A race for the office of Mayor of Burlington is assured as former MP Mike Wallace and web designer Greg Woodruff declare their candidacies.
Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said she has been asked by many people to run for mayor, but has not yet made a final decision.
In her monthly newsletter Meed Ward said she remains convinced that most Burlingtonians are unaware of what changes are coming to their neighbourhoods, downtown and across the city in the new Official Plan.
Things are really looking up at Hamilton International Airport, With 2017 passenger traffic climbing to 599,146 passengers versus 333,368 in 2016—Hamilton International Airport can claim to be Canada’s fastest growing airport. And 2018 should be a better year yet with the launch of Westjet’s Ultra low cost carrier—Swoop All this in addition to Westjet’s scheduled service, and sun destination charters offered by Air Transat and Sunwing.
The Bay Observer learns that in the three Provincial NDP constituency offices in Hamilton, including Leader Andrea Horwath’s own constituency office, there have been several serious allegations of harassment and bullying of MPP office employees that have led to significant staff departures. Between the three constituent offices of Horwath in Hamilton Centre, Paul Miller in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and Monique Taylor in Hamilton Mountain; it appears no less than 11 workers have been either fired, have quit, were bought out after filing grievances– some of which have gone to arbitrations which are still pending –or were simply paid to stay at home.
Before a cheering packed PC rally at Carmen’s Banquet Centre, Ontario PC leader Doug Ford lit the fuse on what was to be the defining issue in the upcoming provincial and municipal elections—LRT. Ford took the issue beyond the stance taken by his predecessor Patrick Brown, saying if Hamilton Council rejected LRT, he would nonetheless allow the $1 Billion stay in Hamilton and further, that he would allow the money to be used for non-transit infrastructure like roads. In a CHML interview, and reiterated at the rally Ford declared, “I believe in letting the people decide. The Liberals said to the people of Hamilton, You take this, (LRT) or we’ll take all the funding away… We’re not going to do that. If people want the LRT well give it to them, if they don’t want it were still going to keep the money for infrastructure in Hamilton.
Burlington Council approves its Official Plan called Grow Bold, which will be the main issue for the 2018 mayoralty race. Mayor Rick Goldring and candidate Mike Wallace on one side and Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who has entered the race, on the other along with candidate Greg Woodruff.
Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives are swept into power with a majority government. The Liberal party is reduced to seven seats and loses official party status. In Hamilton, former councillor Donna Skelly becomes the party’s sole representative. Later she is named Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. In Burlington Jane McKenna is the PC winner, recapturing the seat she lost in 2014.
After a decade as Hamilton City Manager, Chris Murray is tapped for the same role in Toronto. Murray is credited with stickhandling the Red Hill Expressway to completion. During his time at the helm in Hamilton he worked to improve the corporate culture.
The Burlington Sound of Music Festival is rocked with the sudden dismissal of of Executive Director Dave Miller. A number of the Festival volunteers resigned in protest. A spokesman for the Board of Directors has acknowledged that there needs to be improved communication and transparency in the organization.” Immediately after Millers departure some of the 50-odd committee chair who make up the core of the organization’s volunteer base resigned amid a flurry of angry social media postings. But the board called an emergency meeting and over a three hour session some of those who had resigned rejoined the organization. The Sound of Music festival started 40 years ago, initially as a showcase for marching bands. It was a success from the beginning and grew to its present configuration as a roughly $2.5 Million enterprise that derives over 80 percent of its funding from sponsorships, concessions and ticketed events.
The provincial government has ordered Metrolinx to pause its property acquisition efforts in Hamilton. It had earlier been reported that all Metrolinx projects in the GTAH were halted but a spokesperson for Metrolinx confirmed to the Bay Observer that the acquisition freeze only applied to Hamilton. So far the transit agency has spent $105 Million in Hamilton and out of that amount $45 Million has been spent to acquire property along the route. That means Metrolinx had spent almost $30 Million on property in the current year alone
Mayor Fred Eisenberger is re-elected following a campaign where his main challenger Vito Sgro made LRT the dominant issue. Four members of the council elected campaigned for Sgro. In Burlington Marianne Meed Ward defeats incumbent Rick Goldring in an election focused entirely on intensification. Between upsets and retirements, only one sitting member of Burlington council is returned.
A group of Westdale residents say a 1400-bed student residence being planned for Main Street West next to Dalewood School will overwhelm the neighbourhood by its sheer size and by the number of students who will flow through the neighbourhood every day. The complex, which is a joint venture between McMaster and a Toronto developer, Knightstone Capital which specializes in student housing, will have two towers—one 10 storeys high the other 18 storeys.
The year comes to a close with sources familiar with the file telling the Bay Observer that the latest cost estimate for LRT could be in excess of $1.3 Billion, possibly higher; and that the province will not budge beyond its commitment of $1 Billion for the project; leaving a shortfall of $300 Million to be made up by Hamilton taxpayers, and possibly more. Meanwhile, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk issued a report critical of Metrolinx for failing to give adequate consideration to Bus Rapid Transit for Hamilton and other projects in the GTA.