Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Cleaning Out the Spam Filter

Depending on how you arrived at this blog, you may or may not know that I also have a campaign website (marcrisdale.ca). Like any pet, it needs regular maintenance. Every couple of days I clean out the comment bin, which inevitably contains a lot of offers for discount luxury goods - usually Air Jordans or Louis Vuitton handbags.

Normally, there are less than ten in there. Imagine my joy this morning when I found 81 comments waiting for moderation. You tend to get in a bit of a zone when you start banishing these things to the spam bin. I do my best to be careful not to trash any actual comments - good thing too because today, there was a gem in there!

I read the following from one of your blog posts:
” I think it’s really important for a candidate for council for Dundas to understand the City beyond the reaches of our town. Dundas is part of Hamilton and our concillor (sic) has a duty to understand the City in its entirety. Ideas that benefit Hamilton will ultimately benefit Dundas.”
This was indeed refreshing, because it represents an evolution beyond the tired Dundas-is-hard-done-by with amalgamation mantra. I also cycle, am fluently bilingual (I teach French at the local high school), and if you can articulate a coherent vision for transit in the whole region, you may very well have my vote.
I know you support LRT, but I am sensing, as with many other candidates, that your support might be qualified. As such, what is your vision for transit and please feel free to address ALL modes of transit, including LRT, buses, bikes and cars. You need not limit yourself to 100 words ; )"
Wow, right? I like this comment for so many reasons. Not to devolve into flattery, but it's intelligent, articulate and it demonstrates a keen awareness of the issues I'm trying to raise. I'll save you the trip to the comments section and include my 295 word reply below: 
"I believe that to thrive, we need to embrace true multi-modal transportation solutions. As vice-chair of the Hamilton Cycling Committee, I’ve been privileged to see the evolution of Hamilton to a more bike-friendly city and I’m proud to have advised city staff on a number of the most recent enhancement projects. I am a big believer in Complete Streets and was the first municipal candidate in Hamilton to take the Active Communities pledge (a initiative of the Share the Road campaign), which will hold me to account on a number of important livability issues.
While I do support LRT, you are correct that it is qualified. We need clarity from the Province on what they mean by capital funding since there are a number of ancillary infrastructure improvements that will be needed in its implementation. Furthermore, we need to have Council’s full support if we move ahead, which includes a commitment to follow the Rapid Ready transit plan developed by city staff. A decision this big is not the place for half-measures or lack of vision. Ultimately, whether we go with LRT or BRT is not that important. What is important is that we implement the most sensible rapid transit solution possible in preparation for the growth we know is coming.
Finally, with regards to cars, many people see the sort of initiatives outlined above as a “war on cars” but I don’t see it that way at all. As an automotive engineer, it would be silly of me to wage such a war. What interests me is finding the best possible balance between all modes of transport to get us all where we need to go in a safe and timely manner.
Thanks for the great comment (and for finding my typo)!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Sign Day!

Monday, September 29th was Sign Day in Hamilton. This is the first day of the campaign where it is officially legal for candidates to display lawn signs beyond those around their campaign offices. You'll recall that I have this sign out in front of my house but that I have pledged to not do any other lawn signs.

Afternoon light
I knew from Twitter that Ward 1 erupted in new lawn signs over night so I was really curious what I'd see in Dundas. I had to run down to the library this morning and post a new sign in Memorial Square so I took a bit of an extended walk to see what I could see.

Bargains galore!
I toured around down by Town Hall and walked out to the Canadian Tire. Nothing! I even checked out Brad Clark's mayoral office. Again, not a lawn sign in sight! I was kind of surprised. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this develops.

Not a sign of a sign
Now for a bit of housekeeping. The schedule for the Cable 14 televised debates was published in the Star News last week. Be sure to tune in! 

So many chances to watch us on TV!
We also got our voter card in the mail this morning. Please note the advance poll dates, times and locations. To make sure your name is on the voter's list, you can check at the City of Hamilton website here: http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/CorporateServices/Clerks/MunicipalElection/. You can also find out about your polling location there too along with a lot of other useful election information.

I love getting these!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Big Break(through)

Friday evening was just lovely. My wife's parents were just back from a giant vacation through Germany and Iceland and we went out to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday at Quatrefoil, just a few blocks downhill from our house.

One of my favourite views of Sydenham
Friday night, however, was completely dreadful. It seems that the boy picked up a bug and he coughed all night. By morning, the lot of us were a wreck but we decided to give soccer a try anyhow to see if it would improve our moods. Bad idea. He threw up what little was in his stomach just as we turned on to Frid. Yuck.

We backtracked home and decided it was going to be a sick day. I ran out and did the groceries and we tagged off so Kim could do the rest of our errands. I made the most of the time at home and did a bunch of cooking and we did get out to enjoy some of the beautiful weather later in the afternoon on the front porch.

Chicken and squash pot pie
Lamb shoulder mis-en-place
Tunisian lamb stew, out of the oven
After dinner, we watched a movie (with popcorn) and were all in bed before 9PM. 

We all slept right through our usual 6AM alarm but we all felt much better and we managed to get our act together in time to enjoy another gorgeous morning. Christie Lake was breath-taking and the air was crisp and clear!


With a little bit of hard work, we were finally to completely connect the Ebb & Flow and Runway trails. This project has taken us the entire (short) summer to complete and I was so happy to make it happen. There is still a small amount of finishing work to do but it is an amazing accomplishment to have this important link in place. 

At last, we are connected!
This brings our tread tally to nearly 10km, which is very impressive. It's starting to show signs of becoming a true "destination" ride and the traffic this morning out there was incredible. I'm also really pleased with the diversity of riders too, everything from real shredders to families. We get many thanks from riders as we work but for me, seeing all the smiles is thanks enough.

Friday, 26 September 2014

All Candidates, Debate!

Though we're officially into fall now, it was a beautiful summer day none the less. It was a great day to do a big pile of canvassing.

Picture perfect morning
I'm done my second round of visiting through the Heritage District (my neighbourhood) so today, I concentrated on the south side of King Street. Somehow, it all seems much quicker this time around. Maybe it's because I've memorized everyone's mailbox locations (I don't quite have an eidetic memory but I do have a strong affinity for visual cues) or maybe I'm just imagining things. 

Zombie family
Now that summer vacations are over, Dundas has assumed a much different character than it had over the summer. The streets are quieter, fewer people are home and most noticeably, there are no sounds of kids playing and laughing. Plus, people are already putting up their Hallowe'en decorations!

Epic election material
This mailbox cracked me up. I remembered it from my first trip through town and I was curious if it was still in the same state. I laughed when I saw the card I'd left there two months ago. It had accumulated a few more mayoral leaflets and as you can see, the material goes all the way back to the last provincial election. I half wonder if I dug deep enough if I'd find some vintage Mulroney flyers...

Just after lunch, I received a long awaited/rumoured message from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Dundas Division. The much anticipated All-Candidate's debate at Town Hall is scheduled for Monday, October 20th at 7PM (doors open at 6:30). 

Although it is timely for those who like to leave their voting decisions for the last week of the campaign (I'm often guilty of this myself... just ask me who I like for Mayor!), it is unfortunate that the debate comes after the last advance poll date. 

Again, advance polling typically favours the incumbent but as I'm sure you know if you're reading this, Dundas has no incumbent so the playing field is more or less even on that score.

Finally, I've mentioned earlier that I'm proud to be the first municipal candidate in Hamilton to have signed onto the Active Communities Pledge. Well, today, as a thank you, Share the Road sent all us pledgers a special icon to use on our websites to help us "certify" our commitment. So here it is (please click it to be taken to the Active Communities website):

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Last Council Meeting of the Term

Last night was the last Council meeting of the term. The next time Council chambers open to the public, it will contain a substantially different group of people and we'll be finding out in just over a month exactly who that might be.

While there is serious business conducted at the last meeting of the term, it's also a lot like the last day of high school for a graduating class. There will be at least four new faces around the table and a different mayor. There were speeches and applause for the departing members, including Russ Powers, who of course is retiring.

It was nice to see all the camaraderie. However, they left an important issue on the table. They deferred the decision of create an anti-racism resource position until the next term of Council. (Read more here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/city-council-delays-130k-centre-to-help-victims-of-racism-1.2777123.)

Those who voted for the deferral expressed a desire to learn more about the issue and the associated costs. That is despite the fact that the proposal had already been passed by the Audit, Finance and Administration committee earlier. 

Those who voted against the deferral represented Wards that are most visibly affected by racism. In fact, Councillor Merulla was quoted thusly: 
“It’s very sad that this council, particularly on the last night of this term, can be defined by not supporting this. [...] It’s easy for us to say,” he said. “It’s not very easy for those that need (the centre) to say. I look around this table and there aren’t too many visible minorities here.”
There are those that say that racism is on the decline in Hamilton but unsurprisingly, many of those voices come from the white middle class. Racism is systemic and pervasive and though I probably will never be on the sharp end of it, I want to be absolutely sure that my city has the resources available for those who are.
The proposal is for an 18 month pilot project and I intend on supporting it in Council. If after that period, we review the data and decide we're not getting good value, we can look at something different. On the other hand, if we do find that it's a needed and valuable resource, I'll be proud to say that I was there to stand up and do the right thing.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pressing Development

Last night, in Town Hall council chambers, I attended the second meeting of a new citizen's group forming in town: the Dundas Preservation Project. The effort was originally ignited by a project proposed for the vacant lot on Main Street between the Centurion apartment building and the Beads of Colour shop across from Town Hall.

Despite two articles by Craig Campbell in the Dundas Star news (read the most recent one here: http://www.hamiltonnews.com/news/dundas-development-raises-intensification-debate/), awareness of the project and its impact on downtown are still quite low.

You can see the group's Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dundas-Preservation-Project/688411574573076?ref=ts&fref=ts

For those of you with a Facebook aversion, these two pictures should give you a good impression of what is envisioned by the architect.

Wow that's big!
Nine stories, count 'em.
Understandably, the residents around the building are concerned about the impact such a large structure will have on their lives. To the north, the foundation comes right to the property line and the general scale of the proposal does not sit well contextually, never mind the additional traffic thrown into one of the busiest and arguably most dangerous parts of town. The list of amendments and deviations being requested by the developer is impressive. From its height to its setbacks, this is an ambitious, perhaps aggressive, plan.

What was especially galling to me was that while the plan was reviewed by the Dundas Community Council over a year ago, the residents in the immediate vicinity of the proposed building only received notice of the application to the Planning Department late in the summer. As if that wasn't bad enough, they were only given a very small window to submit their comments to the review process.

Sadly, we've seen this type of shot across the bow before in Dundas, at least three previous times in recent memory. One is left the gnawing sense that developers are going big in the hope that after an inevitable arbitration at the Ontario Municipal Board, they get exactly what they really wanted in the first place.

Clearly, we have a really big systemic problem on our hands here. It shouldn't have to be like this.

Were I the Councillor, what I'd like to see is a standing development review panel that would look at development proposals as they arrive and look at them from both the perspectives of the immediate neighbours to the new buildings and Dundas as a whole. The Dundas Preservation Project is a great starting point.

I envision something independent of the Community Council, where membership would be open and could be called upon either through a Facebook group or a simple mailing list. Whenever a new project came across my desk, I would host a meeting and we could review it together, collaboratively.

The idea is not to limit development in Dundas but to ensure that what we have in the end is something that makes everyone happy. This will save the developer tons of time and money and it will save the community tons of heartache. To quote the late, great Joan Rivers: "Can we talk?"

Meet the Press

Today was the day the Hamilton Spectator published my commentary piece. It was very exciting to open the paper and see it there.

Hey, I know that guy!
When I took a look at the rest of the page, I kind of laughed since, to me, it looked like a bit of a theme page. There I was with two of Hamilton's better known civic-minded voices: Margaret Shkimba and Ryan McGreal.

Another interesting thing to note was that the printed version was an edited version of the piece I'd submitted. Having worked on it for quite some time, I spotted small changes throughout the article. Everything was still there but more condensed. 

So that I could post it to Twitter and Facebook, I got the link for the on-line version and there I found the full text. Here it is: http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/4874300-my-priority-is-dundas-and-i-have-the-tools-to-make-a-difference/.

Though there is currently an odd conspiracy theory floating around town that the Spectator is undermining the democratic process (here's a link but be warned, proceed with caution... http://www.thespecrigselections.ca/), I'm going to chalk it up to a software word-count glitch. Google Docs showed my text at 743 words (the limit is 750) but as a former student newspaper editor myself, I know that you have to do the best with the limited space you have.

In any case, the web editor at the Spec actually contacted me to address any concerns I had which I thought was nice. I said I was actually pleased that the full text was on-line and that my messages were the same in both versions.

It was important to me to get my thoughts out there right around this point in the campaign. I wanted the people of Dundas to have a very clear picture of my values and priorities as we head into this final month. I wanted to demonstrate that I'm taking a strong stance on the issues that matter most to us and I think I've accomplished that quite nicely.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Engaging the Electorate

On what was yet another beautiful afternoon spent indoors, I participated in the Dundas forum of the People's Platform process in the former Parkside High School cafeteria. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I really like the idea behind the People's Platform and was expecting really great things - especially after the enthusiastic response to the kick-off event.

Including the volunteers running the forum, there was a total of about 16 people present. That number also includes three of the candidates for our ward (me, Arlene and Danya). There were 15 such forums across the City and the organizers tallied the total number of participants at 150 (see the Spec article here: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4873081-people-s-platform-takes-shape-as-groups-across-hamilton-gather-to-debate-campaign-issues/). Two were completely unattended. That means that our forum was actually one of the larger ones, which you might expect since Dundas is generally very civic minded.

Still, it's somewhat discouraging to see that such a large effort is yielding such limited interest. To be judged a true success, I would have liked to see at least twice as many people there. With only 14 participants, we weren't even able to cover each of the six main policy categories.

The discussions we had were still very constructive and worthwhile but I'm left thinking there are still so many voices going unheard. To their credit, the people behind it remain very enthusiastic but I can't help but wonder what they would need to do to get fuller participation. Admittedly, it's a tough sell. Free time is limited and spending it indoors on a gorgeous fall day isn't everyone's first choice.

Anyhow, I did at least have a chance to take a very quick tour of Art in the Park at the Driving Park (ooh, encaustic!) when one of the organizers sent me on an errand to drum up some more participants.

Plus I also got to spend some quality time in one my favourite buildings in town: Parkside! I've said it before and I'll say it again, we have to find a way to hold onto this place - it's far too valuable to lose!

Love this foyer!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Rain Day

Normally, on a September Sunday morning, we'd be off to Christie Lake. However today, it was pouring rain. In our family, that means one thing: Joyride!

The Joyride bike park is the brainchild of two great friends of ours: Mark Summers and Scott Bentley. It is an amazing indoor riding facility that includes everything from a teaching square, to pump tracks to a foam pit. On Sunday mornings, it's packed with kids. Here's a handy link: http://www.joyride150.com/

The front door
The City of Markham has embraced the concept and you can see how the community has adopted the park if you make the trip. It's a very safe and progressive environment to learn to ride a bike and develop the bike handling skills that lead to competence and mastery. Throughout the winter, we usually make a huge day of it and combine a morning at the park with a big dim sum lunch and a trip to the Ontario Science Centre.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my involvement in the project. I did a lot of the CAD work in the development of the cross-country loop, the street park and the pump tracks. Beyond that, Kim and I spent the better part of a month wrapping the columns in the building with protective foam. 

Though our volunteer hours were considerable, they were really just a drop in the bucket. Riders from all around the GTA pitched in to make this dream a reality. Like the tree planting we did yesterday, you do it because it matters and you feel great as a result.

Beginner area
Non-beginner area
I had to leave the park a little early so I could make it back to Dundas in time for the People's Platform forum at the Parkside campus of Dundas Valley SS and I'll discuss that event in a later post.

All that left me with very little time to throw together some form of dinner. Fortunately, I had something very simple planned: a roast chicken!

How To Roast A Chicken

Step 1: Set the oven to 450F.

Step 2: Massage a good amount of olive oil all around the outside of the bird.

Step 3: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add a rack. 

Step 4: Place chicken on rack and throw in some coarsely cut veggies, also coated in olive oil.

Step 5: Season liberally.

Step 6: Throw it all in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer for best results.

Step 7: Enjoy with a nice dry Riesling!

After dinner, be sure to strip the remaining meat from the carcass and use it for stock!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

As usual, we were pretty solidly booked again today. First things first, we had our early morning soccer lesson on Frid, which is always great fun. If you don't crack a smile while watching a group of 3 year-olds play soccer, you aren't paying enough attention.

Prior to leaving the house, I'd loaded the car with boots, shovels and work gloves. Earth Day Hamilton, in conjunction with a number of other groups was hosting a big tree planting at the new Ecopark lands near the Desjardins canal in Dundas.  As you know, I love to get my hands dirty so I was really looking forward to pitching in.

We got there just in time to hear the addresses from Ted McMeekin, our MPP, and Mayor Bratina. It was very nice to see them there and I was especially impressed that Ted was wearing jeans and work boots!

With the pleasantries out of the way, it was time to get to work... after a visit to the horned owl show from the Mountsberg Raptor Centre. Can you believe this poor bird is stunted? It was still REALLY big!

Turn out was great and it was really nice to see so many grad students from Mac participate.

Insert meadow here
This plot of land is where the former Veldhuis greenhouses used to be. It's now going to be a gateway park for the new Cootes to Escarpment Ecopark, which is going to be awesome. The ground was contaminated and the decision was made to cap it rather than remediate it.

I turns out that the material they used to cap it was from the spot on the Mac campus where the Phoenix used to be and the new building is going behind the hospital. Wow, that was some serious clay and it was crammed with all sort of rocks, brick and general junk - we even pulled out an old car inner tube. Sheesh!

Holes weren't so much dug as they were chipped out of the clay. In the end, we got about 15 trees planted but we probably could have done nearly twice that had the dirt not been like concrete.

The family that digs together stays together!

A "family portrait" of our trees
We went home, had a quick lunch and I got down to cooking while the boy went down for his nap.

Spanakopita goes into the oven.
Spanakopita comes out of the oven.
And with that, we were off to the Ancaster Fair!

So much anticipation!
The Ancaster Fairgrounds are really special to me. Aside from all the great times I've had there at the Fair, it's the venue for the huge bike race I run on Good Friday. The staff there are so great and the facility itself is beyond compare.

As always, our first stop was the School Fair building. I love it in there and this year, the LEGO competition was totally out of control!

School Fair
We went into Marritt Hall full of anticipation. Did our home canning entries make the cut? Sadly, neither Kim's jam nor my spaghetti sauce placed. It was a slight disappointment but I'm more motivated than ever to try again next year. As Samuel Beckett said, "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."
Dinner rush
At dinner, I had a most unexpected encounter. I was eating a bowl of chili (I tend to pig out at the Fair...) while I was waiting in line for fish & chips. "That looks good - where did you get it?" I looked up to find myself facing ex-mayor and current mayoral candidate Fred Eisenberger. I said hi, shook his hand and expressed my sympathies regarding the death of his mother earlier this week.

Before leaving, we made quick trips through both the demolition derby pits and the midway.

Demo pits

First midway ride ever!
Though I wasn't actually hungry anymore, I was expressly told not to leave without getting a particular Portuguese sausage on a bun. Ya, it was worth it!

Oh man this was good!

Friday, 19 September 2014

My First Cannon Street Ride!

At yesterday's Cable 14 debate, Toby, one of the other Ward 13 candidates, got a question from a citizen concerning the Cannon Street cycle track, which puzzled me a for a second because it really wasn't something I was expecting to come up in a debate ostensibly about Dundas.

It was a shame I didn't get the question because it would have been a really easy one to answer. I can't claim any credit for the project but I am vice-chair of the Hamilton Cycling Committee and we did lend our support to the Yes We Cannon campaign and we reviewed the detail design quite thoroughly as it was being developed.

I was also able to follow the installation of the cycle track at our meetings and from the many posts on Twitter, especially from the Raise the Hammer account.  In retrospect, that question might have worked out just fine since I got to hear about the project from an outside perspective.

Anyhow, I got tied up in a bunch of stuff this morning and didn't manage to get out of the house until after lunch. I was running some errands at University Plaza when I looked up at the sky and said to myself, "I need to go for a bike ride."

I hopped onto my old single-speed race bike and made my way out to the rail-trail. All of a sudden, a huge weight lifted from my shoulders, my breathing got deeper and a wide smile spread across my face. Bike rides will do that to you.

Studholme & Aberdeen leading to Glenside
I was so happy to see the new last bit of trail leading from Studholme to Glenside through the Chedoke golf course. This little stretch of pavement has been a major battle for Staff at the City and I'm pleased to report that it rides great!

I took Dundurn to Herkimer to Hess and coasted down to Cannon. There were tons of emergency vehicles everywhere and it looked like there was a very serious accident at Bay and York. Volume was really high on Hess but I didn't really expect to see such blatant disregard for the bike lane as what I've shown in this picture. The best part is that as I was Tweeting about this pic, a DARTS bus did the same exact thing.

I'm not trying to shame this driver - I just want to point out that there is still a lot of work left to do to with regards to education around all this fancy new paintwork. It's new to all of us - riders need help too.

Yes We Cannon!
I'm going to cut to the chase and tell you that the Cannon cycle track is amazing! It was busy with other riders and you really do feel safe there. I highly recommend that you try it if only to see the potential for more similar projects.

The Donut Box!
One of the best things about the Cannon Street track is that it practically dumps you right into the shiny new Tim Hortons Field. Wow is that place incredible! I absolutely love how the plaza opens right onto the field. I can hardly wait until the boy is old enough to sit through a game there!

GO @ James North
From there, I rode Cannon back to James and made my way to the GO station construction site. I'm happy to report that it looks great and there was a sizable crowd on the MacNab bridge watching all the action.

The Bay
From there, it was a short zip down to Bayfront and the Waterfront Trail. The picture says it all. #happyplace

Under the high-level bridge, I happened upon this odd little cart. Could it have been all the way from Waterdown?

Cormorant's Paradise
There were tons of cormorants in Coote's Paradise.

Westdale gem
As I made my way through Westdale back to Dundas, I stopped to take a good long look at this house. This is a great looking project and it is interesting to note that it's from the same architects that have done the basic work behind the new development in Dundas on Main across from Town Hall. You can see more here: http://dpai.ca/.

I really enjoyed my ride and it got me out to a whole bunch of stuff I'd really been meaning to visit. Beautiful day, beautiful ride!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cable 14 Debate

So today was the big Cable 14 debate for the candidates from Ward 13. I have a lot of experience at delivering presentations with the aid of PowerPoint slides but talking directly to a camera isn't something I've done very often.

I remember long ago I was asked to say good morning - in Mandarin - to a local morning show in Nanning, China.  "Ni Hao, Nanning!" Not so tough. Doing a two minute monologue and another one minute piece for the closing remarks was going to be something entirely different.

As Malcolm Gladwell is fond of reminding us, practice makes perfect. And so I practised, and practised. With a stopwatch at my side, I had it pretty much down.

I got to the Cable 14 studio on Dundurn a little early and Toby, Arlene and Danya were already there. Rick and Pamela showed up just a short while later. This really is a great group of people and the conversation was easy and fun. Curiously, none of the other three candidates made it.

The producer briefed us on how the debate would unfold and ushered us into the studio. The first thing we all noticed was how cool the room was but as soon as we sat under the lights, it made a lot more sense.

The host/moderator did her best to put us all at ease and before we knew it we were "on air". Technically, we were live to tape but as far as I was concerned I might as well have been speaking directly to the entire City.

We were seated alphabetically and we delivered our opening remarks accordingly. When my turn came, I dove in and and was able to deliver my prepared address as I'd hoped I could. I had a lot to say and I was glad to get it all out. I did get slightly thrown off by the 10 second warning but I wrapped it up with a smile.

After the opening remarks, we were asked questions we'd selected at random from a long list submitted by different agencies and the public. It was a Forrest Gump moment. You just don't know what you're gonna get...

As you might expect, there were some questions that were easier to answer than others. My first was regarding improving the relationship between the new and the old Wards in Hamilton, in the post-amalgamation context.

While I have a strong opinion on how Hamilton would benefit from greater solidarity, there was something in the way the question was phrased that made it difficult to get the momentum I would have liked with my answer. Never the less, I was still able to get in some good talking points about voting blocks on council and Ward boundaries.

My second question was a nice easy lob about how I would go about finding efficiency within the City. I was glad to have something right in my wheelhouse. I was able to go on "at length" (given the one minute time limit) about the 80/20 principle and the principles behind the Understand, Simplify, Act process we use at work to streamline and optimize just about everything.

Next came the open part of the debate where we were encouraged to ask each other questions. As you might expect from a room full of people from Dundas, there weren't very many sparks or jabs. It mostly resembled a friendly chat. In fact after the closing remarks and we were off the air, the moderator said it was the most friendly debate she'd ever hosted.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. It was a completely new experience for me and that's always a good thing. Ironically, we're on Bell and I don't get Cable 14 so I'm not sure I'll even get to see how I did. In a way, it doesn't really matter - I'm happy with how it went and I was able to say the things that were important to me.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Meta Post (Plus a Visit to the Ancaster Fair!)

It's been a big day here at campaign HQ. First, once we got the boy safely delivered to preschool, we set about erecting my one and only campaign sign.

You look familiar!
That picture might not have been taken in the best light but trust me, it looks great! We'll have to wait and see how it does on really windy days but I can always take it down temporarily if things are looking especially stormy. So with that, I consider my campaign office officially open, not that it really wasn't prior to the sign.

In other news, yesterday, our current Councillor Russ Powers officially endorsed Brad Clark for Mayor. I've discussed endorsements before and again, reaction on-line and in the press to this one was mixed. Some thought it added a certain momentum for Brad in Dundas. Some thought it was a non-event. Yet others, like me, found it a bit odd that a Liberal party member would endorse a Conservative party member. One is left to wonder where they find common ground as you might expect their personal philosophies not to line up so well. Curious.

Speaking of things that I've discussed in previous posts to this blog, I took a bit of time to update my website to collect the posts that cover some of the more pressing issues in this election. It turns out I've talked about all sorts of things in the last few months! It should serve as a handy reference to any visitors that want to delve more deeply into the things that matter most to them. 

One of the people I talked to while I was out canvassing yesterday remarked that it would be nice if there were some sort of chart that summarized what each of the candidates in Dundas thought about each issue. I thought it was a great idea so I consider this updated page my contribution to that effort: http://marcrisdale.ca/dundas-2020-a-vision/

Finally, we went out to the Ancaster Fairgrounds this afternoon to submit our entries to the home canning competition. The doors opened at 2PM and as of 3PM, there were already two jars in the chute for Spaghetti Sauce - No Meat. Kim had it slightly easier (so far at least) with no other competitors for Jam - Two Fruit Named. I can hardly wait to see the results on Saturday!

Godspeed little jar!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Back Out On The Street

I hadn't been out pounding the pavement since the Thursday before Labour Day. Between preparing and printing my second round of campaign material, writing my Op/Ed pieces for the Spec and Bay Observer, sick days and wasp stings, there just wasn't any time!

Today, after sending out the above mentioned articles for publication, I loaded up a tote with my new rack cards and hit the road. It's hard to believe it's been nearly two months since the start of my first Big Walk.

Remember these?
It turns out that I really missed canvassing! The first round was great exercise too. I'm not a very big person to begin with but I've had to start wearing my belt one notch tighter this month. Wow!

It was such a glorious September day that the walk really was fun. The first people I ran into just happened to be the very first people I met when I did my first round of canvassing. They were out building a garden shed so we had some fun making by-law jokes. Municipal humour, who knew?

From a purely technical point of view, the rack cards generally suit people's enormous mailboxes better than my original postcards, which would get sort of swallowed up by some of the deep vertical models.

General election awareness is also much better two months on - partly because of the circus going on in Toronto and partly because coverage is getting more intense with only six weeks to go. People have a much less quizzical look on their faces as I walk up the driveway.

General confusion about why I'd be out campaigning in the sun and the heat has been replaced with a genuine desire to learn more and ask some tough questions. I wouldn't trade my first round of canvassing for anything though. I learned a lot about myself and about Dundas in that time. It was invaluable.

They say that elections aren't won from behind a desk and it was great to finally get back out there today!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Field of Dreams

Aside from the trail building we do at Christie Lake, we've been working very hard to bring Hamilton's first pump track to the park. We have Trillium funding in place and we have the approval of the Conservation Authority. Good as gold, right?

Not so fast!

There are few contractors that are qualified to do this kind of work and they are a busy bunch! It seems that municipalities all across Canada are eager to build bike parks such as the new Sunnyside park in Toronto (see it here) and they're flooding the industry with projects.

This is a pump track
Keep in mind that Sunnyside was a half-million dollar mega project. It really got people talking. My project is somewhat smaller and I've been having on-again/off-again relationships with a couple of different builders for the last two years. People are just too darn busy to even come visit our little empty field at Christie Lake.

That is, until today. Someone was finally able to make some time in this shoulder season to come up and do a site visit and invest some time chatting with the Superintendent. We took some measurements (my first time surveying!) and sketched out some ideas. My hope is that we can do something fun this fall within my modest budget.

In any event, it was very encouraging and we got it all done before the rain started. 

As we stood there taking our readings, a number of riders rolled by. This was in the middle of the afternoon! As the saying goes, build it and they will come!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tales Told

Feeling slightly groggy from all the Supercrawling the night before, we pancaked our way out of the house this morning in time to greet our visitors from Brantford up at Christie Lake. Apparently, our work with the Hamilton Conservation Authority is starting to generate some interest from neighbouring municipalities. I couldn't be more pleased!

The Brant Cycling Club had asked us (the Hamilton Cycling Club) to conduct a mini trail building school this morning to get them all up to speed on proper trail design and building concepts and techniques. We were more than happy to oblige.

Brant groms
After a quick parking lot wardrobe change, we were off to Telling Tales at Westfield Heritage Village. This is Southern Ontario's preeminent kid-lit festival and it was grand. We got there just around lunch time and enjoyed a delicious meal at the Ironwood Café (glacially slow service but worth the wait - get the cherry chocolate bundt cake, seriously).

If I could summarize the festival in one word, it would be crazy. Check out the scene at the gate.

This is the line-up for french-fries
Of course, there are tons of amazing things to see and do. Soon after lunch, we made our way past the book sale and just "happened" upon Dennis Lee, author of the seminal poetry collection Alligator Pie. My wife Kim was agog. She introduced herself and thanked him for the joy he'd brought her and our son. It was a "moment".

After that, we dove straight into the best of what the festival had to offer.

HPL puppet show
HPL Bookmobile
Indian village happiness.
It's been quite a weekend and I am suitably bushed. Good night and here's to a weekend well spent!

Ivor the engine driver