Friday, 29 August 2014


Week 6 of canvassing came to a close yesterday and I am well within sight of having walked every street in Dundas. I'd pushed back my self-imposed "deadline" to Labour Day and I am really happy with how things have gone. For all intents and purposes, that goal has been met.

So close!
I just have a few of the newest houses in town up in the de Lottinville area and all of Governor's Road left to cover. It's been a tremendous experience and it's given me a whole new appreciation for Dundas. I am more invigorated and passionate about my campaign than ever!

Under construction
Today, I took a bit of a "breather" and did a much overdue and needed wash, wax and vacuum of the car in preparation for our annual pilgrimage to the Nipissing First Nation Pow Wow. It's always a great time and am totally in love with Indian Tacos!

Locked and loaded

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Meet and Greet

I love to talk politics. Whether it's international, national, provincial or municipal, it's like an addiction. For the last Québec election, I made a big bowl of popcorn and didn't leave the couch until Pauline Marois made her concession speach. I cheered as if I was watching sports. It was great.

Despite this (or maybe because of it), I've never joined a political party nor have I ever attended a meet & greet.

As I mentioned yesterday, our neighbours were hosting mayoral candidate Brian McHattie for just such an event. I was very curious to attend, almost as much to take notes as to listen to the content.

It was nominally scheduled for between 7 and 9 PM, typical political function hours. Starting late enough that people can make it after work and ending early enough that you're not there all night.

We got distracted by signing up the boy for swimming and soccer for the fall and didn't step into our neighbour's yard until 7:30. We were warmly introduced to the crowd almost as if we were entering a formal ball - very nice.

We had just enough time to gather some refreshments before a representative from the McHattie team got up and said a few words by way of an introduction.

We were all more or less seated in a casual circle with Brian sitting at the focal point. Once the introduction had been made, he proceeded to talk about his background and some of his major platform planks (much of which I touched on in yesterday's post).

One thing that I was very excited to learn both as a candidate myself and as a voter was his plan to meet individually with every Councillor after the election and discuss the top three items their Ward needs done over the term. He would then assign that Councillor as the champion of those three causes and pledge his support to make them happen.

He described it as an almost ministerial appointment, like you might see at the Provincial level.

This appeals to me a great deal because it's smart and it capitalizes on the information gathered by the successful candidates. If anyone knows what the priorities are Ward-by-Ward, it will be the newly minted Councillors and the rookies will be especially enthusiastic.

The evening wrapped up on schedule and I socialized with a few of the stragglers since I didn't have all that far to go home.

Overall, it was a lovely evening well spent. Plus, Mr. McHattie just went up a notch in my estimation.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Hamilton Mayoral Race

Tonight, my neighbours are hosting a meet and greet for Mayoral candidate Brian McHattie. They've asked us if was OK if the event could spill over into our back yard (there's no fence between us). We have a great relationship so we naturally said it would be no problem.

I've spent some time over the last couple of mornings tidying up the yard. It's been a pretty dry summer and a lot of the plants have seen better days. Here's how it looks with everything mown, swept and raked:

Our little slice of Paradise
I'm also excited to attend the event. While I'm quite busy trying to get myself elected, I'm also a voter and I have yet to make my decision for Mayor. 

Full disclosure: Brian McHattie is the candidate I know the best. He frequently attends Cycling Committee meetings as Councillor and he is also the Chair of the Hamilton Conservation Authority, with which I have obvious ties. 

As a normal human being, I am naturally inclined to vote for the person I know best. However, I would have agreed to share our back yard with any candidate our neighbours decided to host.

I've been asked several times now who I support for Mayor and, while I am prepared to work constructively with any eventual winner, I'm still gathering information.

To my mind, there are three front-runners (I will list and discuss them in alphabetical order, as they will appear on the ballot): Brad Clark, Fred Eisenberger and Brian McHattie. I follow all three of them on Twitter and so far, that hasn't helped me out much (Brad uses it infrequently, Fred mostly shares pithy quotes and Brian generally lists which neighbourhood he's visiting that day).

So, let's tour their websites!

Slogan: Let's Get Things Done

Content: A bio, news, media mentions, event listings.

Policy statements: None that I could find.

Pros: Was a Provincial cabinet minister, active Councillor, lots of non-profit experience.

Cons: Was a Provincial cabinet minister in the Mike Harris government.

Slogan: Integrity. Experience. Vision. Ambition.

Content: A bio, news, media mentions, event listings, priorities and Twitter feed.

Policy statements: Making Hamilton Thrive, Strengthening the Hamilton Community, A Responsible and Responsive Hamilton, Protecting and Investing in Hamilton's Future & A Stronger Hamilton: Expanding Partnerships and Alliances.

Pros: Was a Councillor and Mayor, lots of ideas.

Cons: Has been relatively quiet since leaving office.

Slogan: A New Mayor for a New Hamilton

Content: A bio, news, media mentions, event listings, issues, Twitter feed and a survey.

Gimmick: 100 Day Tour

Policy statements: Stronger Neighbourhoods, Smarter Growth, Healthier Environment, More Open Government, More Jobs, 

Pros: An active Councillor, Chair of HCA, lots of ideas.

Cons: Might be tough to move beyond his appeal in Ward 1.

Well, that was interesting but I'm not sure I'm any closer to making a decision. Good thing there are still 61 days to go!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Dog Days of Summer

According to Environment Canada, this was the hottest day I've ever canvassed. They weren't wrong. I spent the day up behind Sir William Osler school and as a newer neighbourhood, the trees aren't quite as mature as they are closer to the core. I was baking.

Here's a lazy hazy shot of the Dundas Conservation Area from the top of Kirkwood. Just lovely.

I can see for miles and miles
So the issue of the day is election signs. Over the weekend, at the Winona Peach Festival, mayoral candidates Brian McHattie and Brad Clark got into a flap over some flags (I've always wanted to use those words together in the same sentence). You can read more here:

"Under city legislation, it is prohibited to erect election signs earlier than 28 days before voting day, with the exception of those at a campaign office." Councillor Clark had a couple of flags on the lawn of a nearby home, which he claimed was a satellite office. It doesn't take too great a stretch of the imagination to see this spiralling out of control.

Election day is October 27th, which means, thankfully, we shouldn't be seeing too many election signs before the very end of September. 

I, for one, would be glad if Hamilton outlawed election signs all together. There are already far too many of those tacky plastic bag signs cluttering up every scrap of grassy land in town. Rather than a barometer of popular support, it ends up looking like a race to see who can produce the most litter. The last thing we need is a bunch more smiling faces lining our streets, swaying in the breeze. The myriad real estate ads are plenty, thanks.

Luckily for me, I'm campaigning in Dundas, which is naturally predisposed to dislike campaign signs. In the 2010 election, one of the candidates for Council got "caught" installing a few around town and Mayor Bratina actually pulled all his signs from our Ward (read more here:

Running without signs favours the incumbent since their function is to grow name recognition. Naturally, back in 2010, "on his website, Powers said he will not be putting up signs". There is no incumbent this time around so that point is moot (or as a friend of mine insists on saying, moo - as irrelevant as a cow's opinion...).

In a bold move, one of the candidates in Dundas does have a few signs posted around downtown. I am unsure how this will play out.

In any case, I am going to limit my signage to installing my Cactus Fest banner up in front of my house (campaign HQ) some time after Labour Day. That's it. I promise.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Social Media Follies

Social media is a wonderful tool but it is very time consuming. Just writing this blog eats up a big part of my evenings. Add to that Twitter and Facebook and you're looking at a major time commitment.

I've been trying to streamline things by cross-posting as much content as possible. I often promote the blog via Twitter and Facebook but today we're going to go the other direction.

You may be aware of the Dundas Facebook page. If not, you can find it here: It's a great page and I visit it several times per day.

The gentleman that runs the page wants it to be an election resource for his readers and he's quite keen to get responses from candidates on topical posts. I enjoy visiting the page and I am careful not to hijack the whole thing and make it all about me and my campaign.

Today he polled the electorate, so to speak. I've excerpted part of the page here:

Dundas FB: I have tried to engage the candidates for Councillor to participate in this forum but with little success. Bob Maton running for Public School Trustee is probably the one who has put more forward in terms of his opinions and what he believes, than anyone. Marc Risdale has just taken up the torch for the Bruce Trail crossing at the railway over pass at #8, in that he will be chairing a meeting where he will bring the topic up on the agenda. Have you heard much anywhere that lets you differentiate, one from another? I speak with people every day about this issue while out and I can't say we are doing a great job getting the issues out amongst the voters. I have never been more involved than I have been this year and yet I can say this is pretty much a "vanilla" type campaign. Everyone looks the same so far. I have invited or at the very least every candidate is aware or on this page. They seem to like the safety of their own pages but is this leadership material? Would you like to see more opinions by political hopefuls where they can be engaged? I have invited them to be here. I want one spot to get regular information and I don't want to have to go to 8 different pages. Tell us what you think.

The general sentiment from the subsequent posters was generally welcoming to more political messaging so I piped up

Me: Speaking for myself, as a candidate, I'm quite happy discussing policy here but I also enjoy just hanging out on this page. By all means, ask me tough questions. I'll be glad to answer them. This actually seems as good a time as any to announce the theme of the last phase of my campaign leading up to the election on October 27th (consider this an exclusive scoop Mr. Dundas FB Page  ): "Putting Dundas and Our Families First"

This comment got a great response. In particular, one reader took me up on my offer almost immediately.

Catherine: First let me tell you Marc I appreciate that you are willing to be forthcoming in an open format that alone just put you at the top of my list. Now lets see if you can stay there. Your "Theme" for the final phase "putting Dundas and Our Families First" Great slogan by the way but my question is two parts, why do you feel the need to divide your campaign themes/slogans throughout your campaign instead of just giving us this information from day one and how do you plan on bringing this statement to fruition.?

Me: Great question Catherine! I chose to divide my campaign into two main phases on purpose. The first was my introductory and consultative phase. I wanted to take the time to walk EVERY street in Dundas and meet as many residents as possible. I'm on track to have that done by Labour Day weekend. I also had a booth at Cactus Fest. It is important for me to understand what the people of Dundas want from their next Councillor and to make sure my ideas align with theirs. The second phase will focus on rolling out the policies and ideas I've developed over the first phase. I've already announced my position on a number of issues (term limits, voting blocks on Council, ward sizes, poverty reduction, etc...) on Twitter and my daily blog ( and it is challenging to make sure I reach as many people as possible. I am completely committed to transparency as a Councillor and am trying to demonstrate my commitment by being an open book from the start. To answer the second part of your question, there are a number of things we can do at the municipal level to make Dundas as family-friendly as possible. Ensuring the walkability of our town through intelligent public works decisions, growing the number of licensed infant care (birth to 18 months) spaces, exercising greater control over development and offering constructive and interesting extra-curricular programming for our youth are just a few of the tools we can use to make my vision a reality. I truly believe that making Dundas a great place for families will make it a great place for everyone. 

Now that there are so many places to release information about a campaign, it can get a bit tricky keeping track of everything. For instance, you'll note that I've now revealed a few of the ideas I've developed for my platform as well as announcing the theme for the last half of my campaign.

Walking ALL the streets of Dundas has given me a great deal of time to synthesize all the data I've been gathering and I really believe that "Putting Dundas and Our Families First" both tidily sums up everything I'm about and does a nice job of appealing to my target audience.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Morning After

The alarm seemed to go off just a little earlier than usual this morning (for the record, it goes off at 6AM every day of the week). Slowly, we pulled it all together and got ourselves back out to Christie Lake on time.

On getting to the gate, I mentioned to the girl checking our membership "It feels like we just left!"

"Tell me about it!"

The whole place generally looked a little groggy. The giant stage was just starting to come down as we rolled by.

We were quite happy to discover that some new people joined us from Burlington to help build this morning. They gladly jumped in and set about getting their hands dirty.

Many hands make light work
One of the things I really enjoy about designing the trails at Christie Lake is incorporating some of the historical features from the property. Prior to becoming a conservation area, the lands at Christie were working farms and every so often, we encounter a fence line. These are easily distinguishable as the distinct zones of mature hardwoods that crisscross the pine plantations.

We take advantage of these historical features by making waypoints of them. We weave the trail among the hardwoods and use the old fence itself as a point of interest. For instance, in this photo, you can see that we cross the fence twice at the entrance and exit of the same hairpin and show the trail user a magnificent pair of old trees in the bargain.

If these trees could talk...
When I lay out a trail, I try to tell a story about the land. There is a degree of craft that goes into helping users interpret the history of the conservation area. A properly built trail teaches as it wends through the forest.

Anyhow, I promised you a tomato sauce recipe. Mine is deceptively simple in that it only includes one ingredient: tomatoes. However, the devil is in the details.

You'll remember this pic I posted yesterday.

Take a bushel of Roma tomatoes (this is key, only Romas are pulpy enough to make a decent sauce), cut them into eighths and divide into as many pots as you have burners.  Don't core them or get too fussy - weed out the rotten bits and that will do (Heston Blumenthal, the uber-chef from The Fat Duck in the UK actually throws in the stems but I find that a bit too funky smelling for my taste). Get it up to a boil and let it simmer. And simmer. And simmer. Until it looks something like this.

Now, you might be thinking that this looks like a bit of a mess. Trust me, you need to wait until the tomatoes adopt an almost coppery colour. This is a sign of slight caramelization and it is the single-most important part of making sauce that tastes like sauce (and not just tomato water).

Once the tomatoes have cooled slightly, set up a workstation that looks like this.

Vry srs
The thing with the handle is called a food mill and it is the one piece of hardware that separates "meh" sauce from "wow" sauce. It is basically a bulk grinder and it divides the good stuff from the yucky stuff. Here's what you get after about an hour of milling (nobody said good food would be easy).

Take note of the colour of the sauce - rich, dark and incredibly "tomatoey". All the "junk" that's still in the food mill is all the solids (seeds, skin and whatnot) left from the entire bushel. You know you're done when that mush is about the consistency of Play-Doh (that stuff goes straight into the green bin).

Again, at this point, the only ingredient is tomatoes. It tastes out-of-this-world.

For canning, I highly recommend following the Bernardin ( instructions. They add just enough salt and lemon juice that the sauce comes out of the jar tasting remarkably fresh and full. 

1 bushel = 11.5 jars
So there you have it. I've given up my painstakingly researched and perfected tomato sauce recipe. Deceptively simple yet somewhat labour intensive. One thing is for sure: you can taste the love when you eat it. 

Having said that, it will take something very special (like an election win...) to make the jump from here to get me to share my pasta sauce recipe. Besides, I've just entered the competition at the Ancaster Fair and it wouldn't do to give away all my secrets going into that! :)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Greenbelt Harvest Picnic

I've been looking forward to today for quite a while. It was time for the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, an annual music/food/art festival held at my favourite place, Christie Lake. (You can learn more here, but you'll have to wait until next year for the next one: For a music/food/art nerd like me, it was heaven.

But first, we kicked off the day by breaking down that bushel of Roma tomatoes I bought on Thursday. Chopped and into the pots they went (they're bubbling away now as I write this). It was a family endeavour.

Boil boil toil and trouble
Due to our anniversary celebrations last night, we soon departed to make our grocery run for the week. Having unloaded all that, we quickly repacked the car and got out to Christie Lake. The following is a photo essay of the rest of my day (not exactly Rolling Stone quality photojournalism but you'll get the idea all the same).

It started to rain just in time for the first act, local powerhouse Laura Cole (she's from Ancaster).

Dem pipes!
Then onto my second favourite part of the day, Elliott BROOD. It was really starting to rain now but the crowd just kept growing. They finished their set with a song about Dundas called The Valley Town (hear it here:

By this point, I was getting pretty hungry. The guys and gals over at The Dirty South food truck came to my rescue. Their loaded pork poutine really hit the spot. (Full disclosure: this truck has been a great supporter of the big event I run in the spring and I am a very loyal fan of theirs.)

Om nom nom!
I stuffed myself quite handsomely as I soaked in the amazing show Boris Brott (the Legend) did with the National Academy Orchestra and his special guests. When he brought out Stephanie Cadman, an Acadian fiddler, I was immediately transported back to late summer nights in my godfather's garage, where his family would entertain us for hours with rousing French-Canadian folk songs. I admit, I got a bit misty.

Soggy but happy
My brush with fame: I crowded the second stage to catch the amazing beatboxer Hachey the MouthPEACE and who did I happen to find standing right beside me? Daniel "freaking" Lanois! I tried to take this picture on the sly... (that's him in the black hat)

OMG, it's Daniel Lanois!!!
Next up was Ron Sexsmith, who I follow on Twitter - he's a notorious punster.

Secret heart
If the festival has a patron saint, it's Sarah Harmer. I've been going to her shows since she started playing dingy store rooms at the back of record shops on Queen West in Toronto. She deserves every bit of success she gets.

I'm a mountain
All I'm going to say about Gord Downie and the Sadies is that they were loud, they rocked and, as I now realize, the auto-correct on my phone changed my Tweet about their set to Gordon Downie and the Sardines (lol). 

They were still plenty loud from back here
Aside from all the amazing talent that was on hand, what makes the Harvest Picnic truly stand out is all the great stuff that surrounds the show. It is probably the most family-friendly festival you could ever attend. There are all sorts of awesome vendors (yes, I spent way too much money) plus fishing, swimming, biking and livestock!

Manorun chickens and pigs
There are tons of kids and every few minutes, an impromptu football match just happens.

That is unless, of course, the kids are otherwise occupied eating popcorn or just playing GIANT hopscotch.

Biggest hopscotch evar!
As the sun was setting, we hit the beach and Daniel Lanois hit the stage. When you stand there watching the trees sway back and forth on the south shore of the lake and you hear the music start, it grabs you from the heart and suddenly you understand why he chose Christie Lake as a venue. It makes perfect sense.

Sunset - Christie Lake
Without a doubt, Monsieur Lanois stole his own show. We eventually migrated back to the lawn from the beach and my mind was blown. I could have listened to his set all night.

Sadly, we were well past the boy's bed time and though he was a great sport, he was done. We loaded the car to the faraway sounds of Bruce Cockburn. I'm sure Ray LaMontagne would have been great too. Maybe next time!

Thank you Greenbelt and thank you Jean-Paul Gauthier (and Daniel Lanois) for a wonderful day. We'll never forget it!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge!

Late last night, the gentleman that runs the Dundas Facebook page nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I rarely back down from a challenge so my immediate response was "I'm in!"

As with most things, I planned how things would go. I said "Come on over to my place around noon." That meant I had all morning to get good and over-heated canvassing the Pleasant Valley neighbourhood.

I bought a big bag of ice at the gas station and made my way back home. As if on cue, my videographer rang the door bell. 

You can see the results right here:

I'm quite pleased with the results and of course, it's for two very worthy causes: the ALS Society of Canada and Ride Away Stigma, which is in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

We rounded out the day with a special family dinner at Quatrefoil, just a short trip from our front door. We were celebrating the 47th anniversary of Russ and Sylvia, my in-laws. If there is an archetype for how a marriage it should look after that many years, they are it. The food was beautiful and delicious.

Seared albacore tune
That was a fitting end to another full week. I spent a ton of time out in the far east part of town. The easternmost section of Ward 13 is bounded by Highway 6. They are a feisty but lovely bunch of people. 

Anyhow, here's how the canvassing map looks at the end of the day today:

Not much further now
Finally, here are a few pictures I tweeted this week that haven't made it to the blog yet. I'm having so much fun canvassing and these are just a few of the highlights:

I really like this

Canvassing bunny!

Seriously, in August?

EPIC tree house is almost done

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Terms and Conditions

I reached an exciting milestone today on social media: this blog is now up and over 1,000 page views. Yay!

Considering that we're still basically in the middle of summer, I'm really impressed. I'm also closing in on 150 followers on Twitter. Just a few more witty rejoinders and I'll be there!

Anyhow, I was asked today about term limits for Council. Luckily, this is something I've already planned and considered for myself as a candidate. Whether or not the issue ever makes it to a vote, if elected, I am committed to working for Dundas for three terms. Following that, my time will be up and I will make way for a worthy successor.

This would be a span of twelve years, which seems just about right if properly executed. A lot of my larger ideas would take time to effect so I see my tenure on Council unfolding in three phases.

Term 1: Advocate for Dundas. Jump in and learn the ropes. Meet and work with Staff. Understand Council. Collect reams of data.

Term 2: The implementation phase. Use the relationships I've built with Staff and Council to get important things on the books and done.

Term 3: Measuring the results and optimization. Preparing the transition to the next Councillor.

After that, who knows? Mayor, private sector, retirement? We'll cross that bridge when we get to it!

Setting a plan and creating milestones will instill in me a sense of purpose and urgency. It's the way a business as large as the City should be run.

I believe in term limits in principle as they allow Council an opportunity for regular renewal. Ideally, a quarter to a third of Council would turn over with every election. That will keep enthusiasm and energy at a high level while allowing for a productive amount of mentoring as senior Councillors help the "kids" adapt to their new environment.

One last note: as with the sound of cicadas in the night, a sure sign that summer is waning is the debut of Roma tomato bushel baskets at Fortinos. Stay tuned for my Mémère Dubeau's out-of-this-world tomato sauce recipe!


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Treading the Line: Candidate Surveys

It probably comes as no surprise that when you become a candidate for public office, everyone wants a little piece of you. As I mentioned about a month ago, the Hamilton and District Labour Council was really on the ball. They sent me their municipal candidate survey exactly one week after I submitted my nomination form.

It was actually quite long and included a lot of long-form answers. I even posted one of my answers about a month ago in this very blog:

The results of the survey are in and while the Labour Council has endorsed Brian McHattie for Mayor (, it would appear that none of us in Ward 13 made the cut.

"There were no endorsements for wards 5, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15. "When you see no endorsements in those wards, there were just no agreements," said Roman."

It is human nature to want to be liked and so my initial reaction at not earning the endorsement was one of disappointment. 

However, upon further reflection, it occurs to me that endorsements aren't all they're cracked up to be and that "no endorsement" may in fact be the best result. 

With every endorsement, there can be an almost equal and opposite anti-endorsement. Candidates can be perceived as pandering to certain groups and voters may question what exactly may have been "promised", especially if the survey results are not made public.

Speaking from experience, it's fairly easy to tell what sort of response a group is looking to get from the way they frame their questions. As a candidate, you have to tread the line between telling people what they want to hear and staying true to yourself.

The best candidate surveys ask you for answers to questions you hadn't yet asked yourself. These force you to think and do research to understand the topic and come up with a cogent response that is consistent with your beliefs. It's like cross-fit for your brain!

I completed yet another candidate survey this morning. This one was from the Hamilton and District Apartment Association, an advocacy group for Hamilton landlords. The thrust of the thing was to get me to commit to lowering the municipal tax rates for multi-residential units - a complicated issue to say the least.

In the interest of transparency, I'll summarize my responses by saying that I would support lowering the rates but maybe not to the degree that they might like since doing so could shift an even larger tax burden on to residential homeowners. Like I said, it's complicated! (If you want to learn more, you can see the City's summary report here:

Finally, I'll also share with you my answer to the Comment section that came at the end of the survey:

"I am especially interested in creating opportunities for larger purpose built rental units in Ward 13. I understand that it is difficult for families to find an adequate stock of three-bedroom units in Dundas. I believe that wider availability of these larger units would encourage more families to consider moving to Dundas.

I would also like to encourage mixed-income purpose built rental units in Ward 13 since housing costs consume too great a proportion of household income for residents living on fixed or low-incomes."

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Crunching the Numbers

So, what can I learn from the results of the Big Idea Wall? If you know anything about polling, you'll realize that what I did isn't really very scientific. There's probably all sorts of response bias in there but that doesn't matter. My goal was to capture the general mood of the town, which on the whole, is quite positive.

Keeping in the mind the many conversations I had over the weekend around the ideas that were posted, here's how I broadly view the responses:


Dundas is understandably very wary of development and the general sentiment is that developers wield too much power when it comes to determining the fate of our town. People have the sense that developers come to Dundas and tell us what they want instead of asking us what we really need. 

City Hall

Dundas is generally fed up with how the City of Hamilton operates and it doesn't think that there is sufficient transparency or accountability at City Hall. Amalgamation is still a very sore spot and people want to see a stronger voice for Dundas on Council.


There are a LOT of cyclists in Dundas and they want bike lanes! It occurred to me over the weekend that Dundas currently doesn't have a single actual bike lane. 


Dundas is very angry that Parkside is closing but if it must close, people want the City to buy the building and use it as a community centre, including activities for seniors and a childcare centre. There is no appetite at all for the upcoming ARC review of our public primary schools.


Broadly speaking, Dundas is disappointed in the current state of its infrastructure. In particular, Governor's road needs work along its entire length.

Webster's Falls

If there's one thing that Dundas wants, it's to have the steps down to the bottom of Webster's Falls re-opened. It is interesting how tightly bound the Falls are to our sense of identity.


Dundas knows it pays a lot of property tax and while there is definitely some grumbling about it, people seem generally OK with it as long as they feel the money is well spent and we get our fair share of what we contribute.


This was perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend. Dundas has very strong opinions on LRT and as far as I can tell, they are almost evenly split "for" and "against". It seems that no matter where a candidate may sit on the LRT, someone will be very angry about it. 

So there you have it. Dundas has spoken! The Big Idea Wall was an overwhelming success and it was well worth the $6 I spent on sticky notes and markers! 

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Big Idea Wall

A boatload of ideas
Without further ado, here are all the Big Ideas (complete and unedited) I collected over the weekend at Cactus Fest. There are some neat ones. Take a look and see what you think!

  • Access to the North Shore trails near Olympic rink (shouldn't have to walk up York)
  • Dog parks *we need more* Put an outside lounge area across from dog park for owners
  • The small pond (behind transfer station) should have a trail/boardwalk!!
  • The turning light on Cootes won't activate by motorcycles
  • Bike lanes in Dundas
  • Licensing and yearly stickers for bike riders
  • Re-open Webster's Falls steps
  • Downtown Dundas - double the width of sidewalks (3-4 blocks)
  • Infrastructure to deal with climate realities (i.e. storm water)
  • No bus lane downtown Hamilton!
  • Street light at Cascades Park
  • Not enough security at Festival of Friends - fights
  • Pursue the 2 campus model for high school in Dundas
  • Improve accessibility of businesses downtown
  • Bike lane on York to #6
  • Do not support LRT too expensive
  • Slow down Sydenham Hill
  • Bike lanes in Dundas
  • Pave Governors get rid of concrete islands
  • More well rounded activities for kids
  • Less street lights or off every other day
  • Stop sign at St. Joe's @ Governors
  • Better access to our Councillor
  • Good quality affordable childcare
  • Taxes! (down)
  • Keep Parkside open - how about as an FI high school
  • Keep Parkside open
  • Better road maintenance Main St. W Governor's Rd.
  • Elect Marc Risdale!
  • Old Ancaster yellow sign makes no difference TAKE IT DOWN
  • Support LRT
  • Elementary enrichment program
  • Re-open stairs to Webster's Falls
  • Improve transparency of childcare subsidy
  • Make Governor's safe for Highland students
  • How do we focus on more trade programs in our high schools
  • Find a way to bring back Parkside
  • Provide more opportunities for people with special needs
  • Simplify water billing
  • Stop unchecked development
  • Stop driving buy a bike or walk. Just stop polluting
  • Bike lanes on York
  • Protect Dundas trees
  • Street lights in Greensville
  • Singletrack in Dundas
  • I'm a tourist. Do you like tourists?
  • Faster, direct bus service to Hamilton and back to Dundas
  • Make Parkside a community centre
  • Recycling bins w/lids
  • Pride week in Dundas
  • Put an end to the clown show at City Hall
  • Keep Parkside
  • Crackdown on j-walkers
  • Say no to NIMBY Councillors
  • Increase festival funding
  • Make LRT a referendum
  • Get rid of these stupid lights
  • Dundas needs an attraction
  • Clean up entrances to Dundas for festivals
  • Councillors should contribute to their own pensions
  • Clean up Webster's Falls
  • West harbour development
There you have it! Give it some thought. I'll attempt to parse all this information in tomorrow's post.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

It's a Wrap

Wow, that was some party! I'm taking a few minutes to check in as I sit here on the couch with a wee dram of Speyside. Without a doubt, Cactus Fest was a resounding success!

If you're into metrics, consider that I gave away approximately 750 balloons and roughly the same number of stickers. Even if all that doesn't translate directly into votes, it was worth every cent to see all those kids light up when I gave them a balloon. Cliché though it may sound, it was priceless.

The Big Idea Wall was also a massive hit. Here's how it looked when I set it up at 9:30 this morning:

Massive response
It's pretty much out of control now - I'm almost out of sticky notes! People are clearly expressing a desire to be heard and I am glad to give it to them. I'll go into further detail tomorrow when I type out each note verbatim but I will say that there is some really great stuff in there and it was a pleasure to discuss all of these issues with their authors.

Here's a parting shot of the street about an hour before tear-down. The weather today was a real gift. People were out in droves!

Dundas shining!
I've been in the habit of sharing a recipe on the weekend and while this isn't especially fancy, it is very seasonal and it's what we did tonight with a patio full of friends and family to wrap up the amazing Cactus Festival weekend.

BBQ Roasted Whole Salmon

Step 1: Get your coals started, preferably hardwood lump.

Step 2: Line a BIG roasting pan with parchment paper or silicone and add one whole fresh wild BC salmon (it's in season!), properly oiled and seasoned inside and out - add some thyme and lemon juice if you're feeling crazy.

Step 3: Set on indirect high heat for 45 minutes. 

Step 4: Serve with steamed corn on the cob, sliced field tomatoes and heaps of dry Riesling.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Saturday Morning Micro Post

Well that was fun! My booth turned out exactly as I'd envisioned and my spot out front of the Carnegie Gallery was amazing. The nearby stage was rocking all night and the party atmosphere was fantastic.

Pro booth
 Lots of people contributed to the Big Idea Wall and it generated a lot of great conversations. I'll recap all the submissions on Monday - and there are some really good ones! I pumped up so many balloons that my hands are actually a bit sore this morning. Those balloons were worth every penny. Nothing makes my day more than seeing a kid's face light up when they're handed a balloon!

Nuit blanche - Dundas edition
The night air was just perfect. Warm enough with just a light breeze to keep things fresh. And there's just something magical about closing the street to cars for the night and letting people take it over.

I'm really looking forward to today. Don't forget to come say hi!

Friday, 15 August 2014

We Are Go for Cactus Fest

It was a cool morning but that makes for perfect canvassing weather! As a motivational tool, I highlight a map every day to show my progress and I have to say, I'm really impressed with all the ground I've covered!
So much orange highlighter!
 I originally aimed to have everything done by Cactus Fest but it soon became apparent that stopping to talk with people took up more time than I'd anticipated. This is a very good thing. Being the kinda guy I am, it's easy to focus on raw "efficiency" but it pays to remember that the reason I'm out there in the first place is to meet people.

With that in mind, my new goal for having visited every street in Dundas is Labour Day and I think I'm on track.

After a leisurely morning of canvassing, it was time to get cracking on Cactus Fest details. I packed up the Element with all sorts of stuff I might need.

Then, I went downtown to Cactus Fest HQ to get my vendor permit. Ironically, I got there at the same time as Toby Yull, one of the other candidates. You'll remember that we both submitted our nomination papers on the same day too. We both had a good laugh.

I was assigned booth #8, which is just about perfect. I'm out in front of the Carnegie Gallery and the Hamilton Conservation Authority will be one of my neighbours. I'm on the shady side of the street and I'm just a few feet away from one of the stages. I probably couldn't have chosen a better spot if I'd done it myself.
Home for the weekend!
I'm just now taking a brief break (if you call writing a blog post taking a break) before I head back out there for set-up. The street closes at 5PM and we have an hour to get our act together before they release the hounds.

Finally, I spotted this new SoBi Bike Share station on King and Miller's Lane. Looking pretty sharp!
It's like looking into the future!
I hope to see you all out at Cactus Fest!

Thursday, 14 August 2014


This will be a blog post in two parts: before and after the Cactus Parade:


Remember this card?

Well, it's parade time! With any luck I can skedaddle away from the Hamilton Cycling Club event I'm running tonight to catch the last few floats. I tried to tell them that traffic would be impossible in town tonight and that we should postpone but they were adamant!

We're trying to talk the boy into joining the Dundas Works! float with a "I want to walk to school" sign but he's a *little* resistant to the idea. It seems he's a little on the shy side. We'll see how it goes.

We're off to pre-school and then the farmer's market!


Because of this (my favourite ride ever):

The Sizzler (aka the Zipper)
The market had to move over here, behind Cafe Domestique:

Change of venue
The weather was almost autumnal and it seemed odd to be buying strawberries and peaches but we soldiered on dutifully. We also picked up the last smoked trout of the season and a couple more bottles from Flat Rock Cellars.

From there, we scurried home for a quick dinner by the light of the microwave and zipped back out. I managed to wrap up the Club event quickly (surprisingly, people were finding it difficult to drive in Dundas... um, I told you so?).

Happily, there was still plenty of parade left to see by the time I got there. Check out just a few of my blurry pictures:

This band was huge and SO LOUD! 
Awesome Model T 
I <3 the Shriner carts!
Domestique precision bike squad
As you can see, it was a hoot and I hope you had a chance to take it in. We saw tons of people we knew. The interesting part was that a lot of them we knew in different contexts (soccer, cycling, trail building, pre-school...) and they all knew each other some how! I love that about Dundas.

More than any other event through the year, the Cactus Parade is where Dundas really shines! Bring on the Festival!