The Hamilton 350 Committee began in June 2009 in response to a call issued by 350.org to organize a world day of climate action in September of that year. Numerous local organizations came together at the urging of Environment Hamilton and a substantial event was organized that featured educational workshops in and around Gore Park on Saturday September 26 followed by a march to the Federal Building at Bay and York that had 350 participants. A canvas banner signed by several hundred people was presented at the rally to three federal MPs who delivered it to Parliament.
As of the beginning of 2019 there have been over 70 meetings of the committee and out of that have come numerous public actions in Hamilton and area. These have included many presentations to city council, numerous rallies and marches in response to 350.org calls or other events, as well as film showings and speakers, media releases and co-sponsoring public events of other groups such as Environment Hamilton, Council of Canadians, Hamilton Blue Dot Movement, Democracy Probe International, Dundas in Transition, KAIROS, Fossil Free McMaster, Friends of Red Hill Valley, Ontario Climate Consortium, etc.
Some of the Hamilton 350 Committee activities have been:
October 12, 2010 – The 350.org global day of climate action fell on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. We organized garlic planting at the aerotropolis to protest the loss of agricultural land to that city proposed industrial facility. That was preceded by flyers (titled The Carrots and Garlic of Climate Change) on the climate threat to food security with distribution facilitated by the creation of two carrot costumes and handing out locally-grown free carrots with some of the flyers. We rented an HSR “Garlic Bus” to take participants to a field across from the airport where garlic bulbs were planted in a 3-5-0 pattern. There were 45 participants in this civil disobedience action that was preceded by some civil disobedience training and some others acted as witnesses to the action.
February and March, 2011 – We arranged eight talks by visiting author Mike Nickerson including three public events (one to the city planning committee) and five to student audiences attended by nearly 900 people. We also co-sponsored an RBG talk by Grant Linney, continued distribution of flyers on food security, and supported the adoption of the Climate Change Charter by Hamilton city council.
May-July 2011 – We distributed flyers at gas stations taking advantage of high gasoline prices to advise drivers on reducing their driving, taking transit, and detailing some of the already visible climate change impacts. We stood at gas station or parking lot entrances or exits with a sign that said “Gas Prices: What To Do” and gave out leaflets to as many drivers as possible.
September 23-24 2011 – As part of the 350.org global day of action, we held a carbon cycle two-day bike ride to hold protests outside the Exxon Mobil refinery and the Ontario Power Generation Nanticoke coal-fired facility with overnight camping in Haldimand Conservation Area and a Gore Park ‘party’ with the Dinner Belles to welcome the return of the cyclists. We called it Pedal the Planet, Don’t Peddle the Planet and had banners made for each of the two slogans plus spoke cards and flyers. There were a couple of preparatory rides that got Spectator coverage, including one around the aerotropolis.
February 2012 – We hosted a very well attended lecture by artist Frankie James who’s children’s art tour of Europe was de-funded by the Harper government after she criticized the tar sands. The lecture and presentation of a tar sands video was attended by over 150 people who donated $700 that more than covered the honourarium to Ms James.
March 24, 2012 - In solidarity with opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the committee held a public action on the anniversary of the sinking of the Exxon Valdez. The group started at King and James and marched to the Esso station at the corner of King and Dundurn where a picket and rally took place. It included a mock ‘boat’ labelled “remember the Exxon Valdez” that was constructed for the action by committee members and used subsequently in other actions including a solidarity march with BC aboriginal peoples who picketed the Enbridge annual general meeting in Toronto.
May 2012 – Another global day of action to “connect the dots” between climate change and its effects was marked with two 75-person local rallies that drew attention to the nearly twenty extreme rainfall events that had occurred in Hamilton in the previous eight years. One rally took place at the Dundas driving park, and the second one later in the day was at King and James. Both were dominated by umbrellas even though the weather was clear.
June 2012 – We noted and began to publicize the Enbridge plans to expand their Line 9 pipeline and add bitumen to its contents. Partly as a result, in July city council asked staff for a report on the project, and we had several people speak at council later that year. Our delegations scared off Enbridge which had asked to speak but withdrew after our delegations were accepted and opted instead to privately lobby councillors which angered some councillors and subsequently forced Enbridge to actually make a delegation. Our continued opposition helped build media attention on the issue. In the fall we organized a bike ride to the Westover terminal that also got media attention (and a ‘welcoming committee’ with baseball bats of local Enbridge employees and their allies – we had a picnic lunch and engaged them in discussion before riding the 30 km back to Westdale). Other activities included letters to the editor and opinion pieces, at least one of which drew a counter opinion piece from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.
September 2012 – We participated in the Open Streets event with a bike trailer ‘disguised’ as the mobile office of David Sweet and asked passers-by to donate to the oil companies to top up the subsidies already provided by the Canadian government. A video was produced of the satirical action.
November 2012 – A rally was called at the Federal Building with 24 hours notice to protest the Senate killing the Jack Layton climate change action bill passed by the House of Commons. Sixty people attended.
November 2012 – Hamilton 350 organized a 24-hour fast, meeting and ‘break’ fast the following morning to connect food security and climate change. It was held on Black Friday (also buy nothing day) to help counter its intrusion into Canada. The meeting was at McMaster and featured local musicians.
November 2012 and to present – we began our divestment efforts in response to 350.org’s campaign. This led to the establishment of Fossil Free McMaster in January and both a student and a faculty petition to the President of McMaster that spurred him to commission a review of the university’s options. Those efforts continue.
December 2012 – We held a picket outside Eastgate Mall to highlight the international consequences of climate change that year including flooding in Pakistan, and over 50,000 deaths in the Russian heat wave. The event featured a coffin and a surprise march through the centre of the mall despite the protestations of mall security.
December 24, 2012 and January 5, 2013 – We supported Idle No More actions including the occupation of Highway 403 by hundreds of people.
January 2013 – We sent a letter to all municipal governments along the route of Line 9 warning them of Enbridge’s plans the dangers they posed from both spills and impacts on climate. This letter got attention in at least a few of the municipal councils, and subsequently many made submissions to the National Energy Board with their concerns.
February 2013 – We held a public meeting in the village of Westover about Line 9 and the threat of climate change with several speakers including one from Environmental Defence, two from our Committee and a local supportive resident. About 90 people packed the meeting, but many were not friendly. But this also coincided with an uptick in local media coverage of Line 9, and increasing public concerns. We also sent several members to a Burlington city meeting with Enbridge and helped build opposition there to Line 9. In late February, the Hamilton and District Labour Council took a formal position against Line 9 as a result of a motion drafted by one of our members. Our work also included meeting with federal and provincial MPs.
March 2013 – We submitted formal comments to the NEB of the issues list for its hearings on Line 9 and issued a media release which won local attention. Our focus was on the failure of the NEB to consider climate change impacts of the project. Subsequently we held three workshops to assist over 40 people to submit formal requests to comment on the hearings.
May 2013 – Forty people peacefully blockaded Highway 6 where Line 9 crosses it and held it for 90 minutes (for 90 spills a year on Enbridge pipelines) handing out muffins and leaflets as we slowly allowed vehicles through one at a time. This was not a Hamilton 350 event, but many of our members participated. The same was true for another civil disobedience action the following month. In early June about 40 people peacefully occupied the Enbridge pumping station at Westover and held it for nearly a week. Both these actions received national media attention and contributed significantly to making pipelines a major topic of discussion in eastern Canada (they already were in British Columbia).
June 2013 - The 350 Committee filed a formal complaint about the Hamilton police accepting a grant of $45,000 from Enbridge. There was a picket outside the police station and extensive media attention about the complaint and the unethical action of the police in accepting the monies. We pursued this complaint process for over a year and although it was of course rejected by the Police Services Board, there was a lot of attention on it and Enbridge later revealed it had decided to stop giving monies to police departments as a direct result of this publicity.
October 2013 – We sponsored a meeting at McMaster of the Tar Sands Reality Tour attended by over 200 people. Using a donation from the Hamilton and District Labour Council we rented a bus to take people to a mass demonstration in Toronto held outside the NEB Line 9 hearings. About 40 people took the bus (59 registered but it rained) and others got there by transit or other means.
October 29, 2013 – Met with the editorial board of the Hamilton Spectator for 1.5 hours. We had a productive exchange that also resulted in a news story on our divestment campaign.
November 16, 2013 – Global day of action marked in Hamilton with rally and march from Farmer’s Market through downtown to Federal Building with about 70 participants. Particular focus in the messaging on the recent typhoon that devastated the Philippines and money was collected for relief of victims.
February 2014 – We hosted Birdbone Theatre and arranged two public presentations, plus two more to school classes of their puppet show on climate and the tar sands. We made three presentations to city council on the 2014 budget, and sent a letter to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario about how Hamilton is misusing federal gas tax monies for road building instead of transit and other green infrastructure. This month we also began participating in the city’s development of a community climate change action plan.
March 2014 – The release of NEB decision approving Line 9 was met with a spirited and well-attended demonstration of about 90 people featuring a “rubber stamp” made for the occasion. Fossil fools day at McMaster by Fossil Free McMaster with some help from 350.
May 2014 – Global day of 350 actions. Hamilton 350 constructed an “oil train” with a Stephen Harper puppet at the wheel and one of his minions acting as escort. It made an extended appearance at Friday night’s art crawl, with several ‘breakdowns’ as it moved up James North (the engine wheels kept coming off) and the minion assuring viewers that everything was safe, etc. On Saturday, we met at the Hunter Street GO station and walked to the federal building (with the train engine in the back of a pick-up truck, and the oil tankers following). This got extensive coverage on CHCH-TV. Later that month a climate Change Forum was hosted by 350, Environment Hamilton and the Council of Canadians with speakers Dr Gordon McBean, Brian Kelly (from Durham region) and Danielle Boissoneau was attended by over 150 people.
July 2014 – There were three delegations from 350 to City Council on climate change and air quality report. A meeting was held with the city fire chief about the oil train threat and we participated in the beginning of city climate cafés to draft community climate change action plan. This continued for over a year with several 350 members playing key roles.
September 2014 – Participated in climate march in Burlington with 75-100 people, held a film screening and participated with a bus in the huge climate march in New York that weekend. At the end of the month 350.org’s Bill McKibben spoke at Liuna Station hosted by the McMaster president. About 400 attended and received flyers from Hamilton 350 who helped publicize the event. We audio-recorded and transcribed the event and made that available on-line.
October 2014 – Divestment forum organized by Greening Sacred Spaces at Westdale United Church attended by 80 people. 350 speaker included. Work began this month on the Climate Change Elephant with material costs covered by 350 Committee.
January 2015 – John Smol spirit of Red Hill lecture co-sponsored by 350 on tar sands pollution. About 175 in attendance.
February 2015 –Provided talk at Unity Church (later showed Do The Math twice to this group) and they pledged ‘tithe’ support for 3 months (about $650 donation). Co-sponsored with Democracy Probe International a public lecture on tar sands and democracy by Jim Quinn with over 80 attendees. Also held an NEB intervenors workshop on Energy East that helped 15 people make submissions.
March 2015 – Participated in Ontario climate consultation all-day workshop. Joined demonstration at Federal Building on Bill C-51. Confirmed co-sponsorship of the Ontario Climate Consortium symposium in May at McMaster. April 2015 – Co-sponsored a public lecture on climate change in the Roman Catholic church in Caledonia. Submitted comments on Energy East to the Ontario Energy Board review.
May 2015 – Meeting with Andrea Horwath. Introduction of our huge climate change elephant head (CiCi). at Art Crawl and other public events (including a photo-op with David Suzuki in June).
June 2015 – Do The Math showing results in formation of Hikers for 350 group.
July 2015 – Organized two buses (one paid by 350, one by EH) and took 90 people to Toronto for the July 5 march of 10,000 people. Many others went by GO train or other means. Showing of an early version of the “Directly Affected” film.
September 2015 – Funded half of bus to Sarnia toxic tour. Decided to help organize a major action at Hamilton city hall on November 29 in advance of the Paris conference and began contacting possible allies with plan to ensure all participants shared in ‘owning’ the event.
October-December 2015 – Suspended 350 Committee meetings to participate in the Hamilton2Paris organizing an November 29 action that drew 500-600 participants (some media reported 1000). Speakers included Mayor Eisenberger and Anthony Marco, president of the HDLC. Rally also attended by councillor Matthew Green. Groups involved included: Hamilton Quaker Meeting, SERE Committee of Hamilton Catholic School Board, Hamilton/Burlington KAIROS, Environment Hamilton, Stop Line 9, Eco-WHAM, Hamilton 350, Fossil Free McMaster, Green Party of Canada, Mustard Seed Coop, The Tower, Hamilton Blue Dot Movement, Conserver Society of Hamilton, Hikers for 350, Burlington Green, Food Not Bombs, SoBi Hamilton, Hamilton Chapter of Council of Canadians, Green Party (Hamilton), individuals involved in car share, OSSTF, Hamilton District Labour Council, as well as indigenous friends and others, A meeting of the organizing committee on the following day agreed that organizing groups should continue to work together, and on December 14 it was agreed to continue as part of Hamilton 350.
January 2016 – Two meetings focused on vision, direction and organization of consolidated group. Showing of Do the Math at Grace Lutheran Church. Promotion of Naomi Klein talk at McMaster on Feb 4 (attended by well over 500 people). Letter of support for Chippewa of the Thames supreme court appeal.
February - March 2016 – Lead group formed. Grief group also established, Public Education and other working committees. Supported Spirit of Red Hill lecture by Gordon Laxer on the tar sands. (April 4). Fractured Land film showing in conjunction with Council of Canadians drew 110 people.
April 2016 – Food security event at Sherwood Library attended by 40 people. Committee meeting included skype presentation by Carolyn Baker. Letters sent to NEB and politicians regarding reform of the NEB.
May 2016 – Initial work on People’s Climate Plan to get local MPs to hold town halls on Canada’s climate plan. Our efforts and those of partners like Environment Hamilton resulted in townhalls being held over the summer by Bob Bratina (35 people despite being in the morning), Filomena Tassi (150 people) and combined Scott Duvall and David Christopherson (about 70 people). Several actions in early June as part of 100in1 day.
October 2016 – NEB panel on Line 10 picket and rally outside of about 70 people. Small group of others attempted to get into the closed hearings. Twenty-five Hamilton police including those on horseback. Our rally outside was chaired by a local indigenous leader.
November 2016 – We hosted a presentation by Chippewa of the Thames chief at 350 meeting and held aigil at MP Tassi’s office against the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Co-sponsored Spirit of Red Hill talk by Avi Lewis focusing on climate and pipelines. A climate advisory committee for MP Tassi was established with inclusion of several 350 members.
December 2016 – Potluck including members of McMaster Indigenous Students Community Association (MISCA). Agreed to support and participate in January decolonization event at McMaster including rally for Standing Rock. Initial discussion of sponsoring Guy Macpherson talk. Continued in January and concluded in February with a decision not to use 350 as a sponsor but not to oppose others proceeding.
January 2017 – All day workshop on civil disobedience. First meeting of the Tassi climate advisory committee. Formation of Line 10 sub-committee. Demonstration at Federal Building late in the month in response to the NEB approval of Enbridge Line 10 expansion across Hamilton. Human impacts group continuing to meet and report. Joint letter to Prime Minister critical of NEB Line10 approval, signatures sought from multiple groups. Participated in Women’s Day rally and anti-Islamophobia mass rallies at City Hall.
February 2017 – Standing Rock rally at Gore Park with over 300 participants led by indigenous elders. Review of NEB Line 10 decision. CHML and Cable 14 appearances.
March 2017 – Several members delegated to city council on Line 10. Council in camera initiated legal action, but dropped it a month later with no public explanation. We also provided a public presentation on Line 10 to Council of Canadians chapter public meeting.
April 2017 – Participated in Science March including speakers. Part of 350 action march in Toronto with about 30 people.
May 2017 – Presentation on climate and Guatemala at our regular meeting. Submissions on NEB reform.
June 2017 – Public meeting at city hall on defending indigenous rights with Todd Williams as guest speaker. Supported him in court appearance as well in August.
August 2017 – Rally at Federal Building in response to Supreme Court decisions on Chippewa of the Thames and Baffin Island indigenous challenge. Presentation at our meeting on climate change and the eastern Caribbean.
September 2017 – Line 10 rally in Mt Hope. Advance work at Art Crawl. Table and speaker at Gandhi Peace Festival.
October 2017 – Public meeting with Grant Linney as speaker on climate impacts on polar ice caps. Reading of the Lorax at Enbridge Line 10 worksite with full page Spectator coverage. Several members began month long on-line course on civil disobedience and campaign development.
November 2017 – Participated in city climate adaptation workshop. Two talks by Guy MacPherson drew about 300 people – one in west Flamborough and one at McMaster.
December 2017 – Potluck celebration of World Bank divestment decision.
February 2018 – Divestment forum at city hall with speakers from McMaster, Catholic and United Churches, Teachers’ Union and Hamilton 350 (on TD bank investments in the tar sands and pipelines). Also delegations to city committee on climate change.
March 2018 – First “Sharing and Listening” session. Picket at MP Tassi office on Kinder Morgan pipeline as part of national 350 action and LeadNow action including delivery of Burrard Inlet water to the MP. We added water from the creek behind her office that is threatened by Line 10.
April 2018 – Kinder Morgan picket downtown outside TD Bank and Jackson Square to oppose federal buyout plans. May 2018 – Second “Sharing and Listening” session. Pickets at offices of three MPs in one day – one in Niagara and Bratina and Tassi in Hamilton as part of national action on Kinder Morgan. Showing of Directly Affected film at joint meeting with Council of Canadians chapter.
June 2018 – Spoke at city council committee meeting on sale of Line 10 and urged them to seek a public NEB process. City subsequently wrote to the NEB.
July 2018 –Showing of Directly Affected film at Central Library including invites to all local MPs (only Tassi responded and sent regrets) and discussion about Kinder Morgan buyout. Another “Sharing and Listening” session was held – this time at Bayfront Park. Petition of 125 names delivered to Tassi re Kinder Morgan.
August 2018 – Another Kinder Morgan picket at Tassi office. Info table at downtown music festival. September 2018 – Group met with BACCO officials at Mohawk College. Locke Street Festival petitioning, along with supporting rally at City Hall, and march from City Hall to Locke Street. Over 300 names collected on petitions. We modified our mission statement to include recognition of climate emergency. Presentation made to monthly meeting of Council of Canadians on the climate emergency and David Spratt paper.
October 2018 – Co-sponsored Democracy Probe International seminar presentation at McMaster on climate emergency and David Spratt paper. Held a rally at Gore Park before attendingthe Anthropocene film with petitioning adding 75 names.
November 2018 – Showing of Directly Affected film at Rock on Locke church. Fourth “Sharing and Listening” session.
December 2018 – Rally at MP Tassi’s office on climate emergency.