Comment 104434

By RobF (registered) | Posted September 11, 2014 at 11:22:49

Well argued.

Personally i find the LRT debate tiresome at this point. There is a strong case for building LRT in Hamilton, especially the B-Line.

Yes, it requires a major financial commitment from the province -- so did building the QEW, Skyway, LINC, Red Hill (the last two cost several hundred million to build), and countless other major infrastructure projects.

No, LRT is not magic elixir. But it's consistent with the province's Places to Grow reurbanization strategy and intensified development means increased economic activity and property assessment growth. Literature on mega-projects does suggest that economic benefits are hard to measure and are often inflated, but they don't support the claim that there are no significant benefits. We could talk about time-frame for the investment to "pay-off" and cost-benefit analysis. But again, you will find that poor outcomes are often the result of failing to change land-use planning and zoning to allow redevelopment. Or projects were embarked upon as the infrastructural equivalent of a hail-Mary pass in football ... i.e. done more on hope than anything else. In some cases, an economic downturn changes assumptions about economic benefits, at least in the short or medium term.

These don't apply to B-Line LRT. There is already strong ridership on the route. One never knows what opposition will emerge around specific development proposals, but there is a framework in place to support intensification and infill development along the line. Based on contributions to RTH we could do more work on zoning regulations to ensure that mixed-use and high-quality urban design isn't thwarted by outdated rules and standards, etc. We don't control the global economy and can't plan around future economic downturns. The economy appears to be transitioning from recovery to expansion at the moment, and there are plenty of signs of investment across the lower city.

The project has been studied. Let's not confuse political wrangling for lack of project analysis, public consultation, and planning/engineering work. The best cover for delaying a project you oppose is to argue that further study or public consultation is required.

Really, the LRT debate feels like the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day".

Comment edited by RobF on 2014-09-11 11:28:56

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