Politics

Bratina, Merulla Duke it Out

By Ryan McGreal
Published February 12, 2009

Councillors Bob Bratina (Ward 2) and Sam Merulla (Ward 4) exchanged barbs via email this morning over spending priorities for the city. The councillors sent their emails to each other, plus the rest of council and all the local news media.

It started with Councillor Merulla forwarding a news item from Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) about Mississauga's decision to drop out of the Pan Am Games bid for an aquatic facility.

Bratina replied, writing:

Perhaps Councillor Merulla would consider apologizing to the young athletes in the Hamilton area who might aspire to participate in some of the events. (Andrew Dreschel quotes the "scrappy East Ender" as follows: "Merulla dismisses the games as an obscure 'third-rate event with fourth-rate athletes.'")

Moments later, Merulla shot back:

Perhaps you Councillor Bratina should apologize to your residents who have been subjected to human feces floating in their basement as a result of the infrastructure deficit and yet you want to build an unsustainable stadium. That's a Holy Wow Factor!

Bratina rebutted:

Perhaps you could explain why spending $100 million more than necessary on office space [the City Hall renovation] to park our sorry ****s is more important than the feces fix you're spouting as your deepest concern.

Merulla retorted:

Due in part that you voted for it!

Stay classy, Councillors.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 09:13:15

I have to agree with Merulla on this one.

Who cares about the Pan Am Games?? Nothing but a waste of taxpayer dollars.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 09:31:14

I'll take Bratina's side. Yes, who cares about the Pan-Am games, but I care about the Ticats and having top notch facilities in Hamilton.

Funny how Merulla was always fighting against those making his identical argument back when it was over Red Hill.
Now he's making the same arguments??

Perhaps lower city residents wouldn't be faced with constant flooding and backups had Merulla became an opponent of constant sprawl instead of supporting the very infrastructure that has led to more sprawl and more lower city flooding. Can't have it both ways councillor. You're too late to the dance on this one...should have paid attention to all those 'environmentalist nuts' back when you actually had a chance to do something about it.

I for one, am tired of all my tax money being spent on roads.
Major revitalization of urban neighbourhoods can take place around a well-designed downtown stadium and mixed-use facility. Stop sprawl and then continue on the good work already being done by the city in repairing our infrastructure.

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By KFAS (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 10:22:20

Can we just turf the whole lot of them?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 12:13:50

Jason, >> I care about the Ticats and having top notch facilities in Hamilton

If that is the case, then tell Bob Young, that you and others will buy season tickets that cover the cost. That way, the people who want the stadium will get it and those that have no interest in watching a losing franchise, will not be forced to pay for something they will never use.

In the meantime, I think everybody can agree that sewage handling should be the first priority when it comes to spending hard earned tax payer dollars.

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By OccasionalCommentor (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 12:22:44

Not sure how I feel about the Pan-Am Games. The excitable part of me says we need this opportunity. The other side of me thinks that the excitable part is what gets us in trouble in Hamilton.

Regardless of the side, these 2 didn't handle themselves appropriately. I am sorely concerned with whom we elect as representatives. They seem to have priorities that are current-running only.

Both make points, unfortunately, there is no conclusive answer for their issues or what should take presidence.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 12:42:31

Jason,

Why do you bring up "sprawl" in every discussion on this site? What does "sprawl" have to do with this?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 13:29:42

Capitalist, he has a point. Sprawl, or the idea that tax dollars go to subsidizing large suburban homes, can be seen as unfair to those who live in higher density neighbourhoods. However, replacing one unfair expenditure with another (stadium for sports fans), is just as unfair. As a solution, why doesn't the city just stick with the basics. Sewage, garbage, and arterial roads. If people want to live in the burbs, then let them pay for the upkeep of the roads.

The less things we give government control over, the better they will be able to focus.

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By Bob Bratina (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 14:41:02

Here's the entire message. I suppose if the Pan Ams are third rate and the competitors fourth rate, what would Councillor Merulla's ratings be of the Canusa Games, International Children's Games, High School Championships, etc.

"Perhaps Clr Merulla would consider apologizing to the young athletes in the Hamilton area who might aspire to participate in some of the events. (Andrew Dreschel quotes the “scrappy East Ender” as follows: “Merulla dismisses the games as an obscure "third-rate event with fourth-rate athletes." How many local children do you suppose are involved in any of the following Pan Am sports?

Archery
Athletics
Badminton
Baseball
Basketball
Beach volleyball
Bowling
Boxing
Canoe/Kayak
Cycling
Diving
Equestrian
Fencing
Futsal (indoor football)
Football (soccer)
Gymnastics
Hockey
Handball
Heptathlon
Judo
Karate
Modern pentathlon

Polo
Racquetball
Rhythmic gymnastics
Roller sports
Rowing
Rugby union
Sailing
Shooting
Softball
Squash
Swimming
Synchronized swimming
Table tennis
Taekwondo
Tennis
Trampoline
Triathlon
Volleyball
Water polo
Water skiing
Weightlifting
Wrestling



Among the great athletes from Hamilton who have performed at the Pan Am games is my old Delta Schoolmate Dr. Jack Gauldie. Dr. Jack Gauldie is recognized internationally for his work in defining the molecular regulation of the acute phase inflammatory response and is a world expert in the areas of cytokine biology and the molecular regulation of inflammation and immunity. He is Professor of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He also holds the title Distinguished University Professor at McMaster; he is director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Health; and director of both the Centre for Gene Therapeutics and MOBIX. Dr. Gauldie holds patents in immune regulation and vaccine development.

Jack's expertise in water polo has led to his participation in the world Student Games, the Pan American Games and the Olympic Games. He coached the McMaster team from 1971-72 and was vice-president of the Canadian Water Polo Association from 1972-77. Jack is still active in soccer, hockey and swimming.



I sincerely hope Councillor Merulla will reconsider his unfortunate remark."



Bob Bratina


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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 15:55:40

Councillor Bratina, why is it that big projects such as a new stadium need to be funded by the taxpayer? If a stadium is truly needed in this community, why not let private businesses take on the risk of financing it? If the Ticats are loved as much as some people say they are, Bob Young should have no problem adding the cost of a new stadium to the price of tickets. Otherwise, let the people who earn the money spend it the way they want to.

Furthermore, why not lower the tax rate instead? By lowering the cost of owning property, you would make us more competitive with our GTA neighbours. Neither Oakville nor Burlington have professional sports teams, large arenas or stadiums, and yet more people would rather live in those communities than Hamilton.

I believe most people would rather live in neighbourhoods with greater disposable income and vibrant private sectors, than virtually empty stadiums that host big events 25 times a year. If you give the money back to the people, you will ensure that they won't waste it on projects that don't pan out (no pun intended).

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 16:18:00

Neither Oakville nor Burlington have professional sports teams, large arenas or stadiums, and yet more people would rather live in those communities than Hamilton.

Oakville pop. 165,613 Burlington pop. 164,415 Hamilton pop. 504,559

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 16:48:45

I bring up sprawl because that is the reason our water pumping system is overloaded and given the right (or wrong) circumstances in the form of a huge rainstorm, will result in much of the lower city flooding from underneath. Recently public works staff asked council to immediately halt all new suburban development projects. Every piece of land that is covered in concrete now has water run-off that has to go somewhere since it can't penetrate the land. Guess where it all goes? Woodward Ave. If the burbs want to keep sprawling till kingdom come they should pay the cost for a new pumping station somewhere out there instead of constantly flooding lower city homes. Merulla knows this is the case and knew it would be the result of Red Hill Expressway. Seems like he's finally realized his shortsightedness in supporting that project.
Too late to the dance however. Like most of council, most of the time. I mean we're considering a stadium near Mt Hope Airport. 1960's anyone??

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By CryBaby (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 17:25:39

Jason is a one note band and blames the suburbs for everything. I for one am sick of his bellyaching.

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By Bob Bratina (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 17:44:24

Oakville and Burlington are traditionally known as towns, not cities. Burlington was a sleepy farming village when I was a kid, famous for its wonderful melons and other produce. There were other crops of course, and a basket factory, which burned down in around 1966. It was quite the fire. Any great city has its suburbs. You're saying "who needs Manhattan when you can live in Rahway, or Chicago when Downer's Grove beckons. Hamilton is in many ways the equal of any of the great American cities. We are only limited by ourselves. Leaders of the past created one of the greatest Cities in Canada, whose industrial assessment made us one of the richest. I never heard of anyone deciding on moving to a City because he heard they had great sewers.

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By WhyNot? (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 18:13:33

I would like to see a new multi-purpose stadium built. I would like to see a facility with a track, football field, outdoor concert area, etc. In Toronto, at BMO field, there is a bubble which allows for facility use 365 days of the year. There needs to be private investment to offset the cost to taxpayers, perhaps by way of some of the following:

- Selling the Naming Rights for New Stadium
- Selling Name/Commemoration plates for seats (like at Hamilton Place)
- Selling Naming Rights for common areas
- $3 or $5 ticket surcharge on tickets for events that occur at the new stadium
- Paid parking on-site with surplus revenues to paid down stadium debt
- Increased rental fees for professional sport/entertainment events

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By WhyNot? (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 18:33:59

I would like to see a new multi-purpose stadium built. I would like to see a facility with a track, football field, outdoor concert area, etc. In Toronto, at BMO field, there is a bubble which allows for facility use 365 days of the year. There needs to be private investment to offset the cost to taxpayers, perhaps by way of some of the following:

- Selling the Naming Rights for New Stadium
- Selling Name/Commemoration plates for seats (like at Hamilton Place)
- Selling Naming Rights for common areas
- $3 or $5 ticket surcharge on tickets for events that occur at the new stadium
- Paid parking on-site with surplus revenues to paid down stadium debt
- Increased rental fees for professional sport/entertainment events

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By A Robot (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 19:48:45

What's wrong with the Ivor Wynne location? Not flashy enough? It has the space and is close enough to the rest of the city.

On another note, what exactly is the pan am games? I seriously don't know, and quite frankly don't care. I hope you don't put too many seats in this stadium, as it will look pretty silly half empty.

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By The Truth (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 19:50:33

Jason, it is a sewage treatment plant not a water pumping station.

On another note, to blame suburban sprawl for wastewater treatment is silly. Whether you have a residential unit in Downtown Hamilton or in the suburbs, one still has the same effect on the loading of the treatment plant. A residential, commercial or industrial building no matter where it is located generates so many cubic metres of wastewater per day.

Stormwater in suburban areas does not go to the treatment plant. It goes to stormwater management ponds via storm sewers where the sediment settles and the water is then released back to nature via streams or ground water infiltration to recharge groudwater sources. Or better yet, where I live in the evil suburbs we have swales (ditches) where stormwater accumulates and infiltrates the ground. We don't have storm sewers, just small sanitary sewers for what goes down the drains in the house. The only way in which stormwater in my neighbourhood would enter the sanitary sewer system would be through inflow/infiltration due pipe conditions.

The problem with the old areas in Hamilton is that the system is designed with what is known as combined sewers in which wastewater and stormwater are collected and conveyed to the treatment plant. So when we have major storm events this is what causes the flooding. The City has spent millions of dollars constructiong Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) holding tanks, the most recent examples are across the 403 from Chedoke Golf course and by Princess Point. If these tanks fill during a storm event and the treatment plant exceeds capacity then untreated stormwater and wastewater is discharged directly into the lake unfortunately.

You will note on your Horizon Utility bill that for every cubic metre you use you are charged the same amount on the wastewater side.

Therefore, you are mistaken. If there is not capacity at the treatment plant for 200 residential suburban units then there is not capacity at the plant for 200 residential units downtown.

This puts the City in a very interesting position. The City has funding programs to convert office space to residential units. The wastewater generated by residential units is much higher than that of an office as one does not take showers, wash dishes and clothes at the office (at least not at my office).

Therefore, if what you say is correct, then all development no matter what the use or where it is located in the City would grind to a halt as the capacity at the end of the pipe (the treatment plant) is not available.

I'm sure you'll spin these statements to suit your own misinformed beliefs. Which does not bother me as I know I am correct and have the education (bachelors and masters degrees) and over 16 years of working experience to back it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 20:50:05

The Truth...yes, you are correct in general with that assessment of how the system works, but I should clarify one thing - suburban sprawl has been happening on the south Mountain, Upper Stoney Creek, Meadowlands etc.... those are the areas that (as the city's own public works department states) "use gravity to their advantage" by having their stormwater run down the escarpment into the lower city network. Suburbs such as Dundas, Waterdown, Flamborough aren't part of this system as far as I know. Sprawl is sprawl whether it happens at Upper Gage and Rymal or Golf Links and (name a cross-street, I don't know any).

Public works recently came before council and recommended they halt all new development in the periphery of this system. You'll recall a blog on RTH a couple of years ago about a new overflow tank being built in the west end due to all the runoff coming down the escarpment from the west mountain.

If your assessment that downtown residential units are as much to blame as new suburban ones, then why have these flooding problems escalated so much in the past 5-10 years?? This should have started 40, 50, 60 years ago.

We had infrastructure in place to handle a certain amount of growth and we've now allowed more sprawling growth than our infrastructure can handle. That's why public works is calling for an immediate halt to new building. Are they misinformed too??

Bob Bratina - you are so bang on. Hamilton IS a great city with the bones in place to be a spectacular city. We could be a mini-Montreal. Leadership is always the issue in life, and sadly our city shows the scars of having virtually none for too many decades. A wise person once said "nobody visits Paris to check out the nice roads and sewers".

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By The Truth (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 22:06:45

Jason,

Well of course they would. I'm sure they've taken into consideration the fact that the City is recommending intensification of the Downtown core which should be, a decision has obviously been made. It is simply a matter of allocating existing capacity. I don't believe for a moment though that a drop of rain falling in the Meadowlands have an effect on the plant's capacity though, given the enormous greenspace with the development used for stormwater management. ie. the leash free dog park adjacent to the movie theatre, the soccer park adjacent to Golf Links road and the park on the other side of Golf Links. Another important factor is the watersheds. ie. part of Ancaster drains towards the Grand River, part of if not all of Glanbrook drains towards Niagara falls etc. The City is comprised of a number (4) watersheds.

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By The Truth (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 22:11:28

One other thing, the community known as the old city of Hamilton is not the oldest municipal corporation in the region. Ancaster (1793)for example is the oldest community within the City. So to classify the community as urban sprawl is quite short sighted given it's age relative to the other communities that comprise the new City of Hamilton.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 22:30:11

apparently the soccer field and dog park aren't quite able to handle all the runoff from the Meadowlands:

http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog.asp?i...

Not that it's a big deal, but you'll notice I used the term "Meadowlands" in my post above. I realize the old town of Ancaster has been around longer than Hamilton and isn't sprawl.

Also, keep in mind, downtown projects aren't paving over greenspace or adding any more runoff or storm water into the city system. I assume that's why city staff asked for a halt of suburban sprawl projects and not downtown projects.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 22:47:55

Councillor Bratina, >> You're saying "who needs Manhattan when you can live in Rahway, or Chicago when Downer's Grove beckons.

No, I'm just pointing out what the market is telling us and that is that Hamilton is not a very attractive place to locate. I agree 100% that Hamilton has a great history, much more so than I realized even a few years ago. However, because people and businesses are greedy and do tend to act in their self interest, having the highest tax rates on properties is limiting the potential that Hamilton should be fulfilling.

If tax rates on commercial properties were cut to 3% tomorrow, that would automatically increase the profit margin of every business in Hamilton. As a result, property values would soon be bid up as word got out about the low total cost (current lower land values plus new lower tax rate) of owning property in Hamilton. This lower total land cost, would give businesses currently located in Hamilton a temporary competitive advantage over their competitors and would send new businesses to Hamilton to try and get their share. This would increase developments in Hamilton, increase the value of land and create new employment opportunities in the process.

As it stands today, the city is capping the price of land by insisting on high tax rates. Since we know that the total cost of land is how businesses think about things, why not decrease the tax rate, which would allow the underlying value of the land to rise. This would materially help every person that currently owns land and would ensure that buildings not sit vacant and neglected.

This city deserves way more than that.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 12, 2009 at 23:50:17

It's like you've forgotten every other thread where you've gone on about taxes an no one cares. Why stop at 3%, how about 0%. Let's have the city pat us money to live here. Don't answer, because no one cares. Now let us never talk of this again.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 13, 2009 at 11:45:29

Jon C, >> It's like you've forgotten every other thread where you've gone on about taxes an no one cares.

If you don't care about paying high taxes, then you're a moron. I guess that's why Hamilton is such a basket case, nobody has enough self esteem, or brains to ask for their money back. I want my property taxes lowered and my property values to rise, so I will continue filling your heads with the idea until enough people agree with me.

>> Why stop at 3%, how about 0%.

You're on the right track, but maybe we should start by lowering our tax rates to GTA levels, which would be around 1% for residential and 2% for commercial. If this took place, property values would start to move in line with places like Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 13, 2009 at 12:04:44

I want my property taxes lowered and my property values to rise, so I will continue filling your heads with the idea until enough people agree with me.

So I guess your plan looks something like this:

  1. Rudely monopolize any and all conversations to flog the only idea I have, no matter how irrelevant to the topic at hand.

  2. ?

  3. Victory!

Good luck with that.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 13, 2009 at 14:09:18

I never indicated that you don't have a valid point, but any point repeated ad nauseam is bound to be tuned out. I can't even be bothered to read your posts anymore and I'd be willing to bet that goes for most people. If this was my site I would have already sent an email asking you to post on topic or have your IP banned.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 13, 2009 at 14:47:16

Highwater, >> 1. Rudely monopolize any and all conversations to flog the only idea I have, no matter how irrelevant to the topic at hand.

You may have more ideas than I do, but they are all based on the same bent mentality that believes that only government schemes can produce wealth. If this was the case, why isn't Hamilton, which is a monument to big government schemes and high tax rates, the richest city in Canada? It's because you are wrong and the proof is reflected in the fact that cities and provinces with low tax rates are becoming wealthier, while Hamilton sits on its a#$.

If tax rates don't matter, why does Burlington have higher property values and less vacant buildings than we do? They don't have LRT, are more sprawling and yet more people want to live there than here in Hamilton. Explain that.

>> If this was my site I would have already sent an email asking you to post on topic or have your IP banned.

If Ryan wants to ban me, that is his prerogative. However, banning points of view simply because they don't follow the agreed upon narrative, will only lead people to believe that you are scared of debate. But go ahead, ban me if the technology permits, I don't mind.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 13, 2009 at 14:57:15

A Smith wrote:

You may have more ideas than I do, but they are all based on the same bent mentality that believes that only government schemes can produce wealth.

Not only do you have only one blunt item in your conceptual toolbelt, but also you persistently attack straw men you set up instead of responding to other people's actual points.

It's easy to attack the idea that only government schemes can produce wealth.

The problem is that no one, from what I can tell, is making that argument.

So who are you really debating with - us, or the socialist bogeymen living between your own ears?

If Ryan wants to ban me, that is his prerogative.

I would only consider banning you if your comments crossed the line from tiresome, one-note argumentative fallacy into actual verbal assault, threats, harassment, etc.

Instead, I'm working on implementing threaded comments. That way, if you want to reply to a comment and someone else wants to reply to you, that can go into a thread while people who aren't interested in replying to your points can pick up other conversational threads.

That seems to me to offer the best balance between your right to free expression and others' right to ignore you if they so choose.

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By Four (anonymous) | Posted February 13, 2009 at 15:11:32

Hey Bob:

Love your boosterism, seriously, but we're not going back to when Burlington and Oakville were towns and Hamilton had industrial and financial ambitions. Now that we're all part of the Toronto-centered-city-state we need to find different ways to satisfy our community ambitions. Much as I think the Pan Am Games and Ti-Cats can have a role to play in that, your exchange of e-mails with Merulla was nothing more than a wasteful political exchange between two wannabe "leaders."

Read between the lines of the e-mails here, and even your own exchange with Merulla. Most of us want to see these things happen but we're worried that they will be done in a way that will not realize their promised benefits. Remember that the Red Hill Creek expressway was supposed to deliver all sorts of manufacturing jobs to the east mountain and taxpayer relief to the city. Instead it has nearly bankrupted us.

If facilities are not built in the right place, maximizing access by highway, regional and public transit, supporting nearby businesses without unduly irritating area residents, then it will not be a long-term success for anybody, not the Ti-Cats, not non-existent nearby businesses, not many young, potential athletes who can't get there by car and are discouraged by long-multi-transfer, bus rides.

An attractive, functional facility in the right place with the right infrastructure support could be of long-term benefit, open more than 9 dates a year and those profitably.

Legacies that don't return their financial, social, creative and community investments are known as white elephants. They cost, big time. The devil is in the details. In this case details have been in short supply, and the few we've heard haven't inspired confidence.

Neither does your exchange with Merulla. You're better than that.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 13, 2009 at 16:35:51

Ryan, >> It's easy to attack the idea that only government schemes can produce wealth. The problem is that no one, from what I can tell, is making that argument.

Almost every piece written on this site involves government and how taxpayer dollars will be spent to help this city come back to life. However, if allowing politicians to make spending decisions is the way to increase the city's quality of life, why hasn't it worked already? Why is it that people would rather live in Burlington, which has much less in the way of government services, than live in Hamilton?

One reason I can see, is that when people and businesses are allowed to keep more of the money they earn, they end up spending more in the community that actually produces value. Whereas in Burlington, people might fix up their house more often, which leads to a nicer neighborhood, the residents of Hamilton aren't given that option. Instead, we get a "grand scheme" that only a few people utilize and that most of us end up hating.

Just because government spending is big and visible, does not mean it adds as much value to the city as does a million little projects. Every time an individual can spend his/her own money, it adds life and vitality to the city's economy in a way that government spending can't. Individuals know what makes them happy and they spend money in order to maximize their happiness. When government spends money, it makes political compromises. As a result, no one person ends up truly happy, and most people are less than satisfied. In aggregate, every dollar spent by government, delivers much less happiness than a dollar spent by an individual. This has to be the case, because politicians can never spend other people's money as well as they could themselves, it isn't possible.

Therefore, if you want the city to cover the basics, such as sewage, arterial roads, water, that's fine, but then start dropping the tax rate and let individuals direct all the other spending decisions. That way, the total utility from spending in the city would start to increase and this would lead to a much better place to live.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 13, 2009 at 16:37:35

A Smith

It's like you are wilfully ignorant. Try reading this again

Me: If this was my site I would have already sent an email asking you to post on topic or have your IP banned.

You: If Ryan wants to ban me, that is his prerogative. However, banning points of view simply because they don't follow the agreed upon narrative, will only lead people to believe that you are scared of debate.

You even go out of your way to quote me and then argue something completely different, which appears to be your style. Asking you to be considerate is not the same as censoring you.

Ryan Threading would be great. I imagine you're working with limited time and resources though so no pressure.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 13, 2009 at 16:48:38

Four At some point the centralization around Toronto will spread out to the surrounding areas as telecommuting becomes a larger reality for the largely banking and financial based Toronto core. The concentration of those jobs for the time being is the driving factor for people to centre themselves in Toronto proper (and the surrounding towns just off the highway). As an employee's location becomes independent of your employer's there should be a spreading out of the population.

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By Four (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2009 at 12:04:21

JonC

I agree, though telecommuting is not yet the trend envisioned, but this spread will not happen in the way that it did before: sprawl into small-town suburbs. That has already happened, is still happening even as the current trend is for people to move back into urban spaces, a trend in which Hamilton no longer has an inherent advantage over former towns like Burlington and Oakville which are are busily acquiring and building the assets of denser, urban communities; witness Burlington's Performing Arts Centre.

This is not to say that Hamilton has no distinctive qualities that can and will appeal to people's tastes, but we cannot rely on past size or industrial heft to determine people's choices. Toronto has won the race to be the centre of this larger urban state, being the seat of government, finance and media. All roads, literally, lead to Front & Yonge, Bay, University and so central TO gets the big sports teams, the big theatre, the big shopping districts, the big concerts. It is downtown South Ont. and that's where our commercial heft resides. Hamilton is now one of several outlying urban centres that must compete first on the basis of the quality of life its communities provide local residents and only secondarily on specialty attractions for out-of-towners. People now want to live in good communities with good access to big attractions.

Put another way, I support Bratina's boosterism for a central Hamilton Pan Am games stadium, but any Burlington location along the QEW/GO corridor has an access advantage for a broadly distributed series of events (and Burlington probably has more hotel space too.) Neither city has local public rapid transit at the moment. All the recommended Hamilton locations have one or the other of immediate highway or GO access. If we want this thing we have to come with our A game. We can't just dismiss the competition and rely on history. I mean, really, most Hamiltonians could probably get to Waterdown & Plains road as fast than they could to a field out by the airport!

Put another way, in the long term this stadium will never host the very biggest entertainment attractions. I believe the CFL is a superior product and Bob Young has provided good stable ownership worthy of success, but you can build a football Taj Mahal in Hamilton and it will sit empty the minute if/when an NFL team arrives in Toronto. If one never arrives, the TiCats will at best take a dozen dates annually. The rest of the time the stadium will have to serve local, community needs- amateur sports, trade shows, etc. Things that enrich the lives of residents. We might get the Stones, but it'll be the Electric Scooter Tour.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 14, 2009 at 14:11:16

I don't buy the argument that Hamilton can't compete with Toronto or the NFL. Copps Coliseum continually hosts some of the best shows in the province and routinely draws acts that make Hamilton their only Ontario or Canadian stop. Hamilton Place was ranked as one of the top 50 theatres in the world last year. The only other Canadian theatre to make the top 50 was Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. Hamilton has already proven that it can compete with the GTA and Western NY facilities. Put the stadium downtown or just north of the core with great views of the harbour, escarpment and city skyline. It WILL become a hub of sports and entertainment in southern Ontario. History has already proven that we can not only compete, but outclass, the surrounding municipalities when it comes to world class entertainment. Our music, opera, theatre, symphony and arts community are among the most vibrant in Canada. We don't need a stadium in Aldershot or Burlington.
They can get their own CFL team, entertainment venues and city amenities. Perhaps once they do, they'll actually be able to promote their own civic amenities without having to mention all of Hamilton's great amenities in 'close proximity'.

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By Religioulos (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2009 at 15:54:56

Jason, you should get a real job instead of the family compact you have going for yourself.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 15, 2009 at 11:38:37

All I can see from all this is that our blundering council will somehow manage to screw the whole thing up again. I have never had respect for councillor Merrula and his over the top, boisterous comments etc.. But I also realize this is the way he tries (and often does) to get his way. Congrats to Mr. Bratina for standing up to him.

Do people not realize that with a new downtown stadium, the existing infrastructure would HAVE to be upgraded??? This government money (non municipal portion) will never be seen in this quantity without our getting these venues. I can't believe the lack of common sense in this city. It is truly overwhelming, and that is why, IMHO, this city will never get to the position it claims to reach for. We need to open our eyes and take anything we can get right now. Imagine the construction jobs alone, the money coming in from extra workers downtown etc..

And by the way, I believe Bob Young has said he will put money towards any new facility for the Ti-cats.

Forget the Airport lands, forget Burlington, Aldershot or Flamborough, the stadium needs to be downtown.

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By DIana (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 18:46:15

I just noticed this blog from the link about Lakeport. Bratina has a lot of explaining to do! He went from pro stadium and Pan Am to anti stadium and Pan Am. Woo I've heard of history proving someone right but I've never it occur as quickly as it did for Merulla on the stadium fiasco.

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