Statements

Ryan McGreal says,
For years I’ve been excited about the potential of light rail transit to transform Hamilton: to attract new private investment, to drive intensification around the transit corridor and particularly downtown, to reduce the demand for inefficient suburban infrastructure, and to foster the urban economies of scale, density and association that drive economic growth.

Back in 2007, when the Province announced MoveOntario and especially when the Liberals promised “two light rail lines across Hamilton” in their re-election campaign, my excitement was galvanized into action. I helped found Hamilton Light Rail, a group of Hamiltonians who believed in both the potential of LRT and the possibility of it actually being completed.

We did our research, prepared a presentation that explains what LRT is and how it can drive economic development, and began reaching out to meet with other community groups – neighbourhood associations, service clubs, BIAs and so on – to present our case for LRT and to seek their support.

We also met with City staff and asked them to look at LRT along the B-Line, rather than the bus rapid transit (BRT) that the Transportation Master Plan had previously recommended when there was no provincial funding on the table.

In 2008, Council directed the newly formed Rapid Transit Office to conduct a feasibility study of LRT vs. BRT on the east-west B-Line. A June 2008 update as part of that study is worth quoting: “The idea of status quo … is in contravention of the City’s Transportation Master Plan and Metrolinx’s draft Regional Transportation Plan Green Papers and White Papers. … the general sense from the public is that the time is now for Hamilton to do something bold and innovative.”

That October, the final report was presented to Council. Encompassing feedback from over 1,600 residents – an unprecedented level of public engagement – the final report strongly endorsed building LRT, integrating the design with community and economic development policies, starting with the B-Line and moving quickly and decisively to get priority funding from the Province.

The report noted: “it has been made clear by Metrolinx that Provincial project priorities, will in part, depend on projects that have strong political support and that can be completed under aggressive timelines.”

Since then, Metrolinx has consistently praised Hamilton’s Rapid Transit staff for their professionalism and thoroughness in carrying out Council’s direction to undertake “the functional design, detail design and construction of the B-line rapid transit corridor … utilizing Light Rail Technology”.

Meanwhile, planning staff have done an excellent job of preparing a Secondary Plan for the B-Line that will leverage LRT to drive a denser, more urban built form with new investment into mixed use development along the transit corridor.

In 2010, Metrolinx released a Rapid Transit Benefits Case Analysis on the B-Line corridor that concluded LRT would be more expensive to build but would produce a much bigger overall benefit.

Suddenly, three years later, we find ourselves in a bizarre situation in which Council seems reluctant to commit to completing LRT unless the Province commits to funding it, and the Province seems reluctant to commit to funding LRT unless the City commits to making its completion a priority.

This is deeply unfortunate. It threatens to unwind years of excellent planning and design work. Much worse, it threatens to squander the historic opportunity to transform Hamilton through a strategic, long-term investment in high quality rapid transit.

We need both Council and the Province to step up now: commit to making LRT a top priority, and commit to funding it in a timely fashion. This is our chance to make a decision that will affect the city for the next 50 to 100 years – that we will one day look back on as a crucial turning point in Hamilton’s fortunes.

I ask you – the leaders of Hamilton and Ontario – to transcend the political catch-22 and commit to finishing the work building this LRT line.

After all this time, I’m still excited and hopeful to see LRT happen. I hope you are, too.

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Mary Louise Pigott says,
I am appalled at the undemocratic way that LRT planning has been de-prioritized by our mayor and city manager. I call upon council to stand up for themselves and their constituents by reaffirming their support for the LRT initiative.

I also call upon my MPP Ted McMeekin and Premier McGuinty to recognize that the prioritizing of all-day GO over LRT does not reflect the will of our elected representatives. I am a card carrying Liberal, but not only will the Ontario Liberals not be getting any of my time or money during this campaign, but they won’t even get my vote unless they reaffirm their promise to fund the capital costs, and keep B-line LRT at the top of Metrolinx’s priority list.

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Jeremy Kemeny says,
Transit that takes people out of Hamilton can’t be our future. We need public transportation that helps our local economy thrive.

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Matt Grande says,
Are we seriously still debating this? TWO feasibility studies, one municipal and one provincial, have shown that the B-Line can support, and NEEDS an LRT line. Let’s get it done!

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Graham Crawford says,
Nothing big every came from thinking small. Except small, of course. Hamilton, and its citizens, used to think big and implement big. It was part of who we were. Of how we saw ourselves and how we saw our collective future.

LRT is one of those “think big” projects. We can see it. We can see ourselves using it. We can see the impact it will have on our city and on our citizens.

I support LRT not only because of what it is, but also because of what it means. It’s an investment that will change the way we move within our city and the way we develop across our city. It’s people-oriented and it’s development-friendly.

Let’s finish the work already begun that reflects the input of so many citizens and professionals. Let’s tell every leader at every level of government that this is what we want. That this is what we expect. And let’s keep telling them until LRT exists not only on paper, but on our streets.

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Adrian Duyzer says,
In 2007, while campaigning for re-election, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised to build two light rail transit lines in Hamilton.

Four years later, Mayor Bob Bratina has said that LRT “is not a priority”, and Premier McGuinty has said that based on conversations with Mayor Bratina, all-day GO transit service has supplanted LRT as a priority.

This is unacceptable. LRT has been studied to death in Hamilton and the verdict is clear: beyond the improvements in public transit, LRT would have a substantial economic benefit for the city. Meanwhile, other municipalities are getting buckets of cash from Metrolinx to build it.

It’s time for Premier McGuinty to reaffirm his commitment to build LRT in Hamilton. It’s time for our MPPs to reaffirm their commitment to see this project through. And it’s time for Mayor Bratina and Hamilton City Council to seize this opportunity – and capitalize on the province’s promise to pay the capital costs – and get Hamilton moving once again.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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Marvin Caplan says,
LRT will help move us into a more sustainable future.

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Nick Tomkin says,
Long-term strategies have a habit of losing momentum and excitement, so it is easy to see why many might not understand the benefits of LRT today. In 10 years from now, do we want to say we should have? Hamilton deserves forethought on this magnitude.

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Bob Manojlovich says,
LRT is the single best way for transformative change for the lower, older city. There is no other alternative strategy for such change. This must be an immediate priority.

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Paul Sousa says,
The time is right for the city of Hamilton and the Province of Ontario to work together to make LRT a reality. The transit corridor on King/Main is perfect for an LRT line and has enormous potential to be transformed and rejuvenated by the development that this type of long-term investment will spur.

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