Bookmarks produced by the City of Hamilton as part of the City's celebration of Black History Month 2023 Credit: Joey Coleman

The Public Record
Email Edition for Wednesday, February 1, 2023


In this edition:
  • Joey’s Newsletter Column: Can Council Avoid a Repeat of 1996’s Grey Cup Week Strike?
  • City Hall News and Meeting Summaries
  • The Week at City Hall
  • Land Use and Development Planning News
  • Joey’s City Hall Notepad
  • Hamilton Briefs: McMaster Edition
  • Hamilton News Notes
  • Get Engaged

Opening Note on This Edition
At the beginning of each calendar year, we look ahead and ask what will 2023 bring?I made my City Hall list. It includes the issues we’re already discussing: transit, housing, social services, public health, etc.The issue we haven’t discussed yet?Collective agreements. The City of Hamilton’s contracts are all expired.

More on this directly below in this newsletter’s exclusive column.

Thank you to everyone for your emails responding to past newsletters.

Our conversations help me provide better journalism.

– Joey

City Workers Collection Agreements and the Grey Cup

Photo: 1972 Grey Cup Game between the Hamilton Tigercats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (Julien LeBourdais photo / Archives of Ontario)

The City of Hamilton’s collective agreements expired on December 31, 2022.

Obviously, the unions will seek inflationary wage increases, movements on benefits, and protections against privatization.

The City’s 2023 budget appears to have 3.5 percent built-in for wage increases. [Officially, this figure is confidential and my calculation is an educated estimate.]

Annual average inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is at 6.8%.  It is doubtful the City’s union will accept 3.5%.

Council only has until November 19 to get sign new deals.

Why November 19? Hamilton hosts the Grey Cup on that day.

Approximately 3450 City workers, represented by CUPE 5167, and 800 HSR employees, represented by ATU 107, will be in a legal strike position by November.

Hamilton does not want to be hosting the country with emergency garbage dumps visible from the stadium.

Let’s rewind to 1996’s Grey Cup in Hamilton.

The game is, thankfully, remembered for the snow, not the bus strike in the days that nearly disrupted it.

With only one week until the big game, Hamilton’s HSR workers went on strike.

Facing the embarrassment of hosting a Grey Cup without bus service, the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth Council quickly caved.

The six-day strike ended just in time for the Grey Cup parade.

The Region gave HSR workers a two-year sweetheart deal.

The union got nearly everything they wanted and a $1000 signing bonus to get buses back on the road. [$1717 inflation-adjusted to today]

The signing bonus was greater than a week’s salary. The top-paid bus operators made around $800 per week at the time.

Two years later, in 1998, the Region held the line on HSR wages and benefits, offering three percent on wages, and no concessions on other union demands.

A 12-week strike followed. In the end HSR workers gained little, 20 cents per hour.

Former Hamilton Mayor (1976 – 1980) Jack Macdonald summarized the cost to ATU union members in TheSpec on January 27, 1999:

“Drivers have lost 12 weeks pay at about $800 for a 40-hour week. In return for a $9,600 loss over 12 weeks, they gained about a further 20 cents an hour beyond the three-per-cent offer. In about 28 years, they will recover their loss.”

This is a cautionary tale for Hamilton’s unions that a single kick-return touchdown does not win the game on its own.

IMAGE: An emergency garbage collection point in Toronto’s Christie Pits Park during that City’s 2009 city workers strike.

City Hall Weekly Summary

Staff budget presentations continue as the new Council ride along as the 2023 budget process unfolds.

New Council has little opportunity to adjust the budget, and this is a point of frustration for them at times.

They continue to make motions for staff reports on matters they want to change. This indicates we will see many mid-year changes to the budget.

On Monday (Jan 23), Council heard the budget presentations from General Manager of Finance & Corporate Services Mike Zegarac and General Manager of Planning and Economic Development Jason Thorne.

On Tuesday (Jan 24), General Manager of Public Works Carlyle Khan presented the PW budget. Transit dominated.

Wednesday’s (Jan 25) Council ratified all the decisions I noted in last Monday’s newsletter except for two items.

  1. The motion to have breaks during marathon council meetings only gained four votes to be on the agenda, it will appear again in February.
  2. We’ll call it a pause on the HATS Tiny Homes project pending a comprehensive staff report weighing the pros and cons, as well as a report on potential sites. [More below]

Thursday (26th), General Manager of Healthy & Safe Communities Angela Burden presented.

Councillors discussed the golf courses within the recreation portfolio, foreshadowing future discussions about the capital spending required to modernize the facilities.

Not much to note, beyond questions confirming the courses are not revenue self-sustaining. [No recreation portfolio is,]

Councillors discussed various ideas to increase funding for affordable housing, especially support to non-profit and charitable providers.

Friday (27th), Council went into closed session for training related to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The vote to enter into closed session was 7-3.

I wrote an editorial explaining why I agree with the decision to conduct this training in closed.

However, in the future, Council needs to demand separate training for confidential matters instead of allowing staff to mix public and confidential matters.

Tiny Homes – Spinning the Wheels of Indecision
The HATS tiny shelters project will not happen this winter, following Council voting to restart the due diligence process and site selection.

New Council is being rightfully criticized for their decision. There are justifiable questions about the project – which could’ve been asked in the past.

There is also the reasonable question of if HATS is a best use for allocating limited resources to address homelessness.

The rightful criticism is that many of our new councillors stated their support for HATS during the recent municipal election, that they promised immediate action on homelessness, and now that they are in office, they are spinning their wheels like a bus in a snow storm.

Here’s how Ward 9 Clr Brad Clark put it at Council:

“I’m so upset and disappointed that what we have done to the HATS group is we have spun them in circles. Send them away, do this. They come back. They’ve done it. Oh, that’s not right. Send them away. Again, they come back. That’s not fair.”

Clark noted, “every single time we find a site, there is going to be an explosion of opposition from local neighbours and residents.”

The question Council is not answering: Do they actually support HATS?

Comprehensive Report on “Ending Homelessness” Coming for March 23

At the end of the HATS discussion, General Manager of Healthy and Safe Communities Angela Burden told Council:

“We have a comprehensive report on ending homelessness, which is planned to come forward for March 23.”

Online Voting for 2026?

The City puts aside money each budget year to pay for general municipal elections every four years.

The 2023 budget adds $153,800 to the election budget to potentially fund online voting, if Council decides to add this as an option.

Ward 5 Clr Matt Francis asked if online voting is proven to increase voter turnout.

Many Ontario municipalities experienced record-low turnout in 2018. Voter turnout plummeted.

Hamilton’s decrease was less than average, dropping to 35% from 38%. (2014’s 34.0% turnout is Hamilton’s record low.)

Traditionally, “change elections” drive a significant increase in turnout. Hamilton’s “change election” may explain why our turnout decrease was lower than in other places. [The provincial election in June also saw record lower turnout]

Will online voting help? The academic research is ongoing. Brock University prof Nicole Goodman‘s research is insightful.

Her research study of the 2014 Ontario municipal elections “results show internet voting can increase turnout by 3.5 percentage points.”

Dr. Goodman notes, “Our estimates suggest that internet voting is unlikely to solve the low turnout crisis.”

Dr. Goodman’s 2018 research paper, Reducing the Cost of Voting: An Evaluation of Internet Voting’s Effect on Turnout, is open access.

HSR “Metamorphosis” Plan Coming in “Late Q2 / Early Q3”

HSR Director Maureen Cosyn Heath says she is “bringing forward to council in late Q1, early Q2, the metamorphosis Renvision work done thus far,” and the HSR will have a complete overhaul of its over 100-year-old bus route grid.

“It is a brand new network redesign, built off of a blank page,” she told Council.

The new system will be “hub based” with major employment nodes a focus.

[The City’s senior management decided not to hold a transit budget meeting day this year.]

During last week’s budget deliberations, Ward 10 Clr Jeff Beattie asked what it will take to extend HSR service to the Casablanca GO bus stop in Grimsby.

The 2023 HSR budget includes beginning bus service to the Fifty Road commercial plaza in September.

Area Rating Debate Coming Feb 21

GM of Finance and Corporate Services Mike Zegarac says, “we’re targeting an area rating report” for a February 21 Council budget meeting day.

City Wins Injunction Against Flamborough Soil Dumping

The City gained a Superior Court Injunction to stop soil dumping at 1802 Regional Road 97 in Flamborough. Soil fill is being trucked into Hamilton and dumped at the site, contrary to Hamilton’s bylaws which prohibit the import of fill soil from other municipalities.

With the injunction, the City can request Hamilton Police enforce against trucks trying to enter the property to dump soil.

The City has ongoing enforcement litigation in front of the Superior Court, which will be the subject of a future hearing.

City to Negotiate with Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice for Land Sale in Dundas

Council approved the following:

“That Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice be granted permission to explore the possibility of acquiring the vacant surplus lands at 41 South St. W (rear), Dundas (the “Subject Site”), including conducting due diligence on the viability and development potential for the proposed “Campus of Care”, and be required to undertake public engagement and consultation toward the potential opportunity, all at its sole cost and expense.”

The lands are part of the Wentworth Lodge property.

New Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Lew

Council approved a new associate medical officer of health on Wednesday.

Dr. Brendan Lew will (pending provincial rubber stamp) become Hamilton’s second Associate Medical Officer of Health on July 1, 2023.

Dr. Lew is presently a resident doctor at Hamilton Public Health Services. His appointment is effective upon the end of his residency.

Retaining Dr. Lew is a win for the City of Hamilton. Recruiting medical doctors is challenging.

Hamilton Public Health’s residency program is successful at training doctors who go on to become Medical Officers of Health in other municipalities.

Dr. Lew will fill the vacancy created when Dr. Ninh Tran was appointed MoH for Oxford-Elgin-St. Thomas.

Working to Make Walking / Bicycling to School Safe for Kids

Council passed a motion for staff to report if ward councillors can use their discretionary funds to support the Daily School Route project.

The project seeks to create the conditions for children to safely use active transportation to and from school.

The motion was a response to an unaffiliated letter on the Board of Health agenda from Sudbury’s Medical Officer of Health respecting Physical Literacy for Healthy Active Children.

Illegal Demolition at 188 Cannon Street East

The owner(s) of 188 Cannon Street East began demolishing the buildings on their properties without a valid demolition permit last week. CHCH reported the story first.

A neighbouring resident shares photos of debris in their backyard from the partial demo, in response to my tweet.

The City has issued a stop work order.

The lands are listed for sale, asking price: $4,300,000.

We’ll have to see if the City issues any meaningful fines this time.

24 King Street West (Dundas): Municipal Heritage Concern

Hamilton’s Municipal Heritage Committee added 24 King Street West, Dundas, to their list of heritage concerns due to the building being for sale.

The Committee is concerned because the building has no legal heritage status or protection.

[The reality of lot sizes and location means it is impractical to demolish the building. If there were to be any future changes, they’d be similar to what has occurred in the Downtown Hamilton King Street East International BIA where non-visible upper-level residential additions are common.]

Hamilton Bulldogs, soon to be the Brantford Bulldogs

With the planned two-year renovation of Copps Coliseum, the Ontario Hockey League Hamilton Bulldogs are moving to Brantford to become the Brantford Bulldogs.

The City of Brantford outlines its planned financial support to the team.

No municipal sports subsidy is complete without claims of massive economic impact and that a minor sports team “will also serve to significantly elevate the City’s profile nationally and internationally.”

Who knows, maybe Stephen Colbert will take an interest in the OHL again.

Land Use and Development Planning News

At Hamilton’s Design Review Panel

DRP Supportive, with reservations, of Delta Secondary Redevelopment

January’s Design Review Panel meeting reviewed plans for 900 plus residential units to be built on the site of Delta Secondary School. The panel was supportive overall of intensification along the LRT line.

They had two areas of concern: a lack of contribution to the public realm and a lack of spacing between the three planned mid-rise buildings.

DRP’s Chair David Clusiau noted Hamilton’s Tall Building Guidelines require tower separation, to which the developer’s agent noted that tall buildings are defined as greater than 44 metres and the Delta buildings are not that tall.

Clusiau responded, “you have gone to the very top of the area where you would. If you went another millimetre over, then yes, you would immediately suddenly have to double your width.”

Full story with further details on TPR here.

Photo: Developer’s render from City planning file.

February DRP Meeting: 1866 Rymal Road East 

An eight-storey mixed-use retirement home with a daycare and ground-level commercial is being proposed for 1866 Rymal Road East, across from Bishop Ryan Secondary School.

It is just the latest mid-rise proposal along the rapidly intensifying Rymal Road corridor.

DRP will review the file on Thursday, Feb 9, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The public will be able to view the meeting via WebEx webinar.

More on the application on TPR here: Hamilton Design Review to Discuss Eight Storey Proposal for 1866 Rymal Road East

Under Construction (Finally)

Queenston Traffic Circle CityHousing

Three municipal elections later, the promised CityHousing mid-rise at the Queenston Traffic Circle is under construction.

The foundation permit was issued last week, Invizlj Architects posted to their Facebook page on Friday.

At the Ontario Land Tribunal

140 Garder Road East Wetlands Hearing Now in October

The owners of 140 Garner Road East are asking the Ontario Land Tribunal to overrule the Hamilton Conservation Authority and allow for the relocation of a wetland.

The application was denied by the HCA Board of Directors in a close vote, despite having the full support of then-HCA Chair City Councillor Lloyd Ferguson.

Environmental Defence intervened and was granted full party status.

The appeal hearing begins on October 2, 2023, and runs for “15 consecutive days, not including October 9, 16, and weekends.”

Video conference info in the OLT’s procedural order.

860 & 884 Barton Street, Stoney Creek

Losani Homes is appealing for non-decision “to change the zoning in order to retain an existing dwelling and permit the development of 324 multiple residential units in the form of maisonette townhouses, standard towns, and stacked townhouses.”

Two themes out of this hearing: the City’s lawyers are overworked, and the province making the OLT less friendly for the public.

City Lawyers’ Workload

An ongoing challenge at OLT is the workload of the City’s two planning lawyers. Both of them are excellent at their jobs and hardworking. They are meeting deadlines to file documents and submissions, but with heavy workloads, they often push right to the deadlines. This causes challenges for the Tribunal and other parties.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the lawyer for Losani Homes noted they were still working with the City up to the night before and needed time to review documents the city lawyer prepared for both parties.

Nancy Smith of Turkstra Mazza emphasized she trusts the city lawyer. She sought a week to review documents before the Tribunal issues the final procedural order for the planned seven-day hearing in July.

The Unfriendly Tribunal

Bruce Krushelnicki, Ph.D., wrote the book on the Ontario Municipal Board, literally, his 2003 “A practical guide to the Ontario Municipal Board.”

In the book, he describes the defunct Board’s efforts to ensure lay people could “present their own case by simply ‘telling their side of the story’ to the Board in their own words.”

Krushelnicki would become the OMB’s Executive Chair and presided over changes to address how “Over the years, Board hearings have gained some notoriety for their length, complexity and costs to the parties and government” and less welcoming of the public.

Under the rules changes of the Ontario Conservative government, laypeople are now limited to written statements to the Tribunal. On paper, laypeople can request Party Status, which is onerous and impractical.

This is not to say individual Tribunal members are unfriendly. During today’s hearing, the neighbours’ – an older couple – daughter sought to protect her parents’ interest.

She asked many questions, at a disadvantage in the video conference format. After around 10 minutes of back-and-forth, the Tribunal lowered its formality, and explained the process and options.

She decided to remain an observer – with the understanding the City will (outside the Tribunal process) provide her information to assist her parents’ decision-making.

Stoney Creek News Story on Lakeshore Drive Appeal 

The Stoney Creek News covers a 38-home subdivision planned for the shore of Lake Ontario at 11, 19, 20, 21, 23, 27 & 30 Lakeshore Drive in Stoney Creek.  Read about the appeal online here.

I’ll add, after you’ve read the story, the Tribunal is triaging appeals and fast-tracking cases in which the outcome is obvious. Expect this case to move quickly.

The OLT case file number is: OLT-22-004814

71 Main Dundas is Hamilton’s First Bill 23 Development Fee Appeal

Craig Campbell at the Dundas Star does an excellent job reviewing and getting expert analysis of this appeal.

In short, the owners of the property argue that the Ontario Conservative government’s decreased development changes mean they should pay $190,000 in parkland fees for construction because their final building permit was after November 28 when Bill 23 came into effect.

The City ruled the charge is $836,416.00 because the shoring permit was issued before Bill 23 and the City states this is the date of building permit.

From the owner’s OLT application:

“The Appellant is applying to the Ontario Land Tribunal pursuant to subsection 42(10) after having paid a higher cash-in-lieu fee demanded by the City, under protest, pursuant to subsection 42(12).

The Appellant appeals the City’s decision that the cash-in-lieu fee for the project was $836,416.00 ($13,069 x 64 residential units). The Appellant paid the amount of $836,416.00 to the City under protest on December 5, 2022. The Appellant submits that the correct cash-in-lieu fee was $190,000.00, being 10% of the appraised value of the land ($1,900,000.00) per subsection 42(3.3) (a) and Bill 23: The More Homes Built Faster Act, 20221 (“Bill 23).”

“The City interpreted subsection 42(3.5) to render subsection 42(3.3) inapplicable on the basis that the building permit was issued to the Appellant prior to November 28, 2022 (the date on which Bill 23 came into force). Specifically, the City took the position that the interim or conditional shoring permit (attached) issued by the City to the Appellant on May 10, 2022 (the “Shoring Permit”), was a building permit for the purposes of subsection 42(3.5).”

No dates have been set for the first case management hearing.

The OLT case number is: OLT-22-004846

442, 450, 454, and 462 Wilson Street East (Ancaster)

The final procedural order for this hearing is issued. I’ve posted the text of it to TPR.

Metroland’s Kevin Werner spoke to neighbour Jim McLeod who is a Party at the hearing regarding the proposed six-storey residential development at Wilson and Rousseaux Streets.

392-412 Wilson Street East & 15 Lorne Avenue (Ancaster) Hearing Dates Set

The owner of this Ancaster Village property wishes to build an eight-story mixed-use building with 169 residential units.

The Marr-Phillipo House, built in 1840, is located on the property. City Council approved moving the historic structure, but City staff told the developer they could not support the application.

The developer then filed a non-decision appeal to the OLT.

The OLT will conduct a 10-day hearing beginning on July 24, 2023

The issues list includes: “Building height, Residential density, Massing, Privacy, Overlook, Setbacks, and Compatibility with and enhancement of the character of the existing Neighbourhood.”

The Procedural Order is on the OLT website.

130 Wellington South Settlement Hearing – Feb 27

In 2021, Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr declared there are too many rental units in the Downtown Corktown neighbourhood and voted down a multiplex legalization at 130 Wellington Street South.

City staff recommended approval. Farr admitted his opposition to rentals would be overturned at the Ontario Land Tribunal.
The NIMBY comments complained about nearby affordable options, the Ontario Works office being nearby, and “it is the resident homeowners who actually vote here in the city!”

Two years later, there is a settlement between the NIMBYs, the City, and the property owner.

It will be heard on February 27.

The settlement is confidential until approved by the OLT.

In Progress

Photo: Developer’s render.
Another In-Fill Apartment Building – 150 Mohawk East at Upper Wellington

UrbanSolutions is the planning firm for the owners of 150 Mohawk Road East and have posted the full Zoning By-law Amendment application submitted to the City for a proposed 11-storey building containing 161 residential units.

The new residential building will be in the rear portion of the property, which has an existing 12-storey rental building.

Two Tall Buildings Proposed to Replace Philpott Memorial Church

Icon Architects, architects for the owners of the former Philpott Memorial Church at 89 Park Street North (across from Copps Coliseum bordering York Boulevard), have posted renderings for a proposed two tall buildings on the site.

The proposed renderings do not include the retention of the existing church structure.

The site owners have consulted with the City “to construct a mixed-use building comprised of two, 30 storey towers above a 5-storey podium with a total of 697 sq. m. of ground floor commercial along York Blvd and Vine St. Includes a total of 693 residential dwelling units and 393 parking spaces.”

Photo: Developer’s render.


Cost to Build RGI / Affordable Housing Now Over $500,000 per unit

During last week’s meetings, GM Emergency and Community Services Angela Burden noted that pre-COVID it cost “approximately 260,000 per unit” to build rent geared to income / affordable housing units.

“We know that the total cost would be double that in today’s market rates around construction and supply chain.”

Mayor Horwath meets with Prime Minister

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mayor Andrea Horwath held a one-on-one meeting during last week’s federal cabinet retreat in Hamilton.

Their press releases state they discussed infrastructure projects (including LRT) and housing and homelessness initiatives (including affordable housing along the LRT)

They also discussed the 2030 Commonwealth Games. Mayor Horwath’s election platform included supporting the Games.

Rural Ontario Municipal Association 

Ward 11 Clr Mark Tadeson led Hamilton’s delegation to the annual ROMA conference. Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney tweeted a photo with Tadeson and Brian Hollingworth, Director, Transportation Planning and Parking.

Tadeson tweeted he discussed a “safer Highway #6 South” among other things.

“Our Urban Boundary. Their Urban Boundary” 

Councillors have taken to referring to the Council urban boundary freeze as “Our Urban Boundary” and the new provincially imposed urban boundary as “Their Urban Boundary.”

Hamilton Briefs: McMaster Edition

McMaster Student President Candidates Call for More Parking

The impacts of two-years of social isolation and video learning were evident during this year’s McMaster Students Union election.

Barely 10 percent of students cast their online votes, elected Jovan Popovic their 2023/24 student president.

Ten percent is the bare minimum required to ratify student fees. The HSR UPass fee barely met this threshold. Due to abstentions, two other fees failed to be renewed.

McMaster undergraduate fees account for over 10% of the HSR’s revenue.

Students are disengaged from student life. They are also disengaged from Hamilton, with some candidates stating they are leaving Hamilton upon graduation.

Parking was the dominant issue in Tuesday’s debate – all candidates are campaigning to increase the size of McMaster’s parking lots.

For two years, students were forced to live at home.

Now, they can continue living at home – they do not need to be on campus.

All undergraduate library resources (including key books) are available online.

Classes are hybrid.

The cost of student housing is insane, and the quality is terrible.

Students are now commuting from across the region. GO is struggling to keep up with demand on the 407 bus routes. Driving is the most attractive office.

This explains their desire to expand parking lots, especially “Lot M” which was partially depraved in 2014 after a student campaign to decrease parking on campus.

The Candidates

Sam Abbot [Mac Silhouette profile]:
Running to “to increase student engagement with the MSU, address issues with MSU Maroons and increase the quality of the student experience at McMaster University”

Sam Bovey
Began the debate by saying they were ending their campaign and quickly left the stage.

Jovan Popovic [Mac Silhouette profile]
Campaign website listed student life & engagement, sports, and commuter life (adding parking) as priorities.

Zachary Thorne [Mac Silhouette profile]:
Campaign website was extensive, with ten platform pillars.
“PILLAR 2: ECONOMY  Zach plans to improve the economy through the addition of multiple Willy Dogs, The Golf Referendum, and his Deflation Plan”

Jeffrey Xu [Mac Silhouette profile]: Campaign platform listed student issues, including on-campus food quality, extending library hours, and controlling spending.

Comic Relief Candidates Dominate Election

Two of the four candidates at the debate are running as comic relief (joke) candidates.

There were around 50 students and community members gathered in the McMaster Student centre atrium for Tuesday’s all-candidates debate.

They definitely enjoyed themselves as even the traditional candidates switched to humour.

I quite enjoyed candidate Jeffrey Xu‘s playful delivery, “I am a candidate for change. I cannot promise it will be good change.”

Candidates were asked their positions on Hamilton’s nuisance party bylaw. I am still unsure if they misheard the question, or if the joke candidates intentionally went with parking.

The candidates all spoke against parking enforcement, not the party bylaw.

The Best Student Union Debate Ever: Soundwave vs Dollansky
In the late 00s, there was a trend of interesting and hilarious student union comic candidates.

My all-time favourite is 2007’s Soundwave at the University of  Alberta.

“We do not inherit this Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from Megatron!”

The 5:20 YouTube video, uploaded in the early 2007 days of the platform, is hilarious from start to finish.

McMaster Undergrad Applications Holding Steady

50,749 Ontario secondary school students have applied to McMaster for the Fall 2023 admission cycle, which is nearly the same number as last year when Mac received 129 more applications. The data was released by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre.

International Students, Money, Mohawk, and McMaster

International students are a significant source of revenue for Ontario’s post-secondary institutions, which compete with each other to maximize revenue.

A The Globe and Mail story on the internationalization of post-secondary education in Canada notes the impact of increasing enrolment upon local housing markets.

Higher education expert Alex Usher is quoted as stating: “It’s not just international students having trouble finding housing. That has an effect on the local market,” Mr. Usher said. “And it’s a tax that institutions are placing specifically on low-income families in those communities.”

In Hamilton: Mohawk College’s international enrolment was steadily increasing before the COVID pandemic, from 12,165 students in 2012-13, peaking at 14,535 in 2017-18. Mohawk reported 14,149 international students in 2019-20. Enrollment dropped to 12,817 in 2020-21.

McMaster enrolled 2,080 international students in 2012-13. There were 5,701 international students enrolled in 2020-21.

International students are not the cause of Hamilton’s student housing shortage.

McMaster’s domestic undergraduate enrolment jumped to 29,074 in 2020-21 from 23,713 in 2012-13.

I’ve noted the student housing shortage in previous newsletters. McMaster is building a public-private undergraduate residence on Main Street West.

There are numerous private mid-rise development proposals along Main West, including a building proposed to have mostly bachelor units.

More reading: Alex Usher’s blog posts on Internationalization and Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Municipal Briefs

As Premier, Kathleen Wynne instituted substantial (long overdue) reforms to local government accountability laws. The application of the new rules, phrased in between 2015 and 2018, is continuing to be adjudicated by Ontario’s Superior Court.  Two recent cases of note below.

Elliott Lake Mayor Chris Patrie Removed from Office

The 2017 changes to Ontario’s Municipal Conflict of Interest Act addressed serious flaws with how the Act was enforced. We are finally seeing municipal politicians removed from office for misusing their powers for personal gain.

The latest removal is the Mayor of Elliott Lake, Chris Patrie.

Superior Court Justice Annalisa Rasaiah ruled that as a councillor last term, he breached the MCIA by lobbying his fellow council members to build a 30 million dollar taxpayer-funded recreational infrastructure project behind a commercial real estate he had an interest in, namely a shopping plaza owned by a corporation, the shares of which were owned by him and his wife at the material time.

Prior to the changes, by then Minister of Municipal Affairs Ted McMeekin – the now Ward 15 Hamilton City Councillor, enforcement required a citizen to privately prosecute a violation at a personal cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

Even when politicians breached the Act, Ontario’s Superior Court judges did not impose the old Act’s only penalty – removal from office.


This excellent 2014 news article interviews a person who took a MCIA case to court and won. They explain why they would never do it again. With quotes from Ontario’s top conflict of interest lawyers.

Court Ruling on Education Act Trustee Accountability

Hamiltonians are all too familiar with school board trustee controversies. Last term’s Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Trustees competed with Hamilton City Council for Ontario’s most dysfunctional and disgraceful governing body.

In Toronto, Catholic Trustee Mike Del Grande filed a court challenge seeking to quash a censure imposed upon him for his disgusting comments during a debate on human rights and equity.

Ontario’s Divisional Court dismissed his motion earlier this month, as reported by TheStar here. The Court decision is now on CanLII.


John Mascarin, a partner at Aird & Berlis LLP, who is arguably Ontario’s top municipal law expert, discussed the Wynne government reforms of the Municipal Act in a 2019 interview with the trade magazine Municipal World.

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal Rules Standard ‘Floating’ Bus Design Discriminatory

Hamilton’s Chief Planner Steve Robichaud noted a BC Human Rights case on his Twitter account this weekend, and it is an important one. Floating bus stop designs, those with raised bike lanes flowing behind or in front of them, are dangerous for people who are blind or have visual impairments.

Hamilton, like nearly every municipality in North America, is implementing this design. There are design tweaks available to ensure accessibility and safety.

The CBC article on the ruling notes some of the options

O.Reg Change on Rabies Testing to Better Serve Bite Victims

Local medical officers of health will soon have the authority to order the testing of already deceased animals for rabies “thus avoiding bite victims having to undergo unnecessary vaccination for rabies, and decrease personal stress and anxiety. This also will decrease the burden on local public health units and healthcare facilities, create efficiencies for the use of publicly-funded vaccinations, and decrease the time commitment and potential side-effects for bite victims.”

Waterloo Councillor Wants to Increase Voter Turnout
The crisis of voter turnout needs to be addressed. [Yes, there are many crises to be addressed].

I take note of the personal efforts of Waterloo Regional Councillor Rob Deutschmann to ask why people are not voting and what he can do to address the situation.

The Waterloo Record details his efforts. The story includes a link to a 90-minute Town Hall Deutschmann held.

Newsletter top photo: Bookmarks produced by the City of Hamilton to mark Black History Month 2023

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