If you create a situation where low-wage workers are receiving a significant portion of their wages out of the tax revenues, then the pressure on employers to increase wages is reduced, the pressure on governments to increase minimum wages is reduced.”
Watch the 10-minute report on PBS here:

HSR A-Line Ridership Plummets During Transit Crisis

We don’t have accurate ridership numbers systemwide for the HSR, I chalk this up to management needing to focus on addressing the Council caused transit crisis than any unwillingness to get the information. Periodically, we do get are snapshots of individual routes. A report going to Council next week recommending the installation of bus shelters at four stops on the A-Line routes provides total passenger boardings at those stops.
HSR staff count eleven (yes 11) total passengers board for the entire day at the Upper James and Rymal stop, four (yes 4) each at the Airport Road and Twenty Road stops, and 21 total for a day at the Hamilton waterfront.
The A-Line was one of the most cancelled buses during the peak of the Transit Crisis. In an ironic twist, when Mayor Eisenberger diverted 32 senior City staff to work full-time on the #HAmazon bid, cancellations of the A-Line to the airport increased. The City tried to pass off the A-Line as “higher order transit” to the Airport.
Aidan Johnson in The Globe: Doug Ford’s Plan to Axe Sex Ed Rooted in Homophobia
Ward One City Councillor Aidan Johnson writes in The Globe and Mail that Doug Ford’s pledge to eliminate Ontario’s updated sexual education curriculum will harm LGBTQ students and “deprive queer youth of keys to flourishing. It would reinforce the closet’s lock”.
Johnson says opposition to the curriculum has roots in homophobia. Johnson shares the painful story of the violence he experienced from other students while he was a high school student, and how the old sexual education curriculum help to reinforce some violence.
Read Johnson’s full op-ed at

In Municipalities

Mayor Wishes Town CAO Dead, Police Go ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In the competition for Ontario’s worst municipal politician, Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Justin Altmann continues to keep a lock on second place behind Niagara Regional Councillor Andrew Petrowski whose lead is hard to beat.
Mayor Altmann’s past antics are summarized here by TheStar columnist Heather Mallick.
In his latest episode, Mayor Altmann alleged wished the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer dead. “I want Raycroft’s head on a platter. I want him dead.”
York Regional Police investigated, finding “did not explicitly utter a threat to cause bodily harm or death to Raycroft, rather only wished him death” and cleared the case as unfounded.
Is SimCity Good Training to Run a City?
Credit to SooToday for this unique attention grabbing article on the traditional candidate declares their running story.
29-year-old Derek Pearce is running for City Council in Sault Ste. Marie and is best known for his SimCity 4 project to recreate the twin Saults in the game.
“SimCity 4 requires players to think like city councillors, juggling municipal finances, transportation, utilities, land-use and environment issues to maximize quality of life for ratepayers”, writes David Helwig of SooToday.
London Health Unit and County Fight in Court Over Technicality of Leases, and It’s Ugly
London’s Health Unit – a provincially mandated public health agency funded by the municipality – is in court with Middlesex County over the Health Unit’s plan to move from a building it leases from the County into space it will lease from the private sector at the Downtown City Centre Plaza.
Middlesex County politicians are trying to block the move, the Health Unit claims in Court they are blocking the move due to their pecuniary interest in continuing to receive rent payments from the Health Unit.
Health Units enjoy some autonomy in provincial legislation to conduct their affairs independent of political interference, but report to municipal politicians in the form of a Board of Health. The autonomy is to ensure the public health is never endangered by political convenience.
An example be if politicians opposed a needle exchange program for political reasons, the Medicial Officer of Health can ignore their objection and implement the program – sending the financial bill to the municipality – with the declaration that the program is medical necessity and failure to provide the program will endanger public health.
This court case is being fiercely fought, and could be a landmark decision – does that autonomy extend the building that the health unit operates out of?

Get Engaged

May 15
HWDSB Meeting on new North (Scott Park Site) Secondary SchoolThe public school board is inviting the public to a meeting at Prince of Wales Elementary School to discuss the new school and proposed programs. Details
May 17
Getting to 8-80: HamiltonA grassroots neighbourhood associations event asking how to make Hamilton “The best place to raise a child and age successfully”. Details and RSVP
May 24
Public Consultation on Corktown Plaza DevelopmentSlate Asset Management is holding a public meeting seeking community feedback and ideas on their planned mix use commercial and residential rental development. The meeting is 7pm at the Church of the Ascension, 64 Forest Avenue (at John Street South) in the Corktown neighbourhood.

Duly Noted
The $4,594.76 phone bill. Winnipeg City Councillor raked up a $4,594.76 cell phone bill in February.
Canadian Basketball Leagues adds #HamOnt Team. Former Hamilton Tiger-Cat Mike Morreale is appointed CEO of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, and Hamilton will join Niagara in having a team.  The Hamilton Professional Basketball Club is planning to play in Copps Coliseum. Tip-off is expected in summer 2019.
Hamilton was one of the more successful locations for the last national basketball league in Canada, drawing an average of 7500 fans for Friday night games cheering for the Hamilton Skyhawks in 1992 and 1993.

Rescheduled PC Rally in Hamilton on May 24. The first rally was cancelled due to the Toronto van attack. Doug Ford is in Hamilton on May 24 at the Lincoln Alexander Centre for a rally.

Newsletter top photo: A-Line Bus Shelter at Upper James and Rymal.