Councillor Merulla's motion will flush out how much company Councillor Collins has in his desire to turn down a billion-dollar provincial investment.
By Ryan McGreal
Published May 04, 2016
This article has been updated.
Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla is throwing down the gauntlet over Council's support for light rail transit. In an email sent to local media this morning, Merulla shared the text of a motion he intends to present to Council:
Whereas the City of Hamilton has formally requested one billion dollars from the Province of Ontario for the sole purpose of infrastructure redevelopment for Light Rapid Transit and
Whereas the present City Council has not reaffirmed its support for the Light Rapid Transit Project and
Whereas there is a growing perception that Hamilton City Council is not strongly in support of receiving the one billion dollars in infrastructure redevelopment for Light Rapid Transit and
Whereas the dysfunction and distraction of the process of developing Light Rapid Transit and receiving the associated one billion dollars in infrastructure and public transit investment from the Government of Ontario with no local tax impact, without full knowledge of the commitment of Hamilton City Council, would be counterproductive.
Therefore, be it resolved, that Hamilton City Council reaffirm the acceptance of the one billion dollar infrastructure and public transit investment from the Province of Ontario.
Update: Councillor Merulla has revised the text of the motion.
If this seems out of the blue, it's because you haven't watched the May 2 Light Rail Transit Sub-Committee meeting yet. It proved to be a rancorous affair, thanks to Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins and Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead.
Collins is openly opposed to LRT - his opposition is one of the reasons the line ends at Queenston Traffic Circle instead of going all the way to Eastgate Square - whereas Whitehead claims to support LRT while constantly challenging and questioning it.
Thanks to The Public Record, you can watch a video recording of the sub-committee meeting.
Merulla's motion is a bold and risky move: it will either expose Collins and Whitehead as a noisy sideshow and allow the complex LRT process to move forward with less distraction, or else it will flush out a quiet majority of anti-LRT councillors and sink the project.
Merulla himself is a longstanding LRT supporter as well as a savvy politician, and we must assume he has a pretty good idea how the vote will shake out.
Even so, if this motion makes it to the horseshoe, it will definitely be a nail-biter to discover just how much company Collins has in his desire to turn down a billion-dollar investment from the Province that promises to transform the city and prepare us to face the future.
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