Monthly Archives: November 2012

Inaugural Hamilton Santa 5k run a success, despite cold

Over 500 runners dressed as Santa Claus took part in the inaugural Hamilton Santa 5k run on Sunday morning at Hamilton’s waterfront.

It was a windy, brisk morning, with scattered flurries. Despite the cold weather, runners came out in droves for the festive event.

All participants who entered the run were given a full Santa suit, including a beard.

Santas of all sizes take over Hamilton’s waterfront during the Hamilton Santa 5k run

The race started at the Hamilton Yacht Club, went through Pier 4 Park, looped around Bayfront Park, and finished out front of Williams Coffee Pub.

VR PRO, the company that held the event, already has a Santa 5k run in Burlington, Ontario and Burlington, Vermont, before adding a third Santa race in Hamilton.

Kelly Arnott, Race Director for VR PRO, said that despite the cold weather, the run was a success.

“The event was totally amazing today […] it was everything we expected. Young Santas, old Santas, fast Santas, slow Santas, tall Santas, short Santas – everything,” said Arnott.

Victor Gatundu, who won the 5-kilometre run with a time of 16:50, said the race was fun, but he had some technical difficulties during his run.

“It was a good race. It was very cold and windy out there, my gloves were too thin, and my [Santa] pants exploded during my run!” said Gatundu.

Arnott said all the participants had a great time and next year she expects double the amount of registrants.

“[Hopefully] next year we’ll get one thousand [participants],” she said.

The Santa 5k run raised funds for Hamilton’s Waterfront Trust and the Good Shepherd Hamilton.

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Province agrees on funding for the remediation of Randle Reef

The province has finally agreed on its contribution to help clean up Hamilton’s polluted harbour.

The Ministry of the Environment made the announcement on Monday that the province will contribute $46.3 million to the remediation of Randle Reef.

Randle Reef is a part of Hamilton Harbour and one of the most toxic sites in any of the Great Lakes. The area is 12-hectares of shale reef which has been polluted by toxic sediment – coal tar – from the conversion of coal into coke (which is a form of fuel).

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Mixed Use Plan for Randle Reef (Photo Courtesy: Environment Canada)

The province’s contribution to the cleanup tops off the funding needed for the remediation of the site. With its contribution, the $140 million capping plan can move forward.

Along with the province, Hamilton will contribute $14 million over a 10-year period; Burlington and the Halton Region will contribute over $4.3 million; the Hamilton Port Authority will chip in $14 million, and US Steel is investing $12 million in a containment facility, as well as a $2 million contribution.

Mark Johnson, a spokesperson for Environment Canada, says once everything is in place, clean up will begin in 2014.

“A key next step will involve the negotiation of legal project implementation agreements among all funders to confirm the details of contributions, roles and responsibilities in the management of the project, followed by the tendering of the project,” said Johnson.

A clean Randle Reef will not only mean reduced contaminant levels, but also some possible economic returns for the city of Hamilton.

“[The remediation] will also remove current restrictions on navigation and generate economic returns benefits during the construction phase and through the creation of valuable port lands,” said Johnson.

John Hall, co-coordinator of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, says some of the things seen since the remedial action plan started (back in 1985) is the exponential growth of the west end of the harbour in the last 10 years, with new parks and new trails.

“We’re going to see a […] continuation of the various improvements that have been made in the way of public amenities for people to visit the harbor, to recreate in the harbour. That will be the major thing, I think, that people will see,” said Hall.

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To be or not to be? That is the question for Tivoli Theatre

The Tivoli Theatre could be the latest piece to the James Street North revitalization puzzle, after rumours of a possible buyer for the dormant theatre have surfaced.

Belma Diamante, CEO of the Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble, bought the theatre for just one dollar in 2004 (when the theatre was already closed) from the Sniderman family – after a wall collapsed on the south side of the building – and the theatre has been closed ever since.

Earlier this week, Diamante has revealed that there is a serious buyer but she has not disclosed who it is.

Tivoli Theatre, Circa 1947 (Photo Courtesy: Archive of Ontario)

Built in stages from 1875 to 1924, the Tivoli Theatre was originally a carriage factory and in 1924 it became a vaudeville venue and movie house. Later, in 1995 it became a venue for live stage until it was closed in 2004.

After the theatre was closed, the city spent over $300,000 to demolish much of the front of the building, including the façade. There have also been some contributions in the form of grants for building stabilization and heating improvements.

“The old auditorium has been empty for a number of years” said Mark Wilson, a member of the Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society who wrote about the history of Tivoli Theatre in the book Vanished Hamilton IV. “To revamp it, it’s going to be huge, huge money.”

Jason Farr, Ward 2 Councilor, says that a renovated Tivoli would further help with the James Street revival and there are numerous grants for which the potential buyer could apply.

“Whomever the purchaser is, if they’re not aware, there is a number of incentives for them,” said Farr.

The buyer could apply for CIT (Communities In Transition) grants, as well as heritage grants (the theatre is on the “Top Ten Most Endangered” list on Heritage Canada’s website).

“Whether it’s live music, or stage venues, or Die Hard, I have some very fond memories [in Tivoli Theatre] and I think a lot of Hamiltonians do too and to hear that there’s some progressive movements afoot is music to my ears,” said Farr.

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Controversy on the waterfront?

Hamilton’s City Council now wants to discuss the possibility that Burlington pay more rent for LaSalle Park.

La Salle Park is a 56-acre piece of waterfront property on Burlington’s lakeshore that is operated and maintained by the City of Burlington, but owned by the City of Hamilton.

The Park consists of two banquet halls, a marina, waterfront trail, and sports fields.

Geraldo’s Banquet and Conference Facility at LaSalle Park

The City of Hamilton is receiving one dollar a year from the City of Burlington under the current agreement that was signed in 1983. The deal is set to expire in 10 years time.

Hamilton’s council voted Tuesday for the Greater Bay Area Subcommittee – a committee consisting of members from both Hamilton and Burlington’s City Council – to begin discussions on the LaSalle Park agreement and to establish a “fair market value” lease.

Ward 4 Hamilton Councilor Sam Merulla moved the motion on Tuesday.

“You have your banquet centre there, as well as your marina. If you were to fully exploit the marina’s potential and look at the nearly 300,000 dollars they’re making from the banquet centre, the one dollar per year is not a fair market value for the land” Merulla said.

However, not everyone agrees with the motion. Ward 1 Burlington councilor Rick Craven (a member of the Greater Bay Area Subcommittee) says that changes to the lease are not on the agenda.

“The subject on the agenda right now […] is the long term expectation that ownership of the park will transfer to the City of Burlington. Under what conditions and for what in return is going to be a very lengthy agenda. That is on the agenda,” said Craven, “increasing the lease or the rent in the short run is not on the agenda.”

Councilor Merulla said that if an agreement isn’t reached before the lease is up Hamilton could possibly keep the land for waterfront development. However, Councilor Craven said that development can’t and won’t happen because under Burlington by-law the parkland is not zoned for that purpose.

“He’s wrong,” said Craven. “His comments have not been helpful.”

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