Light Rail

Letter: LRT Needs Champions

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 07, 2011

Dear Council,

Hamilton needs light rail transit, and light rail transit needs champions to make it happen.

Less than three years ago, Council unanimously passed a motion instructing staff to work with Metrolinx "to include the functional design, detail design and construction of the B-line rapid transit corridor ... utilizing Light Rail Technology."

With a $3 million grant from the Province, staff have been working hard to follow council's direction and have undertaken detailed studies of the plan, including extensive public engagement in a variety of ways.

Council directed staff to undertake an "aggressive public consultation program" as part of the study, and literally thousands of Hamiltonians have participated actively in expressing support and helping plan the route at both the macro level and in detail around individual nodes.

Since the October 2008 vote, the silence from Council on LRT has been deafening. Instead, we hear in the media that the Mayor is "not hearing any kind of clamour from the public" on light rail, and members of the Planning Committee feel they are "slowly being backed into a corner" because the staff intensification plan emphasizes the LRT corridor.

It's true that the Province has not yet made a funding commitment for LRT, as environmental assessment process is still underway. Some councillors have suggested as a result that we should focus our energies elsewhere, since we "still don't know where we stand on LRT".

However, it is defeatist not to push hard for LRT simply because it has not been confirmed. The only way we will achieve LRT funding from higher levels of government is if we advocate and campaign and fight like hell for it.

In a February 2011 op-ed published in the Spectator, Richard Koroscil warned:

Metrolinx chair Rob Prichard said at the Hamilton Economic Summit in May that [LRT] was 'ours to lose.' But with many cities in southern Ontario angling for the same thing, Hamilton must demonstrate strong civic leadership and broad community support. I've said repeatedly this year that Hamilton has to be 'loud and proud' if we're going to get LRT funded.

He's right. We can't equivocate on LRT advocacy just because we're still waiting for some answers. Council is prudent to ask careful questions and get fully informed before ordering the shovels into the ground, but we can't be silent while waiting for those answers.

High quality rapid transit is not a luxury. A comprehensive, well-thought-out LRT plan is essential to our future as a prosperous, economically dynamic, sustainable city. Waterloo Region just committed to their LRT plan because they recognized that while the cost to build it is significant, the cost to let it slip away would be ruinous.

Respectfully,

Ryan McGreal
Editor, Raise the Hammer
http://raisethehammer.org

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.

22 Comments

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 09:04:49

Council is largely a collection of self-absorbed blowhards led by an egotistical clown who never saw a soap box he could resist climbing on... even when the next soap box contradicts the one he was just on.

Remember the "Sword of Damocles" called de-amalgamation BB has put over his own head. When do the folks that elected him solely for uttering that word come calling? That could embroil this council in another quagmire of their own making, all but ensuring nothing gets done.

If we want progressive changes made in this city, the city does indeed need it citizens to be the leaders.

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By JM (registered) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 09:28:43 in reply to Comment 65687

"If we want progressive changes made in this city, the city does indeed need it citizens to be the leaders"

....that's exactly why i was hoping for people like Martinus or Matt Jelly in Ward 2 and others with actual passion for the city would actually win their spot in the last municipal election. The problem isnt just the politicians, its the people of this city who dont care about moving forward and keep electing these clowns back into office! Maybe we should focus on engaging more citizens, rather than trying to push these politicians any further??? they don't listen anyway...

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By Logo (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 10:18:36 in reply to Comment 65691

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 07, 2011 at 10:25:24 in reply to Comment 65697

Geleynse and Jelly split the progressive vote. Between them, they received more votes than Farr.

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By Logo (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 10:32:58 in reply to Comment 65700

insult spam deleted

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 07, 2011 at 11:06:10 in reply to Comment 65709

Here are the voting results for ward 2:

Candidate         Votes  % of Total  
-----------------------------------  
Jason FARR         1607       21.0%  
Matt JELLY         1434       18.7%  
Martinus GELEYNSE   805       10.5%  
Erik HESS           602        7.9%  
Marvin CAPLAN       559        7.3%  
James NOVAK         514        6.7%  
Diane CHIARELLI     403        5.3%  
Hoojung JONES       312        4.1%  
Ian DEANS           231        3.0%  
Shane COLEMAN       217        2.8%  
Matteo GENTILE      174        2.3%  
Charlie PIPE        135        1.8%  
Ned JANJIC          113        1.5%  
Lloyd FERGUSON      102        1.3%  
Liban Abdi           96        1.3%  
Kevin WRIGHT         91        1.2%  
Paul CASEY           81        1.1%  
Dawn LESCAUDRON      77        1.0%  
Pat IELASI           67        0.9%  
John CASTLE          42        0.5% 
-----------------------------------  
Total              7662      100.0%

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-07 11:11:34

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By Logo (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 18:23:41 in reply to Comment 65711

insult spam deleted

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By Logo (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 11:33:41 in reply to Comment 65711

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By Logo (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 11:34:51 in reply to Comment 65715

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Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:35:03

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 10:15:04 in reply to Comment 65691

It's the classic numbers game: In order to reinvent the governmental wheel you need a shift in eight wards. Electing suburban progressives who are simultaneously supportive of an urban agenda is a little more complicated that getting a grassroots candidate installed in a downtown ward.

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By Logo (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 10:22:33 in reply to Comment 65695

insult spam deleted

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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 12:41:48 in reply to Comment 65699

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:33:55

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By Dan L (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 10:30:05 in reply to Comment 65699

Brenda Johnson was elected in Glanbrook. A woman environmentalist who worked for Environment Hamilton and beat Dave Mitchell in the ward he held for a decade.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/272163--johnson-amazed-at-defeating-mitchell

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By Logo (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 10:32:01 in reply to Comment 65705

insult spam deleted

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 07, 2011 at 09:20:42

If we want progressive changes made in this city, the city does indeed need it citizens to be the leaders.

Which means you're calling for a paradigm shift.

Care to share some examples of how you feel this might happen? What changes would have to be made to the protocols of local governance?

(And I feel the need to remind you that those 'blowhards' were voted in by the populace. The very group of people from whom you're wanting leadership.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-07 09:21:56

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 10:27:58 in reply to Comment 65689

You can lead in lots of different ways, MSC. Paradigm shift??? Maybe, but not necessarily.

There have been plenty of citizen champions who have provided leadership without having to make changes to "protocols of government"... so I don't really know if we're on the same page here MSC?

And I feel the need to remind you that those 'blowhards' were voted in by the populace. The very group of people from whom you're wanting leadership.

It takes a majority to vote people in. Leadership requires no majority. It can start with just one person. So again, not really sure where you're going with that.

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By Logo (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 11:36:44 in reply to Comment 65702

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:34:36

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 11:16:30 in reply to Comment 65702

Leadership requires no majority. It can start with just one person.

You could be that person Kiely. You are ranked #70 on RTH's Top 100 users list with a track record of 73%. Not bad.

I'm kidding of course. I believe Hamilton already has an LRT Champion, that single person you spoke of is our very own, Hamilton Light Rail Engineer, Ryan McGreal.

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By JM (registered) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 15:16:44 in reply to Comment 65712

Ryan, i think i have asked you this before.... when are you running for Mayor?!

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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2011 at 18:17:12 in reply to Comment 65754

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:33:47

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By JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 08:45:47

Wow. The trolling on this page is nothing short of unbelievable. Big thank you to everyone who is not feeding them. Ryan - my question is: I'm assuming you have already gone to the Chamber, the downtown BIA, and various others asking them to reiterate their support? I saw the great letter from the Real Estate board. Has anybody indicated any reticence to do so? J

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 09:32:12 in reply to Comment 65806

FYI all the trolling is from the same anonymous commenter.

This morning I sent emails to the Chamber, the JPC, and the Downtown and IV BIAs. We'll see how they respond.

Metrolinx and the province have made it clear that they want to see both political leadership and broad community support for LRT, so we all need to do our share to make this happen.

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