DRESCHEL: Welcome to Feasibility City

Opinion Jun 23, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Given that feasibility studies are the flavour of the month at city hall, perhaps Hamilton should change its motto from The Ambitious City to Feasibility City. At least for the summer.

In case you missed it, council this week directed staff to report back on four new ideas, with barely a passing thought to the backlog of outstanding business items already groaning on staff's plate.

By my count, the general issues committee alone has more than 30 items stacked up on its to-do list for staff, and that's just one of six standing committees of council.

But it seems our elected officials just can't stop ringing the work bell for others.

Certainly Sam Merulla's motion to establish beach crawls to promote Hamilton's overlooked Lake Ontario beaches got a warmer welcome from his colleagues than swimmers will get from the lake's waters.

But it's now up to staff to co-ordinate events with artists and food trucks so people will forget outdated images of dead smelts washing up on the shore and get out there and frolic in the sand and surf.

Weighing in with his own sunny idea, Aidan Johnson suggested closing the landmark McQuesten high level bridge to traffic for an evening so the city can host a community picnic.

The idea originated in 2013 with Patrick Bermingham, former CEO of Bermingham Foundation Solutions. Johnson dusted it off and got council's backing for a feasibility report so people can enjoy "picturesque views" of the harbour, swans, skyline, and Cootes Paradise.

No word on how traffic which flows over the bridge connecting York Boulevard to Burlington's Plains Rd. W. would be redirected. That's for staff to noodle out, presumably in between sweating over traffic displacements from LRT.

Matthew Green also won council's support for a feasibility study on live streaming the Tragically Hip's final concert at Gage Park or another city-owned venue, if Mother Corp agrees to share the broadcast, that is.

If you're wondering why people might be willing to pay or make a donation for something they could watch free on TV, I guess you're not public-spirited enough. Green sold the idea as a community happening and all council bought into it, excepting Donna Skelly who objected to using city resources.

'Tis the season for both brain waves and heat waves, I suppose.

Speaking of seasons, Mayor Fred Eisenberger easily got council's support for staff to develop a governance model for a Community Climate Change Action Plan Implementation Team.

Hopefully staff's first step will be coming up with a new name that doesn't put people to beddy-bye.

The idea is to partner with Burlington to access some of the tantalizing federal ($2 billion) and provincial ($325 million) funding available for projects that kick climate change in the nuts and bolts.

There's something to be said for all these ideas, of course, including the fact some are worthier and easier to study and implement that others.

But there's also something to be said for staff's forbearance. Yes, it's their job. Yes, they get paid for it. But no matter how much work gets piled on, senior staffers usually remain stoically poker-faced, be the ideas weighty or frivolous. Only on rare occasions does a hint of frustration show through.

It's not easy to forget the bland obstinacy once demonstrated by public works general manager Gerry Davis when councillors tried to pressure him into agreeing staff could build a civic gateway sign instead of farming it out to a contractor for $230,000.

Davis didn't budge. He insisted staff didn't have the ability to fabricate and assemble such a sign. It never did get built. Just as well given that public works currently has 17 other outstanding items to tackle.

From lighting on the Red Hill and Linc to a pedestrian bridge on Wentworth Street, the demand for reviews, reports and studies never stops. The message here is even if councillors don't have better things to do, staff always does.

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

DRESCHEL: Welcome to Feasibility City

Opinion Jun 23, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Given that feasibility studies are the flavour of the month at city hall, perhaps Hamilton should change its motto from The Ambitious City to Feasibility City. At least for the summer.

In case you missed it, council this week directed staff to report back on four new ideas, with barely a passing thought to the backlog of outstanding business items already groaning on staff's plate.

By my count, the general issues committee alone has more than 30 items stacked up on its to-do list for staff, and that's just one of six standing committees of council.

But it seems our elected officials just can't stop ringing the work bell for others.

Certainly Sam Merulla's motion to establish beach crawls to promote Hamilton's overlooked Lake Ontario beaches got a warmer welcome from his colleagues than swimmers will get from the lake's waters.

But it's now up to staff to co-ordinate events with artists and food trucks so people will forget outdated images of dead smelts washing up on the shore and get out there and frolic in the sand and surf.

Weighing in with his own sunny idea, Aidan Johnson suggested closing the landmark McQuesten high level bridge to traffic for an evening so the city can host a community picnic.

The idea originated in 2013 with Patrick Bermingham, former CEO of Bermingham Foundation Solutions. Johnson dusted it off and got council's backing for a feasibility report so people can enjoy "picturesque views" of the harbour, swans, skyline, and Cootes Paradise.

No word on how traffic which flows over the bridge connecting York Boulevard to Burlington's Plains Rd. W. would be redirected. That's for staff to noodle out, presumably in between sweating over traffic displacements from LRT.

Matthew Green also won council's support for a feasibility study on live streaming the Tragically Hip's final concert at Gage Park or another city-owned venue, if Mother Corp agrees to share the broadcast, that is.

If you're wondering why people might be willing to pay or make a donation for something they could watch free on TV, I guess you're not public-spirited enough. Green sold the idea as a community happening and all council bought into it, excepting Donna Skelly who objected to using city resources.

'Tis the season for both brain waves and heat waves, I suppose.

Speaking of seasons, Mayor Fred Eisenberger easily got council's support for staff to develop a governance model for a Community Climate Change Action Plan Implementation Team.

Hopefully staff's first step will be coming up with a new name that doesn't put people to beddy-bye.

The idea is to partner with Burlington to access some of the tantalizing federal ($2 billion) and provincial ($325 million) funding available for projects that kick climate change in the nuts and bolts.

There's something to be said for all these ideas, of course, including the fact some are worthier and easier to study and implement that others.

But there's also something to be said for staff's forbearance. Yes, it's their job. Yes, they get paid for it. But no matter how much work gets piled on, senior staffers usually remain stoically poker-faced, be the ideas weighty or frivolous. Only on rare occasions does a hint of frustration show through.

It's not easy to forget the bland obstinacy once demonstrated by public works general manager Gerry Davis when councillors tried to pressure him into agreeing staff could build a civic gateway sign instead of farming it out to a contractor for $230,000.

Davis didn't budge. He insisted staff didn't have the ability to fabricate and assemble such a sign. It never did get built. Just as well given that public works currently has 17 other outstanding items to tackle.

From lighting on the Red Hill and Linc to a pedestrian bridge on Wentworth Street, the demand for reviews, reports and studies never stops. The message here is even if councillors don't have better things to do, staff always does.

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

DRESCHEL: Welcome to Feasibility City

Opinion Jun 23, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Given that feasibility studies are the flavour of the month at city hall, perhaps Hamilton should change its motto from The Ambitious City to Feasibility City. At least for the summer.

In case you missed it, council this week directed staff to report back on four new ideas, with barely a passing thought to the backlog of outstanding business items already groaning on staff's plate.

By my count, the general issues committee alone has more than 30 items stacked up on its to-do list for staff, and that's just one of six standing committees of council.

But it seems our elected officials just can't stop ringing the work bell for others.

Certainly Sam Merulla's motion to establish beach crawls to promote Hamilton's overlooked Lake Ontario beaches got a warmer welcome from his colleagues than swimmers will get from the lake's waters.

But it's now up to staff to co-ordinate events with artists and food trucks so people will forget outdated images of dead smelts washing up on the shore and get out there and frolic in the sand and surf.

Weighing in with his own sunny idea, Aidan Johnson suggested closing the landmark McQuesten high level bridge to traffic for an evening so the city can host a community picnic.

The idea originated in 2013 with Patrick Bermingham, former CEO of Bermingham Foundation Solutions. Johnson dusted it off and got council's backing for a feasibility report so people can enjoy "picturesque views" of the harbour, swans, skyline, and Cootes Paradise.

No word on how traffic which flows over the bridge connecting York Boulevard to Burlington's Plains Rd. W. would be redirected. That's for staff to noodle out, presumably in between sweating over traffic displacements from LRT.

Matthew Green also won council's support for a feasibility study on live streaming the Tragically Hip's final concert at Gage Park or another city-owned venue, if Mother Corp agrees to share the broadcast, that is.

If you're wondering why people might be willing to pay or make a donation for something they could watch free on TV, I guess you're not public-spirited enough. Green sold the idea as a community happening and all council bought into it, excepting Donna Skelly who objected to using city resources.

'Tis the season for both brain waves and heat waves, I suppose.

Speaking of seasons, Mayor Fred Eisenberger easily got council's support for staff to develop a governance model for a Community Climate Change Action Plan Implementation Team.

Hopefully staff's first step will be coming up with a new name that doesn't put people to beddy-bye.

The idea is to partner with Burlington to access some of the tantalizing federal ($2 billion) and provincial ($325 million) funding available for projects that kick climate change in the nuts and bolts.

There's something to be said for all these ideas, of course, including the fact some are worthier and easier to study and implement that others.

But there's also something to be said for staff's forbearance. Yes, it's their job. Yes, they get paid for it. But no matter how much work gets piled on, senior staffers usually remain stoically poker-faced, be the ideas weighty or frivolous. Only on rare occasions does a hint of frustration show through.

It's not easy to forget the bland obstinacy once demonstrated by public works general manager Gerry Davis when councillors tried to pressure him into agreeing staff could build a civic gateway sign instead of farming it out to a contractor for $230,000.

Davis didn't budge. He insisted staff didn't have the ability to fabricate and assemble such a sign. It never did get built. Just as well given that public works currently has 17 other outstanding items to tackle.

From lighting on the Red Hill and Linc to a pedestrian bridge on Wentworth Street, the demand for reviews, reports and studies never stops. The message here is even if councillors don't have better things to do, staff always does.

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel