BREAKING: Cranky Council Considers Only Virtual Meetings

ouncil's Casino Comprimise

The hot pocket | photo by Joanna St. Jacques

In response to the breakdown of the decorum at last night’s Hamilton city council meeting, council has drafted a resolution which will limit counselors to only using BlackBerry chat to conduct its meetings.

“We believe that using BlackBerry group chat would serve as a better medium than actually speaking to each other face-to-face. Councillors will still be able to express emotions within the group chat by utilizing emoticons,” said an unnamed city clerk.

It’s a health and safety issue that caused concern amongst councillors and staff that sparked the idea of finding new ways to conduct council meetings.

“We were afraid that if another meeting is conducted face-to-face, someone is going to get hurt. Have you seen the size of Sam Merulla’s biceps? Just look at how big that Jason Farr is! Brad Clark can really spin that cane.  And I’m pretty sure that Maria Pearson is a black belt in jujitsu.”

Council will have to decide on this idea in person before the new policy can take effect. There is talk of having a police presence or possibly a UFC referee attend the meeting to ratify this resolution.

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Bratina: It’s either LRT or a Subway in Dundas

The Mayor’s Tunnel Vision

English: Dundas Subway Station

The New Dundas? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bratina has been brain-storming again.  Yesterday’s fumble, with the mayor misquoting Ontario’s Premier concerning the supposed ‘either or’ funding of LRT and all-day GO service, has inspired the ire of his colleagues in council. Terry Whitehead made the comment that the mayor doesn’t take orders from the province, the mayor sets the agenda – and that was when Bob had his epiphany.

“If Kathleen Wynne won’t make an ultimatum, I will,” said Bratina, in yesterday’s general concerns committee. “We’re either doing LRT, or a subway in Dundas.  And the decision will be made on Monday.”

Rumours of Bratina’s Dundas subway have circulated for as long as he’s been in politics. It’s long been suspected that Bratina has been funding the Environmental Assessments and feasibility studies in secret, waiting for public sentiment to support his subway.

English: Entrance to Dundas TTC subway station...

Concept illustration of Dundas’ proposed subway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dundas has the unique chance of becoming the only town in the world with a population under 30,000 to have a subway, and the second place in Ontario.

For the same price as LRT, claims city staff, we could – in theory – have a subway in Dundas that spans King Street W from Woodleys Lane to the Canadian Tire.  Metrolinx has approved funding for the project, so long as the city pitches in $30 million.  Rumours of exhausting the Future Fund has already divided council.

“You’re being willfully…ignorant,” said a livid Brian McHattie. “The Future Fund is for self-sustaining projects.  HSR ridership for Dundas is far from sustainable, and we’ve been waiting years for LRT.”

The Mayor’s tunnel vision may get him in trouble with council, but perhaps Dundas will feel differently.

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Hamilton, the first peanut-free city?

Peanuts: The Salted Killer

peanuts pamphlet

Canada’s Peanut Plan (Gov’t Canada)

There’s something out there, and it’s after our children.   We’ve banned them from our schools, our airlines, and our public cafeterias – but still – no one is safe.    No, I’m not talking about handguns or gang colours.  I’m talking about peanuts.

The discussion of a completely, peanut-free city comes after urgings from Hamilton Health Science in yesterday’s Public Health committee meeting.  “There’s at least three children in this city whose allergic reaction to peanuts are so strong, that even having products containing peanuts in their neighbourhood may trigger anaphylaxis.”

If city council accepts Hamilton Health Science’s recommendations, as of July 14th, 2013, peanuts will be barred from Hamilton, making it the first city in North America to completely ban a food item.

Fortinos: “Don’t take our nuts away!”

In a quick response to the proposal, Fortinos released a statement:  “Although allergies threaten some Hamiltonians, It’s our belief that business can just minimize the risk of exposure.  In the spirit of free business practices, we raise a petition against banning nuts of any description.”

Experts say proposal “Unrealistic”

Even the experts at the Peanut Bureau of Canada, a group that claims peanuts are a safe snack, concedes this bylaw will be a tough nut to crack.  Enforcement will be costly, and nearly impossible.  Containment, however, is well within our grasp.    Councillor Brenda Johnson said, in response, “If they can ban pork and alcohol in Mali – an entire country – we can do it one small, Canadian city….for the sake of the children!  Hamilton will be to peanuts, what Alberta is to rats.  And the world will love us for it.”

Will a peanut-free Hamilton make us a progressive, world-class city, or a city of world-class nuts?  The answer remains to be seen.  Council meets on this issue on Monday, April 29th.

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Diagonal Lawn-cutting Banned in Ward 8

Ward 8 residents angry over ban on diagonal lawn-cutting

residential-lawn-care

This house will be fined $103

Terry Whitehead has seen enough. From the sidewalk, from the street, and especially from up in the air, he’s sick and tired of how unkempt his west Mountain ward looks.

The veteran councillor was flying in to John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport last week, on his way back from a sludge review committee powwow in Calgary, when something struck his eye and almost made him dizzy.

“I looked out the window down at my ward, and I see all these lines going every which way. People are cutting their lawns any way they want,” he said, “and it’s got to stop. It looks terrible.”

To that end, White has decided to ban the practice of diagonal lawn-cutting in Ward 8. Residents will be allowed to cut the grass only on a 90-degree angle (up and down, or sideways).

Break the “Go Straight” bylaw, and it’s now a $103 fine. “Let’s face it, this is not the prettiest ward in town, ” said Whitehead, who couldn’t, off the top of his head, figure out what the cost of enforcement might be, but he hopes the initiative is revenue-neutral. “We need the residents pitching in. We want a handsome ward.”

The move has angered at least one Ward 8 resident. Doug Nomberstreat began boldly cutting his lawn diagonally in the 80s. His neighbours initially recoiled and thought of him as a “Westdale snob”, he said, but they’ve all since come around to the flashy landscaping technique.

“Now it’s illegal,” Nomberstreat said with a shrug. “What next? Colour-co-ordinated driveways?”
Whitehead said he’d be willing to look into that.

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Ancaster Exempted from 1-bag rule: “We consume more”

Plastic flowers growing well

Plastic flowers growing well (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ancaster may have a reputation for dumping on Hamilton, but the trash talk is now flowing the other way for a change.  In what was initially considered an April Fools’ joke, Ancaster councilman, Lloyd Ferguson,  passed a bylaw exemption to Hamilton’s one-bag rule, allowing Ancaster households to put out three bags of garbage rather than just one.   The exemption includes allowances for batteries, televisions, nuclear waste, and pets.

Bag, tag, and forget

Garbage pickup in Hamilton is changing anyways, argue Ferguson’s opponents, with more allowances for extra bags.   Rather than giving exceptions to the one bag rule on selected weekends, Hamiltonians can buy stickers allowing them to throw out extra on any given day.  The city is giving out twelve freebie stickers by mail, with an additional fourteen more, free of charge, upon request.   Hamilton residents can put out an extra bag for half of the year.

“I don’t care how many tags the City is handing out, Ancaster is wealthier,” Ferguson argued.  “More disposable income means more disposables.  An extra bag every other week is not enough for us.  This is especially true after an Artsprawl.”

More Disposable Income = More Disposables

The timing of these measures could not be worse.  Changes in garbage policy are always a case for debate, as city clerk Chet Morrison can attest to.  “When it comes to trash policy, it take citizens – especially the filthy citizens of downtown Hamilton – time to get used to it.  I think Ancaster has proven itself as a clean city, and doesn’t need to be grouped with working class neighbours downtown.  Wait. Don’t publish that, Farley.  Okay?”

The three-bag rule won’t take effect until September, 2013 – until then, Ancaster will have to slum it with the rest of Hamilton.

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The ‘Harper bear’ will be part panda, part polar

Panda_Polar_Love

“There’s a fine line between mating and mauling when it comes to polar bears,” expert says. (photo|Wikipedia)

Like a Liger: Bred for the very first time

What do you get when you cross a polar bear with a Panda?  If Stephen Harper has his way, a unique symbol of harmony between China and Canada.  The ‘Polanda’ bear, nicknamed the Harper-bear, has the potential to smooth out foreign relations with the Chinese, especially as they aim to scoop up more oil sands.  China’s ambassador to Canada, Zhang Junsai says this is an opportunity to unite our countries, while at the same time creating  a new, more versatile bear species.  It’s not about destroying the environment, says the Prime Minister’s Office, it’s about preserving two amazing animals.

During Er Shun and Da Mao’s stay in Toronto, they will be privy to a host of expensive toys, exercise equipment, groomers, researchers, and veterinarians.   They will be expected to earn their keep, though.   Each bear has been match with a polar bear with similar traits and sexual compatibility.

Panda’s too frigid for polar bears?

“Panda bears are extremely selective when it comes to choosing a mate,” says panda expert, Prof. Kirby Bulsinki.  “As an animal biologist, I’ve devoted my life to these cuddly little fellers.   They’re not going to love being put in a pen with polar bears.  I know the mechanics of mating them will work, but a lot of sex is psychological for pandas.  Polar bears, on the other hand, will mate with anything with a heartbeat.  Elephant seals, lost explorers, seals, whales, you name it.   They may just over power the pandas.  After all, there’s a fine line between mauling and mating.  We just hope it is consensual.”

The symposium on inter-species breeding, hosted bi-annually at the University of Guelph, is divided on this issue.  “We have no idea what this animal may be capable of,” says naturalist Stig Larson.  “Polar bears are hunters, carnivores, swimmers, and travel long distances.  Panda bears are cute, vegetarian, sedentary, and more like a big raccoon.  They may turn out like Katy Perry – cute but dangerous.  But there’s always a chance they’ll be like Frankenstein – well-meaning, but ugly and destructive.”

North Meets East

Harper notes that both species are in rapid decline, and from a pure survival standpoint, may benefit from more adaptable traits.   The opposition recognize the environmental benefits, but say it’s not enough.   “Harper isn’t planning to release them into the wild, he just wants them to boost his own popularity and whore out our oil,” says opposition leader, Thomas Mulcair   It’s a slippery slope, though. First it’s the polanda bear, the next thing you know we’re using Chinese currency and dipping our pizza in soy sauce.”

“‘Cabbits’ – cats crossed with rabbits – have proven successful for Mexican-American relations, and I think the polanda bear will have similar results,” countered Harper.  “We have a chance to expand trade, and form a strong bond.   I’m doing what Nixon did, but I’m throwing in a feat of science, and one hell of a cute pair of animals.  That just happened!”

Whether or not the polanda bear is a success, politics with Panda bears are rarely black and white.