Hamilton's top 10 newsmakers of 2013

An embattled police chief, an irate hockey mom and a new Ticat head coach made headlines in Hamilton this year.

Embattled police chief, irate hockey mom and a new Ticat head coach made headlines

Hamilton Police Chief Glenn De Caire has been fighting to end paid suspension for police officers since 2014. (Adam Carter/CBC)
Ancaster's Tim and Sharlene Bosma, in happier times.

1. Tim and Sharlene Bosma      

Few people captured the hearts, minds and prayers of people across the country this year like Ancaster’s Tim and Sharlene Bosma.

Tim Bosma, 32, disappeared in May when he went on a test drive with two men in a truck he was looking to sell. He never came home.

His burned remains were found days later, sparking an outpouring of grief from the tight-knit community of Ancaster. Sharlene remained the face of the story, through press conferences, court appearances, and a heartfelt public memorial for Tim. She repeatedly told the media she was staying strong for their young daughter.

Two men, Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, stand accused in the killing.

2. Hamilton Police Chief Glenn De Caire     

Chief Glenn De Caire’s protracted power struggle with city council over his department’s budget was a defining moment of his reign as chief and one of the dominant stories of the year.

A few months after it was resolved, De Caire announced he would not be seeking a renewal of his contract. Did he realize he had burned too many bridges, or was he tired of the politics in policing?

But De Caire as a newsmaker extended beyond the budget debate.

The conflicts and divisions among members of the police board that resulted in the suspension of city councillor Terry Whitehead from the board were largely about unflinching support for De Caire from provincial appointees and a more questioning approach from the members of council on the board.

De Caire was also on the hot seat over the shooting by his officers of Steve Mesic, especially around the victim's family's demands for an apology.                            

3. Steve Mesic 

Former steelworker Steve Mesic died in June after he was shot by police. His death sparked heated debate over police use of force. (Courtesy Mesic Family)

The shooting death of 45-year-old former steelworker Steve Mesic ignited debate about police use of force in Hamilton. Mesic, who dealt with anxiety issues, was shot after he checked himself out of a voluntary mental health care program at St. Joe's and was seen wandering in traffic on the Linc in June. The provincial Special Investigations Unit (SIU) cleared the two officers involved of any wrongdoing.

Since his death, Mesic’s fiancée, Sharon Dorr, has given birth to the couple’s son, Dominic. Dorr and her father, Norm, have been outspoken against the way police handled the situation, and are part of a group lobbying the province for widespread changes to the way the SIU handles police shootings.

Dorr and her father have also been at the centre of the Taser debate swirling around police and city council.

4. Hamilton Police Inspector Dave Doel   

Four years off the job. Over $500,000 in pay during a suspension for a Sunshine-List cop. A never-ending hearing. It all ended in retirement for former Hamilton Police inspector David Doel.

Doel faced 14 counts of misconduct under the Police Services Act, including having sex on the job, keeping pornography on his work computer and using video equipment and a national crime data base for his own use.

The case was delayed for years because of scheduling issues and media lawyers trying to make a case for public hearings. The week the hearing was set to go ahead, Doel dropped a bombshell. He planned to retire.

Chief Glenn De Caire said he had no choice but to accept Doel’s retirement notice. Doel is retired as of Mar. 31.

The case prompted a discussion about officer pay during suspensions. On Dec. 13, city councillors voted unanimously to ask the province to amend the Police Services Act to allow police services to suspend officers without pay.          

5. Peter Wald  

Peter Wald's van can be seen in this photo taken on Google Maps in 2011. The 51-year-old's body was discovered in his north Hamilton home in September. Neighbours say they believe it had been there for months. (Google)

Peter Wald was known for driving a blue Astro van adorned with religious symbols. He’d even placed tinfoil in the shape of crosses on the headlights so they shone in the shape of a crucifix.

In September, authorities discovered Wald was dead — and his wife and their children had been living with his body in their home for months.

His neighbours were understandably rattled. One couple next door told CBC Hamilton that hordes of flies could be seen around a second-floor window of the home, and birds were pecking at the screen.

Family members also started dancing and chanting while wearing black robes in the back yard, sometimes twice a day, neighbours said. Wald’s family reportedly moved to the St. Catharines area after being evicted from the home.   

6.  Dominican wedding vacationers Nick and Stacey Miele   

Stacey Vernon and Nick Miele tried to move on this year after an incident on their wedding night led to Miele and his cousin being imprisoned for three weeks in what he describes as horrible conditions. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

A wedding in a Caribbean paradise turned hellish for a Stoney Creek couple, and made national headlines.

Nick Miele and Stacey Vernon were married May 27 at the Bahia Principe Esmeralda resort in Puna Cana, Dominican Republic. Around 2 a.m. on May 28 — when the post-wedding party was in full swing — 38-year-old Miele and his 18-year-old cousin Ben Constantini got involved in a spat at the buffet table.

The two were arrested and spent three weeks in a Dominican jail. The pair describes the conditions as “traumatizing,” saying there were upwards to 60 inmates sleeping in a cell the size of an average family kitchen. They paid for food and water they never received, Miele said.

During their incarceration, more than 3,000 individuals signed a petition asking for Canadian politicians to step in and arrange for Miele and Constantini's release. Minister of State Diane Ablonczy even mentioned the pair in the House of Commons.

The pair was released on June 17. Miele returned to his construction job shortly after.

7. Melissa Elliott, hockey mom

Melissa Elliott is the Hamilton hockey mom who got into a spat with a local hockey association. She encouraged her daughter to participate in an on-ice protest after her team's ice time was cut short. After that, Elliott's seven-year-old son, Sabastian, was banned from playing hockey for that association. The president of the Rosedale league said Elliott "stirred the pot" and "if parents act up, unfortunately the poor kid pays the price."                  

8. Fired city staff            

Twenty-two city public works staff raised public ire this year when the city fired them for "neglect of duties, time theft and/or breach of trust."  

The dismissals happened when concerns were raised over some workers doing asphalt repairs. Among the worries: that crews were taking extra long breaks and doing little work in general. "What we found was there was little work going on," city manager Chris Murray said. The investigation also included possible asphalt theft.            

9. Kent Austin    

In his first year as head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Kent Austin led the team to an unexpected appearance in the 2013 Grey Cup. (John Rieti/CBC)

When the Ticats season started, the team had lost its star receiver, didn’t have a home stadium, and was facing yet another rebuilding year. The team’s long-suffering fans weren’t quite ready to jump on board the “let’s all go to Guelph” marketing campaign.

Into that scene came Kent Austin, a coach with a winning record as a player and as a coach. He was clear: Guelph and all the hassles associated with the nomadic year would not be an excuse. He was demanding and intense, but matched that with a positive culture, a faith in progress and learning and the team slowly grew and gelled under is unwavering leadership.

To everyone’s surprise, the rebuilding year became a year with two playoff victories and a trip to the Grey Cup.

Austin always maintained that growth and progress never go in a straight line.                   

10. Harrison Kennedy

Blues singer-songwriter Harrison Kennedy received seven Hamilton Music Awards nominations and survived a cancer scare this year. (Sunnie Huang/CBC)

2013 was a big year for Hamilton bluesman Harrison Kennedy.

On top of winning big at this year’s Hamilton music awards and riding high on his latest release Soulscape, he also hit an even more important milestone: he beat cancer. Kennedy was diagnosed with the disease in 2012, but was cancer free by the end of 2013.

“Makes me feel so good,” Kennedy sang as he took the stage to accept one of the five Hamilton Music Awards he was awarded last month.