After years of community organizing, extensive study and planning, unprecedented public engagement and a unanimous Council vote of support, Hamilton's LRT bid now seems to be crumbling due to a lack of leadership.
By Ryan McGreal
Published July 05, 2011
An article just published on the Spectator has left me stunned and flabbergasted.
Councillors Brad Clark and Chad Collins suddenly don't understand why the City is developing an intensification plan along the B-Line corridor that is predicated on Hamilton's Rapid Transit program.
Clark says Councillors "still don't know where we stand on LRT" and would rather focus intensification on Rymal Road. He feels council is "slowly being backed into a corner" on LRT, because the Province gave the City $3 million to develop a comprehensive light rail plan along the B-Line ... after Council voted unanimously to endorse Hamilton's LRT bid and Metrolinx, the Provincial arms-length organization coordinating rapid transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area published a benefits case analysis that recommended LRT.
Collins would rather concentrate around GO stations on James North and Centennial Parkway. Collins also appears to oppose intensification of built-up areas, saying, "I have consistently fought against cannibalizing neighbourhoods for main street development."
Even Planning and EcDev general manager Tim McCabe got in on the act. According to the article, "the B-Line corridor wouldn't be his first choice, either" - though at least McCabe acknowledged that with a provincially-funded LRT, "the whole investment climate changes. We will get the uplift and we will get the development interest."
Collins and Clark think Hamilton should "regain control of its destiny" ... by basing its development policy on wherever developers want it.
Never mind where residents want it. The Rapid Transit project has drawn an unprecedented level of public engagement, with literally thousands of Hamiltonians actively expressing their support for LRT, sharing their ideas on how best to implement it, and giving up afternoons and evenings to attend public meetings, planning sessions and focus groups with city planners.
After years of community organizing, a unanimous Council vote of support, major studies by Metrolinx, several detailed reports by city staff and consultants, and a massive, ongoing level of engagement with the public, Hamilton's LRT bid now seems to be crumbling due to a lack of political leadership from our political leaders.
No one from Council seems to be paying attention to Waterloo Region, which just approved its LRT plan after years of careful study, planning and analysis identified LRT as "an important part of the Region's plan to accommodate significant population and employment growth over the next 20 years."
No one from Council bothered to listen to Paul Bedford, Toronto's Chief Planner Emeritus, when he came to Hamilton to give an inspiring, timely talk on why transit matters.
Instead, councillors whine that they feel like they're "following process rather than leading it" when they have to read about a policy they initiated themselves that targets new development in our already-built but long-neglected downtown corridor instead of approving an endless series of sprawl subdivisions and big box plazas on suburban greenfields.
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