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SteelTown
Nov 28, 2008, 2:29 AM
Hamilton: poor and dirty (http://www.thespec.com/News/article/473502)

November 27, 2008
BY RACHEL DE LAZZER
The Hamilton Spectator

Of the poorest cities in the Great Lakes, Hamilton is the most polluted.

That’s one finding in a study by PollutionWatch that shows some communities get a double whammy of high pollution and high poverty.

But the people most affected often have more urgent worries.

“People like me, I don’t have time to think about the pollution,” says John Hay, who lives near Barton and Mary streets on $12,000 a year. The priority is “where is my next meal coming from?”

Starting in 2006, PollutionWatch studied 37 communities in the Great Lakes basin, selecting only those with poverty rates above the national average of 11.8 per cent that produce more than 100,000 kg of toxic air pollutants a year.

Hamilton’s poverty rate is 16.1 per cent of the population, based on the 2001 census. It produced 2,240,453 kg of toxic air pollutants, such as lead and mercury, in 2005.

Adding in criteria air contaminants, such as sulphur dioxide and other things that cause smog and acid rain, Hamilton released 58,788,549 kg of air pollution in 2005. That’s the number that puts the city at the top of the list. Sault Ste. Marie is the next Ontario city on the list, at fifth. Toronto is 11th.

Fe de Leon, a key author of the study and researcher with the Canadian Environmental Law Association, says identifying why poverty and pollution rates are linked requires further study.

But social planner Deirdre Pike and environmental activist Lynda Lukasik say it has something to do with the availability of cheaper housing in industrial communities.

Pike says the report adds evidence of one more layer of physical harm for those whose bodies are already hard hit by poor diet and stress from money troubles.

“It complicates an already complicated life,” says Pike, with the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton.

She also points out the poor lack choices while those with more money can relocate to another less polluted area of the province.

That strikes a chord with Hay, a part-time marina worker.

“It has an effect on everybody but what are you going to do? You got to live here.… You can’t afford to go anywhere else.”

Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla sees the effects of poverty and pollution first-hand in his north Hamilton ward but points out the city is making progress.

He said Hamilton is the first municipal government to ask industry to come to council and explain how they will mitigate emissions, as well as seek industry’s endorsement on working with public health to ease concerns about emissions fallout.

Lukasik, executive director of Environment Hamilton, says there are no class distinctions when it comes to environmental protection. She said steps need to be taken to ensure some communities aren’t at an environmental disadvantage.

crhayes
Nov 28, 2008, 2:54 AM
Even more evidence/reasons as to why Hamilton deserves more attention from the higher levels of Government. We can't even make up our minds/come up with the funds for our City Hall, how the hell are we supposed to fix massive amounts of pollution and poverty?

This city seems to have fallen into a giant hole that it needs more help than it is currently receiving to get out of.

go_leafs_go02
Nov 28, 2008, 3:31 AM
shut down dofasco and stelco..there's a start...transform the major industries.

prime lakefront properties right there....so much potential.

of course.. the $$$ to clean up those brownfields..er brownacres.

SteelTown
Nov 28, 2008, 3:33 AM
Yea I see no problem with adding 10,000 or so to the unemployed bandwagon.

EI would skyrocket, poverty would increase, government funds would dry up, closed factories would rust up and no money to do any brownfield cleanup.

flar
Nov 28, 2008, 3:36 AM
1. Of course Hamilton releases more pollution than any other city. We have one of the largest concentrations of industry on the Great Lakes, only difference between us and other cities (especially American ones) is that their industry has been totally decimated while ours is only partially decimated. As bad as things are here, we still have steel mills and many other plants operating (at least at the time of the study).

2. Hamilton has some serious poverty. Other cities do too. Hamilton's poverty is highly concentrated and highly visible. When you compare Hamilton's poverty rate for the city as a whole to the rates of other cities like Ottawa or Toronto, the rates are very similar.

crhayes
Nov 28, 2008, 3:54 AM
shut down dofasco and stelco..there's a start...transform the major industries.

prime lakefront properties right there....so much potential.

of course.. the $$$ to clean up those brownfields..er brownacres.

I think that's every Hamiltonian's dream, unfortunately it's just not that easy. The loss of all of those jobs would probably be worse for Hamilton than anything else.

matt602
Nov 28, 2008, 4:36 AM
Wow, what a horrible article. Just when other newspapers are giving us a positive image, leave it to the Spec to knock us down a couple notches.

oldcoote
Nov 28, 2008, 3:41 PM
Wow, what a horrible article. Just when other newspapers are giving us a positive image, leave it to the Spec to knock us down a couple notches.

Agreed.

Exactly what purpose does this article serve? Anyone who has driven over the skyway, or walked the waterfront knows about the steel mills. It's reality.

More of the same stereotypical drivel.

ryan_mcgreal
Nov 28, 2008, 6:07 PM
shut down dofasco and stelco..there's a start...transform the major industries.

The market is doing that for us, but (with any luck) slowly enough that we can make a smooth transition if we plan right and develop the resources we need to spawn new centres of innovation and employment.

Anyway, industry in Hamilton has been getting steadily cleaner for the past few decades. A few years ago, Clean Air Hamilton reported that for the first time, more than half the air pollution in the city is from vehicle exhaust and not from smokestacks.

Millstone
Nov 28, 2008, 6:20 PM
They've changed the title of the article to "Poverty and pollution go hand in hand"

crhayes
Nov 28, 2008, 7:15 PM
They've changed the title of the article to "Poverty and pollution go hand in hand"

Yes because the preliminary results from the first round of some scientific study showed that a few cities with high pollution also seemed to have high poverty rates :koko:

So obviously they must go hand in hand.

MsMe
Nov 28, 2008, 7:17 PM
They've changed the title of the article to "Poverty and pollution go hand in hand"

Talk about putting the city down though with a title like that.

Dundasguy
Nov 28, 2008, 7:38 PM
Yea I see no problem with adding 10,000 or so to the unemployed bandwagon.

EI would skyrocket, poverty would increase, government funds would dry up, closed factories would rust up and no money to do any brownfield cleanup.

The winding down of the steel industry has not be sudden. This process began in 1989 an has been progressing ever since. It will be so gradual that we may not even notice when everything is finally gone.

The problems at Hilton works are very acute. It's too large and too outdated to be sustainably profitable, there is no way they are going to sink huge amounts of capital dollars to modernize it. Dofasco is somewhat better as they have spent the capital to keep the plant more modern. I am going to predict that steel dumping from the BRIC countries during this downturn is going to make things even worse.

I have hope that I will be around to see the smokestack industries gone. They have done alot to build Hamilton into a large city but I think they are now doing more harm than good. Time to move on.

SteelTown
Nov 28, 2008, 7:58 PM
I'm just stating not to let Stelco and Dofasco shut down overnight permanently. That impact would be what I highlighted. Long term is fine by me.

crhayes
Nov 28, 2008, 8:22 PM
I'm just stating not to let Stelco and Dofasco shut down overnight permanently. That impact would be what I highlighted. Long term is fine by me.

Hamilton should be looking to other industries (like clean energy production) for the future, something that requires similar skills to the ones needed to work in the steel plants. They could possibly coordinate with these industries and, as layoffs occur in the future, have other industries within the city that would be able to provide jobs to those who are laid off.

go_leafs_go02
Nov 28, 2008, 8:30 PM
but don't you admit..geographically...where they - stelco & dofasco - are prime residential or bayfront living? What do we put on the shore of our bayfronts? steel mills, and railway tracks. Over by Snake hill or whatever, on the north side, by the botanical gardens, is perfect as is, as a wildlife and nature preserve. Everytime I take the train or bus by there I always make a note to go there and check it out sometime.

crhayes
Nov 28, 2008, 8:58 PM
but don't you admit..geographically...where they - stelco & dofasco - are prime residential or bayfront living? What do we put on the shore of our bayfronts? steel mills, and railway tracks. Over by Snake hill or whatever, on the north side, by the botanical gardens, is perfect as is, as a wildlife and nature preserve. Everytime I take the train or bus by there I always make a note to go there and check it out sometime.

Yes it is a prime location for beach front condos/another beautiful park. Unfortunately that industry needs to be near a source of water, and since they located in Hamilton that location was the obvious choice.

adam
Nov 28, 2008, 9:13 PM
Given that 1/2 our pollution comes from car exhaust, lets indulge the article in its suggestion that pollution causes poverty ----> we can wipe out 1/2 our poverty by banning cars!:haha:

crhayes
Nov 28, 2008, 9:18 PM
Given that 1/2 our pollution comes from car exhaust, lets indulge the article in its suggestion that pollution causes poverty ----> we can wipe out 1/2 our poverty by banning cars!:haha:

Adam this is a good idea! I like right around Barton Secondary on the mountain. I just took my sister to work at Gage/Fennel and I couldn't believe the amount of traffic on Gage at 3:45pm. It was unreal.

adam
Nov 28, 2008, 9:22 PM
The original article basically took two things in common with the north end and suggested that one causes the other. You are supposed to learn the differences of correlation vs causation in high school.. articles like this truly make the spec the biggest joke of the newspaper industry. Sorry, I've run out of humour.

omro
Nov 29, 2008, 10:29 PM
Isn't there going to be an off shore wind farm at some point? Wouldn't that assist in the general reduction of fossil fuel burning pollution?

As for traffic pollution, if more people use public transport, won't that lessen the effects? Especially when the trains are electrified and the LRT starts up. Ok they are drops in the ocean, but they're drops none-the-less.

How polluting are the current buses?

crhayes
Nov 29, 2008, 10:45 PM
Isn't there going to be an off shore wind farm at some point? Wouldn't that assist in the general reduction of fossil fuel burning pollution?

As for traffic pollution, if more people use public transport, won't that lessen the effects? Especially when the trains are electrified and the LRT starts up. Ok they are drops in the ocean, but they're drops none-the-less.

How polluting are the current buses?

Most of the buses, if not all of them, run on natural gas which is the cleanest burning fossil fuel.

When you factor in the number of passengers a bus takes it is a lot cleaner mode of transportation.

There's a table here (http://www.naturalgas.org/environment/naturalgas.asp) that outlines the emissions for burning of various fossil fuels.

matt602
Nov 30, 2008, 12:05 AM
Not quite true. About 5 years ago most of the fleet was CNG but the last 3 year's bus orders have all been diesel or diesel-hybrid. The total count on CNG buses is roughly 95 (not counting retirements since delivery) vs. 116 diesel buses (once again not counting retirements since delivery). There were originally more CNG buses but many of them were retired in the last 5 years or so. More will retire in the next 10 years, as the ones purchased in 1996 start having trouble (even today I saw one broken down at Eastgate).

A lot of agencies abandoned CNG technology because it wasn't really a price-competitive alternative to diesel any more, and it required additional re-fueling facilities. Cleaner for the environment, but certainly not economical any more.

crhayes
Nov 30, 2008, 12:16 AM
I stand corrected!

MsMe
Nov 30, 2008, 12:28 AM
I still remember the old trolley buses. I used to watch the wires when a bus was passing by so I could watch the sparks from the trolleys.

matt602
Nov 30, 2008, 1:56 AM
Kinda funny you mention that. I was walking home the other day and noticed that the curve that Reid Av. makes when it turns into Roxborough is incredibly wide. Then I realized it must have been for the trolley buses. Some relics still remain...

IronWarrior
Nov 30, 2008, 10:49 AM
I still remember the old trolley buses. I used to watch the wires when a bus was passing by so I could watch the sparks from the trolleys.

I remember the trolley buses! I remember watching the sparks fly as well..it was quite fascinating to me back then as a little kid watching those buses..:)

omro
Nov 30, 2008, 3:15 PM
Shame they didn't keep all the electric powered buses. San Francisco has all the over head wires for their electric buses and no one ever accuses that city of being uglier for having them...

MsMe
Nov 30, 2008, 5:46 PM
I remember as well when the fare for a bus ride was according to height. I can't remember when they changed it according to age.

ryan_mcgreal
Dec 1, 2008, 3:46 PM
Poor and Dirty (http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1165) (with apologies to both Chamillionaire and Weird Al Yankovic)

MsMe
Dec 2, 2008, 10:55 PM
What max yearly income are they saying is poverty now?

ryan_mcgreal
Dec 3, 2008, 3:45 AM
If you mean the StatsCan low income cut-off (LICO) measure, it's calculated based on the percentage of a family's total income that it needs to spend on food and shelter compared to the average family. It also varies on family size and on city population.

For a city of over 500,000 like Hamilton, the numbers in 2007 were:

1 person - $21,666
2 persons - $26,972
3 persons - $33,159
4 persons - $40,259
5 persons - $45,662
6 persons - $51,498
7 or more - $57,336

Note: Strictly speaking, LICO is not a measure of poverty per se but rather of "straitened circumstances", but it is a useful proxy for poverty.