Light Rail

Letter: Durand Neighbourhood Association Responds to Mayor Bratina

By Letter to the Editor
Published July 21, 2011

The Mayor supports Light Rail - but we don't know why.

In an email response to a letter from the Durand Neighbourhood Association in support of LRT, Mayor Bratina claims to "personally strongly endorse Light Rail Transit," while having doubts about the specifics of the B-Line project.

That almost got our hopes up, but Bratina then went on to fire off refutations to almost everything we like about LRT. He argues:

One begins to wonder where such principled support ever came from, amongst all the negatives.

Particularly we take issue with the assertion of all-day GO service as superior to, and in competition with, light rail. Both are false:

LRT is a permanent investment in making the whole City of Hamilton a more attractive place to live and a invest. It also defines Hamilton as a progressive urban centre, not just another suburb. Furthermore, the province will pay 100% of the direct costs, while we reap the benefits (the benefits of GO expansion will be spread over the whole Hamilton-Niagara region).

Most importantly, there is no reason to set GO in opposition to LRT. We can, and should, have both and Metrolinx has indicated that both are priorities.

However, maybe the most worrying aspect of the Mayor's position is in regard to Metrolinx potentially funding 100% of the capital cost for LRT in Hamilton. To that point, Bratina states, "We can always negotiate with our funding partners in that regard." Let's hope he does not take a page of Rob Ford's book.

We urge our Mayor, if he really does endorse LRT, to find something positive to say about it. If we're doing it wrong, tell us how to do it right! If there are too unanswered questions, find the answers! Don't tell us how it could fail, work to make it succeed!

Don't quit before you've started.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:02:25

I'll offer up a paraphrase:

"Vision? That's what we have civic leaders for. That's what we have elected officials for. That's why we have Councillors and a Mayor.

They're supposed to not only listen to their constituents and act reasonably on reasonable issues, but provide leadership. (Which yes, is more than merely 'doing as they're requested' or lobbied.) They're supposed to be more informed than just about any of the residents, and as such, be able to shine light where obdurateness and apathy tend to produce stultifying darkness.

They're supposed to balance pragmatism with vision.

Actually, allow me to re-phrase that: 'while proceeding at all times with a sense of responsibility and pragmatism, they should consistently be driving the city forward with vision.'

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 11:08:42

Let me second mystoneycreek's post.

I'll add that we do have a stated vision, although not a particularly compelling one.

"To be the best place in Canada to raise a child, promote innovation, engage citizens, and provide diverse economic opportunities."

Four elements each with the goal of being the best in Canada. It doesn't have any metrics associated with each of the 4 elements, thus making it nothing more than a Hallmark greeting card.

Whether you love this vision or not, it was written by at least some members of Council and the SMT of the City.

What we don't have is any understanding of or interest in operationalizing the vision. It sits as a forgotten exercise, marked only by a poster or two that might still be up on the odd bulletin board outside of somebody's cubicle or elevator lobby. Bratina, given his comments about having a vision that consists of three current projects, doesn't understand what a vision is nor the role it can play moving the hearts and minds of thousands of people toward it. Nor, seemingly, does Chris Murray, the visor-wearing City Manager. As for the other Councillors, few of them would have ever been in an organization that had an operationalized vision. Slogans are not visions. They're slogans!

A great vision is not only aspirational, it also helps you to make decisions today based on how they will impact the future achievement of the vision. It's a touchstone. A filter. A measure. Just as mystoneycreek said, "balancing pragmatism with vision".

We are so screwed in this town because even when we have a vision statement (again, one that I think is not very well articulated), we have absolutely no idea how to use it. No wonder our absenteeism, short term disability and long term disability rates amongst COH employees are on the increase from an already high rate. People have no sense of purpose or direction. No sense of contribution. No sense of progress.

Enough.

Comment edited by H+H on 2011-07-21 11:10:07

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:52:15

We are so screwed in this town because even when we have a vision statement (again, one that I think is not very well articulated), we have absolutely no idea how to use it. No wonder our absenteeism, short term disability and long term disability rates amongst COH employees are on the increase from an already high rate. People have no sense of purpose or direction. No sense of contribution. No sense of progress.

I've editorialized about the 'culture of obstructionism' within City Hall. How, despite the campaigns to the contrary, Hamilton is not 'open for business'. And I believe this ties into what you're saying here, H&H.

I'm reminded of a cartoon I pinned up on the time-clock bulletin board at a store I managed a service shop at, one that had me 'beckoned' to the Manager's office, where we had it out, philosophically-wise. (He was vastly out-gunned.)

'The staff whippings will cease when morale improves.'

Ya know, it's absolutely incredible the broad effects that inspired (and inspiring) leadership can accomplish. Not that we're witnessing it now. (But then, as my father was always wont to say, 'At least he can be held up as a bad example...')

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