What’s what with the Pan Am Games
What’s what with the Pan Am Games
Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday June 30, 2015
The Johnson family is rather fond of the wooden table set on their east-end front porch — the city, not so much.
Jennifer and Tony arrived to their Chestnut Avenue home last Friday to find a bylaw notice taped to their front door ordering them to remove the furniture, hide their garbage containers and cut their lawn within three days or face a maximum fine of $10,000.
“The way this was done made (us feel) bullied,” said Jennifer, who notes the family would opt for a nicer set if they could afford it. “We sit here all the time.”
The table set hasn’t generated a single bylaw complaint in three years, so why is the city cracking down now?
When they called to complain, the Johnsons said a city staffer told them it wouldn’t look good for the Pan Am Games. But Coun. Matthew Green has apologized to the family, saying the staff member was mistaken and the bylaw blitz is part of the city’s proactive approach to property standards. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
A new city order to fix up crumbling and controversial heritage buildings in Gore Park won’t get action before the Pan Am Games.
The city issued an order earlier this month to repair falling bricks and missing mortar by July 5 at 28 King St. — one in a series of addresses in a historic park frontage that was slated for demolition until council imposed a last-minute heritage designation at the end of 2013.
The ownership consortium for 18-28 King St. has appealed the order to a rarely convened committee that isn’t scheduled to meet until September. Consortium partner Robert Miles confirmed the appeal, but declined to comment further.
The appeal prevents the city from doing the repairs — at the owner’s expense — in advance of the July 10 to 27 Pan Am Games, which feature a major themed party in Gore Park.
“It’s unfortunate nothing can be done because bricks are still falling off and it doesn’t look very good,” said downtown BIA executive director Kathy Drewitt, who added the group sought, but couldn’t come up with cash for artwork to hide the plywood-covered windows overlooking Gore Park’s iconic fountain.
Drewitt said planners for the Pan Am Promenade event in the park will “strategically” park food trucks and first aid tents in front of the buildings. “We can basically hide the bottom section, but if you look up, it’s hard to miss,” she said. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday June 24, 2015
Scientists at the Royal Botanical Gardens are scratching their heads about the bizarre discovery Monday of a live Asian crab, a creature listed as one of the 100 worst invasive species on Earth.
The adult crustacean — with its centre section, carapace, measuring 8 centimetres across — was identified as a Chinese Mitten Crab. It was inadvertently captured at the Cootes Paradise Fishway, a structure designed to keep carp out of Cootes Paradise from Hamilton Harbour, but allow other desirable species of fish to pass through.
“I was absolutely amazed how big the crab was and the fact that it was living in fresh water,” said Tys Theysmeyer, head of natural lands at the RBG.
According to the World Conservation Union, an international environmental group based in Switzerland, the burrowing crab with furry, mittenlike claws “modifies habitats by causing erosion due to its intensive burrowing activity and costs fisheries and aquaculture several hundreds of thousands of dollars per year by consuming bait and trapped fish as well as by damaging gear.”
But while the Chinese Mitten Crab has caused major problems in Europe, it is not viewed as a threat to the Great Lakes, says Hugh MacIsaac, an invasive species expert from the University of Windsor. The creature, he says, would not be able to reproduce.
The crab requires saltwater to bear offspring and that’s not something a crab in Hamilton Harbour could reasonably find. The St. Lawrence Seaway does not become salty enough until Quebec City, nearly 900 kilometres away from Hamilton.
In other parts of the world where fresh and salt water are closer together, such as the Thames River in England, it’s a different story. The crustacean is multiplying rapidly there, destroying fragile riverbanks as it preys on native species.
Six years ago, Londoners were told that the crab was safe to eat and to some it has become a food source. But high numbers continue.
There have been occasional discoveries of the crab in the Great Lakes over the years, but Monday’s was the first report in Hamilton Harbour. MacIsaac says the creature probably found its way to the harbour in the ballast water of a ship.
The crab was picked up by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and was being analyzed. A spokesperson was not available for comment. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday June 11, 2015
The province plans to deliver soccer fans to Hamilton’s new GO Train station for next month’s Pan Am Games whether the building is finished or not.
Construction continues on the station, platform, train tracks and elevators with just a month left before games celebrations kick off in the city July 9.
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca reiterated Tuesday the $44-million-plus station will be open for business, noting Metrolinx on Monday released a schedule of planned Pan Am service to the city starting July 11.
“I have visited the crews working hard on site daily to deliver this new transit station, and I have been assured by Metrolinx that this new GO Station on James Street North will be operational in time for the Games,” he said in an e-mailed statement.
“Landscaping around the station, including the laying of sod, will continue to take place after the station enters service, but these finishing touches will not impact the operational status of this station.”
That’s good news – if hard to believe, said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.
That’s the official word and I’m prepared to take them at their word,” said the mayor, who noted in a morning speech how much construction remains to be done on the station. “When I drive by, I personally am hard pressed to see how that might happen, but I’m not a construction guy.”
The mayor said he thought it was possible a basic platform could be made safe and opened for GO train visitors, if not the station building itself.
“I’m suspecting it’s just a platform … If they can get a train there, they can let people off, that’s great.”
Eisenberger added he didn’t consider a fully open GO station “integral” to games planning as it might have been with the originally envisioned West Harbour stadium. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Officials with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games billed Ontario taxpayers for everything from dress shirts and parking tickets to orange juice and wine before reimbursing them, documents released Friday reveal.
The Toronto Pan Am committee released five years’ worth of expense claims and credit card reports — about 5,000 pages of documents — to all media after a newspaper filed a freedom of information request.
“We of course work with the government on all these matters,” said Rafi. “In the past the expense claims for the organization garnered a lot of attention, so we wanted everybody to have that information at the same time.”
The expense reports, which often do not include the name of the executive making the claim, show Pan Am officials frequently charged taxpayers for their coffee, bottled water and snacks. Some also put cash advances on government credit cards, at very high interest rates.
“I didn’t know they existed,” he said. “When I saw those things, I said you know what, that’s not going to stand.”
The Progressive Conservatives said the Liberal government has clearly not been able to change the “culture of entitlement” at the Pan Am organizing committee.
“If you’re appointed to a committee by a Liberal, you can basically expense whatever you want, that’s the message that I think the public is hearing now,” said PC Pan Am critic Todd Smith. “The scandalous spending is continuing even after the new regime has been put in place.”
The New Democrats said Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals appeared to have learned nothing from a similar scandal involving inappropriate expenditures at eHealth Ontario, which forced the n-health minister David Caplan to resign. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)