Comment 121046

By Haveacow (registered) | Posted April 03, 2017 at 00:41:49

If the current City of Hamilton was not already an amalgamation of Hamilton and the smaller communities of the former Wentworth County you would be complaining that you should be amalgamated with it. Functioning as a dozen or so small communities surrounding a smaller central city of Hamilton and getting no help from its much larger tax base, all of you would probably treat it like its always getting stuff from senior levels of government, while you get nothing. Hamilton would probably already have LRT or some form of rapid transit by now. You would all be complaining why your particular smaller community, can't get connected to Hamilton's transit system or have decent roads and libraries, just like Hamilton. I have heard these idiotic arguments for de-amalgamation my entire career as an urban planner.

The truth, smaller communities that surround bigger cities benefit greatly by sharing the larger tax base. Without it, you would have none of the benefits and very little development. Having a larger tax base makes infrastructure projects possible that by yourself simply couldn't be done. Communities like Dundas, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Flamborough and Glanbrook all thrived under partial amalgamation with the Regional Government System of Hamilton-Wentworth and even more in a united City of Hamilton whether you realize it or not.

Many of your local road widening projects, smaller communities see, would be virtually impossible unless you were sharing taxes with larger communities or the province. You could not afford the engineering, planning and design work to start with. You would be forced to rely on expertise from the companies making the bids for these local projects. You would also be subject to any bad decision they make because you would have virtually no one on staff who could possibly, counter that bad idea professionally. Unfortunately I have seen this happen a lot to smaller communities. I personally often get called in after the fact, to deal with the fallout from the bad decisions that were made because a small city or large town didn't want to employ a professional on staff, who could have warned the council and say, "no this a bad choice!"

What's worse and most unfortunate is that, its usually but not exclusively, the conservative local politicians that totally disregard their professional staff's recommendations on many subjects, not just LRT. Usually sometime later these politicians discover that, they should have listened to their staff. During Ottawa's North-South LRT debate between 2003-2006, we had a gentleman who said we should break our signed deal with Siemens and PCL Dufferin and cancel the LRT project because there was still too much we don't know about the possible costs to the city (sound familiar). The staff pronounced gloom and doom if we did this. The LRT detractors ignored the staff. That idiot became mayor and with a little help from several local Conservative Federal MP's (including MP John Baird) and the 2006 Municipal Election, the North-South LRT Line was eventually cancelled. Just as staff said, the City of Ottawa was sued and lost. Having to pay $42 Million to Siemens and PCL Dufferin. Just as staff predicted, for years afterwards many companies from many industries dealing with the city of Ottawa, seriously padded their project or service contract costs. They feared that, they could loose a lot of money dealing with the city of Ottawa. What if the city suddenly decided, we don't want to pay you! We don't care if you have a contract with us take us to court. We had broke a signed contract with one of the largest companies on Earth, how much would small contractors have to pay to sue the city? Could they even afford it? The marching orders for contractors became grab as much money as you can from them before the city screws you. It is still effecting contracts today and most people in Ottawa have no idea of this. Abandoning LRT in Hamilton now, after so much has already been spent, so many years of planning and design work has done by so many people, will damage your city's reputation in so many ways you can't even imagine.

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