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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Paramount Canada’s HSR? The Ride of Your Life Awaits


An artist’s rendition of HSR’s newest transit plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting down the escarpment is about to get fun

City hall was abuzz with excitement and shock as staff presented their latest recommendations on transit:  A privately funded, amusement ride that would take thrill-seeking HSR passengers down and up the escarpment.

Would Citizens Ride “The Mountain King?”

Mayor Bob Bratina was struck with the idea when discussing the “roller coaster ride” council has been through over LRT discussions.  “It hit me then,” says Bratina. ” We could have a fun, affordable tourist attraction, paid for by sponsors.  No money out of the city coffers.  I call it ‘THE MOUNTAIN KING.'”

Paramount Unsure They Can Commit

An unnamed source at Paramount Canada said no one has approached them with this idea.  “We sold Wonderland, and we’re out of the amusement game in Southern Ontario.  I have to admit, the idea is, um, interesting.  It sure will generate a lot of attention.”

Whitehead Jokes It’s A Literal Slippery Slope

“Although my constituents need to get down the mountain quickly, this idea is a slippery slope, figuratively and literally. [laughs] But seriously, I know it’s all paid for, and the city doesn’t need to administrate, but I have a bad feeling about it.”

The idea is an amusing attraction, but whether it gets through council remains to be seen.

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Council Hot on LRT, Hotter on Scooter Lanes

Segregated Mobility Scooter Lanes Beat Out Bikes

English: I took this image myself at the Austr...

Mobility Scooter Race in Gage Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe it’s the slippery slope down the mountain that got Councillor Terry Whitehead thinking about designated lanes, but at Monday’s council meeting, he wore his heart on his sleeve.  “I love bikes, bike rights, but we have to prioritize and Hamiltonian mobility scooter drivers need a segregated lane.  Period.”

Council narrowly voted in favour of a proposal to install a segregated scooter lane for scooters, stretching from Queen St to Parkdale Ave along Main and King St.

Councillor Jackson: “It’s all about equity.”

Councillor Tom Jackson put it plainly,  “I’m over the moon about bike lanes – over the moon! – but for every bicycle downtown, a recent study showed, there are three mobility scooters.  It’s all about equity.”

Councillor Brian McHattie sees things differently.  “Bikes are ridiculous.  We’ve moved on and we have gas-powered titans at our glove tips, now.  I’m talking about cars!  I only am voting for mobility scooters because they’re the most affordable form of Hamilton transit since weight-based bus fares kicked in.”

Allegations by community groups that organized crime is behind the move, given their interest in illegal scooter race gambling, have not been confirmed.  No crime bosses could be reached for comment.

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The new McMaster Children's Hospital Logo

The new McMaster Children’s Hospital Logo

We’ve done it again, Hamilton.  We’ve made it through another week.  I have a fabulous new photographer, and a mysterious graphic designer who has donated a logo (coming soon!).   All-in-all a good week.   I had a delicious luncheon with the mayor, sampling the goose wings of Hamilton.  They’re good, but in a gamey way.

Coming this week?   Big ideas from small minds.   Hamilton’s wish list of gigantic public works projects.

My favourite comments:

  1. razor pocket mod “You should take part in a contest for one of the best websites on the net. I most certainly willhighly recommend this website!”
  2. Hamilton’s Newest Big Idea: “Glen Nott Massive HAMILTON sign on the side of the mountain, big enough that you can read it from the CN Tower. That’ll show ’em who’s boss.”
  3. Peter Graefe – Did you spy Dollarama’s spring 2013 collections while you were there?
  4. Stam – Farley you look awesome in heels.


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City Workers Week

Farley Follows City Workers This Week – photo by Dan Zen

Farley spends three, full seven-hour workdays with the City of Hamilton’s most misunderstood workers: Road Maintenance Crew, City Managers  and a surprise first – for any journalist – to end the week.  Today, Farley sits in with Chet Morrison, a City Clerk for 5 years.

Chet Morrison looks smart in his three-piece suit and alligator skin shoes as he strides across the lawn of City Hall to shake my hand.  We walk through a maze of grey cubicles until we reach Morrison’s desk, decorated with pictures of his family, a signed Pigskin Pete hat, and an electric pencil sharpener.  It’s 8:00am.

Hamilton City Hall in the winter

One wonders on a night like this, “How many meetings happened here today?” – photo by Jo St. Jacques

“The day starts with a meeting at 10:00am to establish the meetings for the day.  I know, I know – it’s a meeting about a meeting – but it’s important to know what’s going on for the day.”

I ducked out of the third meeting, “Should Meetings Minutes Have Bullet Points or Numbers?,” and had a look around the building.

The yoga instructor in the Relaxation Room told me, “The idea that City workers have cushy jobs is exaggerated.”  When I ask her about the latest firings, she says, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”

I meet up with Morrison in the sauna as we wind down the day.  We discuss the inefficiencies of high paid senior staff, who sit in council all day in case they are called upon to answer a question.   “It’s expensive to have them all there,” he says, “but the room would feel empty without them.”

As we part at MacNab and Hunter, Morrison yells across the street, “Farley, we decided to go with bullet points.”  I realize he’s talking about the third meeting I missed, and I smile to myself knowing that tomorrow’s follow up meeting is already in his Blackberry.

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Farley Hammerton
Editor in Chief
Facebook: HammerInTheNews


City Workers Week

Farley Follows City Workers This Week – photo by Dan Zen

Farley spends three, full seven-hour workdays with the City of Hamilton’s most misunderstood workers: Road Maintenance Crew, City Managers  and a surprise first – for any journalist – to end the week.  Today, Farley sits in with Darrel Vinetti, a 25-year veteran of the Road Maintenance crew.

Following the dismissal of 29 city workers for time theft, tampering with the transit routes, and other grievances, Darrel Vinetti and his buddy, Chuck Semple, are the last survivors of the department.   “The big boss ain’t replacing them.  So, me and Chuck here are the only two left,” says Vinetti over his morning smoke behind the garage.

That means snow removal, usually the job of 6-8 trucks, is left to just Chuck and Darrel.  “I’ll be honest,” says Darrel Vinetti “morale is extremely low between the two of us, so we decided instead of doing the main roads first, we’re doing them alphabetically, starting with Aberdeen right through to York blvd.”


Farley, before narrowly avoiding a train – a road crew hazing tradition – photo by MTAPhotos

This move wasn’t popular with drivers on Friday afternoon – Main street is halfway through the alphabet, and the QEW is further down the list.  I have to admit, though, it may have been worth it to see them smile, pouring over the map like it was a crossword puzzle.

It’s clear that there’s been a lot of adjustment.  Squeezing lunches into an hour and fifteen minutes, and reducing breaks to three thirty minute blocks, the two-man crew feels the pressure.  “I’ve never worked so hard in my life.   There needs to be a balance – my body is used to a small nap in the afternoon.  I don’t feel like it’s safe to operate something like a snow plow without a few naps.  I mean, just one is enough.”

We spend a lot of time checking the fluids in the plow, not hitting the road until after the second break.   Once we’re out there, we get Aberdeen, Augusta and Barton Street finished before lunch/nap.   After lunch, we head over to Bay Street and back to the garage.

As the day is almost over, Vinetti looks tired.  People on the street have been throwing garbage and food at us all day, and rough-looking men in pick up trucks have made several inquiries concerning the price of asphalt.   Vinetti brushes them off with a curse and a wink.   And that’s how these two get through their days  – with a curse and a wink – heads held high.

Stay tuned Wednesday for Farley’s Day in a City Office

Farley Hammerton
Editor in Chief
Facebook: HammerInTheNews
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This week has been exhausting.  I’ve been up around the clock covering the HSR’s biggest blunder: weight-based fares and a 1990s online presence.  And the temptation to go to the Mayor’s kissing booth today was too much.  A late nude skate always tires out me and the staff.  Also – commenters on our website helpfully pointed out racism towards heavy people, and more civic problems in the ‘province’ of Hamilton.

My favourite comments:

  1. I respect the HSR for admitting their mistake


    Weight-based fare not too popular in Hamilton

  2. This little chesnut from Peter Mercanti about the anti-casino crowd: “Who are these people? What is their background? What have they done? They get almost all the same weight as the people who really count. It shocks me.”
  3. And who can forget the negative reaction from followers of HTN when they heard about weight-based bus fares?
  • Hammergovermentfailsusagain Feb 4, 3:23 pm

    I do not ride the HSR as I drive myself…Hamilton is already a poor/hurting Provence but on top of all that lets make the disabled/weak/poor/over weight people pay for it… BOO shame on HAMILTON is this just a money grabbing scam to make up for the money lost to the BS web site they lost money on?

  • Nicole margerison Feb 4, 1:40 pm

    This is ridiculous and unethical I have been an hsr rider for years and the second I step on a bus and it

    Fat Caliper

    You have to pinch the passenger – Dr. Peever – photo by skamille

    shows my weight n tells me what I owe to ride is the day I sue the asses outta them assh***s that is completely wrong and discriminatory I am extremely offended by this :(

  • This is like putting black people on the back of the bus, just being racist to heavy people

  • This is disgusting…this is discrimination? Wtf are you thinking. I am a single mother who take her 2mon old on the bus almost everyday…are you going to make me pay for my strollera weight too? If so thats bs! Not all people are obese by choice…this is why people will and have left hamilton…because the council are a bunch of a-holes. Your drivers weigh maybe 250+ and sit on their asses and dont do nothing but we have to pay? No way. If their on the bus they should have to pay a fee. This is bullshit.

  • Tony King@Aboriginal_Guy @HammerInTheNews *Red Alert!* Don’t french kiss the mayor after he smoked one of his stogies.


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