Special Report: Light Rail

A Short History of LRT Planning in Hamilton

We can't properly evaluate the state of LRT planning in Hamilton today without the context of the four-year history that brought us here.

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 14, 2011

With all the political games over Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) planning the past few months, it is easy to lose sight of the history and context in which our advanced LRT planning efforts, now discredited and stalled, came to be.

However, it helps to have a clear background on where our LRT plan originated, particularly considering some of the disingenuous claims being made about it today.

Province Promises LRT

Our story begins in June 2007, when the Ontario Government launched an ambitious $17 billion proposal to build transit across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, including two rapid transit lines in Hamilton.

A few months later, the Ontario Liberal Party issued a news release as part of their re-election campaign that pledged to build "two light rail lines across Hamilton".

At the time, senior City of Hamilton staff and most councillors were still wedded to the then-current plan to upgrade the B-Line, eventually, into some kind of Bus Rapid Transit, which is cheaper to build but more expensive to operate and does not attract much private investment. They saw LRT as a very-long-term possibility, not something to consider seriously for at least a couple of decades.

In response to the Provincial interest in higher order transit, a group of Hamilton residents formed Hamilton Light Rail, an advocacy group to explain, promote and build community support for LRT. The Hamilton Spectator editorial board was an early LRT supporter, calling it "the 21st century solution" to transform Hamilton.

We spent months holding open planning meetings, doing research and developing a presentation to introduce people to LRT and the economic development potential it holds. Then we started meeting with neighbourhood associations, community councils, business improvement areas and other community stakeholders.

Before long, the list of LRT supporters included the Ainslie Wood-Westdale Community Association, Clean Air Hamilton, the Downtown Hamilton BIA, the Durand Neighbourhood Association, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton Partners for Healthy Weights, the International Village BIA, the Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association, the McMaster Students' Union, the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, and a number of high profile individuals across the city.

Rapid Transit Office

Then-Mayor Fred Eisenberger also supported LRT, and persuaded Council to form a Rapid Transit Office to investigate LRT. The Office released phase 1 of its rapid transit feasibility study in April 2008. The study had some methodological issues but did provide a basis on which to continue stuying the options.

Extensive public consultation by staff over the next two months demonstrated strong public support for LRT and led staff to recommend moving to phase 2 with an emphasis on LRT over BRT. The June update concluded:

The idea of status quo, however, is in contravention of the City's Transportation Master Plan and Metrolinx's draft Regional Transportation Plan Green Papers and White Papers. Particularly, in regards to the continuing issues related to peak oil prices and the demand for environmentally sustainable transportation options, the general sense from the public is that the time is now for Hamilton to do something bold and innovative.

Council approved the move to phase 2, though councillors asked staff to conduct additional public consultation over the summer. By September, staff had consulted more than 1,600 residents and found that a large majority supported LRT.

Later that month, Metrolinx released its Regional Transportation Plan, a 25-year, $50 billion plan that called for two rapid transit lines to be built in Hamilton in the first 15 years - the east-west B-Line and then the north-south A-Line - with a third line built in the following ten years. The B-Line was listed as one of the top 15 projects for the fifteen-year plan.

LRT the Preferred Option

In October, staff released their phase 2 report, which recommended to build LRT, starting with the B-Line and integrating with community and economic development policies. It also recommended moving quickly to take advantage of priority capital funding through Metrolinx.

Staff also stressed that the City had to move quickly to take advantage of the $17 billion that had already been confirmed for the top priority projects.

At their October 31, 2008 meeting, Council unanimously approved the staff recommendation instructing staff to work with Metrolinx to undertake "the functional design, detail design and construction of the B-line rapid transit corridor for the City of Hamilton in their 2009 - 2013 (5-year) Capital Budget, utilizing Light Rail Technology".

After many delays, Metrolinx finally published its rapid transit benefits case analysis for the B-Line in February 2010. It concluded that LRT is more expensive to build than BRT but provides the greatest net economic, environmental, social and user benefits.

Meanwhile, city staff continued the job of engaging stakeholders - including neighbouring residents, business and property owners and developers - and undertaking the planning, design and engineering work necessary to make a finalized plan. This work was supported by $3 million in funding from the Province to undertake a class environmental assessment.

Summer 2011 Train Wreck

It looked like everything was going fine, until this past May, when a Spectator article about all-day GO train service called that initiative Mayor Bob Bratina's "No. 1 priority" with nary a mention of LRT. Neither Mayor Bratina nor city manager Chris Murray responded to my request for comments on the priority of LRT.

Then, in early July, Mayor Bratina told the Spectator he has reservations about LRT and doesn't think it has much public support. "We're not hearing any kind of clamour from the public on that file."

Around the same time, Councillors Brad Clark and Chad Collins complained during a planning committee meeting that they felt they were "slowly being backed into a corner" on LRT and that council should "regain control of its destiny" after staff presented an intensification plan along the B-Line corridor to support private investment related to LRT.

LRT advocates and supporters responded by raising a clamour in favour of LRT so the Mayor and Council would be reminded that LRT does have strong public support and should still be a top priority.

Councillor Clark responded by suggesting that LRT supporters were overreacting.

Nobody on council has stated that they oppose LRT or that we are reconsidering. We are acting with all due diligence, waiting for a decision from the province on funding at which point we must make a final decision.

But over the next two months, things went from bad to worse. Mayor Bratina and Murray went together onto the Bill Kelly Show on CHML to say that the city is not hearing any interest from developers about LRT and to suggest that it is unclear what lands along the B-Line corridor might be available for new transit-oriented development.

Over the summer, Bratina went back onto the Bill Kelly Show several more times and continued to downplay and discredit LRT further with each visit. On August 31, Bratina told Kelly that LRT is "not a priority" and added:

if somehow a million people move to Hamilton over the next five years and we have traffic congestion all over the place, we will look at all transit options including LRT. It's a transit option. That's all it is.

LRT Office Suspended

On Friday, July 15, Murray sent an email to Council just before leaving on vacation to inform them that he had decided to "suspend all current direct and indirect activities of the Light Rail Transit Initiative other than any work activities required to be completed under the agreement" with the Province to undertake the environmental assessment. Instead, Murray appointed a special task force to work on all-day GO train service.

Both Metrolinx and the Provincial government were caught off guard. Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin warned Hamilton: "To be clear, the City has got to set priorities for the City" and the Province would follow the City's lead.

Metrolinx noted that the city did not have to choose between LRT and all-day GO: "both rapid transit initiatives planned for Hamilton - the Hamilton LRT and all day GO Train service from Toronto to Hamilton - are viable and can co-exist. Hamilton's current rapid transit situation is not an 'either-or' scenario."

This major change in city policy was made without any Council direction, but when Murray was challenged about his email after returning from vacation, he condescendingly replied, "I would suggest reading the email again."

Jill Stephen, director of the Rapid Transit Office, didn't know about Murray's decision until she returned from vacation to find it in her inbox. Staffing at the Rapid Transit Office was all but eliminated as the team was redeployed to other projects.

Stephen was assigned to the City's Pan Am Initiatives file after its previous manager, Trish Chant-Sehl, quit working the city. Then, just last week, Stephen herself resigned from the City to work for Niagara Region instead.

Who Is In Charge?

This weekend, the campaign to discredit, de-fund and de-prioritize reached its nadir, when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty told the Spectator that LRT in Hamilton is no longer a provincial priority.

[All-day GO train service] was the No. 1 ask of the city. We've had some important conversations with the mayor, and this is their priority, which made it our priority. Over time, we can enter into other discussions about things like the LRT.

This is a sharp break from provincial policy back in 2007, when they ran for re-election on the promise of "two light rails lines across Hamilton".

As Councillor Brad Clark notes, it's also a sharp break from city policy, given that Council has never voted either to de-prioritize LRT or to make all-day GO a priority instead.

Did the Mayor and City Manager make that decision [to suspend work on LRT and make all-day GO its top priority]? Because council has not made that decision. It was never brought to us to have a discussion.

Anyone who has followed this story must be wondering who is really in charge: the Mayor, the senior management team, or Council? While the Mayor campaigns along with the Liberals who rubber-stamped his unilateral policy change, citizens and the rest of Council are left on the sidelines.

Are we going to sit back and let this happen?

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. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 16:18:21

I like most of the article but can't believe you're reprinting Clark's election year insinuations

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2011 at 16:26:51 in reply to Comment 69619

Clark may have his reasons for speaking up now, but that doesn't mean what he's saying about Council's involvement in the decision to prioritize all-day GO service isn't true.

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By bob (registered) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 16:36:56 in reply to Comment 69621

some of them are true for sure. But the connection to the provincial liberals? Bob's been stumping for them for years. I can understand Brad is miffed that Bob's ineptitude has led to a liberal win, but I don't yet buy the conspiracy. I don't think you do either, which may be why you left it dangling with just a wiff of suggestion - but it's still playing into Clark's hands.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2011 at 17:00:20 in reply to Comment 69625

I have been scratching my head all summer, trying to understand why Mayor Bratina has decided he doesn't like our LRT plan any more. None of the possibilities I've come up with are particularly satisfying, and in any case all of them are mere speculation.

That said, at a minimum the Liberals must be pleased that Hamilton's Mayor has given them a convenient 'out' so they don't have to follow through on their expensive 2007 promise to build LRT in Hamilton.

Wherever the decision was made to make all-day GO train service to Hamilton the City's and Province's top priority and to de-prioritize LRT to some undefined point in the distant future, that decision was emphatically not made in view of the public.

If the Liberals and the Mayor want to avoid the whiff of collusion, they're going about it the wrong way.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-14 17:01:24

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By theOther (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 19:21:02 in reply to Comment 69631

Stop scratching your head, Ryan, you'll need that hair for the cold winter approaching. I'm leaning to the suggestion of other cynical observers that the Premier had his local operatives Sophie and Ted advise our co-mayors, Bobs B and Y, that he would underwrite their new playground in exchange for a pass on the monies he had pledged Hamilton for LRT in 2007. Because money is going to get much, much tighter post-election, no matter who forms the government, and every party knows it.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2011 at 18:22:10 in reply to Comment 69631

Social Media and Politics Make For Good Bedfellows

"I am not denigrating those who think politics is majorly impacted by social media. No, on the contrary, I am saying I think it’s a shame that more folks don’t equate social media to causes, to raising money, to raising awareness, etc. ~ Steve Olenski"

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 08:19:26 in reply to Comment 69636

Ignorance - from utter lack of professional knowledge of what they support and speak, and their reluctance to engage with those with differing opinions, who would know better. The result is that those very people who pilloried Clr. Lloyd Ferguson just a year ago with the most grotesque posters and vile comments, are now most willing to have his baby upon merely hearing that he supports their untenable views on LRT in our economic times. Such is the depth of character of this legacy.

Now's the time Mahesh. Explain what about the LRT views are untenable.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 19:47:22 in reply to Comment 69647

The untenability of LRT in your own words:

"I agree that the Mayor and Council must make a prudent, evidence-based decision. ..."I was confused and disappointed by this report, and hoped he had been perhaps misquoted. After all, Bob Bratina strongly supported LRT when he was Ward 2 Councillor, and when Council voted unanimously to endorse Hamilton's LRT bid."~ Nicholas Kevlahan

Bratina's Statement

Here is the full text of Mayor Bratina's response to me [Nicholas Kevlahan] from July 05, 2011:

"We are completing our mandated Planning, Design and Engineering study for LRT and approaching the time of critical decision. Council will base its decision on answers to a number of questions upon which the success of the project will hinge. Simply put risks will be measured against rewards, based on analysis and evaluation of information accumulated through the process.

The critical missing piece to date is financing and the local contribution that would likely be required. Since our Council is committed to a four year plan of zero tax increases in a sustainable regime of service delivery, and no commitment has yet been made by Council the Waterloo case provides a helpful funding model for our consideration. I have copied it below.

My personal enthusiasm for LRT is tempered by certain realities involving risk. The current example of Edinburgh Scotland's LRT project can be studied through many links.

Hamilton's current estimated cost is $830 million (2008) dollars. Below is the analysis provided for Waterloo Region. This is one of many pieces that will guide Council in its decision on LRT."

Respectfully,

Bob Bratina, Mayor, City of Hamilton

LRT: What will this cost me? (BB)

Construction: $818 million. This includes estimated inflation impacts until the launch of construction in 2014. Senior governments are paying up to $565 million, leaving $253 million to local taxpayers.

Operating subsidy: $13.7 million a year in 2017 declining to $9.1 million a year by 2031.

Local tax impact: Council is considering an increase of up to 10.5 per cent in regional taxes, phased in between 2012 and 2018. This pays for rail transit construction and operating costs and expands bus service by 25 per cent to support rail transit.

Over seven years an average home (assessed at $254,000) would pay a total of $700 as tax increases are phased in. By 2018 annual taxes on an average home would be $175 higher than today.

However: Council will consider an alternate financing plan to increase regional taxes by seven per cent, phased in between 2012 and 2018. This pays for rail transit construction and operating costs and expands bus service by 25 per cent. Funding for the remaining transit costs would be paid out of tax savings from other programs.

Over seven years an average home would pay a total of $450 as tax increases are phased in. By 2018 annual taxes on an average home would be $113 higher than today.

For comparison under this option, a home assessed at $400,000 would pay a total of $709 over seven years as tax increases are phased in. By 2018 annual property taxes would be $177 higher than today.

Can the tax impact on existing homes be further reduced?

Politicians could seek to increase development charges on new buildings. This would need provincial approval. They could also designate new taxes from new buildings to the project.

........

Why Bratina is on the Right Track - Even if he Can't Explain - By Ray Lawlor, August 01, 2011, Opinion

"Very interesting read. But I'm gonna go meta for a moment and notice that even though this article goes against the 'RTH consensus' on LRT the comments are respectful and even complimentary. So much for RTH being intolerant. Mostly what we don't tolerate are anonymous trolls and random haters who drop in long enough to throw around some feces." - z jones -Comment, August 02, 2011

........

So, is this really community engagement?

"After Murray's and Mayor Bratina's comments over the past two weeks, and the fact that all work beyond meeting our contractual obligations to the province have been suspended and all the staff reassigned, it's abundantly clear what is going on. LRT has just been de-prioritized to death." - Ryan, comment July 19, 2011

"Just to clarify: Metrolinx coordinates regional rapid transit in the GTHA, but all funding decisions and funds will come from the Province (or from the Feds via the Province).- Ryan-comment - July 20, 2011

  • Mayor Bratina Visits Bill Kelly - Again - Graham Crawford, July 26, 2011, Light Rail

  • Myths and Facts about Light Rail Transit, by Ryan McGreal, August 04, 2011, Special Report: Light Rail

  • Mayor Responds to Kevlahan on Light Rail - "In fact the LRT team was advised in May by senior management, not Chris Murray, on the recommendation of team leader Jill Stephen, that the mandated work would be completed and the team reassigned to their seconded positions by years end, when the contracted positions' terms expired... The City may well continue its own planning efforts, we may ask metrolinx for more money, based on the information we will receive from Jill Stephen's group. Councillor Ferguson was completely out of line in his public statements, as I subsequently pointed out to him. No strategic decision was made by Chris Murray, except to ensure that the mandated work is completed in a timely fashion. ~(BB)" -- "I am grateful that he took the time to read my contributions to the public discussion over urban planning and LRT in Hamilton. Public debate is important... ~(NK) - Nicholas Kevlahan, August 05, 2011, Light Rail

  • Murray: 'I Would Suggest Reading the Email Again' - Ryan McGreal, August 12, 2011, Light Rail

  • More Words of Comfort from Dear Leader - Graham Crawford, September 06, 2011, Commentary

  • "Time for a huge public push-back. Our City, Our Future..." - jason - comment, September 14, 2011

  • Clark: Hamilton is Being Played on LRT- Ryan McGreal, September 12, 2011, Special Report: Light Rail

"Yep, sounds like a logical thing for any mayor to do. Turn down hundreds of millions in investment paid by the province" - jason--comment, September 12, 2011

  • A Short History of LRT Planning in Hamilton - Are we going to sit back and let this happen? "We can't properly evaluate the state of LRT planning in Hamilton today without the context of the four-year history that brought us here." - Ryan McGreal, September 14, 2011, Special Report: Light Rail

" I have been scratching my head all summer, trying to understand why Mayor Bratina has decided he doesn't like our LRT plan any more. None of the possibilities I've come up with are particularly satisfying, and in any case all of them are mere speculation." - Ryan--comment September 14, 2011

Note: It is interesting to observe that while all editorial opinions on LRT are filed as "Report" or "Special Report" - all opposing opinions & responses on LRT are filed as: "Opinions" or "Light Rail" -- and openly allowed to be vilified by un-moderated comments.

........

"Ryan, ...Do you realize how this evangelical zeal which takes no prisoners - has in fact ended up deeply hurting the odds of the Liberals in Hamilton - not to mention the very cause of the alternative transportation strategy for the City of Hamilton? Dissent was never a zero-sum game." - Mahesh, comment, September 12, 2011

Come on even Laura Babcock, Martinus Geleynse or Mark Cripps manages to do a better job of evangelizing selective community views than what RTH is doing on LRT and WH views.

In the memorable quote from Undustrial's tag line: "We shouldn't be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas." — Noam Chomsky

Brandon, my views on the untenability of LRT will be self-published soon, as a comment -(not as an opinion, special report or a commentary), under the same thread where you managed to define Hamilton's single biggest comprehension obstacle - so very profoundly with your: "Switch to a flat view and the problem is solved!"

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-09-15 20:05:09

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 00:01:14 in reply to Comment 69699

Deconstructing Dissent

On July 05, 2011 - Mayor Bratina starts his reply to Nicholas Kevlahan with:

"We are completing our mandated Planning, Design and Engineering study for LRT and approaching the time of critical decision. Council will base its decision on answers to a number of questions upon which the success of the project will hinge. Simply put risks will be measured against rewards, based on analysis and evaluation of information accumulated through the process."

This above reply is published on RTH by Nicholas Kevlahan on July 05 - with his opening remark stating that:

"A Spectator article last week of June 30 suggests that Mayor Bob Bratina may no longer support LRT" ---immediately followed by a highly selective quotation from the Spec article attributed to the Mayor.---

Never mind that this Spec article referred to by Kevlahan contained only 4 lines of LRT views, of what was essentially a 48 line pro-business infomercial about the business associations circling the wagon to get a break on the proposal to hike the industrial development fees from $8.85 to $10.58 per square foot - with an obvious view to get the Mayor to comply to their views on the fees issue.

It was only fifteen days after this Spec article and ten days after the Mayor's clearly spelled out position on the LRT cost issue which has by now been widely circulated in the public domain -- that on July 15, City Manager Chris Murray sends out an email to Council and support staff stating his decision to: "suspend all current direct and indirect activities of the Light Rail Transit Initiative other than any work activities required to be completed under the agreement."

Two day later, on July 18, Murray's email is reproduced on RTH in its entirety.

By July 05, the council surely has to have been fully aware of the Mayor's view on the LRT - as well as the City Manager's directions.

In spite of clearly knowing that the concerns were primarily about "costs" from the beginning - the RTH editor & staff along with Nicholas Kevlahan in their missionary zeal to bring LRT to Hamilton, sadly chose to frame the story as that of: the Council & citizens being blindsided by the Mayor & the City Manager.

In fact it was RTH who chose to support the initial call for clamor: "We need to give Mayor Bratina and the rest of Council a clamour they can't ignore!" -- from which emerged an unfolding of the pathetic spectacle of dissent.

It is RTH & the Transit lobby group who rightfully should shoulder the blame for grossly messing up the debate on LRT in our city and take full responsibility for its fallout on the Alternative Transportation Strategy in the coming years.

They can choose to learn from it quickly and correct their misguided perceptions of "dissent" - or continue to remain in denial and perpetuate the polarization of our city with its continuing misread of economics, design, politics and political intent.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-09-16 00:15:43

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 08:27:13 in reply to Comment 69714

One quick question for you Mahesh. How many votes does the Mayor have on Council?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:49:38 in reply to Comment 69717

Thank you for the question Brandon.

Mayor Bratina (much like Larry DiIanni) has more votes on the council than Fred had.

So the answer to your question is: it all depends on the Mayor's ability to use the power of "One" positively.

In Fred's defence - he had many more votes besides his own vote - however, he mistook the votes on RTH for council votes - which gave the illusion of community consensus, but instead, ended up ripping it apart.

Hope that answers your question my friend. If not - I have tried below to hold a mirror to your/RTH's own words, in the hope of clarifying things further:

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 14:59:18 in reply to Comment 69752

You're missing the point.

To answer it for you, as you seem unable to grasp some simple concepts, is that he has a single vote.

Regardless of the "rightness" of his position. Regardless of whether or not he personally feels that we can afford LRT or not, it doesn't matter. He cannot unilaterally make decisions to deprioritize things that council has already prioritized.

Part of the problem is that we don't know exactly what the funding status is. We have rumours. We have vague promises from the provincial Liberals. Maybe no one knows. Maybe we have to wait till after the election as the conservatives aren't likely to fund something like this, particularly for NDP leaning Hamilton. We have a mayor who apparently can't be bothered to find out what the facts are as he didn't go back to Metrolynx to ask for confirmation, claiming it was his job to gather facts, not cheerlead for LRT.

If it is going to be funded 100% by the province as some rumours have said then you'd have to be pretty foolish to turn them down. If it is going to be funded only partially then we'd have to look at it more closely depending on the level of funding. If it isn't going to be funded at all we probably can't afford to do it. But until we have those answers, nothing can properly be decided.

What RTH and other LRT supporters are trying to do is get the mayor to come out into the open with his decision making process and convince council openly with his reasons, feelings, instincts, or whatever he feels like using. This is the ugly process known as democracy. The problem with giving people a vote is that sometimes they make the wrong decision which is why you have to persuade them, something the current mayor seems unable or unwilling to do.

As a sidenote, do you seriously believe that it was RTH that led Fred into a false sense of security? Nothing to do with a last second power play by the Cats?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 16:05:56 in reply to Comment 69760

Good politics is about knowing the difference between persuasion and abuse.

Fred only learned of this - post Oct 25, 2010. RTH is still unwilling to learn about this - hence Hamilton's present LRT quandary.

The writing on the state of committed funding for LRT was already on the wall in early summer.

RTH and the LRT lobbyist simply chose to ignore it. See my comment on this here:

With LRT it has never been the question of affordability, it is always the question of the main financiers investment timing viz. their current bank balance vs. available balance at time of commitment.

In your opinion - was the snookering of the Setting Sails Plan a case of "unilaterally deprioritizing things" that a council and the community had once already prioritized?

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-09-16 16:13:02

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 20:04:25 in reply to Comment 69767

And how is it good politics to suddenly stop almost all work on LRT and disband the LRT group when the leader of the group wasn't informed until she got back from vacation. And now she's gone. How does Bob plan on replacing that intellectual capital?

He supported LRT a few years ago, then in the mayoral race he started throwing spanners in the works by suggesting that we start with the A-line instead of the B-line, despite all the work and planning that had gone into the B-line, then it suddenly became "GO Transit" is our number one priority! How is this "Good local support"? With friends like that...

The Liberals haven't reneged yet, they've just acknowledged the mayor's change in priorities. They're probably happy about it, but that's not the same as reneging. In fact now, in the face of an election, would be an excellent time to try and get a commitment out of them.

As far as Setting Sail goes, from what I understand it was Council, not Fred, that made the decision due to an unexpected source of funding for a specific purpose. Had that funding opportunity not arisen, the changes wouldn't have been made. One person didn't make that decision. See the difference?

The abuse that Fred learned of was that of trusting a businessman to act in the best interests of the city instead of his own. Bob Young was involved right from the very beginning and Council voted seven times to approve WH as the location of choice. Again, not unilateral, not abuse by any stretch of the imagination.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 17, 2011 at 09:21:02 in reply to Comment 69777

Brandon, my apologies for making you ask questions and have you answer them too.

I think, I am beginning to get it now. Thanks for your patience.

"What RTH and other LRT supporters are trying to do is get the mayor to come out into the open with his decision making process and convince council openly with his reasons, feelings, instincts, or whatever he feels like using."

So that is the game! Why didn't you just tell me that at the beginning and make things easier for me? Now, we can simply use your "flat view" approach and quickly get signatures of all the Councillors for not being convinced 'openly', and really nail this thing down, right?

"This is the ugly process known as democracy."

I would never have known that. Hence all the abuse and slander. It is the process that is ugly, and all this while I thought it was slanderous people that were ugly. So silly of me! No wonder we couldn't see eye to eye for so long.

"The problem with giving people a vote is that sometimes they make the wrong decision which is why you have to persuade them, something the current mayor seems unable or unwilling to do."

So Brandon, why don't we just not give a vote to people since it is going to be such a headache sometimes. You know we can just follow Fred's example with WH of taking away the vote of the people living there, and there is no persuasion involved at all. The only issue may be the council, but we can easily get them to vote seven times openly, and besides everyone that really matters in the city is at RTH anyway with its own voting system as back up if ever the council fails to comply.

Things seemed so right with Fred. Why can't we just go back to those simple times.

Thank you Brandon for clarifying things so well, and all along I thought that it was me who could not tell the forest from the trees.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 13:14:46 in reply to Comment 69787

You really are thin skinned, aren't you?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 16:23:54 in reply to Comment 69795

Brandon please don't waste any more time on this guy, he'd rather play childish games to make himself feel superior than have a real debate.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 17, 2011 at 14:47:26 in reply to Comment 69795

I keep complimenting you and you keep insulting me in return. This is so unfair Brandon.

Maybe we should meet for coffee the next time rTH'ers meetup and get to know each other better to dispel any misunderstandings. Are you ok with that?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted September 18, 2011 at 14:33:29 in reply to Comment 69799

I keep complimenting you and you keep insulting me in return. This is so unfair Brandon.

Your "compliments" leave a little bit to be desired.

Maybe we should meet for coffee the next time rTH'ers meetup and get to know each other better to dispel any misunderstandings. Are you ok with that?

I'd have no trouble with that.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 19:33:52 in reply to Comment 69821

I'd have no trouble with that.

Drop me an email at mystoneycreek@gmail.com and I'll send details of our next get-together.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 18:58:34 in reply to Comment 69821

I am so glad to hear that Brandon! and do look fwd to meeting up over a coffee.

Also, I take full responsibility for any hurt I may have caused you with all my words.

Hope to see you soon.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted September 18, 2011 at 20:28:19 in reply to Comment 69826

Hey, I'm the one with the thick skin. :)

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By This is gettting hard to read (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2011 at 15:23:36 in reply to Comment 69821

I think this comment nesting feature needs to be fixed.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 21:06:58 in reply to Comment 69699

Once again, a massive amount of text, but it really doesn't say all that much.

Note: It is interesting to observe that while all editorial opinions on LRT are filed as "Report" or "Special Report" - all opposing opinions & responses on LRT are filed as: "Opinions" or "Light Rail" -- and openly allowed to be vilified by un-moderated comments.

Why does this surprise you? People who are on the RTH staff file reports, guests file opinions. You will note that opinions are welcome by the RTH staff. As far as moderating the discussion, if Ryan did you'd be complaining that he was stifling dissent. Oh, wait, you already do complain about that.

Brandon, my views on the untenability of LRT will be self-published soon, as a comment -(not as an opinion, special report or a commentary), under the same thread where you managed to define Hamilton's single biggest comprehension obstacle - so very profoundly with your: "Switch to a flat view and the problem is solved!"

Ignoring the smarminess inherent in this remark and the completely out of context quoting, you're the one complaining that if you look at it from your view it's almost impossible to figure out what's going on, so what does that say about you?

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 21:45:56 in reply to Comment 69704

Brandon, You are lowering the IQ average of the entire knowledge economy single handedly.

Think you want to stop while you are ahead?

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:06:48 in reply to Comment 69705

get your own anonymous handle 'bob lee'. This one is taken.

To Brandon: I, the original bob lee, disagree entirely with what my doppelganger just said, find Mahesh entirely boring, and have not read a word he has written in quite some time.

WTF are you getting at anyway Mahesh? I'm guessing this is some diabolical pseudo-funny game which no one understands but yourself. I guarantee you'll come back saying it wasn't you. But I seem to remember a past comment thread, I think on the Connaught, where something very similar happened.

I guess it's time to register...

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 16:19:07 in reply to Comment 69726

I...find Mahesh entirely boring, and have not read a word he has written in quite some time.

WTF are you getting at anyway Mahesh?

LMAO

Why do you care what he's getting at if he's 'entirely boring'?!?

Are you training to be a politician, by any chance...?

: )

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-09-16 16:19:29

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 23:22:42 in reply to Comment 69769

I'm pissed off about the identity theft above otherwise I'd normally not register you. Why do I care what he's getting at if he's entirely boring? Because he used my tag line to attack Brandon after he was repeatedly schooled on his bullshit. And now you, the other verbose bore on this site, are getting on my case complete with passive aggressive smileys and what to you is a hilarious expose of my faulty logic.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 08:20:37 in reply to Comment 69780

And now you, the other verbose bore on this site, are getting on my case complete with passive aggressive smileys

Uh... No.

I don't need to play the 'passive-aggressive' card. In fact, what you see is me being nice. If I wanted to engage in ass-hattery, believe me, I could. However, there are times when things venture from the comical into the absurd and when they occur, I find myself champing at the bit...and usually respond in what you would refer to as a 'passive-agressive' way.

You might enjoy one of our RTHers get-togethers. Drop me a line at mystoneycreek@gmail.com.

Yours truly,

The Other Verbose Bore on This Site.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 16:22:31

Looks like fait accompli to me.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 16:37:10

Time for a huge public push-back. Our City, Our Future

I can't believe how many times in the past month I've overheard people casually chatting over lunch or coffee at a cafe and about LRT. So far, everyone has been asking the same question - 'why is the city trying to throw it away'??

There are a myriad of potential answers to that question, and all of them suck. We, as the taxpaying citizens, need to fight back hard and not allow a one-term administration to derail years of planning, and a huge plank of our future economic growth.

Comment edited by jason on 2011-09-14 16:37:49

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By townhallshamilton (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 08:49:52 in reply to Comment 69626

Time for a huge public push-back. Our City, Our Future

I'll see your effort and raise you one arguably more impactful...

: )

Comment edited by townhallshamilton on 2011-09-16 08:52:57

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 09:34:52 in reply to Comment 69626

We, as the taxpaying citizens, need to fight back hard...

Buckle up, it could be a rough ride

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 16:38:02

Your article provides the background and asks the questions, but leaves me waiting for an answer.

What more can we do?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 08:29:23

It was a $17 billion proposal, not $17 million...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 10:01:15 in reply to Comment 69648

Good catch - fixed.

But hey, what's a few orders of magnitude among friends?

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By Synxer (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 10:08:28

Tories play crime card; Liberals warn that plan is dangerous

"...both parties are trying to avoid a discussion of the fact that the government elected Oct. 6 is likely going to have make painful spending cuts."

http://www.thespec.com/news/elections/ar...

Is Mayor Bratina mixing city with party politics?

"Bratina said his participation shouldn't be considered an endorsement of the Liberals."

http://www.thespec.com/news/elections/ar...

Bratina doesn't want LRT and it looks good on the Liberal budget to axe it. Smells of collusion.

Comment edited by Synxer on 2011-09-15 10:10:39

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 21:44:17

Bratina has not acknowledged the fact that the best way to improve accessibility to all-day GO service to James St. N (where there will be very limited parking, according to current concepts) is through better local transit, specifically rapid transit. A north-south line along James/Upper James would do so directly and connect with the suburban areas of the south end of the city, and the B-line would be a key feeder for it providing links from east and west.

Is the mayor ignorant of that? Or is he trying to put a horse in front of a cart and will eventually argue that if we have regular GO service we'll need better local transit? If the latter, does he realize we can plan and make a case for both??

But why the lack of local engagement, even among council? It's all very weird, and I think it's tarnished the mayoral chain of office.

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By Slim (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 12:11:08

The conversation is getting a little thin here.

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By AETHERMAN (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 20:00:54

LRT = Lost Revenue Tomorrow! IF LRT happens, it will make RIBBONS happen in peoples underpants when they see increases on their property tax bill, year after year! Oh ya, don't forget about the excuses for increasing the fair costs for passengers year after year! Hamilton needs it's roads and infrastructure repaired FIRST before any Luxury rail tranSHIT!

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