Sprawl

Mountain Library Built on Back of North End Library

By Jason Leach
Published April 21, 2009

North End residents: don't feel bad.

Despite your lower than average income, lower than average car-ownership, higher than average use of walking and transit as your primary transportation modes, it must feel good to know that the money saved by closing your local branch of the Hamilton Public Library is being well spent elsewhere.

It features a living room, complete with hardwood floors, exposed stone walls and gas fireplace. Two outdoor patios as well. It has display shelves that actually show many of the covers of the books.

It's [sic] one-floor design is spacious, accessible and inviting. With plenty of parking.

Chalk up another victory for sprawl.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted April 21, 2009 at 09:43:42

Another example of why poor people don't matter. Poor people don't vote. They don't fund election campaigns. They don't lobby their politicians. Poor people don't matter.

This new library sounds fantastic, and perhaps the North End branch closure is due to low numbers. But either way it's hard to imagine that this situation would not have been reversed if the income levels of the 2 neighbourhoods were reversed.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 21, 2009 at 09:49:31

The linked CATCH article has more context on the North End Picton Branch:

A November public meeting on Picton's fate drew 50 residents, many expressing frustration at the repeated changes in branch hours.

Those have shifted three times in the last eight years, starting with a re-organization after amalgamation which saw operations reduced to 35 hours a week. Subsequent alterations changed open times twice and reduced total hours.

The 3100 square foot branch currently operates 4 hours a day from Monday to Thursday and is closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is open fewer hours than any of the system's 23 other locations, all of which, except Mt Hope, run at least five days a week.

Hard to imagine why community use of the library branch is low, though it did increase slightly in the past year.

They tried to swing a deal to move the library into space in the new north end community centre, but the HPL didn't have enough money to do this (though they apparently had enough for hardwood floors and a gas fireplace at the new suburban location).

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-04-20 21:00:47

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By WhyBlameTheMountain (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 11:28:20

Your disdain for the mountain is palpable. Why exclusively blame the spending on a new South Mountain location for HPL's failure to sustain the Picton branch? A fair chunk of change is being dropped on renovations at the central branch just up the road. One could just as easily say that the HPL could have had enough money to save Picton branch if it wasn't being so extravagant with the York Blvd branch's renovations.

As far as treating the poor 'poorly', that simply does not bear truth in this case. The largest library is located within a mile of the Picton branch, and offers many services unavailable at branches in any other part of the city.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 11:54:30

Jay, have you been to that site? It's also a Y, has a great pool and gym and is surrounded on 3 sides by large residential surveys and has a lot of great social programs. Whether or not the money saved by closing one branch is being used to get this one going is not really proveable... in fact, I had the plans for the building on my desk almost 3 years ago (and they already included the library) and I'm not sure you can prove that Picton was already on the chopping block then. By the time they get to me, the project has already been in the works for 3 or so years in the design stage.

Transit service along Rymal is poor, there is barely any service north of Rymal. What this does is provide a large area of people with a library and a recreational facility nearby. Sure it sucks that they're closing the Picton branch, but taking a crap on Mountain residents isn't the answer either.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 11:57:06

Ryan, the gas fireplace and flooring were all in the drawings at that point as well...

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By bridge (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 12:07:14

Relax folks, jason's just trolling for angry comments and you all took the bait.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 12:07:50

folks, say what you want, and perhaps its just horrible optics on the part of HPL with the timing of both press releases, but I think Rusty nailed it with his description of the poorer parts of Hamilton.

I'm not opposed in any way to a new library being built at this site. The more libraries the better in the city. And my comments have zero to do with 'the Mountain'. My comments are directed at the lousy planning policies by our city over the past 30 years. Constant threat and some actual school closures in the urban parts of the city so we can build new ones in the sprawl areas. If sprawl is such a great development model as some suggest, why can't it cover the cost of new rec facilities on it's own? Why must the entire sprawl development model be subsidized by the existing, poorer parts of any given city? I'd love a straight answer from someone on that. Not more rhetoric or anti-RTH stuff.
Some locals aren't used to being asked tough questions like this because our brains have been dulled by the local 'big' media.

Sprawl is the most heavily subsidized sector in the history of western civilization. And it continues to be.

I have no problem with the fireplace or the nice flooring. Central will have the same thing when it re-opens. I'm not suggesting for a moment that we build crap. Lord knows we do that enough in this city. Why couldn't Terryberry be closed down in order to build this new library? Why Picton? As mentioned in the CATCH article, Picton was originally slated to be part of the new rec centre being built in the North End. Almost identical to what is happening at Turner Park. Why did one part of the city see that plan fulfilled and the other part of the city see that plan scrapped?

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 12:34:28

Utilizing your argument then, the residents north of Rymal road who pay taxes which contribute to transit in our city are also being screwed. You can't complain about sprawl/car dependancy if you're unwilling to develop amenities in areas where people live.

The area schools already visit the Central Library. In fact, take a look at the end of the report - Appendix A and you'll find that while losing a physical location, the Picton area residents are coming out with better service than they've had to date.

This is directly from the City's site "The way customers are using the Hamilton Public Library system is changing. The Central Library is getting busier each month due to its wide range of services and programs for all ages. Use of Picton Branch has declined markedly in the past few years. Library statistics show that these customers have voted with their feet and made their way to the Central Library". Also, from reading the HPL's Inner City service plan, they intend to add two stops for the Bookmobile in the Picton Neighbourhood and they're to correspond with the library's highest usage times.

Speculating that the Turner Park library was built over the backs of those in the North end is just that - speculation and entirely unfounded. Like I said, the plans have been in the works for a long time.

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By WhyBlameTheMountain (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 12:47:46

Jason, look at the property tax rates collected in the north end and compare it to that collected from properties on the south mountain, and rethink you accusation that the poorer parts are subsiding these kinds of developmetns on the mountain. That's plain nonsense.

Picton was not closed so to finance the new location, it closed because it was seriously underutilized.

I see you conveniently ignored my side analogy. Why aren't you blaming the $7 million dollar renovation of the nearby Central Library for Picton's closure rather than this new library, which has been placed in an area currently underserviced by libraries?

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By ratepayer (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 13:01:16

What rot. Mountain and north end residents pay the same property tax rates. Actually, renters pay a much higher rate than owners, since rental properties are taxed at a higher rate, so the north end overall pays a higher tax rate than the mountain.

Also Picton was underutilized because it's been badly managed and is open less often than any other branch in the city - only four days a week!

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By Jolley Clairmont (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 13:06:51

What we've got here is a city divided.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 13:08:20

To repeat what I said above, sprawl is the issue here, not the HPL. Why wasn't Picton closed 5 years ago? Or 15 years ago?

Perhaps the reno of Central has contributed to the gradual scaling back of Picton.

The point is, questions need to be asked. I won't repeat the vast array of tax info made available on this site over the years showing the high rate at which downtown/inner city residents have subsidized sprawl. When does it end?

In 20 years will the new Mountain library be closed in order to open up another one 3 miles south? Or will another lower city library be closed in order to accommodate our next batch of sprawl??

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 13:31:07

Jason >> downtown/inner city residents have subsidized sprawl.

Sounds as if you want your taxes cut Jason.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 13:59:14

not at all. I'm just tired of sending them to outlying areas who feel the need to continue with a debt-producing model of development, yet don't want to pay for it.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 14:36:59

The bottom line is that you feel that government is wasting your money. I'm sure the sprawl people also feel that way when they hear about developments like LRT. Both of you have your biases, and both of you are entitled to them.

If government spending was limited to 2-3% a year (like Prop 2 1/2 in Boston), the city would still have enough money to fund the necessities like police and sewer, etc, but new projects would need to be supported by a majority of the voters.

In this way, city government would be more democratic and less likely to be swayed by special interest groups.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 14:59:19

so let's get this straight - LRT which pays itself off dozens of times over in new investment and tax revenue is the same as sprawl??

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By WhyBlameTheMountain (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 15:05:23

Let's get another thing straight. Turner library serves an area that includes 70,000 citizens. Who are you to say they do not need/deserve a library?!? Picton's closure has absolutely nothing to do with Turner, so please stop perpetuating a lie.

Jason, why must you be such a divisive force in this city? This city needs to move forward through collaboration and cooperation. You may think you are promoting this city, but you are really holding it back.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 15:17:36

you're right. it's my fault that buildings are being demolished on King William. its my fault that the chamber of commerce is virtually invisible in luring new investment to Hamilton that doesn't require mass amounts of land by the airport. its my fault that airlines come and go at our airport. it's my fault that no businesses feel inclined to locate operations along our lower city one-way freeways. it's my fault that toronto ships it's social recipients here on buses. etc etc.... you get the point.

Normally I don't repeat myself since everyone on here should be able to read, but go back and read my comments. I clearly state that folks in that area certainly deserve a library, and I don't mind the nice design. I'd rather have it built nice, than look like crap.

You must be related to the Spec's cartoonist. You have zero answers to my questions about sprawl and the bigger picture, so you resort to personal insults and name calling.

At least he has the stones to publish his cartoons under his real name, and not some anonymous banner on a blog.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 15:20:45

FYI, here is my original comment for those who are choosing to ignore it:

folks, say what you want, and perhaps its just horrible optics on the part of HPL with the timing of both press releases, but I think Rusty nailed it with his description of the poorer parts of Hamilton.

I'm not opposed in any way to a new library being built at this site. The more libraries the better in the city. And my comments have zero to do with 'the Mountain'. My comments are directed at the lousy planning policies by our city over the past 30 years. Constant threat and some actual school closures in the urban parts of the city so we can build new ones in the sprawl areas. If sprawl is such a great development model as some suggest, why can't it cover the cost of new rec facilities on it's own? Why must the entire sprawl development model be subsidized by the existing, poorer parts of any given city? I'd love a straight answer from someone on that. Not more rhetoric or anti-RTH stuff. Some locals aren't used to being asked tough questions like this because our brains have been dulled by the local 'big' media.

Sprawl is the most heavily subsidized sector in the history of western civilization. And it continues to be.

I have no problem with the fireplace or the nice flooring. Central will have the same thing when it re-opens. I'm not suggesting for a moment that we build crap. Lord knows we do that enough in this city. Why couldn't Terryberry be closed down in order to build this new library? Why Picton? As mentioned in the CATCH article, Picton was originally slated to be part of the new rec centre being built in the North End. Almost identical to what is happening at Turner Park. Why did one part of the city see that plan fulfilled and the other part of the city see that plan scrapped?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 15:22:23

Jason >> LRT which pays itself off dozens of times over in new investment and tax revenue is the same as sprawl??

Most everyone in this city agrees on the value of basic police coverage, ambulance, sewers, garbage, etc. Where consensus breaks down is on issues such as the RHVP, the Pan Am games, LRT, and other big ticket proposals. Doesn't it make sense, rather than casting one vote every four years, to have major spending proposals voted on directly by the people?

They manage to do this in Boston and that city has seen it's assessment grow over 500% since 1985, while tax rates have been cut from over 2% to just over 1%.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 15:26:32

ASmith, perhaps I'm asking for it by asking you a question (LOL) but I'm not entirely familiar with the voting procedures in the US. If I understand you correctly, there would be a ballot question on every single issue?
I wonder how well this works in cities that use the system?

It would seem to me to be a recipe for: a) more biased and non-factual media reporting, which we already endure enough of. Imagine Hamilton's media being the source of educating the public on the big ticket issues in Hamilton.
b) potential to log jam city council even more than it already is, leading to virtually nothing ever getting done.

As I said, I'm not too familiar with this though. Boston seems to have fared well. I wonder if there are other cities that have become death holes due to the same policy?

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 15:27:52

by the way, wouldn't transportation projects like LRT and RHVP be considered basic infrastructure? I can see stuff like PanAm games or new stadiums being voted on, but where is the line drawn?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 16:24:58

As I understand it, the city automatically gets a 2.5% increase every year. On top of that, it also gets additional revenue to account for assessment growth. The overrides account for all other spending increases and these require a majority vote from the electorate. There are also special cases for sewer and septic spending that do not require majority vote.

There are also underrides, which lower spending limits for local governments. These too require majority vote by the populace.

Here is an official primer that is likely more accurate than my brief intro... tinyurl.com/djownk

>> more biased and non-factual media reporting

There will always be bias, it's up to the people to inform themselves.

>> potential to log jam city council

It would actually free council to focus on getting the basics right first. If the big ticket items were left up to the people to decide, this would make the politicians life less stressful.

>> I wonder if there are other cities that have become death holes due to the same policy?

I'll see what I can come up with. However, on the face of it, it seems that making spending more accountable to the people is a good thing, while also allowing for the basics to be provided efficiently.

>> wouldn't transportation projects like LRT and RHVP be considered basic infrastructure?

They would be considered capital expenditure outlay exclusions under Prop 2 1/2 and would require 2/3 vote by council to be put to a vote and majority vote by the people to pass.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 19:35:29

Mountain people pay too much tax.
Downtown pays too much tax.
The old suburbs pay too much tax.
Seem to me we are all united on waste and excess of government. (side note: Kudos to the City for a relatively small tax increase this year, maybe we should hope for a reduction next year!!)

Maybe the LRT in other cities or the tax structure in Boston were not the cause of those cities fortunes. There may be some correlation, but is there direct causation??
Perhaps it was the underlying will of the people who wanted positive change who caused the changes to happen.

James North is a great example here. I do not remember any large infastructure project down there. Just the will of the people. Keep an eye on that street this summer.

I always thought Hamilton (downtown and mountain) lacked communities. I have recently attented a few community association meetings (Landsdale and Crown Point). The communities are there, just on life support.

Despite our different opinions I hope enough people really want to see a vibrant Hamilton. If they do, it will eventually happen. If not, well... Portland did look good in those photos!!







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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 19:45:54

right on Fence Sitter. You're right on the money, and yes, it should be stated that city council did a great job this year with the budget. James North will be Hamilton's new hotspot in no time. Keep watching.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 19:59:23

Jason, I understand your desire for LRT, even though I don't share it. However, why are you against capping tax rates at around 1%. Toronto, Boston and other large cities have lots of transit and they also enjoy low taxes. Are you a closet masochist?

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 20:10:36

Toronto's not a good example for you to be using. Their transit system has slowly fallen apart over the past 30 years. Boston is a much better example though. They built much of that city around the backbone of their rapid transit system and continue to even this very day. Hamilton may need a higher tax rate in order to get the transit system up and runnning, but then there is absolutely no reason why rates can't be capped. The spinoff development of LRT will more than fill city coffers to make up for 1 or 2% of taxes.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2009 at 21:06:59

Jason >> Hamilton may need a higher tax rate in order to get the transit system up and running

After reading about the history of transit in Boston, it appears as though light rail has been a part of their city for many decades (tinyurl.com/dlvzqm). However, even though this was the case, tax rates in 1985 were still at 2.12%. How could tax rates be so high if light rail is so effective at promoting investment? The reason is that government doesn't like limiting spending if it isn't forced into it.

In the 27 years since a cap on spending has been in effect, Boston's tax rates have fallen from over 2% to just around 1%. Therefore, while LRT may be great at promoting investment and increasing the quality of the city, it doesn't stop government from wasting money additional money and creating high tax rates as a result. The only sure way to promote more private investment is to limit overall government spending across the board.

Therefore, while you may be 100% on the mark as far as LRT goes, this alone will not spur private investment if government simply spends the increased tax revenues that it creates.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 08:28:01

Rusty writes: another example of why poor people don't matter, poor people do not vote, they do not fund election campaigns, they do not lobby their politicians, poor people do not matter.

Wow, what a statement, I cannot believe my eyes, that someone would actually write these words.

Poor people may not vote because too often they are the forgotten ones, since money is the driving force, those at the bottom are the scapegoat. Fund campaigns, this is another problem with our system, where money is again the driving force that breeds corruption and complete unaccountablity. But then maybe the writer of this comment likes the idea of corporatism (fascism), where the people no matter what their income level is to have no voice, except those the ultra rich, the corporate masters.

Poor people do not lobby, well I beg to differ on this little piece. There are many in our community who get their voices in front of the policy makers. They speak for the many that cannot speak for themselves. Activism is alive and well in Hamilton, thank you very much.

Hey Rusty: Just to let you think about something, maybe you might lose your job or maybe you might get sick or you might get injuried and be left with our system, where you could be living in poverty and dire straits and to be told by people like yourself, you do not matter.

It is ridiculous we have people on this post arguing whether those on the mountain vs those in the north end are more deserving. Poor people are everywhere in this city. And given the economic upheaval, there could be more of the middle class joining the ranks of the poor.

There are more important things going on, why are people wasting their time arguing over an issue like this.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted April 22, 2009 at 09:31:58

Grassroots,

You've misunderstood my comments (hugely! - I can almost hear the swooshing sound over your head :) ).

My comment was a statement of reality, not opinion. Of course poor people matter - we all do. But the fact is - and the point I was making - is that poor people don't have as much say in our democracy as those with money. Why? Because many of them don't vote. Many do not have the time or inclination to lobby effectively. And very few fill their local candidates campaign coffers.

It was actually a politician who first made this comment to me ('Poor people don't matter'). He was speaking in terms of the reality of our democratic system, not as a matter of personal opinion. Likewise for myself. I was poor once (unemployed, a student and then unemployed again) and I have friends who are 'poor' also.

It's a sad reality but one that's important to recognize.

Cheers

Ben

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 13:22:20

Rusty >> poor people don't have as much say in our democracy as those with money

And yet they still get free education, free health care, subsidized housing and a monthly welfare cheque. The reality is poor people have it pretty damn good in Canada, so perhaps a large thank you is in due to the taxpayers who pay for these items. Unfortunately, in this society, the sense of entitlement has run rampant and people like Grassroots think the world owes them something.

Grassroots, if you want to help poor people, may be you should tell them to start pulling their own weight and stop relying on other people to pay their bills for them. By relying on government to pay their way, they are not developing the requisite passion to do it on their own. Of course, if they need food, go to a food bank, but the goal should be to take as little as possible from the taxpayer.

Hunger is pain and pain serves as strong motivation to change one's life. In today's society the government tries to remove pain, but that is sh%t. Pain is a tool for success. If you allow the government to strip this pain from your life, you allow them to take your dignity and passion, a very bad trade off.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 13:47:49

Jason,

Why must you turn every issue into an us (downtowners) versus them (mountain/suburbs)? Hamilton doesn't need divisive people like you.

When you go on your next trip to Mecca...I mean Portland - DON'T COME BACK!!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 15:07:50

thanks for another insightful comment....

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 16:50:49

Is there a Godwin's Law for Islam references?

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 21:14:59

Rusty: I showed my employer your words and well they thought the same thing, well actually they said something else but that is not ladylike to say.

You can't read personality through the screen, people read your words.

People do not vote and not is just not the poor, the non voters in the last federal election were the majority, they represented over 40% of the population. Did you go into Mr Hirschhorn's website? He is actually calling for none of the above catagory. Sounds good to me, none of the above.

Anyways, in the big scheme of things, money should not be the deciding factor.

A Smith: It is just not those who are poor that get a free education, health care and subsidized housing. I f ask me, what I see more and more is the rich, elite, ceo types with their hands out begging for money in amounts that far outweight what the poor need. Walk a mile in their shoes before you go spouting off, you never know it could be you one day that is struggling, not unless you were born with a silver spoon up your butt.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 22:13:04

grassroots, you're right about personality etc...not coming through online. it's one of the things I hate about blogging. conversations in person would never resort to the name-calling and stupid stuff that happens on here.
I know Rusty and know exactly what he meant when I read it. Stats don't lie. Poor neighbourhoods are overlooked. Look at the community organization to fight off the Maple Leaf factory on the east Mountain. Compare that with less successful attempts by NE Hamilton neighbourhoods to keep out more incinerators, composting facilties etc.... I remember some east Mountain residents suggesting that Maple Leaf locate in North Hamilton. In other words, 'this project is harmful to us and has no place near homes....unless those homes are located in Hamilton's lower city. Then it's fine.'

Grassroots, you're also right about handouts. I've never seen poor people given billions and billions of dollars, much of which has to be printed because it doesn't exist. Its pretty easy to see who's really getting the handouts and government money all the time.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 23:22:27

Hi Jason: I know it is all in how we read things, words are words, in person there is body language, a persona.

The thing with statistics, is that they are numbers and given the calulation used to derive the set of numbers, I would not necessarily say the stats do not lie. Look at the one blog on the poverty blog ( no excuse) in the spec, where the writer gives a variety of poverty indicators/percentages. Stats do not necessary tell the truth, they are not the actual. One also would have to compare the budget against the actual, to see the true variance. There is no human experience in numbers.

Poor neighbours are overlooked because these neighbourhoods need to be organized. More public forums need to be held, knocking on doors, getting people aware and involved in the issues. There needs to be a network of all groups, so when the word goes out about a matter or issue, the people will rally. So many things are interconnected.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 07:35:53

You're absolutely right, but at the end of the day it still seems to me that even if poorer neighbourhoods organize and get more involved, the political machine will still roll over them with little fear of repercussions.
I think of the huge public garden/farm in south-central LA that was having amazing benefits to the neighbourhood, yet was bulldozed by city council in order to allow an industrial developer to build a warehouse. They were as organized as any group, but they have no political leverage in terms of money or campaign funding. Look at how long downtown Hamilton residents and BIA's have been opposing transport trucks using our neighbourhoods as highways. Yet not a single change has taken place. In Westdale, Mac starts running construction trucks through the neighbourhood and it only took a couple of months for the local authorities to respond and get the trucks out of there. The new biofuel plant that was built on a harbourfront site that used to house ball diamonds and a park for local residents is another example. Imagine trying to bulldoze Churchill Park or the HAAA grounds for a factory?? Would never happen. Grassroots organization seems to be the way to go in poor neighbourhoods. Waiting for the government to show up will take forever. Hamilton's Keith neighbourhood is a great example of this. Granted, they had some heavy hitters on board with their community centre project, but they were able to save the building and get a new bus route added to their neighbourhood after a great community organization and support.

And of course, this isn't always true 100% across the board. I look at how Councilor Bratina has fought hard for the new Beasley rec centre and school, as well as for the North End Health Centre. There are certainly politicians out there who 'get it' but by and large, the system doesn't.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 08:32:36

When groups of people band together on a common cause, then change can happen, albeit slowly but it does happen. Look at Bill 139, a change has happened, temp workers have won their right to severance or termination pay, just like any other worker.

Our political process needs to have more public consultation, what I mean by that is that the people need to have more opportunities to voice their views in front of the policy makers.

All voices must be given equal weight and I think it is important the other groups stand in support of a group advocating for a change that may not be necessarily an issue that is their concern. Solidarity, the number of bodies is important, it is not hard to ignore say 10 people but it is another to ignore say 10,000.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 09:37:17

In Westdale, Mac starts running construction trucks through the neighbourhood and it only took a couple of months for the local authorities to respond and get the trucks out of there.

Off topic, but I have to jump in here and correct any idea that the citizens of Westdale received preferential treatment. First of all, unlike downtown truck routes which are legal, the route Mac was using was an old route that no longer met the city's standards for a legal truck route, and required the illegal use of narrow residential side streets for access. Furthermore, it took more like a couple of years, not a couple of months, of strenuous advocacy on the part of the neighbourhood association, during which we were demonized by Mac admin and the Student's Union.

Your right that money talks. In this case Mac's money spoke considerably louder than even the well-educated, well-organized citizens of Westdale. Ultimately it was the blatantly illegal use of our streets that convinced staff and council, not our supposed privilege.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted April 23, 2009 at 10:11:52

Grassroots - I'm glad that my comments have now been clarified... I've learned a little lesson there :)

Money is power - there's nothing new about that. It's the way of the world and always has been. I agree that 'poor' people should try to organize to encourage the positive changes they need, but we also need to recongnize that it will always be harder for them.

I live in a mixed neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. I talk to my neighbours frequently about things that upset them. I tell them to "write a letter" or "call your councilor". But they look at me like I'm crazy. It's as if they don't feel they are worthy somehow of forcing a change, they are disconnected. Most of the changes in my neighbourhood have been spurred on by the local neighbourhood associations, most of which are headed by middle class folks like myself. I'm not saying that lower income folks don't get involved, there just seems to be an inherent disconnect.

'Poor people don't matter' - it's a strong statement but one that I feel is sadly very true.

Cheers

Ben

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 10:21:37

highwater, thanks for more insight into the Mac/Westdale truck route issue....again though, inner city residents have been trying for years to get their residential streets taken off legal truck route maps. No luck whatsoever. in fact, check out the renderings of the York Blvd streetscape plan on the city's website - it shows a big transport on York. As if it fits the ideals of turning that stretch into a pedestrian-oriented place.

At least Westdale got their old truck route taken off the maps. We heard over and over about the billion dollar Linc/Red Hill that would allow for this to happen on Cannon/Wilson/York etc.... yet, since the opening of those highways I haven't heard a peep from city hall about redoing the truck routes.

I was almost crushed by one toppling onto the sidewalk in front of me on Dundurn North once, and other neighbours have had similar experiences walking with their children to Dundurn Park to play.
Sadly, our homes, parks, children and residential neighbourhoods have to live with this constant threat that would never been allowed in Ancaster, Westdale etc.....

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 10:45:56

Except it was allowed in Westdale. And unlike the streets in your neighbourhood which were promised to be taken off the legal truck route at some point in the future, our streets already were illegal, and yet we still had to fight tooth and nail to get the trucks off them. I feel for you and agree that trucks have no place in your neighbourhood, but this has nothing to do with the different demographics of the neighbourhoods. Westdale did not receive preferential treatment, and in fact had to fight to get the city to enforce its pre-existing truck route bylaws.

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By Troubadour (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 10:56:10

I propose a kickbocking free-for-all to determine, once and for all, which neighborhood is the most hard done-by. We can sell tickets and use the revenue to keep the Picton branch open.

What say you!?

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted April 23, 2009 at 11:35:58

Do we really need to have a kick boxing match? (Although I would love to see one. Jason in lycra? That would be something I'd never forget...). You just have to walk around the neighbourhoods to see who's getting the best amentities and municipal services.

Gotta sludge plant you need to locate? Stick it in North Hamilton! Nice new theatre? Westdale's for you!

I remember looking out over the 'lower' city from the rail trail soon after I landed in the Hammer. The first thing I noticed was the trees. As you look from the west to the east you see the canopy disperse until, when you get to Kenilworth and beyond the streets are almost bare. Very sad, but, sadly very typical.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 12:33:59

Grassroots >> what I see more and more is the rich, elite, ceo types with their hands out begging for money in amounts that far outweight what the poor need. Walk a mile in their shoes before you go spouting off,

You see what you want to see. Here is a link that shows almost the complete opposite of what you are saying...

www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/PRBpubs/prb0707-e.htm

The reality is that the poor in Canada are getting a free ride. That's the truth.

>> Walk a mile in their shoes before you go spouting off,

I have dipsh%t. But I never once thought that government (other taxpayers) owed me anything. You seem to believe just because you exist other people should be looking out for you. Pathetic.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 21:12:55

this conversation has been good and civil so far. Please, keep it that way. No need for namecalling.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 22:08:19

I do not have any stats to back me up here but I imagine the poorer neighbourhoods in the downtown wards have a lower voter turnout than the more affluent southern ends of the wards. A councillor (or MPP or MP in their ridings) has a lot less to lose if an area does not contribute as many votes.

Not saying people are stupid or lazy down there, but here are a few observations.

Does the north end have a more transient nature ? Many disenchanted voters have simply left by the time the next election comes around.

Higher immigrant numbers? To vote, you need to be a citizen. 1100 days minimum (3 years) in canada plus 18 months average for the application to be processed. You can organise and protest all you want, but a lot of people cannot vote.

The industrial north spans several wards, plus lets face it, it is zoned heavy industrial in many areas. Not a lot going your way in a fight.

I am not saying politicians do not care, (I will not even get into political campaign funding), but they know their numbers.

Sorry A. Smith, too lazy to check out the links right now. But you may have a point. Perhaps we need to set solid poverty reduction targets and use the government resources in different ways.

Sorry for long comment. I cannot even remember what the post was that started all this!!!

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 23:22:00

Back again, I am on a roll with people who vote.
If everyone turned out to vote, the incumbents would face a challenge. I will look at Hamilton numbers at some stage, but here are a few from vancouver, both 1999 and 2002 ( I was there during the 2002 city elections).

There were a few issues, poverty and olympics being two of them. Fustration with incumbents and the affluent vote steering the results played out in the media.
Mayor is voted the same way as here.
10 councilors voted in by most votes (not wards like hamilton).

The two main parties, NPA and COPE.

In 1999, mayor and 8 councillors all from the NPA party. 2 councillors from COPE.

The mayor got 51,000 votes, the top councillor 42,815 votes (top 8 were all NPA, COPE got the last 2 seats)

In 2002, the 10 NPA candidates (not all were the same candidates, but party still had 10 running in each election) got a very similar number of votes.

NPA mayor candidate 41,000 (this was down a little)
Top NPA councillor - 41,755

The big difference, 50% voter turnout compared in 2002 compared with 36% in 1999. Registered voters increased by 25,000, actual voters increased by 45,000.

The COPE canditate for mayor won easily with 80,525 votes.

COPE won the top 8 seats wit NPA only winning the last 2.

Thats right, 42815 votes in 1999 and you are the top councillor. 41755 votes in 2002 and you just get in. The same areas who have often supported the NPA did just that. The rest of the city also decided to turn up on election day.

My point, if we want change, we need to get out and vote.

Note: COPE kind of got crushed in 2005, NPA made a nice comeback. 120,000 more registeres voters yet there were less actual voters than in 2002. Even less voted in 2008. In 2004 plebiscite, low 22% turnout, they voted to keep the "at-large" councillor vote as apposed to changing to the ward system.

I think this was longer than my last comment!









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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 23:35:25

I am back.

Hamilton Ward 3 (my ward) 2006 results.

Registered Voters 23913

Total Votes 6139

Sean GIBSON 1679 27.35%
Bernie MORELLI 4460 72.65%

Note: Councillor Morelli held a majority of the votes in all polling areas. Voter turnout was consistently low everywhere as well, I am not sure if my comment on low turnout in the North will hold up here.

It doesn't take a lot of votes!!

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 00:19:14

A Smith: I must of hit a nerve for you to resort to name calling. Anyways, I could call you pathetic as well for your views.

So in your stats there, please tell me what the income level was for the top 1%? It is 120,000 or is it billions?

And then compare that with the lowest 1%, since both the highest and lowest are still entitled to the basic personal exemption, they are entitled to the same health and educational opportunities, since it is free, paid by the taxpayers.

Fencesitter: in the last municipal election only 38% of the people voted across the city. I say it is more then just the poor, the lowest say 25% that are just not voting.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 00:27:21

Fencesitter: What are the voter turnouts for each ward? Are they comparable? Maybe part of the problem is that those running do not get out in front the people enough, to have their faces known and their platforms heard.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 09:49:38

If you take away Ward 3 (26%), most wards are pretty comparable. Maybe a little lower in the downtown/east end wards, but not by much (excluding ward 3). Mid 30s seems to be a trend. Dundas 43%, Stoney Creek 41% and West Mountain 43% certainly came out to vote.

Ward 2 (downtown) was 31%, so I guess with ward 3, downtown was quite a bit lower. I am not quite ready to jump to conclusions!!

Remember, percentages are of votes/registered voters. Numbers of unregistered or non-elligible voters are not represented.

RTH - could we open up a new discussion here?

I will spend some time looking at the results. Happy to submit something. I would be interested in hearing comments about our system versus Boston/Portland/Vancouver or other cities, voter apathy etc...

Here is link to 2006 results.

old.hamilton.ca/clerk/election/2006-election-results/defaultpollbypoll.asp

RIP Picton Library.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 24, 2009 at 10:02:20

FenceSitter wrote:

RTH - could we open up a new discussion here?

By all means, write up an article and send it to me!

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 13:04:42

Grassroots >> please tell me what the income level was for the top 1%? It is 120,000 or is it billions

Why does it matter? The point is that the top 1% of the population pays 5x more in income taxes than the bottom 50% combined. Therefore, your free health care, education and alike are paid for disproportionately by the top earners in this society. Have you ever thought about thanking them for this? No. Instead all you do is demand they give you more. That's why I called you pathetic. I should also add that you are ungrateful.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 23:02:33

A Smith: Is that all you can do, is swear, insult and demean others? You do not even know me, so how can make judgements? You sound like a sniveler.

Fencesitter: Thanks for the info, it is the same picture I had in my mind. More public forums, getting the issues to the forefront, giving people the opportunity to speak at a public forum. Active listening is a key proponent of communication.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2009 at 11:29:59

Grassroots >> Ungrateful: Not feeling or exhibiting gratitude, thanks, or appreciation.

All of your posts focus on getting more free stuff from the taxpayer, none of them talk about how you can return the favour, pay back those that helped you, or even thanking the people who are responsible for your welfare benefits, free health care and free education. Calling you ungrateful is not an insult, it is simply an accurate description of your behaviour on this site.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 25, 2009 at 17:16:49

A Smith: My work

TEMP WORKERS RIGHT/ACTION GROUP PRESENTATION : BILL 139 TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO APRIL 1, 2009

Introduction:

I am the Chair of the Temp Workers Rights/Action Group from Hamilton, Ontario. We are a grassroots group that is dedicated to advocating for changes to the Employment Standards Act, to improve the lives of those workers trapped in an never ending cycle of poverty and despair. They say that one must walk a mile in another's shoes to truly understand their path, so, we are here today, to try and bring a human face to the policy of Elect to Work and how this policy has infringed on a Worker's, Human and Labour Rights. It is important that as part of a poverty reduction strategy, that this committee must give equal weight to the voices of the workers, in this policy change initiative.

Background: Where is the Justice? Where is the Protection?

A worker accepted a job assignment with a local temp company that was to cover a maternity leave with a sub contractor of the City of Hamilton. The City of Hamilton has a zero tolerance policy for violence which one would think it would cover workplace bullying but for, the temp worker, there was no protection. It was the second call made to the temp company,where the supervisor had ordered the worker to do a pay cheque that was in violation of the contract through collective bargaining. Not only was the worker terminated but the temp company refused to send the worker out an any other assignments and after six months of repeated requests, this person was still fighting to obtain their Record of Employment in order to access EI benefits. It was at this time that the individual had to apply for Ontario Works and it is unacceptable policy that the onus is put on the worker to produce the document and not the temp company that has violated federal statutes around the issuance of a Record of Employment, and one can find very clear language on this on the HRDC website.

A worker found themseves again unemployed from a temp assignment. This time it is was an issue of training, which clearly was not the fault of the worker but of both the temp agency and the client company, however it was the worker that paid the consequences. The worker was terminated and no given new assignments. What if the training was a Health and Safety Issue? Under Section 9 (2)(a), of the Occupational Health and safety Act, workers are required to have a Joint Health and Safety Committee, in a workplace that has 20 or more full time employees. It is essential that there should be clear language as to the definition of a fulltime employee Who has the responsibiliy, the temp agency or the client company on issues of Occupational Health and Safety? The temp companies could have 20 or more people working at long term assignments, they could be deemed as fulltime employees thus be entitled to a Joint Health and Safety Committee.

After researching public holiday policy under the Act, I knew that a probation period was non existant and that the type of work I would be accessing would not be considered as exempt to public holiday pay. I applied for a job posting at a temp company. I did not signed the line on the application, that stated that I would not be entitled to Statuatory Holiday pay for three months, a probationary period. The representative questioned me about the fact that I had not signed and I replied that I would like a ruling from the Ministry of Labour on this issue. The temp company representative stated that this was company policy and I replied, well that may be company policy, but under the Act, there was no probation period and that I have a right to have a ruling from the MInistry. I did not even get the chance to gain access to this job posting and given my experience, I wonder, how many other workers out there who try to stand up for their rights are essentially blacklisted to any job opportunities?

The need for reform:

I think it is important to remember the many workers who stood and died for fairness and justice in the workplace. They fought for health and safety, benefits, the number of hours to be worked, overtime, pensions, severance and termination pay, vacation and sick days. It is very unfair that approximately 37 percent of all workers today are denied many of the rights that workers fought and died for. I have to ask myself where is the fairness and justice when a temp company charges a $20.00 a day fee for transportation from a worker who is earning minimum wage? A worker earning minimum wage at 40 hrs a week, would have a take home pay of around $1200.00 every 4 weeks. It seems to me that $400.00 for tranportation is very excessive, this cost would bring your take home down to $800.00 every 4 weeks. That is not much to live on, to find shelter, food and personal items.

I will leave you with this last story, in a hope that it touches your heart, A young worker in my community, who supported themselves, had the same temp assignment for over a year. This person faithfully and diligently went to work. One day, this person had a family emergency and called in and explained the situation. This worker was fired, terminated, no notice, no termination pay. This worker had to fight for EI benefits and was denied, as the worker had no representation, no union or worker representative at the Board of Referees hearing. The worker then had to apply for Ontario Works, which for a single person is less then $600.00 per month and under Ontario Works the worker now falls under workfare policies which also deny workers their rights under Employment Standards. Can someone please explain what this young person did, that was so wrong to be thrown into the depths of abject poverty? Who is standing up for their rights?

Bill 139 needs to make sure that temp agency workers have the same right to family emergency leave that other workers get. Temp workers need to be able to take family emergency leave without losing their income, their job, their dignity.

Bill 139 needs to be improved to make sure we have the same rights and protections as other workers to termination pay and all employment standards rights.

I look around me in Hamilton. People are losing jobs. What do they have to look forward to? Temp work. Low pay, no job stability, no security. Bill 139 should make sure we don't get stuck in temp work. We need to be able to get permanent jobs with protection. Agencies should not be allowed to put up barriers to permanent work.

I urge that all of you think of the workers that struggle as you deliberate this bill. Workers need protection and they need to be treated fairly. The government needs to be committed to ensure that there are laws to protect the workers and that those laws will be enforced. Please take a bold step forward and change the law to ensure that those workers who are the most marginalized have a voice in their battle to be treated fairly and with dignity. These workers deserve a have their voices heard.

Thank you

Chair Temp Workers Rights/Action Group

'

''

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2009 at 20:06:43

Grassroots >> Bill 139 needs to be improved to make sure we have the same rights and protections as other workers to termination pay and all employment standards rights.

Do you think it makes businesses more likely or less likely to hire someone if the cost of firing them goes up (termination pay)?

>> I look around me in Hamilton. People are losing jobs. What do they have to look forward to? Temp work. Low pay, no job stability, no security.

If people want a better deal from government perhaps they should do what rich people do, give money to the people who make the spending decisions. Rich people know that paying politicians off gets results, so if the poor want better deals from the politicians, maybe they should start contributing some of their money to each one of the political parties.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 25, 2009 at 20:30:35

A Smith: You have blind spots, not all employers are bad guys, if you know what I mean and "poverty" is a relative saying.

You fail to look at the justice of things, that is your downfall, many employers do the right thing. The higher incident of labour violations is not the small family businesses, it is the big corporate world.

Anyways, from a workers perspective, not everything comes down to "money".

Let me ask you a question, why do you think what we have is the answer? If there is to be change, it must come from the grassroots, the people, do you still believe in partisan politics?

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By Wiccan (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 12:16:53

"Chalk up another victory for sprawl."

Jason, you must have also said this when you decided to open up your church on Garth and Limeridge and Pritchard Road. Chalk up another victory for sprawl indeed.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted May 01, 2009 at 09:35:05

Wiccan, last time I drove down Pritchard there was no church "open" as you claim there is. Also, last time I drove down Garth, I noticed a tonne of residential developments... (Not to mention that the current church location at Garth/Limeridge was formerly a Baptist church.) While it's only possible to stop sprawl where we are now, refusing to service neighbourhoods that have sprouted as a product of our current lack of vision is foolish as well.

Perhaps, you might be able to use your "magic" and return this city to what it should be? If not, then you should abide by Wiccan moral code which is essentially do what you want but don't harm anyone...and that includes someone's reputation. Vicious attacks like yours while they demonstrate your level of maturity violate your own belief system.

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By Sean Gisbon (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2010 at 21:56:03

You Have to Believe;
It took me several days to go through all these comments, some were harsh and others were right on the money. Overall the message was the same. People need to VOTE, as I mentioned in my 2006 campaign " we cant take another 4 years of this" On the cusp of another election, it's clear that the closing of Siemens and Lakeport are the result of our stagnance in leadership since that time. Can we handle another 4 years of the same thing Ward 3? WE MUST VOTE.. Our opinion counts, and residents votes do matter; but residents must believe.

WWW.GIBSON2010.CA
Sean Gibson

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