Comment 52057

By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 11:43:51

Here is the issue though Ryan, in many of the cases you have mentioned, a great deal of work has been done in the core of those cities, and promoted a good image in order to justify the costs of LRT. As you state for Burlington, as the urbanize expect a LRT. They aren't quite there yet and as you state they project an image of a suburb.

Waterloo/Kitchener probably has the best case for a LRT system, mainly because you had two mid-size cities with two cores, who grew into one another and linking those two urban cores makes sense. However, the biggest stumbling block has been their low density, which is starting to change. I think it's a bit early for them to build a LRT system, mainly because of the lack of density, however it is affordable due to the sheer number of technological based industries located there for the time being. Should they depart, they would likely find LRT to be a problem in short order. That however seems unlikely any time soon as they are for the most part clean and in boom sector.

London has worked to revitalize their core, and continue to boost their image. It's still a work in progress and they understand when that work has been completed a LRT system will be needed. I'll also quote your report

This project has concluded that the forecasted population and suburban growth orientation of London planning policies, and the time required to develop higher density development nodes along main transit corridors, do not support the extremely costly introduction of higher order transit service. Higher order transit would involve Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) or Light Rail Transit (LRT) than requires ridership from much high density nodes and corridors than are available or currently planned in London. An average density of at least 100 units per hectare is typically required within 500 metres of LRT or BRT stations.

This conclusion comes with a recommendation that the City should continue to monitor any progress in rail rationalization within London, and respond to any possible rationalization with longer term opportunities for BRT or LRT development.

In other words, we have not undergone enough Urban intensification or have the population centers needed to justify the expenses.

Guelph as you state is small and compact with the benefit of a well preserved and invested core. It is one of the few cities that would benefit from suburban development, because they lack the population and size for a LR development. They could benefit from it, further down the line though.

Missisauga's success has been due to it's image that it has long projected to the urban center of Toronto as a clean suburb of Toronto not too far from major business centers of the city. However, as you have stated, they have found the limits of which sprawl can take you, something they have only managed to get away with for so long, because of high property values because of it's proximity to Toronto. They understand now, they need to intensify their downtown and existing developments, before building LRT.

Bottom line, LRT requires several things to be successful

A city that spans a large area - Hamilton certainly does, Waterloo/Kitchner does, Mississauga does, the others less so.

At least one, preferably two successful urban centers - Hamilton doesn't but could if the core is fixed. Waterloo/Kitchner almost does, Mississauga almost does, Guelph does.

A budget that can support it's initial investment and continued maintenance - Hamilton doesn't have it, because of a departing industrial sector and infrastructure costs that have become out of control due to sprawl. Waterloo/Kitchner does, Mississauga almost does but sprawl has crippled them.

Now thankfully, two of these problem can be solved by urban intensification in the core. Urban centers bring in more tax revenue and cost far less infrastructure wise then suburbs. Building the urban core and promoting a good image for this area should be Hamilton's first and biggest priority, before a LRT system. Set the urban development boundary in stone, so developers can't continue the easy sprawl trend and continue to invest downtown.

At this time, the only economically feasible way Hamilton could support a LR system is if the higher levels of government paid for it's initial investment entirely, and we shared the maintenance costs, which isn't likely in the current recession climate.

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