Comment 119205

By JayRobb (registered) | Posted June 09, 2016 at 09:30:28

The key line in the letter from Denninger's, the Black Forest Inn and Thompson Pawnbrokers & Jewellers comes at the end - "Mr. Farr, we have attempted to set up a meeting with you for some time...".

Had that meeting happened, would this position have been taken? Would this letter have been written?

With the Council vote pushed back to the fall, LRT supporters can ramp up community engagement with a heavy emphasis on listening. You may have 101 compelling reasons, facts and stats why Hamilton must have an LRT. But people don't care what you know until they know that you care. People want to be heard. They want to have open, honest, judgment-free conversations that can lead to common ground. LRT supporters can create those forums.

There's also time for LRT supporters to rethink their approach with councillors who've yet to pledge allegiance to the project. LRT may be transformational and city-building. It's also a opportunity for horsetrading. Councillor Ferguson said as much earlier this week in a meeting covered by Community News reporter Kevin Werner. Here's one of the tweets from Werner -- "Clr Lloyd Ferguson says supporters will "have to pay us suburban councillors off." Ferguson says he wants his art centre funded. #HamOnt".

Telling councillors they're either pro-LRT or anti-Hamilton, anti-progress and anti-leadership turns common ground into scorched earth. Calling councillors liars and idiots only solidifies their position and builds opposition among the people who voted them into office. LRT supporters need to show they'll be gracious in victory. Give councillors a way to save face.

One last suggestion for LRT supporters. Put James Hoggan's "I'm Right and You're an Idiot" on your summer reading list. "Our public squares should be forums for open and honest, higher-quality debate, but sadly, these meeting places have become polluted by a toxic mix of polarized rhetoric, propaganda and miscommunication," writes Hoggan. "A dark haze of unyielding one-sidedness has poisoned public discourse and created an atmosphere of mistrust and disinterest."

There's still time to clear the air and set a higher standard for community engagement in Hamilton.

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