Special Report: Light Rail

Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association Letter to Council on Light Rail Transit

The KNA has sent a letter to Council in response to the recent controversy over whether to continue supporting the Hamilton LRT project.

By RTH Staff
Published May 17, 2016

The Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association sent the following letter to the City of Hamilton in response to the recent controversy over whether City Council still supports the Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

Dear Honourable Mayor and Council,

Re: Support Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Hamilton

The Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association (KNA) is writing today to re-affirm its support and request your support for the Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project. Kirkendall is located west of Queen Street to the 403 and south of Main Street to the escarpment.

LRT is an opportunity that as a city, we cannot afford to lose. We do not feel it is necessary to restate the LRT's many benefits and its ability to be a catalyst for renewed investment and economic development; these are already well documented. Instead, the intent of this letter is to explore concerns that continue to be raised about the project and provide our comments on them as key stakeholders and as future users of the service.

Construction Disruption: We acknowledge that construction is going to be hard on everyone. It's going to be loud, dirty and cause vibrations all along the proposed line. Residents may see increased traffic on neighbourhood streets as cars seek to avoid the LRT construction. This could mean longer travel times and some increased traffic on side streets, but this will be temporary.

We are so excited about the benefit of this project that we as a neighbourhood are willing to endure all the headaches and congestion that come with the construction. It's worth it and we look forward to working with you on this.

Effects on Business: As stated above, construction is going to hurt. Nobody will feel this more than the many businesses that are located along the LRT Route. This deserves a great deal of attention and sensitivity. Both residents, the City of Hamilton and Metrolinx need to work together to improve construction impacts to these businesses.

We hope that the construction can be scheduled and undertaken in a way that minimizes the amount of disruption and we are ready to do what we can as a neighbourhood association to shop at and encourage others to shop at businesses along the LRT route during construction. This too will be temporary and together we can get through this.

Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) Improvements: Some Councillors have expressed support for prioritizing city wide transit improvements such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) over committing to the LRT project. We also support city wide transit improvements.

However, Hamilton has been allocated $1 Billion dollars by the Province of Ontario to build the proposed LRT Line. The way this money is funded means it cannot be allocated to other projects.

Furthermore, as Councillor Merulla pointed out, if the city moves forward with LRT, the money that was previously allocated for infrastructure improvements along the LRT route will now be freed up for other projects. The KNA believes that it is in the City's best financial interest to support the LRT project and look for other opportunities to fund other transit across the city.

Corridor Location: Some Councillors have suggested that a north/south line may be a better fit for our city than the currently proposed east/west Line. The data does not support this so we are unsure what evidence these Councillors have to support this position. Based on the HSR's own data, ridership on the Main/King corridor is the highest in the City, much higher than any other corridor.

On top of that, the demand for real estate in the Downtown area has hit record highs (intensification is happening) which has created interest among developers for higher density builds along the east/west corridor. Two developments happening in Kirkendall alone (220 Dundurn and 101 Locke Street) will be increasing density along the proposed route by adding hundreds of units. All of this intensification will result in higher tax revenues to pay for services and infrastructure. An east/west line makes more sense on many levels.

In conclusion, we know there are going to be problems and people who do not agree with the even the basics of the project but the main concerns can be mitigated. As a neighbourhood, our support for the LRT Project is so high that we are willing to suffer the challenges associated with getting it. We believe the juice will be worth the squeeze. We kindly request your support for LRT as well.

Thanking you in advance, warm regards,

Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association

Please take a few moments to tell Council to take YES for an answer, reaffirm its support for LRT and accept the full capital funding from the Province that Council has consistently voted for since 2008.


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