Special Report: Light Rail

Merulla: Motion to Reaffirm Council Support for Light Rail

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.

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 JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted May 04, 2016 at 07:00:52

Hopefully, this time we are unsuccessful at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It's like the province is a parent going to it's two children and saying 'There's only enough money to buy one of you a new bike this spring' and turning to the oldest asking "Your bike is in pretty bad shape, it's falling apart, the chain keeps slipping off, and the brakes are thin. I think you should get the new bike." At this point, Chad Collins' response is to basically say "No dad, I like my old crappy bike. I really don't like riding bikes anyway. Give it to my brother."

Comment edited by JasonAAllen on 2016-05-04 07:04:40

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 07:55:09

I would be willing to wager that:

  1. The motion will pass in a landslide.

  2. After the LRT goes in, the people of Ward 5 will whine mightily about it not including them.

In my opinion, this is not really risky at all. If Council does not support LRT it is best to know that up front. But I think they do. And it is best to know that up front as well.

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2016 at 20:16:29 in reply to Comment 118188

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 09:58:42 in reply to Comment 118188

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 07:59:59

1. yes
2. no

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 08:11:45

you know, ignoring the couple councillors whose vision for Hamilton involves little more than speeding cars killing dozens of people year after year is also an option.

Let's focus on the city-builders and the ones who want to see Hamilton prosper.

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 08:17:39

Can someone please explain to me how the Ward 5 councillor was able to stop the LRT from servicing the Wards 9, 10 and 11 City of Hamilton transit users?

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 08:28:41 in reply to Comment 118191

It wasnt planned to service Wards 9,10 and 11. There will be no effect on those wards, in fact service will actually be improved with direct routes to the new terminal at the traffic circle as opposed to improved with direct routes to the terminal at Eastgate Square

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:09:54 in reply to Comment 118192

While campaigning across the city during the municipal election, we found a lot of support for LRT in lower Stoney Creek. While Eastgate may not fall within their boundary, it is very much a community hub for lower Stoney Creek, and many people there felt they'd be served by an Eastgate terminus. It may not have served ward 11, but it certainly would have served ward 10, and the portion of ward 9 below the escarpment. Many residents in those areas supported LRT and they've been cheated out of it by Chad Collins' parochialism. I feel badly for them.

Comment edited by highwater on 2016-05-04 11:15:07

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:45:46 in reply to Comment 118216

Thanks highwater. That information is good to know.
It may not seem like a lot, but there's at least 90,000 trips per year from the Ward 11 residents - anyone living east of Fruitland road. I feel badly for us too.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:30:48 in reply to Comment 118216

They still have LRT tho. The only difference is where they transfer

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 14:41:06 in reply to Comment 118217

Big difference. People in lower Stoney Creek consider Eastgate part of their community. Saying they still have LRT is like saying Dundas still has LRT if they had originally been promised a University Plaza terminus.

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 08:39:31 in reply to Comment 118192

Little known fact: The B-Line actually starts in Stoney Creek; not Eastgate, and definitely services Wards 9, 10 and 11.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 08:49:54 in reply to Comment 118195

Actually only half true. Only every other Bline bus goes through to Stoney Creek. Even HSR site says it starts at Eastgate

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 09:04:39 in reply to Comment 118196

You're right. For clarity, every other Bline bus services Wards 10 and 11, and every Bline bus services Ward 9 residents at Eastgate. We, along with Ward 5 residents, were/are the residents who fill up the Bline so the LRT was definitely planned to service our area. My original comments/question still stands though. Does anyone have an answer to how this happened?

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 09:01:22 in reply to Comment 118196

besides the plan all along was to transfer from the 55 or 58 at Eastgate to LRT. Now its the same one transfer at Queenston Circle instead

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 09:10:38 in reply to Comment 118198

True. But, in addition, a lot of residents drive to Eastgate to board the Bline and avoid transfers. Not sure the impact of adding a transfer or now driving to QTC has been well thought out.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 09:52:21 in reply to Comment 118200

Its actually an opportunity to streamline HSR Barton services to connect to LRT from both Stoney Creek and Hamilton bound buses and eliminating the awkward transfer near Greys Rd in order to get to Eastgate. Extend 55 55A straight into Barton on one end and to traffic circle on the other. Have 58 run as an extension of 5 to # 8 then Queenston Circle along #8 Queenston Rd double back. Run 56 from Queenston down Centennial past Confederation Park along North service road all the way to new housing at Greens Rd (and beyond in the future). Run them all on articulates

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:05:15 in reply to Comment 118204

Good ideas, but there's a little thing called Area Rating that gets in the way. North Service Road bus was just looked at a cost of $6.6 million. Based on the business plan for LRT, having it run to Eastgate at the outset was the best option.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:08:29 in reply to Comment 118214

Then wards 9 10 and 11 have no complaints

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:52:49 in reply to Comment 118215

Wards 9, 10 and 11 have no say. I think you may have misunderstood.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:55:09 in reply to Comment 118220

residents are the reason area rating blocks transit improvement. Simply electing someone that favours increasing taxes for transit solves the problem. They have a say and have decided on something that you dont like

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 12:13:32 in reply to Comment 118222

Changing the 9-11 councillors won't do away with Area Rating. It's the majority of 1-8 who want to keep it. Once Area Rating is removed, the special 'slush funds' would be removed as well. It's the status quo and parochialism throughout the whole city which is blocking transit improvements.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 12:31:16 in reply to Comment 118223

area rating is determined ward by ward by its councillor. Wards 1-8 want to rid the city of area rating as a matter of fact. Especially wards 1-4 who pay more for service than they receive and subsidize the rest of the system

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 12:52:39 in reply to Comment 118224

I use to think that too. I believe residents and city staff want the tax system to change. But it's the incumbents who want to keep status quo. Think about it, would you want to give up $4 million that helps you get re-elected? And area rating isn't determined ward by ward by its councillor. Its the tax system that is approved each year by all of Council with regs that fall under the Municipal Act. We either have it as a city or we don't

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 12:54:17 in reply to Comment 118227

the slush fund really has nothing to do with area rating. It wont disappear if area rating is abolished

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By Ward 2 (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 13:56:24 in reply to Comment 118228

The "slush fund" is made up of an amount of tax that it has been agreed the "old wards" are overpaying. Since there was no political appetite to lower taxes in these wards the extra revenue is place in a fund for discretionary spending within the ward.

What this money is often spent on are things that the suburban wards receive out of general reserves e.g. pedestrian crossing signals and flashing lights in school zones - as two examples.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 12:58:25 in reply to Comment 118228

transit area rating

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 12:56:38 in reply to Comment 118228

Its about fire fighters for example

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 13:05:17 in reply to Comment 118229

Try again. Urban residents in all wards pay the same levy for fire.
The Slush fund has everything to do with Area Rating. If there was no Area rating system in place there would be no legal means to continue the slush funds.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 13:05:03 in reply to Comment 118229

judipartridge.ca/hamilton-council-eyes-ending-transit-area-rating

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 13:11:25 in reply to Comment 118231

Which he never ended up bringing forward as a motion if I recall?
BTW, I'm in favour of urban/rural area rating. I'm not in favour of our current system of different taxes for urban residents depending on ward boundaries.
We're totally off topic here and are running out of room. It's been nice chatting!

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 13:15:22 in reply to Comment 118234

we are exactly on topic. You want service you arent paying for Its a simple fix. Start paying your way and a multitude of issues disappear

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 13:34:27 in reply to Comment 118235

I believe what I said was all urban residents should be paying the same taxes. I foolishly thought we were on the same page re: inclusive city building but now I see that your point is Ward 9 to 11 residents shouldn't get LRT until we "start paying our way" and should "stop complaining". Time for me to bow out. I'm not going down that road.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 13:40:46 in reply to Comment 118239

Thats the road you went down when you brought up area rating. You can use LRT ( an Ontario taxpayer initiative operated by MetroLynx) because you are paying for it, just dont expect good connections unless you pay more than the 30% of full rate you currently pay

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By Creeker (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 14:13:20 in reply to Comment 118240

That's another urban myth. We pay 100% of the cost to run the buses in our area. Hamilton pays 100% of the cost to run the buses in old city; and so on and so on. It's what all the councillors agreed to during amalgamation. There's nothing you or I can do about that. You also completely lost me on your point about expecting good connections. Does that mean people outside of our city coming in on the GO, etc shouldn't expect good connections. A good transit system should be planned and designed for all users. You're making it sound like it's just a downtown system which doesn't help seek support from those of us who live elsewhere. We need to all be on board to make this investment work.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 06:35:50 in reply to Comment 118249

What you agreed to is that you received less service so you should pay lessl Ergo if you want more service you will need to pay more. Every increase in service is accompanied by and increase in the transit levy and thats why councillors like Ferguson are able to veto transit improvemnets

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 13:11:04 in reply to Comment 118231

funny its rural councillors who are opposed

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By waitamin (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 08:32:07

The ward 5 councillor is an idiot. Do you mean to tell me that the city can refuse the LRT money?!

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 08:51:11 in reply to Comment 118194

I don't think so at this point. That ship has sailed. This seems more of a move by Merulla to 'out' those councillors who are acting like spoiled babies and won't work together for the good of the city now that we're in the midst of planning.

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By The Time is Now (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 09:15:11

This city has been held back for far too long by a vocal squelching minority who think we should be forever stuck in a 1960's time warp.

We need to stop ignoring the experts and professionals by continuing to prop up a failed model of how to build a successful city.

Car dependent sprawl is unsustainable..........that's just a fact. Our civic finances prove it.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 10:45:34

Believe me, when the first picture of a line of politicians holding silver colored shovels digging into an impossibly neat pile of dirt, your small minded, angry little councilors will change their attitudes.

  1. They will realize this is the best thing in the world getting your picture taken showing your voters you were part of the reason something big and important to a lot of people, is actually happening.

  2. They still won't like LRT and personally won't support it but, if they want to still keep their job, their public persona will change.

The trick is to keep them away from the process around LRT or disinterested long enough that the planning/design work gets done and RFQ's and RFP's go out. When many local companies start lining up for the main contracts and possible sub contracts as well as local workers start getting hired for pre construction work, which is usually very high value work it will be too late to stop.

One of the best tricks LRT supporters both political and just regular people did here in Ottawa, to kill off the last of the big anti LRT opposition was to take happy smiling pictures with engineers doing soil testing, core drilling, surveying and then announcing on blogs or through the mainstream media," look at the big brain power and local heroes that get employed for a project like this, even before the first big shovel hits the ground"!

It becomes very difficult to kill LRT when you have to fight pictures of very highly trained "local heroes" (that label is a very important part) doing their critically important jobs. Even if most people don't fully understand what they are doing. Telling people that these local guys and girls would be working somewhere else on other projects or for other companies in other cities if there was no LRT project here. The optics of seeing local faces, doing work locally, for your friends and neighbors, people just can't turn around and say, "fire them and throw away years of work and effort".

It becomes very hard for anti LRT groups to not look like jerks and say, "sorry we don't want any work done here that will forever take away car lanes and change things here for the better! We think there is another solution, we can't tell you what it is or how we will do it but when it happens will make sure we hire you, we just have to make sure you don't raise my taxes too much"!

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By Skellyton (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 12:45:47

Donna Skelly was recorded on CHCH saying she is against LRT and believes it's a waste of money that could have been used elsewhere.
Donna Skelly also voted against poverty reduction funding that would have certainly helped those in her ward.
Donna Skelly is scary.

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By kevinlove (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 14:54:31 in reply to Comment 118225

Donna Skelly "won" the election with a tad over 19% of the vote.

What is scary is an electoral system that allows that.

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By highasageorgiapine (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 12:52:07

despite agreeing with it, pedantic motions like these look embarrassing and undermine the credibility of our government. i can't believe how dysfunctional our municipal government is.

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By Plebe (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 15:31:07 in reply to Comment 118226

The true test of the views of the people would be to give the people a say and hold a plebiscite on the LRT. That would shut everyone up thereafter.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 00:27:13 in reply to Comment 118261

We had one in October 2014. Spoiler: LRT won.

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By democrat (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 07:51:27 in reply to Comment 118278

Its beyond me why something as simple as "give the people a say" gets greyed out.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 08:29:26 in reply to Comment 118284

Maybe it shouldn't have gone grey, but I imagine many people think (perhaps unfairly) that your comment was concern trolling.

Referenda are extremely rare in Canada (unlike Switzerland or some US states) and are typically used only for constitutional changes or in BC for tax issues (when the government doesn't really want the tax). I've lived in Hamilton for 16 years and there has never been a referendum on another major infrastructure issue (or any other issue). Similarly, there has only been one referendum at the Provincial level (on changing the voting system).

LRT was a major issue in the last two Mayoral elections, and in both cases candidates who campaigned on a platform to build LRT won.

Similarly, LRT was a major issue in the Provincial election and the candidates who campaigned on a platform of opposing LRT lost. The Liberals campaigned on the the Big Move and a massive investment in infrastructure, and they won as well.

LRT for Hamilton has been officially supported by multiple Council votes since 2008 and was originally promised by the Provincial Liberals in 2007.

There was extensive consultation in the period 2008-2011 which showed massive support for LRT (over 80%) among those who participated.

We didn't have a referendum on building the RHVP or the Linc.

We didn't have a referendum on selling off Horizon Utilities.

We didn't have a referendum on the stadium location.

We didn't have a referendum on spending $75 million on the Clappison's corners freeway interchange.

We didn't have a referendum on the highway 6 by-pass, or the road widening in Waterdown.

We didn't have a referendum on whether to spend $1 billion over ten years on our roads.

We didn't have a referendum on whether to build the 407.

We didn't have a referendum on whether to approve the aerotropolis.

You get the picture: we don't have referendums on major infrastructure spending or plans! Why should LRT be any different?

And it is arguable whether referenda are more democratic than representative democracy where elections are fought on the issues. In general, most referenda fail and are generally a poll of how happy people are rather than on the actual issue at hand.

If we had a tradition of referenda, or if this were the beginning of the process (rather than the final planning and implementation stage) and there were ample time for pro/anti groups to campaign and inform the public there might be a case for a referendum.

But to claim now that we call a snap referendum, after multiple elections where LRT was a major issue, after massive public consultation and nine years of planning smacks of sour grapes desperation.

This is especially true as it is the Province paying for, building and operating the system from a fund that can only be spent on this sort of big public transit project!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-05 08:47:09

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By Anotherdemocrat (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 05:47:06 in reply to Comment 118288

1 billion dollars and transforming the lower city is not some interchange issue. Let represents nothing less than a monumental c change for Hamilton affecting almost everyone who lives here. It is worthy of a full open and honest public debate and vote.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 07:42:08 in reply to Comment 118314

Right you are. Good thing we had full, open, and honest public debates during the last two elections.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 07:19:09 in reply to Comment 118314

At the time rhvp was considered to be a similar issue: permanently "destroying" a river valley, opening up massive areas of greenfield for unsustainable "sprawl" and costing the city itself (not just the province) hundreds of millions.

Just like lrt it was the main issue in a municipal election. And the outcome was decided by the election.

Don't forget that as Dreschel has said Council has been "steady as a pilot light" in pursuing lrt with full provincial funding from 2008 to the final official request in 2013 and the funding announcement in 2015. There was nothing like that consistency with rhvp.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 19:08:45 in reply to Comment 118288

We don't tend to have LRTs, either, by your logic, so why do it?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 20:24:13 in reply to Comment 118308

we didn't have highways before we built the first one. we didn't have paved roads before we paved the first one. we didn't have streetlights before we developed the first one.

Good thing you weren't in charge of 'future planning' of past cities.

Comment edited by jason on 2016-05-05 20:24:49

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 05:52:45 in reply to Comment 118313

Jason, you need to stop pounding out responses based on emotion.

Cities tend to have roads, tend to have mass transit, but don't tend to have LRT. The approach of leaping before we look is not going to benefit anyone.

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2016-05-06 05:53:43

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 10:09:46 in reply to Comment 118315

??? No emotion here, and clearly no travel experience there....

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:17:09 in reply to Comment 118326

Yeah, I guess not travelling to your Utopia of Portland is a real disadvantage. Going to NYC, Mexico City, or other major cities in NA is not travelling.

Now, I've never been to Europe, and probably never will, but not all of us are blessed with having the funds to do so.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 07:52:56 in reply to Comment 118315

Only one I see "pounding out responses based on emotion" is you. Your knee jerk lashing out against change is way past being tedious.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:17:25 in reply to Comment 118320

100% incorrect. Play again?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 06:24:25 in reply to Comment 118315

We've been studying and planning lrt in Hamilton for the past 8 years!

Dozens of cities in the US and Europe have or are planning lrt (France alone has over 20 cities with lrt).

Locally KW Brampton-Mississauga, Toronto and Ottawa are all building LRT.

Calgary is continuing to expand its LRT.

Hamilton is not trying out some sort of experimental technology.If anything were late adopters.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 11:54:41 in reply to Comment 118316

To put it mildly, Hamilton was really late to the LRT Party! There are 36 existing LRT systems and 20 in serious planning stages throughout North America. That's not counting 7 other cities including Toronto, that kept there streetcar systems somewhat intact and began converting existing lines to LRT standard or just went ahead and built new LRT lines from scratch, as well as maintaining the existing streetcar network. There are also 9 existing and or newly building "New streetcar lines" that operate in mixed traffic, throughout North America, The Portland, Seattle, Atlanta and Washington streetcar systems are good examples of this type. This is also not counting the many cities like New Orleans, Kenosha, Little Rock or Tampa that operate historic streetcars in the city streets which function as not only tourist trolleys but actually as part of the city's transit system.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 10:10:58 in reply to Comment 118316

We had the opportunity in the 80's and turned it down. A little logging city called Vancouver took it instead and built their envy-of-the-world 21st century city around the rail network.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:18:01 in reply to Comment 118328

I don't know a any cities that envy Vancouver's LRT. Please name 1.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:22:02 in reply to Comment 118352

Elevated stations are not ideal (Calgary has some) and I agree that the consensus is that modern street level LRT are preferable.

However, most Vancouverites consider Skytrain a big success overall and the system has been extended incrementally since the original line opened in 1986. No one says "I wish we never built skytrain". Skytrain has been a big positive for Vancouver, despite the elevated design and relatively low capacity for such an engineering-intensive design. The driver free operation has been a boon, and many subway systems are switching to similar driver free operation.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-06 15:22:38

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 19:13:06 in reply to Comment 118355

Actually, because of the operating cost of the Vancouver Skytrain technology it is unlikely they will be building any for a long time. The province has little interest right now and Translink doesn't have enough for their local portion of any new capital program.

Unfortunately, contrary to what most Vancouverites and what a lot of other people want to believe, Skytrain technology has very high operating cost especially compared to modern surface LRT. It is mainly due to extra maintenance costs as well as the need to employ hundreds of "Attendants" who's job is to get people out of trains when they stop working or respond to customer alarms for sick or injured passengers. The bigger the system the more attendants you need. The Bombardier Innovia ART (Advanced Rapid Transit) 300 technology also does not age well, and before any more new lines are built 20+ km of existing 30+ years old above grade concrete right of way has to be rehabilitated. The cost of that hasn't even been budgeted yet. Expanding the existing stations and electrical system to expand system capacity yes has been budgeted, but the right of way between the stations has no cost figured out yet.

The high capital cost compared to surface LRT (usually 2 to 3 times as much as comparable LRT systems) which resulted from having to build completely segregated rights of way from scratch and the strange way they construct their above grade viaducts, insures high capital costs now and into the future. Plus no one but Bombardier can supply parts and vehicles and maintenance equipment trapping, them with one supplier forever or until Bombardier gives up the rights to the vehicles (I used to work for Bombardier). These are problems you don't get with conventional LRT technology.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 11:37:26 in reply to Comment 118328

To be fair legally speaking, Hamilton turned down a Light Metro System. The Scarborugh RT Line and the Skytrain in Vancouver as it was called ALRT (Advanced Light Rail Transit) then by its maker UTDC. This was a marketing name not a legal definition that Transport Canada or FTA in the US would have to use for licensing . The same thing can be said for the new proposed Light Rail System in Montreal the REM (Reseau Electrique Metropolitain)the term LRT is only for marketing purposes, under Transport Canada's definition it is a Light Metro System, I use to tell people, think "Diet Subway". Light Rail Transit Systems legally speaking, according to Transport Canada, must be able to operate on a street and pick up passengers without the use of high platforms. Although if you want to use high platform loading like Calgary and Edmonton do that's ok. In theory their vehicles can legally operate as a streetcar on a public road. Skytrain and the Scarborough RT cannot.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 12:39:53 in reply to Comment 118288

same people wanting a referendum now are the ones who said 'DiIanni beating Christopherson was the referendum on RHVP'. And they were right.

This past election saw only ONE anti-LRT mayoral candidate, with 2 pro-LRT candidates threatening to split the vote. And pro-LRT still won. It's over. Deal with it.

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By anotherdemocrat (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2016 at 19:32:42 in reply to Comment 118299

One way or the other, at least it would answer the question.

Does the majority in hamilton want the let?

We clearly know that absent the provincially driven money that answer is no. So even withe the money if the answer is no why do it. And if the answer is yes, all the naysayers can shut up.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 19:12:46 in reply to Comment 118299

Ah, the one where 34% of eligible voters turned out, and the elected mayor had almost 40% of that vote? Oh right, clear mandate.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 08:20:19 in reply to Comment 118309

In the 2014 election the pro LRT Mayoral candidates together won over 60% of the vote. The candidate who made opposition to LRT the key plank in his platform won 31%. That's a pretty clear decision.

Interestingly, even Brad Clark had previously been supportive of LRT but seemed to have decided that being the anti-LRT Mayoral candidate was his best chance at success (by splitting the pro-LRT votes between McHattie and Eisenberger). He actually only came out as opposing LRT in early September 2014 ... just a couple of months before the election.

It would be great if turnout was higher, but I very much doubt a special referendum just on LRT would attract a higher turnout!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-06 08:29:51

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 20:07:05 in reply to Comment 118309

the system may be lousy, but it's the system we have, and it's the same both ways. Can't celebrate it when it results in a decision you want, and discount it when it's a decision you don't want. Well, 7 year olds can do that, but I'm operating under the (evidently wrong) idea that councillors are mature adults.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 10:09:06 in reply to Comment 118312

Can't celebrate it when it results in a decision you want, and discount it when it's a decision you don't want.

Wait, isn't that what you do all the time?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 11:31:15 in reply to Comment 118325

Nope. Disagreeing with a decision is not the same as discounting it.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 11:34:24 in reply to Comment 118332

Exactly. I can disagree with a decision, but still accept that it is democratically legitimate. This happens all the time.

It is quite different to disagree with a political decision and claim it is democratically illegitimate.

For example, the 1988 federal election was clearly over free trade, and most reasonable critics of free trade agreed that Mulroney won a mandate to pursue free trade by winning the election (especially as the two anti-free trade parties got 46.8% of the vote combined compared with 50% for the Conservatives).

On the other hand, I felt that Bratina's opposition to LRT was democratically illegitimate since he campaigned on a strong pro-LRT platform and never gave any convincing reasons for changing his position, especially as no facts about LRT had changed in the month or so it took him to switch positions.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-06 11:39:03

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By revisionist history (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 19:20:56 in reply to Comment 118309

Bratina was pro LRT
McHattie won
Fred took a solid stand on LRT and was never called names here as a result

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 07:36:03 in reply to Comment 118310

Bratina was pro-LRT during the campaign and got elected. He only flip-flopped afterward.

Fred's support for LRT may have been qualified by his call for a 'citizen's panel', but he made it clear he was pro-LRT and he got elected, as did all the pro-LRT incumbent councillors. It's silly to pretend otherwise.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 10:09:59 in reply to Comment 118318

Remind me. Which anti-LRT incumbents were defeated in this last election?

Oh right, none. Not a single one.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 11:51:14 in reply to Comment 118327

Still "pounding out responses based on emotion" I see.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:19:29 in reply to Comment 118337

Where's the emotion? It's a fact. Are facts now emotion? Clarify for us dolts who aren't at your far superior, MENSA-esque IQ.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 10:25:54 in reply to Comment 118327

There were two anti-LRT (Liberal!) candidates Ivan Luksic (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek) and Javid Mirza (Hamilton Mountain) in the provincial election, both lost.

https://raisethehammer.org/article/2099/...

All the incumbent Council candidates supported LRT, as did the incumbent Provincial candidates. The most popular position was "yes to LRT with full provincial funding" which seemed like a lot to ask for, but turned out to be exactly what we got. In fact, that was Clark's position as a councillor as well:

" Clr. Brad Clark seeks to convince council to confirm full funding from the province for the capital costs of the two long planned LRT lines. But not everyone is happy and some of his peers warn that they are asking a question at the wrong time. But most councilors support the need for clarification."

http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2011_09_01...

Mayoral candidate Brad Clark only came out as anti-LRT in September 2014, but then rapidly made it his most important issue.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-06 10:28:24

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By Dont think so (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 10:20:44 in reply to Comment 118327

Were there any anti-LRT incumbents in the last election? Can't recall any. They either said Yes or Maybe subject to full provincial funding - which is what we got.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:20:52 in reply to Comment 118330

Sure there were. Collins is strongly anti-LRT, Whitehead seems to be, as is Skelly, and positions taken by other suburbs seems to be that they certainly aren't pro-LRT.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:34:39 in reply to Comment 118354

heading into last election, council voted 16-0 in support of LRT funded by the province.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:31:40 in reply to Comment 118354

Whitehead was at the funding announcement and applauded loudly (I was sitting just behind him)! He said at the time he supported it. I don't know what game he is playing now.

Collins only came out as opposing LRT towards the end of the 2014 campaign, in October. So it would be fair to say that at the time of the vote he was opposed, but he was a late (anti-)convert.

I think that point is that the election led to softening of LRT support when asked by reporters (as it was seen as controversial), but all these candidates supported LRT in actual Council votes (especially the 2013 Rapid Ready report and all the way back to 2008's direction to staff to pursue LRT with full provincial funding).

These candidates were not defeated because of their consistent support for LRT over the previous 6 years.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-06 15:34:34

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 15:46:53 in reply to Comment 118356

Regarding Skelly, in private before the by-election campaign she had said she opposed LRT (she told me this once in private before going on her show a few years ago). But she did not emphasize LRT at all in her campaign ... she largely ignored it (not like Clark in the Mayoral campaign). In this interview about her priorities in the Hamiltonian, she didn't mention LRT at all:

http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2016/01/7-...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-06 15:55:52

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 10:15:07 in reply to Comment 118327

kind of difficult to boot out anti-LRT candidates when there wasn't any:

https://raisethehammer.org/article/1793/...

The only one was Brad Clark, running for mayor. Who won that race again??

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2016 at 11:00:58 in reply to Comment 118288

So true. Thump thump thump. Hear hear.

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 06:04:32 in reply to Comment 118278

You know that we didnt have a plebiscite in October 2014. We had an election of council and mayor. Thats not the same thing. The question has never been put to a vote by the general population

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 06:26:17 in reply to Comment 118279

Is anyone else pretty sure "realist" is our old friend Allan Taylor?

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By realist (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 06:27:55 in reply to Comment 118280

Here come the stalker

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 07:08:24 in reply to Comment 118281

Refresh my memory, weren't you banned from this site?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 17:57:18 in reply to Comment 118261

THIS

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[ - ]

By Happy (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 18:06:11

I really like the rebranding of Sam Merulla in the last 10 years. He's really come along way!

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 20:10:08 in reply to Comment 118266

I'm looking forward to his motion to try and sell the naming rights to the LRT, kinda like how he tried to do that with the "Pepsi-Cola Way on the Jolley Cut" (http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/2114894-dreschel-councillor-says-put-a-for-sale-on-hamilton/). How about the Tim Hortons LRT, or TimmyTrans?

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