Special Report: Light Rail

One More Appeal for LRT in Hamilton

Our only hope for LRT at this point is to convince the Province to save Hamilton from its own short-sightedness.

By RTH Staff
Published March 11, 2015

First of all, thank you to everyone who has expressed support for light rail transit (LRT) over the years. The effort to achieve LRT in Hamilton has been long and often frustrating, and the last several years have been characterized by confusion, delay and obstruction from our leaders.

Despite all that, thousands of Hamiltonians have spoken up in favour of LRT. Just last week, Council received more than 100 personal statements of support.

Nevertheless, our Councillors voted to approve the HSR Ten Year Transit Strategy, a highly political document designed to sideline LRT by deferring it beyond the current round of Provincial rapid transit funding.

The Ten Year Strategy was crafted to achieve three political goals:

The approval of the Ten Year Strategy confirms the LRT Plan as a zombie program with no funding, no timelines, no development and no public engagement. We've already seen how quickly public support can drift in the absence of public consultation over the past few years.

Our only hope at this point is to convince the Province to save Hamilton from its own short-sightedness.

http://hamiltonlightrail.ca/statements/new

That would require the Province to agree to fund both the $302 million in local transit investment - of which $200 million will go toward a new bus maintenance and storage facility - and the $811 million in rapid transit investment.

This is not as crazy as it sounds. It is actually in the Province's interest to do this:

So please take a few moments and send a message to the Province asking them to fund both the Ten Year Strategy and the Rapid Ready LRT plan. In addition, please consider forwarding this link to someone else who might also be willing to express their support for LRT.

http://hamiltonlightrail.ca/statements/new

29 Comments

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 12:39:05

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By Blah (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:51:40 in reply to Comment 110135

More ramblings... blah, blah, blah. That you continue to think you have anything valuable to offer to this discussion tells me you are operating under the burden of extreme insanity.

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By walter_hbd (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 16:01:59 in reply to Comment 110147

This guy.. is he whitehead?

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 07:39:00 in reply to Comment 110164

No way - too well-written.

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By YouJustAint (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:01:19 in reply to Comment 110135

Hush now children, Professor Umbrage has spoken

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By screwed (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:05:07

We're basically screwed. Thank you council for having zero leadership. No amount of civic outcry is enough if our leaders don't care to make it an issue.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:19:35

Killing LRT is a victory for short term thinking. But this should be expected, as when did council last make a long term decision on anything? Aerotropolis?

There are further benefits than stated. Health care being a big ticket item, the increased physical activity of urbanites leads to lower costs, and with increased density it is easier and cheaper to service those health care needs.

But the real factor is economic. Long term costs for almost everything are lower with more density, and if that density is functional for all land uses, economic output can be higher than the status quo.

So the choice is: status quo which limits short term costs. Side effects net negative, long term circling the drain.

Or LRT and similar density enhancing projects: higher short term costs, but mostly born by the province, long term economic benefits, side effects net positive.

How can anyone, even not very enlightened people, choose the former? Cenophobia, fear of new ideas.

This is really hard to fight in the best of cases, but in a city that is now majority suburban it just might be unattainable.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 14:57:07 in reply to Comment 110140

A great articulation of my own similar perspective. I think until someone can simply and effectively communicate the cost-implications of continued sprawl/suburbanization to the individual, I think non-lower city ridings will continue to view LRT with "Terry Whitehead" mind-boggle goggles.

As a suburbanite, I can steer conversations with my neighbours into rationale support for downtown investment. But, I get the sense that their immediate emotional response views major infrastructure investment as a distant benefit to someone else. Especially since the few of my Ancaster neighbours I chat with work outside amalgamated Hamilton anyway. Which, in it of itself, is both the symptom and the problem.

In a perfect world, we could cater to those with limited foresight and a disregard for sustainability by showing, for example, the property tax implications of these decisions. And, ideally, it would like like this: 'Here's what you should be paying: (1.75x current amount). Here's what you do pay: (not nearly the costs incurred), Here's what should be paying in 10 years with current suburbanization: (troubling amount), Here's what you should pay with urbanization commitment: (more comfortable amount)

That message could be sugared further by explaining how heightened demand, due limiting supply due to less sprawl building, could increase market demand for existing suburban properties.

Everybody leaves the trough happy and healthy.

*Drops mic, heads toward bartender *

Comment edited by slodrive on 2015-03-12 14:57:34

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 12, 2015 at 15:08:32 in reply to Comment 110155

That is what they did in Waterloo Region. They calculated the cost of not building LRT and explained it clearly and directly to people in the urban centres, people in the suburbs, and people in the rurals. They articulated how LRT benefits everyone and spent years directly engaging with thousands and thousands of residents.

We never calculated the cost of not investing. Our Planning and Economic Development Department has not really been involved beyond doing a Nodes and Corridors land use study in 2010/2011 and hosting focus groups at the various station locations.

Our Rapid Transit Office, located in the Public Works Department, was suspended unilaterally in mid-2011 and never really recovered. They eventually limped out with the Rapid Ready report in early 2013 but the public consultation piece - in fact, any public communication at all - ground to a halt in 2011 and never resumed.

Hamilton could be a case study in how not to undertake a large, complex infrastructure project - or a case study in how senior management can ensure it doesn't happen.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-03-12 15:09:40

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 00:37:15 in reply to Comment 110157

I find it strange that after all the references to Waterloo's LRT you never mention all the opposition it has faced there. Wasn't there even a legal challenge that eventually failed? Weren't there many businesses opposed to the construction of the LRT? But then we know that you never see anything you don't want to see. Just ignore any facts that oppose your little fantasy world.

That's the way to do it.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 19:46:10 in reply to Comment 110308

Facts suck don't they LOL?

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 06:30:46 in reply to Comment 110308

Once in a while if done with discernment, spending a few minutes reading, and answering a troll, is worthwhile. I have learned (and re-learned) some cool things while making coffee and spending five minutes the web. So I answer not LOL, who is not here to interact constructively but only run his mouth, rather this is for anyone else who is curious what the answer to this mental diarrhea would be.

A coalition of LRT opponents tried to stop it via legal challenge that the environmental assessment was not completed properly. It was thrown out of court because the environmental assessment was completed properly. The challenge was withdrawn and not appealed. It was a hail mary pass by haters trying to kill the project.

The 2014 election in Waterloo was used as an LRT referendum. The individual running for mayor on anti-LRT platform got 17% of votes.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-03-19 06:33:27

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2015 at 19:33:16 in reply to Comment 110309

Jay Aissa, the leader of the coalition trying to stop the LRT, ran for regional chair against Ken Seiling in 2014. Seiling won re-election with 63,885 votes, compared to 25,615 votes for Aissa.

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By circlingthedrain (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:23:08 in reply to Comment 110140

Yep, you said it. Suburban sprawl is a drag on the budget and suburban politics is a drag on the ability to make better decisions.

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By Dalan (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 15:42:33

Is there any interest in holding a rally at Queen's Park?!!? Emails, petitions, and bodies, in that order, probably more effective.

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By JWilbur (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 17:34:01

Perhaps this proves that we need to turn away from City Council and take a page out of Russell Brand's playbook. City Council consistently refuses to act in the best interests of the City of Hamilton. We don't need to keep proving that. We don't need to keep wasting our energy on trying to make City Council something that it is not - progressive. We should find ways to work around them to organize civic power and exert that power outside of the existing channels. That may be the only way to move forward.

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By Eggem (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 07:13:24 in reply to Comment 110167

That's what I've been saying all along. We need to think OUTSIDE THE BOX. Rallies, eggs, etc.

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By LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle (registered) - website | Posted March 13, 2015 at 11:14:39

This is my optional comment in the LRT Initiative petition:


Dear Premier Wynne and Our Provincial Government,

We have a cultural problem in Hamilton. Our City Council won't listen to City Staff recommendations on its many traffic and transit plans, because it has drinken too much of the Robert Moses Kool-Aid about cars being the prime mode of personal transportation.

We all know that vehicle traffic is needed for moving masses of people and products around. But there is an orthodoxy, bordering on religious fervour in this city, that states: Anyone who does not own a car is not a real citizen, and has no right of expectation to easy transport around the city. It's a conflation of Plutocratic thinking that those who have the most money make the rules, and only those who participate correctly in our economic hierarchy should have a voice. This is patently absurd, and yet the myth persists because our City Council will do nothing to reeducate the populace.

This series of blunders is getting so hard to take. Hamilton's City Council has been hijacked by a bunch of irresponsible politicians who have no interest in seeing our lower city recover from the neglect and poor management of the last twenty-odd years. There is a growing groundswell of support for innovative solutions to our population, transit and taxation problems, but due to shortsightedness and deliberate misinformation and confusion of the residents of Hamilton, there is still no proper consensus on things like the LRT portfolio.

Everyone knows we need to make changes, but no one wants to commit because they don't want to be seen as 'tax-and-spend'. Too many people in Hamilton have been conditioned to think all investment expenditures are equally bad in Hamilton, and will only endorse familiar old thinking like 'roads and houses first'.

The city's 'vision' priority is now set for filling potholes, of which we have many, because of the same mismanagement and shortsightedness that is going to lose us this golden opportunity.

Sadly, Hamilton has a fairly well-established history of investing in the wrong projects and doubling down on the future of urban sprawl and Single Occupant Vehicle road traffic. The dream of Robert Moses has been proven to be a mistake, but Hamilton City Council is set to commit us to at least ten more years of inactivity and deferral, and another attempt to revive and move this city forward will be swept out of our reach.

I'm tired of this. I've lived in this city virtually my whole life (except those three months I spent in Oakville; don't tell Hamilton, please), and for the first time in my life, I'm seriously considering leaving for good, because Hamilton simply cannot grow up and out of its infantile dependence upon cars.

So my ask of you this day is to please, commit to Hamilton's need for Light Rail Transit. Please do so in unequivocal terms, so that the myriad voices of doubt in our community will be reassured once and for all on this issue. Hamiltonians need to see that this is not chicanery; not more political smoke and mirrors designed to stick us with a tab we're so deathly afraid of that we won't even order dinner.

It's time for this province to move forward, and I think we can all agree that if Hamilton doesn't come along, the whole project is going to be weighed down by the same wasteful foot-dragging practices that have gotten us this far, which is to say, absolutely nowhere. Help us to help you. Many of us are determined that LRT is an essential part of the formula for our rebirth. Without it, new investment and urban intensification will stall, and we'll lose our core and the city will fall so deep into debt that it winds up bankrupt like Detroit; a fate no city should have to suffer in this country.


I know I've reiterated a few of my regular points about this stuff, but I figured it bore repeating for the Premier, whom I suspect does not follow me on Twitter, or reads my pithy comments on RTH.

Comment edited by LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle on 2015-03-13 11:17:59

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By Morgan (registered) | Posted March 16, 2015 at 10:58:44 in reply to Comment 110199

Great letter.

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By JWilbur (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 12:29:09 in reply to Comment 110199

This might be worth reading after a good editor has had a go.

Comment edited by JWilbur on 2015-03-13 12:30:45

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By Logic (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 11:18:18

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By RTH type (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 12:04:08 in reply to Comment 110251

what exactly is RTH type? Is that like blood type?

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By Logic (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 16:25:58 in reply to Comment 110253

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By oh kayyyyy (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 22:26:37 in reply to Comment 110254

yep, everyone just sit back and god will figure it all out for us.

btw where'd you get a horse that high? also from god?

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By Stop (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 10:48:38

This is not an atheist forum.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 11:11:10

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By riiiight (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 11:35:56 in reply to Comment 110278

LRT: A well understood tool for mobility in addition to being a proven economic driver in hundrds of cities, paid for by funding already earmarked to be spent somewhere in the province, and that is guaranteed to reduce the operational expense of the HSR for decades to come and built under an implementation plan that dozens of local experts spent years developing...

versus

"some kind of wonder centre": thought up on the spot by an internet troll to be funded by money that doesn't exist because the LRT funds would go to other ontario cities instead

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 00:33:29 in reply to Comment 110279

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By Too Funny (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2015 at 21:38:15 in reply to Comment 110307

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