Special Report: Light Rail

Show Your Support for LRT

The City's LRT plan is ready for provincial funding. Tell the Province to keep its promise to fund LRT.

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 21, 2014

In 2007, the Provincial government promised to fund LRT in Hamilton, and the City began a six-year comprehensive planning and design process with unprecedented levels of public engagement. That process included engaging with thousands of Hamiltonians, which found overwhelming support for LRT.

B-Line LRT route map
B-Line LRT route map

The City's planning work was independently assessed by Metrolinx, the Provincial arms-length regional transit organization. Metrolinx completed a Benefits Case Analysis that found LRT would deliver the biggest overall net benefit.

Hamilton City Council completed its comprehensive Rapid Ready LRT plan in February 2013 and submitted it to the Province. Our LRT plan is on the Metrolinx list of Next Wave projects waiting for a funding commitment.

We are waiting for the Province to keep its promise of full capital funding.

Broad Support

Our intentions are clear. Rapid Ready is a comprehensive plan that specifies an LRT line running along the east-west corridor between McMaster University and Eastgate Square.

We have completed the Class Environmental Assessment, 30 percent engineering and detailed design and a complementary land use study for the route. We've done everything the Province asked us to do.

Support for LRT includes such leading municipal and community organizations as the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the *Hamilton Spectator* editorial board, the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, Clean Air Hamilton, the Downtown Hamilton BIA, the International Village BIA, various neighbourhood associations and community councils and the McMaster Students Union, as well as thousands of residents from across the city.

Rapid Transit Preference by Ward (Source: City of Hamilton)
Rapid Transit Preference by Ward (Source: City of Hamilton)

In the recent election, the Liberal candidates for Hamilton Mountain and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek ran on anti-LRT campaigns. They both lost to candidates who explicitly support LRT.

This should send a clear message to the Liberal government that support for LRT is strong citywide.

Tremendous Opportunity

Light Rail Transit (LRT) on the east-west B-Line is a tremendous, once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Hamilton into a thriving, economically diverse centre. LRT on the B-Line has the best potential for success and will deliver the biggest overall net benefits to the city.

The B-Line has the ridership, the land use and the impressive uplift potential that are the hallmarks of highly successful LRT implementations.

B-Line LRT boardings per kilometre compared to other North American cities with LRT
B-Line LRT boardings per kilometre compared to other North American cities with LRT

Distribution of new taxable assessment without LRT and with LRT (Source: Canadian Urban Institute)
Distribution of new taxable assessment without LRT and with LRT (Source: Canadian Urban Institute)

Our LRT plan represents $800 million in direct provincial investment in our economic sustainability, an investment that is proven to deliver a huge overall net return in greater economic activity, new transit-oriented development, greater mobility and improved quality of life.

We can't let fear, confusion and misinformation conspire to defeat this opportunity. If there was ever a time for Council and the Province to remember the evidence, trust their own history of support, uphold the courage of their convictions and fulfil their commitment to LRT, that time is now.

It is imperative that Council and the Province hear loud and clear from Hamiltonians that we know what we want and we expect our civic leaders - both Municipal and Provincial - to stay the course and deliver on their promise.

Please to go the Hamilton Light Rail website and add your name to our call to the Province and Council to keep their promise and build LRT on the B-Line. Add a short personal statement of support (please be positive and constructive) to help strengthen our message.

About Hamilton Light Rail

Hamilton Light Rail is an independent group of citizens who believe that Hamilton needs an ambitious approach to economic development and urban revitalization based around high quality rapid transit. To that end, we are dedicated to promoting the goal of building a light rail transit (LRT) system in Hamilton.

This includes a campaign to educate Hamiltonians about the many benefits of light rail, provide evidence-based reports and resource materials, and build broad support across all sectors of the community: citizens' groups, neighbourhood associations, business groups, and trade associations.

Hamilton Light Rail is strictly volunteer-based and is not affiliated with the Corporation of the City of Hamilton or with any commercial interests. We're citizens who want Hamilton to enjoy the many benefits of light rail transit.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. Ryan also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.

25 Comments

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 12:34:21

In the recent election, the Liberal candidates for Hamilton Mountain and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek ran on anti-LRT campaigns. They both lost to candidates who explicitly support LRT. This should send a clear message to the Liberal government that support for LRT is strong citywide.

It should? Why? They were:

  • NDP incumbents
  • Traditional NDP strongholds, both federally and provincially
  • Hamilton Centre has the provincial NDP leader in it; she but was not firm on LRT, but was re-elected
  • ADFW went Liberal again, from someone who was noncommittal to LRT
  • Niagara West-Glanbrook had the provincial PC leader in it who was firm on anti-LRT funding, but was re-elected.

Further to that, the mountain doesn't stand to gain from LRT. I don't think that was really a plank in the platform, but I wouldn't know because I haven't moved there yet and read anything from the MLA on that. Good attempt at spin, though! :)

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2014-07-21 12:37:34

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By RobF (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 13:52:00 in reply to Comment 103326

Assuming that LRT increases property values and spurs intensification along its route in the lower city it benefits the whole city because it improves the overall tax-base.

LRT is expected to produce these benefits, but how much net benefit and over what time-frame is subject to uncertainty (wish i knew what the future holds). That said, the ridership and transit improvement arguments are strong enough to support LRT.

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 20:54:33 in reply to Comment 103330

How does it benefit all those who have to pay the increased taxes, without a corresponding increase in income?

An increase in my property value has no impact on my QOL (and I walk, or bike, most places now) unless I decide to sell and move to a cheaper area and Brantford is too far from the centre of the universe...

ps. The above is serious and I'm interested to know how paying additional taxes based on a property I hope to keep until I die benefits me.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 22:49:57 in reply to Comment 103338

I didn't say it would benefit you. Or at least not in the rather parochial way you are framing it.

The question was how does it benefit people on the mountain or elsewhere that don't benefit directly from transit improvements ... i.e. why should they care, and ultimately support LRT.

I'm only partially sympathetic to the argument that you'll have to pay increased taxes ... the value of your property (i.e. your equity) is increased through no real effort of your own. Cities don't run on love. They are legally corporations for a reason. They need tax revenue to pay for needed infrastructure (construction and maintenance) and services that contribute to QOL. We have to pay for that whether our property values go up or not.

A second point: the main boost to the tax-base, however, isn't from rising house prices and assessments. It's from infilling and redevelopment that creates new revenue, because the land is being used more intensively. Think of parking lots and vacant properties that go from paying very little tax to being real contributors, because they generate greater land rent per square foot.

Finally, you have heard that if US Steel exits Hamilton entirely that that is over $20 million in taxes that largely vanishes. The city can't run a deficit on operating costs, so picture what a hole like that in our budget will mean.

Comment edited by RobF on 2014-07-21 22:55:32

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 22:19:31 in reply to Comment 103338

I sure hope you use this same logic to object to every single highway, roundabout and fancy Ancaster road project.

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By redmike (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 21:33:01 in reply to Comment 103338

as lynn anderson sang "i beg your pardon, i never promised you a rose garden" do you think the state should use the "whats best for steve matrix" to evaluate every project? who made steve a promise that steve would benefit financially every time the government did something? are you for real?

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By Kevo (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 21:18:11 in reply to Comment 103338

The same could be said for almost anything the government funds, especially anything involving roads (this is especially true of highways and car-dependent suburbs).

Part of the benefit is that vacant or inefficiently used lands (parking lots, strip malls, etc.) are replaced by developments that can increase the tax rolls by a substantial amount. Furthermore, those denser infill developments are more efficient to service (water, sewage, telephone, cable, gas, electricity, schools, rec centres, parks, etc. already exist) and save the taxpayer substantial amounts of money in the near and long term than the wasteful expansion that we've seen take place in Stoney Creek and on the Mountain.

Plus, everyone's got to make concessions in a city. The old city funded/funds the expansion outwards that depends on government subsidies for the initial capital, more expensive servicing, and more expensive repairs in the future. The lower city is where a fair number of the jobs in Hamilton exist and the lower city was built on the back of the street railway (much like the streetcar suburbs of Bloor West Village, the Danforth, College St, etc. in Toronto), so it makes sense to build something that raises tax rolls, pays for old in-situ infrastructure to be replaced, increases the viability of running a business downtown, and moves people in areas that have the most need and use.

My 2cents anyways... I'm a bit of a capitalist when it comes to government infrastructure (mainly because I'm an urbanist).

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By RobF (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 23:20:38 in reply to Comment 103341

I should have read your post before replying above. You basically provided the same response.

I'm not sure i understand your final point, however. I don't see the link between being an urbanist and being a capitalist. You can be both. But they aren't one and the same. An urbanist isn't necessarily a capitalist and vice-versa.

Comment edited by RobF on 2014-07-21 23:28:05

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 13:17:09

Let's stop guessing. Let's have a plebiscite. Is there time before the election?

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By redmike (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 21:36:00 in reply to Comment 103328

as long as you have a plebiscite every time the city wants to build a road or expand the urban boundry or a pumping station.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted July 22, 2014 at 00:45:16 in reply to Comment 103343

Every time there is a billion dollar project being considered there should be a plebiscite. Dollars to donuts this one would not get the support.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2014 at 10:10:03 in reply to Comment 103353

I don't think is reasonable to hold plebiscites on provincial funding. The provincial budget outlines $130 billion to be spent over 10 years on infrastructure builds. Should we have 3 to 400 plebiscites on these projects, or is there a threshold amount that determines when we should have direct democracy?

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 22:20:07 in reply to Comment 103343

exactly.

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By Let's go (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 13:49:05

The studies are done, the support is there, the promises have been made over multiple election - Let's get on with this investment!

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By kevinlove (registered) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 20:26:17

Ryan wrote:

In the recent election, the Liberal candidates for Hamilton Mountain and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek ran on anti-LRT campaigns. They both lost to candidates who explicitly support LRT.

Kevin's comment:

Let me express my opinion about politicians who pay lip service to LRT, but then come out in opposition to all of the revenue tools to actually pay for it. It is my opinion that those politicians are anti-LRT.

In the real world, responsible adults know that if we want something, we have to decide how to pay for it.

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 20:59:45

Re: Graphic - Rapid Transit Preference by Ward (Source: City of Hamilton)

What was the sample size and collection method (random, self selected, phone, web, in-person, etc)? Is there any mention to either in the source?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2014 at 07:09:58 in reply to Comment 103339

Staff consulted with 1,600 people across the city as part of their public engagement during the rapid transit feasibility study.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2014 at 12:43:57 in reply to Comment 103354

That's about 0.3% of the population, not a very large sample.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted July 22, 2014 at 14:23:13 in reply to Comment 103359

That is more than adequate for sampling popular opinion city-wide -- provided it was a representative sample. The sample for each ward, however, would likely have a large percentage error.

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By redmike (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2014 at 21:37:59 in reply to Comment 103339

if you really were interested you would find out yourself. rth isnt your personal assistant. you have a browser, browse.

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By climate (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2014 at 08:59:39

Folks seem to be forgetting the real reason we need LRT, which is to get cars off the road, help curb air pollution.

Climate change will kill us if we don't act right away.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2014 at 12:46:48 in reply to Comment 103355

It won't. it will remove a couple of buses at best.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2014 at 11:19:54

Don't waste time time with the detail trolls. They are proof that the internet is simply a retard amplifier. The broad strokes are simple. Supported by council multiple times. Supported in multiple public polls. Supported by $10 million research study done by engineers and planners. Supported in the province's Big Move plan. Supported by campaign promises from two premieres over 3 elections. Opposed by the retarded trolls of CHML. CHML opposes B-LRT with smelching glavicularity. CHML's opposition is my strongest reason to SUPPORT B-LRT. If CHML is opposed to B-LRT then it is certainly the best thing for our city.

Write letters instead of wasting time with the detail trolls. <3

Mayor Bobbi Phone: 905-546-4200 Email: mayor@hamilton.ca Snail Mail 2nd floor - 71 Main St. West Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4Y5

Premiere Kathleeny Phone: 416-325-1941 Email: premier@ontario.ca Snail Mail Legislative Building Queen's Park Toronto ON M7A 1A1

Minister of Municipal Affairs Teddy Phone: 905-690-6552 Email: tmcmeekin.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org Snail Mail 299 Dundas Street East P.O. BOX 1240 Waterdown, Ontario L0R 2H0

Minister of Transportation Stevey (deLuca) Phone: 416-327-9200 Email: sdelduca.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org Snail Mail: 3rd Floor, Ferguson Block 77 Wellesley Street West Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Z8

Go look up smelching glavicularity yourself.

Comment edited by misterque on 2014-07-22 11:22:15

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By arienc (registered) | Posted July 22, 2014 at 14:17:00 in reply to Comment 103358

Of course it is opposed by the CHML trolls. They wouldn't have a vested interest in keeping people trapped in their cars listening to talk radio instead of giving them other options, now would they?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 22, 2014 at 12:49:25 in reply to Comment 103358

I know this is language police-y, but I just can't let your use of the 'r' word go unremarked. Please consider editing it out of your otherwise great comment, please and thank you.

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