Di Ianni ready to tackle 2006

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

As the 2006 municipal election looms on the political horizon, Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni is looking to strengthen the city's economic development department and reform council's governance structure.

In the wake of the decision by Maple Leaf Foods to pull out of a deal to purchase about 50 acres of land in the city's North Glanbrook Industrial Park to construct a $250-million pork processing facility, Di Ianni believes it has become apparent changes need to occur with how the economic development staff operate.

The mayor acknowledged during a year-end interview that city officials could have better handled the issues surrounding Maple Leaf Foods' land purchase. The issue only highlights Hamilton's lack of a strong economic development footprint in the community. Di Ianni points to other municipalities, such as Brampton and Burlington, where an independent, fully-funded economic development strategy to proactively attract companies to the city has been created.

Di Ianni said he has been considering creating an economic development structure that mirrors the operations of Tourism Hamilton. Tourism Hamilton was re-created by council where city officials, and private industry representatives work together on an arms-length board providing direction and policy to the city's tourism representatives. The idea is for Tourism Hamilton to become self-sufficient.

"We need a strong staff surrounded by industry people knowledgeable about what the issues are," said Di Ianni. "I've been giving some thought to this."

The fallout from the Maple Leaf Foods decision also created the perception within the area's business community that maybe the city isn't business-friendly.

It's a perception that needs to change quickly, said Di Ianni, before perception becomes reality.

He's concerned that Via Rail could become the next Maple Leaf Foods fiasco. Via Rail has indicated it is interested in locating a new rail station in Hamilton.

A few Hamiltonians, including Councillor Bob Bratina, have been championing the LIUNA station location as the only one Via should consider. But Di Ianni, who suggested Hamilton East may be a better location, says the community should be working with Via officials on what they want, rather than dictating terms to them.

"We will drive them away like we did Maple Leaf Foods," he said. "We need to be broader in what we offer Via."

Compounding the Maple Leaf Foods decision in 2005, is the number of companies that have left the city over the last couple of years, resulting in about 1,500 lost jobs.

Equally discouraging was the city losing out to Halifax in the 2014 Commonwealth Games Canada bid earlier this month. Winning the bid would have meant about $1 billion injected into the local economy, he says.

Still, Di Ianni sees a silver lining in Hamilton's dark clouds. And, he points out, they were prevalent in 2005.

He praises the creation of the McMaster University Innovation Park, which will be a solid foundation for the city's economy in years to come. The park is expected to welcome its first tenant in 2006: Can-Met, an Ottawa-area research facility that is expected to begin moving into the Longwood Drive facility.

There have also been significant changes happening in the city's downtown core, a key priority for Di Ianni's plan to revive Hamilton. Even though the Lister Block development has languished, he expects "some movement" to begin for the prized building in 2006, along with the residential development of the Royal Connaught.

There are also redevelopment plans in store for the Kit Kat building; Gore Park is being revitalized; there was much praise for the unveiling of the Hamilton Art Gallery renovations; the construction of the Chteau Royal was a welcome addition to the city's downtown streetscape and slowly James Street North is being transformed into an artists' enclave.

"We have a momentum that is good," he said.

Other evidence Di Ianni cites for Hamilton's slow, but steady economic progress includes more businesses settling in Stoney Creek, especially along the industrial corridor on the South Service Road, the burgeoning success of Stackpole in the Ancaster Industrial Park and Air Canada and Westjet adding flights to the Hamilton International Airport.

The city is also re-organizing its future with the Setting Sail waterfront plan, and the development of the Aerotropolis idea, which Di Ianni says the city and the province are close to reaching an agreement on to prevent an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.

Other positive developments Di Ianni points to is the development of the waterfront and Pier 8 and shepherding the creation of the Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy, which will identify how Hamilton will grow over the next 30 years.

But the biggest boost to the city's faltering economic image was the salvage effort of Stelco. After 18 months of grueling negotiations, Stelco is on the verge of lifting itself out of bankruptcy protection. There has also been the chase by international steel companies to capture the economically viable Dofasco.

"It is greatly managed, with great leaders," said Di Ianni. "Both these companies are anchors to this community."

Other changes Di Ianni is reviewing is how council operates.

Again, it was the lessons learned from the Maple Leaf Foods process, among other issues, that has provoked the mayor into examining how the city's political process can be streamlined and used for the benefit of the whole community.

He has been eyeing the recommendations contained in the provincial government's City of Toronto Act, which includes a section on creating a mayor-led council structure.

Hamilton City Manager Glen Peace is currently putting the finishing touches on a draft plan to reform the city's governance model. It should be ready for council's review in the new year.

"It would be a council led by the mayor," said Di Ianni.

The idea would be that all councillors would debate a particular issue. But once the discussion is completed and the democratic vote taken, then "everybody would be behind the issue."

Currently, what happens, says Di Ianni, is even after the vote is taken, some councillors hinder the implementation of the policy.

This past year, said Di Ianni, has highlighted a problem where some councillors, who do not accept how the vote is taken, "undermine and backstab" the issues.

"We need a strong council debate," he said. "But once the democratic vote is taken, everybody should be behind it."

Di Ianni acknowledges he accepts the customary push and pull of councillors' needs and his agenda over the last two years.

"This is just what councils are since I've been on them," he says. But he adds, there are other forces at work.

And to his chagrin there are some councillors he does not get along with very well.

"It's regretful," he says. "I don't want that, I don't like it."

The political reality is, he says, there are some councillors who are unduly influenced by external groups and people who are working "against the city," he said.

"There is a larger political game going on. They tell (the councillors) what they should do, and they do it. It's unfortunate."

The other bugaboo that has dogged Di Ianni during his mayoral tenure is the de-amalgamation forces within the community.

He continues to find their arguments wasted upon Hamilton council, since the issue is now a provincial jurisdiction.

Di Ianni continues to "build good communities" within the whole city of Hamilton, and says progress has been made with lower taxes and increasing services to the suburban areas.

"I'm trying as hard as I can to be inclusive in the decision-making process," he says. "I'm not going to fight the old battles.

"Amalgamation is not a battle I can or should be fighting. There are grievances in the old city too.

"Some people will never be happy in what you address."

In an election year, where Hamilton's political forces start to coalesce, Di Ianni says he will make a decision in a few months about whether or not he will seek another term.

"One term isn't enough to accomplish what has to be accomplished," he said.

Di Ianni has been involved in Hamilton politics for over 23 years, and still sees plenty to be done.

"There is lots of work to be done. I want to consolidate those things that we started."

He will discuss his political future with his family, which is the best judge to decide what is right for Di Ianni.

"I'm open to frank discussions with my family. Their considerations are always the most important to me."

He is confident his programs have met with a majority of support from the community, and there are indications his plans for Hamilton's future resonates among residents.

"I think people have appreciated what has happened to Hamilton over the last few years," he said. "Residents have told me there is a buzz in the air.

"I'm not a good judge of my accomplishments.

"All I know is I have never worked harder, or have been totally immersed in a job than being the mayor of Hamilton."

Di Ianni ready to tackle 2006

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

As the 2006 municipal election looms on the political horizon, Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni is looking to strengthen the city's economic development department and reform council's governance structure.

In the wake of the decision by Maple Leaf Foods to pull out of a deal to purchase about 50 acres of land in the city's North Glanbrook Industrial Park to construct a $250-million pork processing facility, Di Ianni believes it has become apparent changes need to occur with how the economic development staff operate.

The mayor acknowledged during a year-end interview that city officials could have better handled the issues surrounding Maple Leaf Foods' land purchase. The issue only highlights Hamilton's lack of a strong economic development footprint in the community. Di Ianni points to other municipalities, such as Brampton and Burlington, where an independent, fully-funded economic development strategy to proactively attract companies to the city has been created.

Di Ianni said he has been considering creating an economic development structure that mirrors the operations of Tourism Hamilton. Tourism Hamilton was re-created by council where city officials, and private industry representatives work together on an arms-length board providing direction and policy to the city's tourism representatives. The idea is for Tourism Hamilton to become self-sufficient.

"We need a strong staff surrounded by industry people knowledgeable about what the issues are," said Di Ianni. "I've been giving some thought to this."

The fallout from the Maple Leaf Foods decision also created the perception within the area's business community that maybe the city isn't business-friendly.

It's a perception that needs to change quickly, said Di Ianni, before perception becomes reality.

He's concerned that Via Rail could become the next Maple Leaf Foods fiasco. Via Rail has indicated it is interested in locating a new rail station in Hamilton.

A few Hamiltonians, including Councillor Bob Bratina, have been championing the LIUNA station location as the only one Via should consider. But Di Ianni, who suggested Hamilton East may be a better location, says the community should be working with Via officials on what they want, rather than dictating terms to them.

"We will drive them away like we did Maple Leaf Foods," he said. "We need to be broader in what we offer Via."

Compounding the Maple Leaf Foods decision in 2005, is the number of companies that have left the city over the last couple of years, resulting in about 1,500 lost jobs.

Equally discouraging was the city losing out to Halifax in the 2014 Commonwealth Games Canada bid earlier this month. Winning the bid would have meant about $1 billion injected into the local economy, he says.

Still, Di Ianni sees a silver lining in Hamilton's dark clouds. And, he points out, they were prevalent in 2005.

He praises the creation of the McMaster University Innovation Park, which will be a solid foundation for the city's economy in years to come. The park is expected to welcome its first tenant in 2006: Can-Met, an Ottawa-area research facility that is expected to begin moving into the Longwood Drive facility.

There have also been significant changes happening in the city's downtown core, a key priority for Di Ianni's plan to revive Hamilton. Even though the Lister Block development has languished, he expects "some movement" to begin for the prized building in 2006, along with the residential development of the Royal Connaught.

There are also redevelopment plans in store for the Kit Kat building; Gore Park is being revitalized; there was much praise for the unveiling of the Hamilton Art Gallery renovations; the construction of the Chteau Royal was a welcome addition to the city's downtown streetscape and slowly James Street North is being transformed into an artists' enclave.

"We have a momentum that is good," he said.

Other evidence Di Ianni cites for Hamilton's slow, but steady economic progress includes more businesses settling in Stoney Creek, especially along the industrial corridor on the South Service Road, the burgeoning success of Stackpole in the Ancaster Industrial Park and Air Canada and Westjet adding flights to the Hamilton International Airport.

The city is also re-organizing its future with the Setting Sail waterfront plan, and the development of the Aerotropolis idea, which Di Ianni says the city and the province are close to reaching an agreement on to prevent an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.

Other positive developments Di Ianni points to is the development of the waterfront and Pier 8 and shepherding the creation of the Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy, which will identify how Hamilton will grow over the next 30 years.

But the biggest boost to the city's faltering economic image was the salvage effort of Stelco. After 18 months of grueling negotiations, Stelco is on the verge of lifting itself out of bankruptcy protection. There has also been the chase by international steel companies to capture the economically viable Dofasco.

"It is greatly managed, with great leaders," said Di Ianni. "Both these companies are anchors to this community."

Other changes Di Ianni is reviewing is how council operates.

Again, it was the lessons learned from the Maple Leaf Foods process, among other issues, that has provoked the mayor into examining how the city's political process can be streamlined and used for the benefit of the whole community.

He has been eyeing the recommendations contained in the provincial government's City of Toronto Act, which includes a section on creating a mayor-led council structure.

Hamilton City Manager Glen Peace is currently putting the finishing touches on a draft plan to reform the city's governance model. It should be ready for council's review in the new year.

"It would be a council led by the mayor," said Di Ianni.

The idea would be that all councillors would debate a particular issue. But once the discussion is completed and the democratic vote taken, then "everybody would be behind the issue."

Currently, what happens, says Di Ianni, is even after the vote is taken, some councillors hinder the implementation of the policy.

This past year, said Di Ianni, has highlighted a problem where some councillors, who do not accept how the vote is taken, "undermine and backstab" the issues.

"We need a strong council debate," he said. "But once the democratic vote is taken, everybody should be behind it."

Di Ianni acknowledges he accepts the customary push and pull of councillors' needs and his agenda over the last two years.

"This is just what councils are since I've been on them," he says. But he adds, there are other forces at work.

And to his chagrin there are some councillors he does not get along with very well.

"It's regretful," he says. "I don't want that, I don't like it."

The political reality is, he says, there are some councillors who are unduly influenced by external groups and people who are working "against the city," he said.

"There is a larger political game going on. They tell (the councillors) what they should do, and they do it. It's unfortunate."

The other bugaboo that has dogged Di Ianni during his mayoral tenure is the de-amalgamation forces within the community.

He continues to find their arguments wasted upon Hamilton council, since the issue is now a provincial jurisdiction.

Di Ianni continues to "build good communities" within the whole city of Hamilton, and says progress has been made with lower taxes and increasing services to the suburban areas.

"I'm trying as hard as I can to be inclusive in the decision-making process," he says. "I'm not going to fight the old battles.

"Amalgamation is not a battle I can or should be fighting. There are grievances in the old city too.

"Some people will never be happy in what you address."

In an election year, where Hamilton's political forces start to coalesce, Di Ianni says he will make a decision in a few months about whether or not he will seek another term.

"One term isn't enough to accomplish what has to be accomplished," he said.

Di Ianni has been involved in Hamilton politics for over 23 years, and still sees plenty to be done.

"There is lots of work to be done. I want to consolidate those things that we started."

He will discuss his political future with his family, which is the best judge to decide what is right for Di Ianni.

"I'm open to frank discussions with my family. Their considerations are always the most important to me."

He is confident his programs have met with a majority of support from the community, and there are indications his plans for Hamilton's future resonates among residents.

"I think people have appreciated what has happened to Hamilton over the last few years," he said. "Residents have told me there is a buzz in the air.

"I'm not a good judge of my accomplishments.

"All I know is I have never worked harder, or have been totally immersed in a job than being the mayor of Hamilton."

Di Ianni ready to tackle 2006

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

As the 2006 municipal election looms on the political horizon, Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni is looking to strengthen the city's economic development department and reform council's governance structure.

In the wake of the decision by Maple Leaf Foods to pull out of a deal to purchase about 50 acres of land in the city's North Glanbrook Industrial Park to construct a $250-million pork processing facility, Di Ianni believes it has become apparent changes need to occur with how the economic development staff operate.

The mayor acknowledged during a year-end interview that city officials could have better handled the issues surrounding Maple Leaf Foods' land purchase. The issue only highlights Hamilton's lack of a strong economic development footprint in the community. Di Ianni points to other municipalities, such as Brampton and Burlington, where an independent, fully-funded economic development strategy to proactively attract companies to the city has been created.

Di Ianni said he has been considering creating an economic development structure that mirrors the operations of Tourism Hamilton. Tourism Hamilton was re-created by council where city officials, and private industry representatives work together on an arms-length board providing direction and policy to the city's tourism representatives. The idea is for Tourism Hamilton to become self-sufficient.

"We need a strong staff surrounded by industry people knowledgeable about what the issues are," said Di Ianni. "I've been giving some thought to this."

The fallout from the Maple Leaf Foods decision also created the perception within the area's business community that maybe the city isn't business-friendly.

It's a perception that needs to change quickly, said Di Ianni, before perception becomes reality.

He's concerned that Via Rail could become the next Maple Leaf Foods fiasco. Via Rail has indicated it is interested in locating a new rail station in Hamilton.

A few Hamiltonians, including Councillor Bob Bratina, have been championing the LIUNA station location as the only one Via should consider. But Di Ianni, who suggested Hamilton East may be a better location, says the community should be working with Via officials on what they want, rather than dictating terms to them.

"We will drive them away like we did Maple Leaf Foods," he said. "We need to be broader in what we offer Via."

Compounding the Maple Leaf Foods decision in 2005, is the number of companies that have left the city over the last couple of years, resulting in about 1,500 lost jobs.

Equally discouraging was the city losing out to Halifax in the 2014 Commonwealth Games Canada bid earlier this month. Winning the bid would have meant about $1 billion injected into the local economy, he says.

Still, Di Ianni sees a silver lining in Hamilton's dark clouds. And, he points out, they were prevalent in 2005.

He praises the creation of the McMaster University Innovation Park, which will be a solid foundation for the city's economy in years to come. The park is expected to welcome its first tenant in 2006: Can-Met, an Ottawa-area research facility that is expected to begin moving into the Longwood Drive facility.

There have also been significant changes happening in the city's downtown core, a key priority for Di Ianni's plan to revive Hamilton. Even though the Lister Block development has languished, he expects "some movement" to begin for the prized building in 2006, along with the residential development of the Royal Connaught.

There are also redevelopment plans in store for the Kit Kat building; Gore Park is being revitalized; there was much praise for the unveiling of the Hamilton Art Gallery renovations; the construction of the Chteau Royal was a welcome addition to the city's downtown streetscape and slowly James Street North is being transformed into an artists' enclave.

"We have a momentum that is good," he said.

Other evidence Di Ianni cites for Hamilton's slow, but steady economic progress includes more businesses settling in Stoney Creek, especially along the industrial corridor on the South Service Road, the burgeoning success of Stackpole in the Ancaster Industrial Park and Air Canada and Westjet adding flights to the Hamilton International Airport.

The city is also re-organizing its future with the Setting Sail waterfront plan, and the development of the Aerotropolis idea, which Di Ianni says the city and the province are close to reaching an agreement on to prevent an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.

Other positive developments Di Ianni points to is the development of the waterfront and Pier 8 and shepherding the creation of the Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy, which will identify how Hamilton will grow over the next 30 years.

But the biggest boost to the city's faltering economic image was the salvage effort of Stelco. After 18 months of grueling negotiations, Stelco is on the verge of lifting itself out of bankruptcy protection. There has also been the chase by international steel companies to capture the economically viable Dofasco.

"It is greatly managed, with great leaders," said Di Ianni. "Both these companies are anchors to this community."

Other changes Di Ianni is reviewing is how council operates.

Again, it was the lessons learned from the Maple Leaf Foods process, among other issues, that has provoked the mayor into examining how the city's political process can be streamlined and used for the benefit of the whole community.

He has been eyeing the recommendations contained in the provincial government's City of Toronto Act, which includes a section on creating a mayor-led council structure.

Hamilton City Manager Glen Peace is currently putting the finishing touches on a draft plan to reform the city's governance model. It should be ready for council's review in the new year.

"It would be a council led by the mayor," said Di Ianni.

The idea would be that all councillors would debate a particular issue. But once the discussion is completed and the democratic vote taken, then "everybody would be behind the issue."

Currently, what happens, says Di Ianni, is even after the vote is taken, some councillors hinder the implementation of the policy.

This past year, said Di Ianni, has highlighted a problem where some councillors, who do not accept how the vote is taken, "undermine and backstab" the issues.

"We need a strong council debate," he said. "But once the democratic vote is taken, everybody should be behind it."

Di Ianni acknowledges he accepts the customary push and pull of councillors' needs and his agenda over the last two years.

"This is just what councils are since I've been on them," he says. But he adds, there are other forces at work.

And to his chagrin there are some councillors he does not get along with very well.

"It's regretful," he says. "I don't want that, I don't like it."

The political reality is, he says, there are some councillors who are unduly influenced by external groups and people who are working "against the city," he said.

"There is a larger political game going on. They tell (the councillors) what they should do, and they do it. It's unfortunate."

The other bugaboo that has dogged Di Ianni during his mayoral tenure is the de-amalgamation forces within the community.

He continues to find their arguments wasted upon Hamilton council, since the issue is now a provincial jurisdiction.

Di Ianni continues to "build good communities" within the whole city of Hamilton, and says progress has been made with lower taxes and increasing services to the suburban areas.

"I'm trying as hard as I can to be inclusive in the decision-making process," he says. "I'm not going to fight the old battles.

"Amalgamation is not a battle I can or should be fighting. There are grievances in the old city too.

"Some people will never be happy in what you address."

In an election year, where Hamilton's political forces start to coalesce, Di Ianni says he will make a decision in a few months about whether or not he will seek another term.

"One term isn't enough to accomplish what has to be accomplished," he said.

Di Ianni has been involved in Hamilton politics for over 23 years, and still sees plenty to be done.

"There is lots of work to be done. I want to consolidate those things that we started."

He will discuss his political future with his family, which is the best judge to decide what is right for Di Ianni.

"I'm open to frank discussions with my family. Their considerations are always the most important to me."

He is confident his programs have met with a majority of support from the community, and there are indications his plans for Hamilton's future resonates among residents.

"I think people have appreciated what has happened to Hamilton over the last few years," he said. "Residents have told me there is a buzz in the air.

"I'm not a good judge of my accomplishments.

"All I know is I have never worked harder, or have been totally immersed in a job than being the mayor of Hamilton."