Smart Transit, Dumb Media

By Jason Leach
Published June 02, 2005

Over half a dozen new alternative media sources have popped up in Hamilton during the past year, owing partly to the horrendous lack of local mainstream media coverage.

Hamilton is a fairly progressive, modern city but our TV reporters rarely venture past the station parking lot or rooftop and our one daily paper seems to be almost as controlled by the local homebuilding industry as the city itself.

We present many links to stories in the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail here at RTH because they are progressive papers that understand the complexities of urban life in the 21st Century. The new media frenzy in Hamilton has been met with open arms and intrigued minds tired of reading non-stop stories about convenience store break-ins and the virtues of suburban sprawl and highway developments.

Other news agencies are reporting two major transportation initativies that will impact Hamilton, but you would never know it if you get your news from the Hamilton Spectator. As we expected, the Spec ignored both announcements (Anthony Desantis Jr. should be happy about that).

The Toronto Star reports that John Godfrey, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, spoke yesterday to the Canadian Urban Transit Association about the federal government's plan to give $800 million to cities for transit funding.

We know that they cannot grow indefinitely forever ... we cannot continue to build urban societies based on automobiles and suburbs. The only way that we can think coherently about our communities of the future is to think long-term.

Officials from the TTC and GO Transit are delighted, presumably because they actually expect the new money to be spent on transit. Bill Jenkins, GO's director of customer service, explained,"Every time we put a train on it fills up so we'll have no problem putting the money to good use."

(Contrast Hamilton, which already doesn't want to spend the provincial gas tax on new buses because the operating costs may be inflationary - as if sinking more money into highways won't be inflationary.)

At the same time, the Smart Commute Association of the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton has launched an initative that "provide[s] tools and services to make it easier to walk, cycling, take transit, carpool or vanpool to work, or to stay at home and telework instead." This is the reality of urban planning these days and will only become more common in the future.

If it was an $800 million announcement about new highway construction we're sure it would have been on the front page.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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