Hamilton activists update city council ‘Fail List’

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Published August 31, 2021 at 8:18 pm

Four hundred and twenty days out from the next general election in the city, critics of Hamilton’s local government have been updated the so-called city council ‘Fail List.’

Local resident Ryan Moran began compiling the list in 2019 to document governance issues. Those included, but were not limited to, cover-ups of safety issues on the Red Hill Valley Parkway and sewage spills in Chedoke Creek, a slow police response when Pride attendees were assaulted and attacked by far-right extremists in Gage Park, and the media outing of a former white supremacist who worked in the city’s information technology department.

With three-quarters of 2021 in the books, here are, depending on one’s perspective, some of the highlights or lowlights of city council’s year thus far.

  • Mayor Fred Eisenberger apologized for a glib tweet he sent about the failed insurrection by Donald Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, while the event was occurring. The mayor had remarked, “Anyone else binge watching the final season of The United States of America!!”, which critics thought was beneath an elected official.
  • The protracted debate over whether to approve the contstruction of a light-rail transit (LRT) system. The federal and provincial government confirmed that $3.4 billion in funding was available on May 13. It took nearly five weeks before the general issues committee greenlit negotiations for the project — in a narrow 9-6 vote.
  • On July 9, council voted 12-3 against putting a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald into storage, while city staff conducted a landmarks and monuments review.

    The vast majority of delegates to a city committee requested removing the statue. The only one who was adamant about leaving it up used a fake name and false pretenses to get on the delegations list.

    The statue of Macdonald was pulled down by Indigenous activists and their allies on Aug. 14.

  • Much of the deal to get Hamilton taxpayers out of the entertainment business was worked out behind closed doors. Ultimately, the Precinct Group is leading the estimated $500-million project to revitalize the downtown arena, presently called FirstOntario Centre.
  • Council voted to divvy up $30-million in federal gas tax funds for minor improvements in each of the 15 wards, thus giving each one a discretionary fund to use during an election year in 2022.
  • The r/Hamilton sub-Reddit was sent a cease-and-desist letter from lawyers, which led to it adding a disclaimer that it is unaffiliated with the City of Hamilton.

The recent vote to return to pre-pandemic enforcement of camping bylaws is not on Moran and Downtown Sparrow’s list.

Council voted 10-2 to do so during an emergency meeting that was held on Aug. 9.

Advocates for the unhoused population later said that “encampment evictions are insidious displays of violence in a sustained municipal war on Black, Indigenous, racialized, disabled, poor, and unhoused communities.”

In any event, the next municipal election is scheduled for Oct. 24, 2022.

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