Hamilton City Hall's west wing Credit: Joey Coleman

Council was updated on the public health division’s projections for COVID this spring, asked public health to reverse their plan to remove beach water condition signs from Hamilton’s seven public beaches, and listened to a salient delegation from a young woman whose father died during the early months of the COVID pandemic.

Hamilton Grad Student Asks Council to Endorse Decriminalization of Simple Possession

Council heard a moving delegation from Carleton University Master’s student Kayla Hagerty.

“I’m here to represent over 24,000 Canadians that have lost their lives to opioid-related overdose deaths since January 2016.” Hagerty began, pausing, before saying, “One of which was my father, Ian Harrington, who passed away in May 2020. I’m sorry.”

Hagerty held back emotion as she spoke of her father’s death, and shared her research into overdose deaths during the pandemic, calling on Hamilton City Council to endorse decriminalizing simple possession of drugs and to increase public health programs to support those with addictions.

Council members spoke eloquently in response, committing to vote on decriminalization. and to continue efforts to open more safe consumption sites.

Full story, with more quotes, on The Public Record here.

Hagerty produced and directed a documentary entitled How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected the Pre-existing Opioid Epidemic in Canada. It is dedicated to her father’s memory.

It can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube here.

COVID Projections Update

Hamilton’s latest COVID projection is that cases will increase during coming weeks, with a “small swell in hospitalizations”, Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson stated. Hamilton Public Health is beginning to focus upon addressing a backlog of work in other areas of public health.

Presently, there is a big push to get vaccinations caught up for teenagers who usually receive in-school vaccinations during Grades 7 & 8.

The Council discussion of COVID touched all the points about the benefits of masking, concerns about healthcare capacity, and the phases for reopening of in-person services offered by the City of Hamilton.

Beach Signs and Public Perception

The head of Hamilton’s public health inspections announced last week that he was removing beach safe/unsafe water conditions signs from Hamilton’s seven public beaches.

City of Hamilton’s Director of Healthy Environments Kevin McDonald wrote the City is only required to post beach conditions on its website, not at beaches, and signs stating water is unsafe for swimming “creates an unfavourable image of City of Hamilton public beaches.”

At Board of Health, Council voted to ask staff to not remove the signs.

Additionally, in response to a letter from the Lakewood Beach Community Council, City Council is asking staff to review an unlisted beach on Lake Ontario between Millen Road and Green Road should be added to the City’s list of public beaches and the water there tested weekly.

Ending Letters of Instruction Requiring COVID Precautions in High-Rise Residential Buildings

Council accepted a report from Hamilton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson notifying them of her decision to end COVID requirements in Hamilton’s high-rise residential buildings. The requirements were implemented following multiple COVID outbreaks in apartment buildings during the summer of 2021, and included common sense measures such as daily cleaning of common areas.

Dr. Ninh Tran Leaves Hamilton for Promotion

After 12 years as one of Hamilton’s Associate Medical Officers of Health, Dr. Ninh Tran left the City last week. The Doctor is now the Medical Officer of Health for Oxford, Elgin & St. Thomas.

During his tenure in Hamilton, Dr. Tran responded to a wide range of public health events and challenges.

He also answered questions from Terry Whitehead, such as if the world will end in 2031. Here’s the video clip from 2019.