5 biggest news stories in Hamilton in 2023

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Published December 20, 2023 at 5:50 pm

hamilton votes down vacant unit tax

As 2023 draws to a close, it’s important to take a look back at the biggest news stories of the year.

Number 5: Green Day plays the Grey Cup

One of punk rock’s most influential bands proved a huge get for the 110th Grey Cup halftime show. “You better be ready because we’re about to turn the Grey Cup green and into the loudest f****** night in CFL history,” the band exclaimed after the announcement.

Formed in 1986, Green Day is credited with sparking the Pop-punk revolution in the genre with their 1994 record Dookie. Despite a slow start, Dookie, would go on to sell 20 million copies, win the Best Alternative Album Grammy and be ranked as the 374th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone.

After the blockbuster success of Dookie, the band fell into a bit of a rut. However, they bounced back in 2004 with the epic rock opera American Idiot, ranked as the 248th greatest record by Rolling Stone. The band would play hits from both records at the Grey Cup. 

Number 4: The death of a police officer

“We have suffered an immense loss. To our members, please lean on and take care of each other,” the Hamilton police association wrote on Twitter after an officer died in an “incident” at police HQ.

The officer died on Sept. 27 though it’s unclear if he was on duty at the time. Police did not share the cause of death, or identify the officer at first. However, it was later learned Cst. Greg Mills, a 20-year veteran of the service, took his own life.

“We stand proudly to remember the courageous officers who have given their lives to protect and serve,” the force wrote, “Today reminds us that behind every badge, there is a hero’s story, and behind every uniform, there is a family’s sacrifice. We pause to reflect on the dedication, bravery, and selflessness of our law enforcement officers. They are the true guardians of our communities, and their memory lives on in our hearts.”

Number 3: Toronto developer scoops up downtown properties for $14 million

A Toronto-based development firm bought up several large lots in Hamilton in the fall. Together Lamb Development Corp. purchased 73, 84, 89 and 91 Hunter St. Collectively these lands are larger than a football field in the middle of downtown.

The properties were all parking lots when they were bought, but Lamb has not disclosed what they plan for them

Number 2: Vacant homes demolished for 126-unit affordable housing project

In December, the city decided it would demolish 15 vacant homes to make room for a 126-unit affordable apartment building. The tenants of the 15 homes had earlier been relocated by Hamilton East Kiwanis Non-Profit Homes.

By the time of the decision, the homes remained empty which prompted safety concerns and added security costs. Kiwanis already had permission for their new development plan to develop 1540 Upper Wentworth St with the new eight-storey building. The city simply expedited the demolition permit to get the project moving faster.

“We need affordable housing. We need these built,” said Ward Seven Councillor Esther Pauls.

Number 1: Waste and fraud report finds worker squatting in city-owned home

The city puts together an annual report on waste and fraud to encourage transparency and accountability among city staff. The report came about as a pilot project a few years ago, but has since become a permit project.

This year Auditor General Charles Brown found $110,000 in fraud and $22,000 in waste. In the most unusual case, a worker was living in a city-owned apartment for free. The worker had even renovated the place costing the city $9,000.

A second employee also knew about the worker living in the home and did not report it. Both employees have since been fired. Brown recommended “regular, unannounced checks on City assets, better tracking and inventory management, adequate segregation of duties, review of relevant job duties for the impacted role to review relevant security technology, and to improve cash-handling processes.”

Additionally, Brown shared several employees had a “significant social relationship” with a city contractor, others were working other jobs which conflicted with the responsibilities to the city, and another set defrauded the city’s benefit plan.

 

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