By Adrian Duyzer
Published February 02, 2010
This is a crucial time for Hamilton. The transformative opportunity of light rail transit is dangling in front of us, just barely out of reach.
If we don't act, we may lose that opportunity. That would be a huge setback for the city.
Metrolinx's decision continues to be delayed, raising fears that the Ontario Government is just running down the clock. Meanwhile, the Hamilton Spectator continues to publish articles and op-ends that cast LRT in a negative light, including some that are based entirely on unproven assumptions and are rife with errors.
Today, the Spec published an article that begins:
Does Hamilton have the ridership to justify light rail transit?
There are plenty of people in this city who think the answer is no.
In letters to this paper, blog posts and opinion surveys, they say not enough people want or need to go downtown and that Hamiltonians are too attached to their cars.
Note the non-specific use of the word "plenty". The writer lacks access to any properly conducted polls of Hamiltonians on the issue (so far as I know, there aren't any), so chooses to use "plenty" to reflect her assessment of "letters to this paper, blog posts and opinion surveys".
That's not reporting, that's an opinion. The word "some" would be more accurate in this instance. Furthermore, if she's basing her opinion on the rather unlettered op-eds that have been coming into the Spec lately (if the ones they're publishing reflect the best of the lot, it doesn't say much for LRT opponents), she's falling victim to sampling bias. After all, if she visited blogs like this one, she'd get a very different impression.
Speaking of which, it's my opinion that light rail transit enjoys broad support in Hamilton. The problem is, this support doesn't seem to be registering with our elected officials, with Metrolinx, or with our local media right now.
What we're seeing instead is a new campaign by LRT opponents to cast doubt on the proposal. It's been timed well: after the strong initial support for LRT in Hamilton, I think most Hamiltonians think this issue has been resolved in favour of LRT and expect nothing less from Metrolinx.
That's a dangerous assumption, because until it's built, it's not a done deal. LRT opponents know this and are intentionally muddying the waters. We can't let them hold sway. It's time to get vocal about this issue again.
Letters to the editor are a must. But I also think we really need to start putting some pressure onto our MPPs, because this will be a provincially-funded project.
I started last night with a letter to Sophia Aggelonitis, our newly minted cabinet minister from Hamilton Mountain. I pointed out that in 2007, the Liberal government warned that a Conservative government would "put rapid transit projects through MoveOntario 2020 - including two light rail lines across Hamilton - at risk".
Here's how to get in touch with local MPPs:
We need to keep Hamilton on the rails. The campaign starts now.
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