Special Report: Light Rail

Bratina, Murray Cool on Light Rail

On the Bill Kelly Show, Mayor Bob Bratina and City Manager Chris Murry expressed deep skepticism about Hamilton's light rail transit plan.

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 11, 2011

Last week, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina said he was "not hearing any kind of clamour from the public" in support of LRT. In response, a number of Hamiltonians who support LRT wrote letters to remind Council why they unanimously voted in October 2008 to instruct staff to work with Metrolinx on planning and implementing LRT along the east-west B-Line corridor.

Today, Bratina went onto the Bill Kelly Show on 900 CHML with City Manager Chris Murray and revised his argument to claim he is not hearing a "clamour" for LRT from Hamilton's developers. Instead, he says the development community is interested in all-day GO train service.

Saying GO service "has been on every development person's radar for several years," Bratina argued that the condo development at 50 Murray Street went ahead based on proximity to the proposed James Street GO station. "And we haven't heard that with the LRT so far."

Bratina also drew a contrast with developer interest in the Red Hill Valley Parkway when it was being proposed and when it was built:

You know, it's interesting when you compare the Red Hill... Unquestionably, the development industry came forward and actually contributed $85 million, I think in development charges, and were very outspoken in terms of their interest in having that road completed. And we haven't heard the same kind of, I'll use the word clamour, from the development industry in terms of the LRT. So that's a piece of the puzzle that still has to be evaluated with LRT.

After Kelly questioned whether there is any opportunity for infill development along the B-Line corridor, Bratina responded, "Well, I have the same concerns, Bill. Where would the parcels of land be to be exploited by the development community?"

Main and Bay: Apparently these whole city blocks of surface parking in the downtown core are unsuitable for transit oriented development
Main and Bay: Apparently these whole city blocks of surface parking in the downtown core are unsuitable for transit oriented development

More undeveloped land downtown that couldn't possibly accommodate new transit-oriented development
More undeveloped land downtown that couldn't possibly accommodate new transit-oriented development

Bratina further questioned whether the city can afford to risk an investment in LRT, given uncertainty about the global economy. Arguing that city finances are "in a pretty good place right now" and Council held the line on tax increases, Bratina said, "If we're going to make some big play with taxpayers' money, there had better be a pretty certain return on that play."

Kelly, demonstrating a common refrain of his, added, "I don't see the economic impact for the light rail transit here in Hamilton. This is not Seattle, this is not Los Angeles or New York, and I think you're comparing one situation to another which is much, much different."

Kelly asked, "Where's the private sector money?"

Murray responded, "I haven't had one single phone call come to my office in all the time that we've talked about LRT from any developer within Hamilton, or external to Hamilton, asking those very questions." On the other hand, Murray said he is hearing interest from developers about all-day GO service.

Murray added that city planning must ultimately respond to market signals.

I can say this not just as City Manager but also as an urban planner with a background and credentials in the field, I mean, as policy creators we can create land use policy, we can do all kinds of good planning - and our staff have done that - but it's the market at the end of the day that we have to keep our eye on in terms of what its interests are, and today we're not hearing it.

He also raised questions about which government body will collect the fares from a B-Line LRT service, suggesting that the Province might insist on collecting some or all of the operating revenue. In this case, Murray argued, the HSR would lose the revenue it currently earns on fares along the B-Line, forcing taxpayers to pick up the difference

LRT in Charlotte and Portland

Kelly then asked about differences between successful LRT systems in other cities and the situation in Hamilton. Bratina responded, saying that the LRT line in Charlotte, North Carolina is "kind of an old-fashioned quaint trolley to connect to their waterfront".

In fact, Charlotte's Lynx Line is a modern, high-capacity LRT system that runs 15 kilometres from the South End through the downtown core and carries 21,000 passengers a day. That is despite ridership projections of 9,100 passengers per day, increasing to 18,000 by 2025.

Lynx LRT station in Charlotte, North Carolina (Image Credit: Wired)
Lynx LRT station in Charlotte, North Carolina (Image Credit: Wired)

According to a November, 2009 Wired article, overall transit ridership in Charlotte increased 46% between 2006 and 2008, due mainly to the Lynx line opening in 2007. Before the line was completed, it faced extensive opposition from business groups that claimed it was a waste of money that had a poor cost-benefit ratio and would never generate significant interest from developers.

That has not stopped developers from flocking to the transit corridor, generating some 10 million square feet of new development. In fact, when Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson returned from a fact-finding trip to Charlotte, he was extremely impressed with the new development there and said:

I am now convinced that we need to look at some form of light-rail system, among other things, to spur our local economy and get Hamilton into the next millennium.

Charlotte plans to double the length of the current line and is also planning or has proposed an additional 65 kilometres in expansion lines.

Bratina also mentioned LRT in Portland, Oregon, saying, "Portland is the same size, roughly, as Hamilton in terms of population but it's one quarter of the land mass, so they have 4,000 people per square mile. We have 1,000. So it just fits better."

What Bratina seems to have forgotten is that Portland had a much lower population density when it decided, in the 1970s, to impose a firm urban boundary and to use federal highway funding to build its first LRT line.

The high density that Bratina says is the reason for Portland's LRT success is actually a product of that city's success at directing traffic into high quality urban intensification instead of endless sprawl.

Given that the province projects 3.5 million new residents will live in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area in the next 25 years, it is hard to conclude that Hamilton cannot attract and accommodate enough residents to achieve densities similar to other cities that achieved those densities through investments in LRT.

Indeed, it is difficult to understand how Hamilton will accommodate its share of growth without LRT as an anchor for infill development. Given the fact that suburban greenfield development charges are too low to pay for growth, intensification is the only affordable way for Hamilton to grow. Without it, each new development will make Hamilton's finances worse.

Not In Hamilton Syndrome

The interview closed with another dose of NIH (Not In Hamilton) Syndrome. When Kelly said he didn't think anyone has presented a business case for how LRT is going to drive economic development, Bratina replied, "Well, the general thing is that, where, typically, where stations are located, within a certain radius, there tends to be development, like the subways." He referenced tall clusters of development around Toronto's subway stations.

Paul Bedford made a similar argument in his recent presentation on rapid transit in Hamilton.

The big picture: dense development around Yonge Subway Line (Image Credit: Paul Bedford)
The big picture: dense development around Yonge Subway Line (Image Credit: Paul Bedford)

However, Bratina concluded by expressing doubt that this general pattern of urban development around transit nodes would hold in Hamilton. "Whether the same thing would happen in Hamilton is - there's no convincing argument yet."

Kelly averred that Hamilton does not have the "massive population" that he thinks would be required to make an LRT investment pay off, and Bratina agreed. He closed by pointing out that property taxes in Waterloo will be $125 higher for the next several years to pay for their LRT system. "Can we afford that?" he asked.

Kelly answered, "I can say no, on behalf of taxpayers."

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 15:41:32

This is getting sadly humourous now. It'd be great if we had people with ambition at the helm of our city.

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By Art Brut (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 15:53:21

The criticism is growing. It can only be a matter of days before our glorious leader takes to the airwaves to revise his considered opinion and champion LRT – at HO scale.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 15:55:16

Yuck yuck yuck.

RTH: listening to CHML so you don't have to.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 17:54:34 in reply to Comment 65967

Listened to the interview- couldn't help but take the bait

What I hate about Kelly is how 2 faced he is. Compare this to the interviews during the Hamilton Economic Summit or "Bill Kelly unleashed". There you will see people praising LRT, 2 way street conversions and urban intensifacation and Bill is just smiles along. If that is what he doesn't beleive in- challenge them- get the debate going!

I would love to see him challenge this with facts and figures rather than "I just don't see it working"

Comment edited by Vod_Kann on 2011-07-11 17:54:50

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 17, 2011 at 09:16:50 in reply to Comment 65985

exactly. Don't ever view CHML as a source of info. They're desperate for ratings. Period. Apparently reading Spec headlines everyday isn't really bringing numbers through the roof.

Comment edited by jason on 2011-07-17 09:17:21

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:18:44

One step forward, five steps back...

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:26:02

Of course BoBra is cool to LRT. There is no evidence that LRT will help the trucking industry.

It seems that Hamilton is an anomaly in the world. Nothing that works or succeeds in any other city in the world will work here. We are incomparable. I am so far past the NIH syndrome. We can do anything in this town. If our leaders didn't have such low self-esteem and such a poor opinion of our city, they might see past the next election and start working for our future.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:13:07 in reply to Comment 65970

"Of course BoBra is cool to LRT. There is no evidence that LRT will help the trucking industry"

I was going to go with suburban housing industry myself!

This could be a question on "Match game"

There is no evidence LRT could help BLANK...

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:27:15

Platform schmatform. This guy sickens me.

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By Oy Vey! (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:28:34

When's the next election again? I'm seriously getting really tired of this clown.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:31:34

It's difficult to discuss this issue when the Mayor keeps making factual errors about LRT. To take just two basic examples:

  1. There is huge potential for re-development along the LRT line. The Rapid Transit Team and the consultants the City has hired have done a detailed inventory of all the parcels of developable land in an 800m strip around the B-line. There are plenty of large under-utilized properties along most of the 13km length that are ripe for re-developement. In fact, the Rapid Transit Team has been organizing a series of design charettes to explore how these parcels could be densified (I attended the King/Dundurn charette). These studies, and the associated maps, have been distributed to councillors.

  2. The population density in wards 1-4, which is what counts as far as LRT is concerned is about 7000/square mile.


This is actually much higher than the figure Bob quoted for Portland of 4000 residents per square mile. And this is before the LRT is even built!

In fact, the Durand neighbourhood has a density of close to 100 residents per Ha, or almost 26000/square mile. The overall density figure of 1170/square mile includes the rural parts of Hamilton, and is clearly irrelevant when discussing the feasibility of the B-line!

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By George (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 20:46:50 in reply to Comment 65973

I attended the Queesnton/Nash charette (ward 5) public meeting and the planners were excited about the large parcels of land and potential for corridor planning. The Spec had an article about that meeting. Not sure what the mayor is talking about in regards to availability of land http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:02:06 in reply to Comment 65973

Luckily Bratina will get that de-amalgamation going that he promised and increase the city's density.

How's that coming along?


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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:49:12 in reply to Comment 65973

I agree. Hope some news outlet with wider reach than RTH deals with these inaccuracies.

For once it appears that developers are on the same side as us, can we not leverage this somehow?

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:36:50 in reply to Comment 65973

Factual errors, or a deliberate campaign of misinformation?

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:33:28

There is one interesting point in the article that could be a real point of contention. Is there any indication that the revenue from the LRT would go to a different government body? I haven't heard anything about that before, not in Hamilton or anywhere else.

Does anyone know if this could possibly be the case?

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:10:07 in reply to Comment 65974

Hamilton must first have a committed LRT implementation project to build a rapid transit before there is any talk of an operational agreement with metrolinx. Such agreements are likely to be based on a case by case basis designed specifically for each individual municipality's transit needs. There will obviously be some kind of negotiation involved, but the city will have to benefit for this to work. For instance, Metrolinx may end up owning the tracks, but the city may end up getting most of the revenue -- say an 80% to 20% per cent split (in favour of the city) with Metrolinx. I can't see this working any other way

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:48:23 in reply to Comment 65974

Is the province doing that anywhere else? No. Strike another blow for disinfo.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:48:02 in reply to Comment 65974

While Metrolinx has expressed some desire to "own the lines they build" as I seem to recall, I have never heard anything about how the revenue would be used. Certainly I've heard no suggestion that the lines they are building for GO or the TTC would be subject to revenue-sharing.

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By Bob Lee (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 16:54:53

Here's what I don't understand: what politician of any stripe or mind comes out in opposition to a project paid largely by outside sources? It's mindboggling! The result will be that other people get the cash, it's that simple! Even Rob Ford isn't so ideological to oppose something like this. These statements don't just reflect an opinion, they have a very real impact, to the point where I'd wager that LRT is effectively dead in this city now. And yet Bratina goes on as though he's just expressing his personal belief and if it turns out people are in favour, then he might change his mind.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 17:08:13 in reply to Comment 65979

I think we are seeing what happens when you elect a mayor who ran a campaign without a platform or vision of what Hamilton will look like in 5, 10 or 20 years. When it comes to policy and planning he and his cohort merely float a trial balloon on CHML.

It's easier to do than going out and selling an idea to the public. Passive-aggressive governing.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 17:20:31 in reply to Comment 65980

Can anyone with a better memory than me put into context what's unfolding here in comparison with how the other two 'main' mayoral candidates would be responding about now?

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By BeeBonnett (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:20:29 in reply to Comment 65982

Both Fred and Larry had plans in their respective campaign platforms to form a community leadership forum that would, as a collective, move Hamilton's case for LRT forward with the provincial and federal governments. Our city's biggest problem is not only the NIH syndrome, it's also that no one at employed by the city or elected to council is tasked with the sole purpose of government relations (also know as "lobbying"). This task would help to promote the priorities of our fine city and also ensure that Hamilton has a voice at the table at both upper levels of government. No one is doing this work now -- not the mayor, not council, not the city manager, and not a single city staff person. The only time the city engages in any form of government relations is when it whines about not getting enough money to be used for social services gap funding. We always present in a "hat in hand" approach that is not at all appealing to either government bureaucrats or cabinet ministers. You have to go with a strategy, with a plan, and stick to that plan. You have to be willing to leverage existing assets to attract investment opportunities and to promote investment partnerships with the province, federal government and the private sector. Hamilton does not do this -- only for one-offs such as the $160 million stadium renovation (a joke) or perhaps the McMaster Health centre downtown (another joke). Until the city's upper echelon management and the mayor understand that Hamilton is going nowhere fast without a proper public affairs strategy, we will always be late to the party and left without essential and necessary funding partners.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 17:19:17

What Bratina seems to have forgotten is that Portland had a much lower population density when it decided, in the 1970s, to impose a firm urban boundary and to use federal highway funding to build its first LRT line.

The high density that Bratina says is the reason for Portland's LRT success is actually a product of that city's success at directing traffic into high quality urban intensification instead of endless sprawl.

I love RTH. I belive it is stated somewhere that it is figured it recieves some 1,000 hits a day? Awesome numbers for 'alternative' media. But on this issue, RTH'ers and all those who support LRT, need to reach a braoder populous. aka The Spec.

How much would it cost 'us' to create a 10-page (or so) insert, and how much would it cost us for The Spec to place it as an insert in their say Saturday paper? A whole section dedicated to LRT.

I would donate $20 to the cause to help with printing and the Spec insertion costs.

I wouldn't mind adding something to that insertion, or work closely with other writers at creating a piece that hits on what I quoted from the story above, and my desire to see Hamilton Set Boundaries for Conservation Encroachment and Urban Sprawl. Add a little touchy feely to the message as well.

This city is changing too fast as far as I am concerned. It's time to slow down and most importantly, involve everyone. No Bill Kelly, you are not speaking on behalf of taxpayers. $125/yr for 10 years brings tonnes of local jobs and maybe something up my alley so I can work closer to home too? What is the actual investment return on that $125 that we don't see on the surface because it would never come back to us 'directly'?

We aren't hearing from the development industry perhaps, because they are too worried about the damn cross-peninsula highway.

All day GO service I don't think is all that big of a concern although of course it would be great. What needs to happen is a Niagara to Burlington route most importantly. The GO bus system for every other trip from Burlington to Hamilton isn't all that bad. I imagine during the day it's not all that desirable to bus it from Burlington or Aldershot to Hamilton but there are so many reasons why I am sold on LRT and the main one being, to stop urban sprawl and build off all the wasted space we currently have within.

Are we positive that this city really knows what's at stake here and what we stand to gain, or is the Bill Kelly show it? No offense Bill but the outcome of the show doesn't seem like it did much of a job selling any benefits of LRT. We can't afford to assume that Hamiltonians have seen the kinds of arguments and facts that exist on RTH. Not with this one. Not at what I think we stand to lose. Most importantly, our greenspaces on the outskirts of our city.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-07-11 17:40:41

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 08:05:42 in reply to Comment 65981

I belive it is stated somewhere that it is figured it recieves some 1,000 hits a day?

Traffic really surged last summer during the stadium debate and then fell back somewhat once council finalized the location at the end of January, but here are some approximate site traffic figures using Google Analytics data since February:

  • Daily (weekday)

    • Unique Visits: 1,500
    • Page Views: 3,500
  • Weekly

    • Unique Visits: 9,000
    • Page Views: 16,000
  • Monthly

    • Unique Visits: 38,000
    • Page Views: 70,000

The consensus seems to be that Google Analytics tends to understate traffic by something like 20%, because it excludes people with cookies and/or javascript turned off, but it does give us a ballpark, and the nice thing is that it doesn't count search engine crawlers and other bots.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-12 08:11:49

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By shaddupsevenup (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 07:16:17 in reply to Comment 65981

I'll pitch in for Spec space. Where shall I send my cheque?

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 09:26:48 in reply to Comment 66027

Me too...the Spec would probably comp something that has PR potential like this...

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 12:35:32 in reply to Comment 66035

Well that is three. :)

Beisdes the ability to send a strong message of the positives of LRT to the masses, I would imagine it wouldn't hurt RTH readership numbers either.

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By Synxer (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 11:11:45 in reply to Comment 66054

Great points. I would be willing to contribute $100, as well as help with the campaign in other ways if needed. Check my contact info.

One point I'd like to make about the vision of a campaign such as this. Many grassroots campaigns that have enjoyed success had a certain element that made it stick in people's brain.

For my wife, it's the image of the LRT on our streets. In fact, last week she clicked on the article, "City being ‘backed into a corner’ on LRT: Clark", not because of the article itself, but because of the photo associated with the article.

"That train looks so cool on James St. I can't wait until they build that!", she said.

Then she read the rest of the article[1].

My point here is, the picture of LRT in our city does more for the audience than bulletpoints. The bulletpoints are important, but some won't read those points until they know why they are to read them. Or unless you're listening to a couple of devil's advocates, spewing out dramatic rhetoric on the radio.

[1] http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

Comment edited by Synxer on 2011-07-13 11:14:59

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:05:21 in reply to Comment 65981

You got Ivor Wynne saved when that seemed impossible- Can you help work some magic here?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 13:34:07 in reply to Comment 65989


Thanks Vod. I didn't save anything. I just ticked them off long enough that they said "Here. Have your damn stadium. And hey, here is $150M - do with it what you want." :)

Not that I was/am an expert on stadiums or stadium districts, but I know very litle about LRT except what I have learned on this space.

I hope to continue to be involved in the planing of the stadium district and my councillor has even approached me twice to re-itterate that they would like to engage me in this process. So as it pertained to the future sustainability of the stadium, LRT has always been something that I kept an eye on but left the facts and fighting to those that seemed to have a good grasp on the process and from what I seen (deju of the stadium debate as others have alluded to above/below), I thought things were lining up and headed in the right direction. I even put the proposed east/west line on my stadium map.

Aside from IWS, a lot of thought fills my soul with regards to protecting the greenspace that surrounds Hamilton - more importantly, Binbrook Conservation Area and Tyneside Trail sparked by me seeing some clearings next to Tyneside and a few wood poles with orange ties around them.

It wasn't until I read those two paragraphs that I quoted above, that I realized that this project could greatly affect two projects in this city that are dear to my heart. If LRT can encourage building within and allow us to preserve more of the beautiful land that surrounds us, than I have found where my voice might fit into this fight.

I filled a few pages in my journal on the train ride home from work yesterday evening. I think I know my angle but like I stated, I wouldn't mind collaborating on the emotional sell of this project.

I played team sports all of my life so this fighting on your own to save something (aka IWS), doesn't have the same reward at the end when victory is realized. Not that it was my victory this time but perhaps one of these fights I will be able to say that I was a part of it and I want someone (many someones) to celebrate with.

Life is a team sport and dreams are better realized, when those dreams are shared and celebrated by many.

So we have three yah's. Something tells me this is going to cost more than $60. :)

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-07-12 13:42:43

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By MikeyJ (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 17:28:02

We just returned from Portland and I doubt it is a quarter of the size of Hamilton, to ignore the fact that the MAX line is part of the TriMet (Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon) which includes most of the Portland Metropolitan Area and is likely much larger than the Greater Hamilton Area

City of Portland = 348 km sq land while Hamilton Urban Area = 228 km sq, which is probably more comparable.

To use the City of Portland's area alone as the basis for a comparison to the Greater Hamilton Area without including the Portland Metropolitan Area serviced by Oregon's Trimet (or at least discluding Hamilton's suburban area) is some classic misdirection.

Comment edited by MikeyJ on 2011-07-11 17:32:59

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By Simmons (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 17:49:23

What does it take to get a credible LRT advocate on CHML?

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By Hohummer (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:24:28 in reply to Comment 65984

Call Mark Chamberlain!!!

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:04:16 in reply to Comment 65984

As long as people who fear change more than anytihng else are around to listen to it? A Lot

Comment edited by Vod_Kann on 2011-07-11 18:45:16

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:40:06 in reply to Comment 65987

As long as Baby Boomers like my parents are around to listen to it? A Lot

Be very careful how you generalize. Down that road lies embarrassment...if not peril.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:46:45 in reply to Comment 65994

point taken- I guess I was "labeling" there

I changed the description...

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By Dana (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:04:35

Are they seriously saying that Hamilton doesn't have enough population density for LRT? Do they know that Edmonton (Canada's least dense city) has a busy LRT system that's currently expanding?

How frustrating.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:17:06 in reply to Comment 65988

Especially when areas that we think of as "car culture" Alberta, Texas, Arizona and Charlotte (the home of NASCAR for heaven's sake!)have better transit than just about any place in Ontario

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:35:45

Here is at least one example business where the possibility of an LRT line affected their decision to move


"She’s excited about other recent additions to the street and the plans to bring light-rail transit past her doorstep and what that might mean for pedestrian traffic. She tells her customers that parking is plentiful, too."

Perhaps there could be a campaign where businesses like these can have banners that say "My business is here because of LRT" or something of that ilk?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 18:54:43

It's hard not to just give up when you hear the positions articulated by City Council. Is there not a single councillor who will support LRT?

I'm so close to just giving up...help me out people. Give me a glimmer of hope.

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By Michael Hulleman (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 19:39:14

Bratina: You're at a crux: Leader or follower, hero or miser? Hamilton needs LRT.

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By RonMiller (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 20:21:48

I do not know anyone personally who is not in favour of the LRT, it also seems all the RTH readers are in favour of it. Is it only the people running the city that are against it? It just seems like are fearless leaders (and I use that term loosely) are looking for reasons to not make LRT happen, instead of just saying, it has to happen and make it a reality. Why? I really don't get it. Am I missing something?

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 21:19:21 in reply to Comment 65998

Boy oh boy are you out of touch with reality. The vast majority of Hamiltonians have not desire to spend the huge amounts of money needed for LRT. I suspect a projected $125 yearly increase in taxes, which would in all likelihood be even higher, would lead to a taxpayer revolt.

LRT is not bad but it is expensive.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 09:53:25 in reply to Comment 66004

Mr. Meister, rather than focus on the fact that you are a perennial naysayer who seems to believe that no progressive, forward-thinking project has any chance of success in Hamilton, I'd like to put forth a challenge: what's your vision for Hamilton? What innovative, forward-thinking, visionary projects would you like to see created? I'd like to see you step up and articulate what you think Hamilton should do to prepare for the next 50 years.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 17:48:51 in reply to Comment 66036

Just because I think LRT is too expensive for Hamilton does not mean that I believe any forward thinking project will not work in Hamilton. I think Hamilton should make a really strong attempt to lure up and coming industries to the city maybe with subsidized rents and/or tax breaks. The two that pop into mind are wind and solar power generation. The cities network of bicycle lanes needs to be enlarged and combined this starting and stopping of bike lanes is silly and dangerous. I have seen that there are several Zellers stores in the area that have 2 wind turbines each. While in one of the stores I read a note on the wall that they produced 8,000 KWH the previous month. Why can we not mandate that every large store does the same? Or maybe even more. Why not 3 or 4 wind turbines per store? I read that one of the Walmart stores was renting their roofspace to a company to install a solar panel network. Why can we not mandate projects like that in Hamilton. If they want to build here than they need to abide by our demands.

I like the one way street network in Hamilton even though most of the regulars here do not. They improve traffic flow in a city that has some natural barriers to normal traffic dispersion tendencies. If I am in Toronto and whatever street I am on is very busy I can simply try one street north or south. In Hamilton there are limited east west streets below the hill and that hill causes an awfull lot of east west traffic. If the true issue is speed of the traffic on Main, King, Cannon and Wilson then simply change the timing to obtain a lower speed. I think a 5 KPH reduction would be a surprising change. The lights are currently set for a through speed of about 52 or 53 KPH. Change that to 46 or 47 KPH and lets see what the difference is in a year. Instead of simply charging home owners a charge to subsidize HSR I would like to see that be changed into a forced purchase of a monthly pass or two. The passes could be sold or used and might even convince a few new people to try transit that have never tried it before. Transit has so many problems in a spread out city like Hamilton we need some new and novel ways to fund it. Smaller buses are a must. Evening ridership is too low to keep these 40 seat monsters on the road. We need to get some small maybe 8 or 10 seaters to be running on a lot of the lines in the evenings. significant. The large buses would last longer since they would get less wear and tear while the fuel consumption goes down.

The list goes on, there are lots of things that we can do to get meaningful change in this city. Just because I believe that LRT is to expensive for us please do not try and paint me with a regressive minded brush. I have raised real concerns about LRT in this city and by and large they have been poo pooed. To the point that some have tried to compare the population of Hamilton to St. Louis. Come on lets be a little real here. I know that you are passionate about LRT but just maybe you are a little misguided. A billion dollar project is something that can haunt us for an awful long time. Especially when there are so many other things we can do for a lot less money.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 21:41:45 in reply to Comment 66077

I started a much longer reply, but the interweb ate it. To make one point about your post:

... forced purchase of a monthly pass or two...

Monthly pass is $80-85. Maybe more now? Funding to build the LRT with property tax is likely less than two monthly passes.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 14:47:08 in reply to Comment 66130

Since we are already forcing homeowners to subsidize HSR my idea was to give them something for their money. Not to far removed from tuition fees at McMaster and Mohawk which include a yearly HST pass. Not only would a monthly pass give them something it might even tempt a few to try transit.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 09:43:42 in reply to Comment 66077

Look, the billion dollar investment is mostly, if not all, provincial money.

A drop in the bucket of the $50 Billion the province plans top spend on public transit in the next 25 years.

Why on earth would any Hamiltonian advocate we be excluded from such visionary, long term provincial investment while every other GTHA community around us moves forward, leaving us further behind, drying up and shriveling even more.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 15:03:44 in reply to Comment 66104

The province will not pay all of it. The city will be responsible for a goodly size bill. What happens in 20 or 25 years when the rail beds need a major overhaul? Who will fund that?

I understand that LRT has lower per trip costs than bus but it still does not pay for itself and needs to be subsidized. Rail has a much higher start up cost and huge maintenance costs when work needs to be done or trains need to be overhauled or replaced.

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By RonMiller (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 00:03:29 in reply to Comment 66004

I agree with you Mr. Meister, nobody wants to see taxes increase. The LRT will not be built overnight. There is still time to bring more revenue into the city. Have to figure out how, and make it happen.

Comment edited by RonMiller on 2011-07-12 00:04:30

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By Mark-Alan Whittle (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 20:36:29

The only reason for no LRT in Hamilton is because city hall would have to raise taxes to pay for it. Not a single councillor will support raising taxes for any reason, let alone LRT. As it stands now, as soon as the $3 million Metrolynx seed money is gone, that will be it, unless the $1 billion cost can be funded through private sector Investment. The Future Fund is drained. We are $400 million in debt, which will grow to $600 million in the next ten years. Houston, we have a problem.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 09:38:05 in reply to Comment 66000

Question should be, " What are the benefits of any expenditure on LRT?"

Status quo has to go, because this continued suburban sprawl is not financially sustainable. Suburban taxes should be much higher so that they can sustain themselves, but that isn't the answer.

A strong urban core should be a priority.

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By Finance Critic (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:28:38 in reply to Comment 66000

"We are $400 million in debt" Who is we??? Municipalities are not allowed to run deficits.

As for the province and feds, if they don't do something to control urban sprawl and car culture, people will be choking to death are harmful emissions caused by traffic congestion. If they don't build more modern, efficient and clean public transit, we're doomed. Literally.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 21:07:49

Honest discussion - How exactly would you have the city pay for a $650 million start up plus $3.5 per year operating costs for LRT. Assuming (somewhat unfairly) that the system doesn't generate major increases in property tax revenue? In fact, lets also assume (also somewhat unfairly) that Metrolynx, the province and the Feds throw in $500 million. How would you have the city pay for $150 million startup plus $3.5 million operating cost.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2011-07-11 21:08:11

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By Borg 7 of 9 (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:31:42 in reply to Comment 66002

Have you ever heard of a wonderful financial tool known as "amortization". If you have a mortgage, that's exactly how the city will pay for LRT. And by the way, the province committed to funding 100% of the cost to build an lrt system in Hamilton. If we're serious about this, we should be holding their feet to the fire. If we can come up with $100 million for a stadium, and $100 million to build a health centre for McMaster downtown, then surely to goodness we can find the money to build an LRT system that will benefit the ENTIRE city, and not just the affluent ones.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 21:17:49 in reply to Comment 66002

Why would we assume LRT won't generate major increases in property taxes when it has done so in nearly every city that has built a system in the past two decades?

Also, Metrolinx has already said that if Hamilton's bid is approved, they would cover 100% of the basic cost of the system. Hamilton would be responsible for some miscellaneous costs and for anything above and beyond a bare-bones system - like upgraded stations.

As for operating costs, the per-passenger cost on LRT is generally 25-75% lower than the equivalent cost on a bus. This is because:

  • Each vehicle operator can carry three or four times as many people as a bus operator;
  • The energy cost to power LRT is much lower than the fuel cost to power a bus; and
  • The vehicles last four times as long, leading to much lower lifecycle costs.

LRT most certainly won't be free for Hamilton, but it would be utter lunacy not to commit to it, assuming the Province can be persuaded to cover the lion's share of the capital cost.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 21:29:27 in reply to Comment 66003

We have the assume it won't because we want to display the worst case scenario, not the best case scenario which gives your naysayers something to choke on. I have found the worst case scenario to be notably absent from this discussion.

If they are covering 100% of the basic cost, I think $50 million in upgraded costs is not unreasonable to budget for multiple stations. However once more, how does that funding get addressed?

Now while I do applaud LRT for being cheaper the bus transit per passenger, LRT is going to be an expenditure in addition to the existing HSR system of which only a very few select routes will be retired as a result of LRT. How do you address an additional $3.5 million service funding increase?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 22:30:59 in reply to Comment 66006

Again, why should we assume, even in a worst case, that LRT won't attract any development in Hamilton, when it is remarkably successful at doing this everywhere else? It seems to me that the worst case is that it merely won't attract new development as quickly as we might hope - though the city can do a lot to ensure success with an effective secondary plan that eliminates arbitrary barriers to urban investment and allows for dense, mixed use development.

Yes, there will be a cost to the city, but:

  1. There are a number of tools available to finance the city's contribution in addition to tax increases, including Tax Increment Financing. The Rapid Transit office is studying a number of options and will present them to Council for consideration.

  2. The cost of not building LRT is continued growth in suburban sprawl, which is steadily worsening the city's finances since development charges do not come close to covering the cost of that kind of development. Compared to that, the amortized cost of a city contribution to an LRT system that makes much more efficient use of existing built infrastructure is quite modest.

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By geoff's two cents (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 00:22:21 in reply to Comment 66010

Vancouver's Canada Line charged ahead without effectively planning and approving increased densities along the subway corridor, which of course delayed the ROI significantly. Vancouver can of course afford these kinds of slip-ups. Ideally, Hamilton's LRT planning would be streamlined so as to begin the process of upzoning as soon as possible after the route is finalized.

Comment edited by geoff's two cents on 2011-07-12 00:22:42

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 07:02:39 in reply to Comment 66023

Staff are already undertaking an intensification study [PDF] along the B-Line transit corridor to establish a secondary plan. Unfortunately, even though staff are doing this on council's direction, Councillors Clark and Collins argued at a recent planning committee meeting that staff should focus on Centennial Parkway and Rymal Road instead, since we don't know if Hamilton is even getting LRT.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:21:38 in reply to Comment 66026

If I lived near Concession, the Mountain's original downtown area, I'd be pissed as hell about how the mountain councilors seem to only care about the expanding southern front.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 21:24:35

The next transit system in North America that turns a profit will be the first. Unlike Europe (and even Ireland) it must be some kind of magic. I keep getting told that North American cities are just as dense as their European counterparts so that, the logical answer, cannot be the problem. Or maybe, just maybe, they are wrong and all those European cities are denser than their North American counterparts and transit just is easier and cheaper there than here, just maybe.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 21:40:14 in reply to Comment 66005

For the most part, with the exception of a select few metropolises, on average metropolitan areas in Europe are denser then North American counterparts. Boston for example boast a paltry density of 880/km2. Asia is really where Mass Transit and density excel, especially in Tokyo and Shanghai.

London 5,290km/2 Madrid 5,720km/2 Rome 3,180km/2 Paris 3,450km/2

New York 1,840km/2 Los Angles 2,570km/2 Toronto/Ham 2,610km/2 Vancouver 1,790km/2

I honestly feel this is the biggest drawback to LRT in Hamilton. There isn't enough density and what density we do have in the core is all within walking distance of itself. The entire mountain is practically a giant suburb, save for a small section close to Limeridge Mall on Mohawk Rd. The City needs to stop sprawl and focus on density, and not just in the core, but along the entire Main St/King St. corridor. It needs to say "Discounts for any developer who builds higher then five stories and levies for developers who are building these two-three floor houses plus basements."

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2011-07-11 22:09:05

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By Rob (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 22:20:42

Sure, this public transit might help citizens, but how does it generate money for my developer friends? I just don't see it.

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By RonMiller (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 23:03:28

It's not just the LRT that has to happen, but a lot of other programs as well. Of course the downtown density is low, its littered with parking lots. Let's see some 20 story condos happen, won't that bring in tax revenue? They will sell. Maybe attract some businesses. The whole thing is a process. My point is I want to see our city become something great. Sure reality dictates what can be done, but you create your own reality. Let's see some serious plans that could make it work. It is possible.

Comment edited by RonMiller on 2011-07-11 23:58:29

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 15:08:03 in reply to Comment 66016

Not just one 20 story condo tower but several such projects. If the core can be return to a state similar to what it was in the 60's and 70's then the whole LRT question will deserve another look.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 21:16:46 in reply to Comment 66173

Holy chicken and egg! How do you get people to live in the core? LRT has demonstrated again and again that with easy and modern transit, people congregate at the transit nodes.

Demanding congregation before the nodes is self-defeating.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 23:04:31

You know, it's interesting when you compare the Red Hill... Unquestionably, the development industry came forward and actually contributed $85 million, I think in development charges, and were very outspoken in terms of their interest in having that road completed.

The city's share of the highway's cost came in part from development charges from associated developments. $85 million sounds plausible (the last estimate I can find is $69 million in 2004). To count it as a "contribution" from the development industry sounds more than a bit questionable though, since it's not voluntary, and set by the city itself. The local development industry fights tooth and nail against these fees, even though they rarely come close to actually covering the costs of servicing new developments (thus granting an enormous subsidy). Also, it's worth noting that these charges paid about half the usual percentage they cover for new roads. So to act as if they were "stepping up" in any way is totally misleading. It's kinda like acting as if they got millions in donations from ordinary citizens because of the additional property tax burden it created.

One way or the other, the involvement of the development industry in the Red Hill Expressway was scandalous, and they made far more than they paid. Bratina should know, he was a very vocal highway opponent. We need to start making decisions as a city that involve more than the opinion of Chris Murray's friends in the development industry.

BTW: LRT, by running in urban areas rather than aiming toward greenfield development means an enormous discount in terms of development fees in general, since King St already has pipes, roads and streetlights.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 23:27:31

No surprises there. Suburban developers are only interested in turning Hamilton into Mississauga's Mississauga. LRT doesn't help that and raises their costs, so why the heck would they want it?

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By hereintheweeds (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 09:06:00

We need the LRT or some kind of large scale redevelopment in the core. When are the people in cityhall going to realise that they are governing as much for now as in the future. We are paying the price now for electing people who can't any further down the road then the end of their nose. The LRT will lead to new buildings and outside investment that the mayor thinks is lacking. The recent proposal for Queenston and Nash is a prime example of what the development can be. Imagine the king/main corridor as a modern gateway into the city instead of what we have today. A blight of rundown vacant vacant store fronts,empty lots where buildings once stood that now look like missing teeth in a once pretty smile. Sure it's a lot of money to get this in the ground but great projects that make the greatest changes aren't done on the cheap. As a tax payer I am willing to pay an additional $125 a year for the 10 yrs if that is what it is going cost to get this done. The potential long term benefits to the city and betterment to the way of life of all its citizens is what the current residents of cityhall should be really thinking about. I moved here a year ago from Mississauga for a better life and I am happy to say I found it here. The only thing standing in the way of the Hammer being a great city again like it once was is us. We need to get past this we are not worthy syndrome that seems to cripple this town,come on people get off your scooters and take a good look around at what have and what you could have. If you build it they will come.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 09:23:59

I just did some rough, back-of-the-envelope calculations, assuming a cost to the city of $100,000,000 divided among 200,000 households. (I'm also using 5% interest on the municipal debt.)

If we borrow the capital and amortize it over 25 years, the additional average annual property tax per household would be around $40. At $125 per household, it would be paid off in five years.

Remember that this does not take into account the increased tax revenues from new developments along the LRT line. These developments would actually result in a net improvement in the city's finances, because the cost of public infrastructure would be so much lower than the cost to service greenfield development on the edge of the built area.

Again, if we don't direct new development into the existing built area, the city's finances will gradually erode since the city receives much less money in development charges than it costs to provide low-density suburban infrastructure.

Not only that, but economic research clearly demonstrates that urban economies are more innovative and productive than suburban economies because of the positive network externalities that urban land use make possible.

Put bluntly, an economy composed mainly of home building and big box stores - with a bit of low-value industrial assessment for warehousing and logistics - has no hope of being able to pay for the public cost of providing the infrastructure that makes it possible.

If we want affordable suburbs, we need an urban economic engine that generates enough surplus wealth to pay for it.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-12 09:26:01

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 09:56:55 in reply to Comment 66033

We both know the tax burden of the LRT would be area rated. Basically it would look more like the 25-year plan with folks in affluent urban areas like Westdale and Durand paying more like $150 per year.

Now, as a Westdale resident, I call that money well spent, but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't take off.

Hmmm... perhaps a petition to that effect would be appropriate? Be honest with the signers, and beat feet in these areas.

"I support LRT, knowing full well that it could result in a property tax hike of over $100. I consider that money well-spent".

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 09:54:20

Remember, Bratina is just one vote in Council... otherwise, he's just a speaker. If you can put pressure on council itself, his power can be easily overwhelmed.

The problem, of course, is that half of council is suburban, and they couldn't give two craps about LRT.

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By Seriouslyjadednow (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 12:46:53 in reply to Comment 66037

Hang on there. Bratina now has TWO votes on council, owing to his having birthed Jason Farr into the group.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 16:29:21 in reply to Comment 66056

Unfair. Farr is a good man doing a hecuva job.

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By Bobby1 (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:23:02

Suburbanites don't care or want to pay for LRT! I also believe LRT is putting the cart before the horse. Hamilton needs to attract more tax paying enterprises first and get our debt load down! Fact of life is most of Hamilton taxpayers can't afford extra tax costs for something most of them will never use. Expanding Go Transit to inner City allows high talented people to come here to work but return to the suburbs after work.

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By ProBlogger (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:35:56 in reply to Comment 66042

You should stick with blogging on the Spec.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:32:46 in reply to Comment 66042

LRT does attract more tax-paying enterprises. If Hamilton's LRT performs similarly to other cities, we could see a billion dollars in new investments and $100 million a year in new tax assessments.

LRT also leverages our existing public infrastructure so we don't have to pay for more of it. This is good because the city doesn't collect anywhere near enough in development charges to pay the cost of suburban development. In other words, each new suburban development actually makes the city's finances worse.

If you enjoy living in the suburbs, you need to support an urban agenda that will pay for those suburbs. Suburbs do not pay for themselves.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 10:45:51

Suburbs do not pay for themselves.

At the inaugural Raise the Hammer salon/forum/town hall, this was the evening's primary topic.

Yup, all Hell broke loose.

(And yes, de-amalgamation was injected into the proceedings...)

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 11:28:10

I have to ask what is going on behind the scenes here.....that is the story.

This is too much like the Stadium - council actually makes a good decision, events move forward, everyone moves on with life thinking we know where things are going, staff moves on to implement the decision, everyone is happy, then all of a sudden special interests behind the scenes blow the whole thing to hell - and we end up with a year long cluster fuck.

So what is going on behind the scenes here to blow this up?

(On a side note - for some reason AM radio stopped working in my car about 6 months ago - sooooo much healthier without it!)

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 15:14:27 in reply to Comment 66049

Council made a good decision because you agreed with it? It turned out to be a bad decision because they had to backtrack and do something else after spending a small fortune on acquiring properties that are now just sitting there and nothing is happening. Not to mention that it cost us the track and field portion of the games.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 12:37:46 in reply to Comment 66049

Strangely I think the 2 are connected. With the stadium and now LRT, CHML has run "anti" for both at seemingly the flick of a switch.

The Spec has had relatively even handed reporting and editorializing and CHCH is, with the exception of "square off" in "we report the news- you editorialize mode"

something is funny on your AM radio?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 11:42:20


I'm guessing the home-builders. They have tremendous influence on council since Hamilton's chief asset is that it's the next place down the QEW. To them, LRT provides minimal-to-nil gain (conservatives are notoriously skeptical of economic benefits of urban city-building) while adding to their costs (it could result in a rise in fees, and will result in a property-tax hike that will dissuade people from moving to Hamilton).

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 14:42:25 in reply to Comment 66050

It certainly points toward a number of divisions in the business community, in terms of their opinions and amount of influence on council. The Chamber of Commerce seemed to think LRT was pretty rad, as did many others. So who's this clan of businessmen who aren't intersted at all? The Red Hill references to the development industry certainly suggest a list of names (DeSantis, Dufferin etc), but only a fairly informal association, sometimes known as the "old boys network" or with other vague terms.

Perhaps, before we ask why those in charge aren't willing to be 'ambitious' on this issue, we first need to ask who's actually in charge. Let's not pretend that we don't all have a pretty good idea of who calls the shots at City Hall...

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 17:07:30 in reply to Comment 66062

I'm not sure that the usual suspects are to blame.

Certainly greenfield home builders have something to loose - but even they have been shifting towards intensification and would have an opportunity at making more money from intense re-development. The heavy construction industry certainly has a big stake in proceeding with millions of potential new contracts.

This should be a rare opportunity where city building and developers making money come together.

Foxcroft and the transportation industry might have something to loose from disruptions and less money spent on roads - but they also benefit too from less cars on main corridors.

I think the bad guy here might be the Province - reneging on their promises and Council is actively sewing dissent so that when they eventually have to announce there is no funding - the public will already be against LRT and council won't look like they were caught with their pants down...again...

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By real city (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 13:24:11

Why am I not surprised that the developers are more interested in the thing which helps turn Hamilton into the bedroom community for Toronto they so desperately want it to be. Instead of a real city in it's own right.

My question is what the crap is Chris Murray doing on there singing Bob's tune? I thought staff weren't supposed to be politicians??

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By jtford (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 14:34:25

A comment about Charlottes Lynx system. One only has to look at Google maps to see that this system is mostly on existing Rail lines, not on city streets like what is being proposed in Hamilton. So we are not talking the same type of system at all here. It is also a single line through part of the city. Not a very helpful for city wide transit I think.

This "progressive" talk about future development coming with the new system smells of wishful thinking. If this were true, developers would stand to make money redeveloping property. That is what they do. The conspiratorial of the readers here think the developers only want greenfield development. This is just not true. For the new development to make use of the new transit line, they have to have somewhere to go! You know, jobs, attractions...

Taxpayers I think are wise to be skeptical of this kind of thing. Another $125 on the tax bill when we already pay for buses on those streets is just too much to ask, all the while making auto traffic downtown more inconvenient.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 20:48:23 in reply to Comment 66061

Seriously - we're talking another $10 per month on an already bloated property tax bill, but that $10 could transform the core and lower my tax bill... I doubt that even the Flamborough prisoners... er, people would balk.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 14:49:54 in reply to Comment 66061

I am sure you meant to say making "through" auto traffic downtown more incovenient.

And, I don't see that as a negative at all towards building a more vibrant pedestrian friendly core.

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By toofast (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 14:52:51 in reply to Comment 66063

Seriously, you can drive from Mac to Gage Park in ten minutes. There are so many spare lanes we can give 2 of them to LRT and traffic will barely notice, anyway the LRT is going on King Street not Main or Cannon so it will have even less of an effect.

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By @tofast (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 13:13:23 in reply to Comment 66064

When can you drive from mcMaster to Gage Park in 10 minutes??? In the middle of the night. I drive this route DAILY and it takes almost 20 minutes, and that is IF you get all green lights. LRT will take 31 minutes maximum from end to end with priority signals. The last time I drove from McMaster to Eastgate in 31 minutes, it was 2 o'clock on a Sunday morning, when there was no traffic.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 20:51:02 in reply to Comment 66064

I thought it was Main and not King?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 20:58:20 in reply to Comment 66086

City staff decided to put the LRT on King instead of Main, mostly because it will cause less of a traffic impact on King. The case for King Street LRT was first presented in an April 2009 consultant report. The report also recommended converting Main and Cannon to two-way traffic, but that was later vetoed by the traffic engineers.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-12 20:58:30

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 15:21:10 in reply to Comment 66087

How can putting LRT have less traffic impact than on Main? King is effectively 2 lanes in part. Even if it is returned to 4 lanes 2 of those will be eaten up by rail combined with lack of left turns and general turmoil rail always brings to traffic on streets King will become effectively dead downtown.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2011 at 15:20:51

I now understand municipal politics.

Fred should've just let Bob have his godfreakingdamned suburban sprawl East Mountain stadium. You know why? Because compared to this decision, it's small fry. And if he'd done that, we'd still have him. Pushing for the right thing for the stadium cost him his job, and now here we are.

If Fred was going to trainwreck his political career over some city-building, I wish he'd picked a bigger target.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 16:11:42

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 08:45:32 in reply to Comment 66073

The "not needed" comment is an endorsement of the current situation of the lower city.

A ridiculous notion in my book.

10 minutes of research on Google clearly demonstrates what a hugely positive impact LRT has had on other cities by revitalization and increasing tax revenues.

I just can't fathom how some people are ok with the lower city's current state and the city's currently heavy tax burden.

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By Charlottean (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 19:07:00

If Bratina had ever been to Charlotte, NC he would have not made the statement, "kind of a quaint old fashion trolley system serving their waterfront. First of all Charlotte is over 100 miles from any water front. Charlotte is in southern central NC and is located in the hilly piedmnot region. Second, I wouldn't call a brand new (2007), double tracked, computer controlled (I've been in the LYNX operations control room), steel welded rail with concrete ties, and using 20 brand new, high tech Siemens S70 Avanto LRT vehicles a quaint trolley system. I suggest he come visit the LYNX system and Charlotte before making that statement.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2011 at 21:44:25 in reply to Comment 66083

I think that just this single post shows the whole problem. Complete ignorance coupled with a chronically open mouth. I cannot imagine any politician anywhere else that could make so many factual errors in one sentence and avoid being roasted alive by the print, video, and voice media.

Comment edited by misterque on 2011-07-13 21:45:00

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By Rally? (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 21:58:23

What if someone organized a rally to "re-confirm" our community support for LRT? Anyone think it would be worth a shot at getting our mayor to stop putting his foot in his mouth?

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By LRT (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 22:09:44 in reply to Comment 66090

I'd love to see Bob step up to the mike and take off his shirt to unveil a yellow LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT t-shirt underneath. Except he'd probably go back to opposing it again 5 minutes later.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 13:16:05 in reply to Comment 66091

Our try to throw its champion under the bus... look out Ryan ; )

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By Me 109 (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 22:32:29

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2011 at 21:47:40 in reply to Comment 66093

I don't play call of duty, I prefer Suaerbraten. Since I pay for the military with my taxes I will happily tell them to "stop killing people, go home, and play call of duty instead."

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By Me 109 (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 22:35:55 in reply to Comment 66132

In addition to missing my point entirely, you've misspelled "Sauerbraten"... unless you're referring to a sequel to Cube developed for dyslexics that I'm unaware of.

Also, on the subject, where exactly is our army currently killing people, that you are eager to have them home from?


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By RB (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 15:38:19 in reply to Comment 66093

Hahahha... not sure if I agree, but funny nonetheless!

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By Show me the light (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 23:54:16

If this crew had been in charge 100+ years ago, they'd be telling us that Hamilton isn't dense enough for electricity and that it's a big waste of time and would never work here. And then the gas company would slip them an envelope of money.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 02:33:18

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2011 at 11:36:52 in reply to Comment 66097

Circle jerk club? Are you the same bigguy1231 on The Spec heralding that they ... you know what you said re: stray cats.

If this isn’t you, you might want to stop being such an arse while commenting on public forums. Someone over in The Spec commenting section is steeling your identity to make you look like even more of an oaf because they are sick of the crap you toss around. You Might want to change your RTH registered handle if that other Bigguy1231 isn’t you. Not that it will matter because they will just keep using your handle over there until you argue an opinion you don’t agree with, with some class.

Rather than the smash talk bigguy, argue the facts and state your opposing opinion. Maybe it will get down voted but it’s not something to take offense over. It simply means that there exists those who don’t agree with you. It’s called a debate. Go hang out on the CHML blog if you want everyone to like your stand on LRT.

Why do you hang out here? What joy do you get in generalizing the 1,500 or so visitors to this site a day? This isn’t a space with an agenda. It’s a community that believes there are alternate ways to look at and approach certain things and that the world is perhaps going to Haiti in a concrete McPicnic basket if we don’t start looking further into the future instead of using yesterday’s ideas to solve the issues we are facing today - and will likely face in the immediate and distant future.

Change your handle. Start anew. Join us in debate.

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By RB (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 15:40:57 in reply to Comment 66097

Just a questions... but why is this bigguy1231's comment scored a "-6"? Are there people on this board that actually find his comment "offensive"?

Is me even asking this question offensive to some here?

...just a question...

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By adrian (registered) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 06:58:52 in reply to Comment 66122

When you read,

So the circle jerk club here thought getting LRT was going to be easy.

What do you think that means? Would you use that phrasing in a meeting at work to talk about your colleagues or employees, or in a parent-teacher meeting, or in a bank when discussing a loan? "So, the circle jerk club here thinks my debt-to-equity ratio needs improvement..." Somehow, I doubt it.

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By Me 109 (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 21:10:06 in reply to Comment 66122

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 18:57:16 in reply to Comment 66122

Couldn't have anything to do with referring to a "circle jerk club". Can't imagine why that might bother a few people.

Unless..., never mind.

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By RB (registered) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 13:59:56 in reply to Comment 66125

Yea, I get that part, but that's not the really important part of his post. That's just some childish name-calling that should have any effect on his other points. I usually just look past that shit and try to get to meat-and-potatoes of the post. Maybe I'm looking at this wrong... if so, sorry for wasting your guys' time.

I agree that line is uncalled for, but what I'm wondering is this: if that line was removed, would it still be down-voted?

If the answer is yes, then that is truly worrisome.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 21:12:56 in reply to Comment 66159

What other point? That somehow everyone thought it was going to be easy? That's ridiculous. Ryan has been involved for years in pushing for light rail, no one here has ever suggested that it'll happen overnight.

To suggest that that's a "point" is just plain foolish. The whole post was an insult and treated as such.

If you disagree with this, then show me an instance of someone suggesting that there wasn't a big fight to get light rail approved. This is Hamilton afterall.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2011 at 15:00:41 in reply to Comment 66159

Let's analyze the comment, point by point. I'll even exclude the throwaway 'circle jerk' intro.

I said it in past discussions on this site and I will say it again it isn't going to happen the way you want it to happen. If it happens at all it will be well away from any of the main streets and will start with a much shorter run than is being proposed.

There is no point in having a rapid transit system that doesn't bring people to main streets. An LRT in the middle of nowhere is a system designed to fail.

This past weekend there was a story in G&M about LRT in this country and specifically LRT in Ottawa. They have been battling for years over their proposals. They even cancelled the initial proposal at a cost of millions in penalties due to cancelled contracts. The newest proposal is facing the same opposition.

Yes, LRT faces opposition in every city where it is proposed. It's solipsistic to oppose something just because you know it faces opposition.

Those comparatively few cities that actually push through the opposition and complete rapid transit systems invariably [1] look back on it as one of their major turning points.

The biggest stumbling block seems to be that it isn't being run into the suburbs, it will only be within the old urban boundry.

On the west side, it ends at University Plaza in Dundas. On the east side, it ends at Eastgate Square in Stoney Creek. Both sites have large parking lots.

Compared to Ottawa we are just beginning our battles. It's going to be years before something if anything is ever done about building LRT in this city.

Again, that all depends on whether we have the political will to commit to LRT. It's fatalistic not to push for it because it might be difficult to achieve.

One last point: Capitalist has been posting mainly short, rude comments in opposition to LRT for years on RTH, and rarely comes back to address counterpoints but simply reiterates them again on subsequent articles. In short, it's not unreasonable to conclude that he's not really debating in good faith.

[1] The only real failure is Buffalo's system, which was built in the early 1980s and has underperformed expectations. There are specific lessons we can learn from Buffalo's experience:

  • They built a subway, not an LRT line.
  • They ran the subway underground ... but on a fully pedestrianized mall.
  • They did not do any of the complementary planning and zoning work around the transit corridor, so the regulatory environment continued to deter potential investors.
  • Buffalo's population collapsed from 500,000 in 1960 to only half that today. That scale of catastrophic decline can't be reversed by LRT in isolation.

Nevertheless, even in Buffalo, property values are significantly higher around the rail stations than in more distant parts of the city, and the line carries around 20,000 riders a day.

Contrast Hamilton:

  • The population of Hamilton's lower city never collapsed and has actually been growing slowly but steadily for the past decade.
  • The downtown core is the city's single biggest employment cluster, with 23,000 jobs.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-14 15:01:33

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By Me 109 (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 21:12:28 in reply to Comment 66125

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 23:20:00 in reply to Comment 66127

You hit the nail on the head.

It's either their way or you get downvoted, which is no big deal, considering where it's comming from. Ryan's lapdogs, aka the circle jerk club, will attack anyone who does not conform to their thinking. Just witness that any time he has something published in the Spec.

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By Iam Exasperated (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 03:11:06

rather than vent here are some suggestions

1) turn off your ranting and disparaging remarks about council. insults just piss them off and they ignore RTH. 16 emails, only 3 responded with benign statements. only one detailed resonse through his own blog. what does this tell you?

2) find an advocate who council respects and trusts, david adames . get him to be the champion.

3) Defend the LRT case on merit. you can be critical of their position without without making it personal.

4) ask a councillor to attend a public mtg to discuss best lobbying methods .

RTH is a blog. You need a lobby or action committee with respected citizens. look at what FOTEK or turtle- ponds group accomplished.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2011 at 10:43:19 in reply to Comment 66098

1) turn off your ranting and disparaging remarks about council. insults just piss them off and they ignore RTH. 16 emails, only 3 responded with benign statements. only one detailed resonse through his own blog. what does this tell you?

I agree about disparging council. It gets us knowhere. Some of the comments they likely ignore - especially as you get further down to the bottom of the flat few where the grownups have left the room.

RTH is a blog. You need a lobby or action committee with respected citizens. look at what FOTEK or turtle- ponds group accomplished.

I don't think of RTH as a blog. Many well informed and well versed writers contribute to this site and I am not pointing at myself because mine are more opinion than any real hard journalistic facts. There is a blog section on RTH, but as a news source, I rank it high on my list of trusted and respect sources of information with the future in mind.

Hard breaking news is dead. Before a writer can even put pen to paper, someone on Twitter has already broken the breaking with a tweet and a pic from their smartphone. RTH reports but the research is indepth and the pieces spark true debate. Not all debate is constructive in this or any open space but as a whole, the debate is is valuable as the pieces themselves.

If council is not listening to RTH, than I truly think they are missing out on something very valuable.

I think both sides of this LRT debate are being covered here. The problem as this article points out, is that the arguments from the other side are circular like HSR ridership isn't high enough to merit LRT or businesses aren't calling for it.

The minute it's built it's benefits will be seen. Not only will it visiually bring us into the 21st century, but the numbers it will be able to quickly send across our city will have people wishing all buses would be sacrificed for such a system. Believe me, our HSR is not bad but I am on public transit 2.5 hours a day and I am here to tell you so many of our buses are old, dirty, and many older buses are poorly designed. I am tired of no matter what bus I get on, that more often than not we are all standing up and jammed like sardines at the back of the bus. Ridership will increase because there are more efficient and up-to-date transit options with LRT.

LRT isn't like getting an NHL team in Hamilton. We can't say get the attendance numbers up like they did in Winnipeg and they will come. Fill the buses and tell business to take advantage of the opportunities existing on the LRT route and then we will build it. That debate just goes around and around and if we don't get on board with this opportunity before us, we will never know. If we build it, ridership and business will come because this area of our city would now have the means to attract shoppers looking for convenience and comfort instead of waiting 15 minutes to a half an hour to stand on a smelly, overcrowded bus. Yes, many will ride it just to try out the big shiny new like others are ranting about with regards to the stadium upgrade but in both instances, they will like what they see with LRT and they will like what they see with the new Stadium District so except change and let's move into the future.

Nothing ever changed before because perhaps, the city was never this involved with the future of this community before? People can take their Not in Hamilton mentality and move to Toronto where all social services will be cancelled and there will be no police left to patrol the streets.

While Mr. Ford is sabotaging Toronto, Hamilton has an opportunity to be leaders and sell itself as a city on the right track. A city with the future in mind. A community that ranks social services and social inclusion in general in high regard. A city that prides itself most, in these last two points.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-07-14 11:41:15

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 11:19:36 in reply to Comment 66098

It would be encouraging to hear the Chamber weigh in as a firm, pro-LRT voice, even if history suggests they'd be stumping for the A line: http://www.raisethehammer.org/comment/64886

And as has been suggested, agreement in principle is a lot different than an unalloyed political slam-dunk. This is just part of a long struggle. I guess that's the thing with paradigm shifts, especially when you're trying to enact it under fickle leadership. It can take a lot of doing.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2011 at 11:32:45 in reply to Comment 66110


The second paragraph is the waffle... They endorse LRT, but which route?

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 12:00:51 in reply to Comment 66112

So three years ago they found the courage to "put forth a policy recommendation regarding Light Rail Transit that we think represents the most economical options for 'Rapid' Public Transit for the City". What that recommendation would be is anyone’s guess, but it seems to be BRT – and that that trucks would still have right of way: "It is absolutely critical that LRT routes do not hinder efficient movement of goods in a growing city. Goods movement is essential as the economy is driven on jobs and prosperity needed to combat poverty."

As well as their enthusiasm for economical, low-impact transit, they’ve been notably silent since then. And it’s one thing to recommend something, but if you're not willing to step up for it… well, I believe that's called lip service.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2011 at 09:40:52 in reply to Comment 66098

RTH is a website, yes. But LRT isn't a part of RTH, there's been persistent lobbying for years, and it's included a lot of people and organizations. It had been one of the best examples of lobbying I've ever seen in this city. Council has voted to study it, and Metrolinx has made offers. This goes way beyond RTH as a blog.

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By new guy (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 08:39:53

No need? You're ok with the status quo?

LRT is not just about moving people. It's about transformational change.

You may love the lower city just the way it is, but I firmly believe most Hamiltonians would agree that DRASTIC change is needed.

LRT has a proven track record for such changes, and with the province planning to spend $50 billion in the next 25 years on THE BIG MOVE, $800 million is only about 1.5% of that. The province plans on spending 98.5% of $50 Billion dollars elsewhere! It would be foolish to turn down provincial money, that will most likely be spent elsewhere, when it can do so much for the lower city's revitalization. revitalizing the lower city is good for the ENTIRE city and would help lessen the tax burden that many suburbanites complain about.

Wake up people! Take a step back and look at the big picture!

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By StoneAge (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 09:37:19

A couple of old, white, babyboomers stuck in the 20th century. Nothing new to see here.

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By RB (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 16:47:44 in reply to Comment 66101

Racist comments are awesome and what RTH is all about!

Anyone gonna let this stay? Or is "OK to be racist because I said white instead of any other race".

Classy board, guys... classy.

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By RB (registered) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 14:01:10 in reply to Comment 66124

Awesome. Now I can see why some people find hypocrisy on this board... never saw it before until now.

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By littleLRTmouse (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 12:29:20

There is one big problem with the acronym LRT - it has not been defined, it has not been quantified nor qualified. 4example - Prague has about 50% of its routes,which could be qualified like LRT (that is, like St.Clair W. in T.O. or somewhat separate ROWs),but LRTA (from UK) does not qualify its network on these terms only as tramways(streetcars). Same snobbism has been applied towards other European transport enterprises. Jane and John Q.Public may believe, that Hamilton will get following structure www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLsZXr27xlE;in reality about 7m wide belt in the middle of a street will be ripped-up,filled with gravel,cement,tiles and on top of that mess two sets of rails will be mounted slighly elevated above the surface of the road/street. The rails will be used by street-rolling-monsters about 80m long. - Do not believe Paul B. - intensification along Yonge St. happened only because of SUBWAY.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 13:19:30

This is not Seattle, this is not Los Angeles or New York, and I think you're comparing one situation to another which is much, much different

A comparison of differences is still a comparison Bill.

Comparison: the act or process of examining two or more people or things in order to discover similarities and differences between them.

Bill Kelly obviously has no problem comparing differences to support his claims but declares a comparison of similarities to be not credible.

These media clowns hurt my head.

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By CHMLhater (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 14:07:44

Bill Kelly wouldn't fit in an LRT so he doesn't support it. Now if they build one large enough and if it had a bar....well!!!

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 15:43:37

Here's an example of an Ontario Mayor who is presenting a solution. An alternative to doing nothing:


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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2011 at 23:25:44

Hamilton deserves it all. rapid transit, safe efficient roads, GO connections, bike paths, happy sidewalks. There is no reason to sacrifice one for the other. We cannot succumb to the scarcity mentality.

Between all the name calling and FUD (of which I have happily contributed to) we need to find connections that allow the disparate parties to work together.

LRT will be awesome for delivering people to TiCat games. Take the LRT to a Bulldogs game and not have to park in the snow. The LRT will be awesome at delivering people to the GO station. LRT will move students out of the Mac slums. LRT will allow businesses along the B line to market to population densities previously out of reach. Like The Staircase could focus on marketing east of victoria (only 10 minutes away). Keep listening to CHML, they could derail (no pun intended) the whole thing.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2011 at 06:25:38

Seems Spectator users are also cool to Light Rail Transit and if RTH users weren't so uncool to me, I might have made tracks to theSpec and shown my support for LRT.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-14 06:44:52

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By uncc (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 17:10:57

....Bratina responded, saying that the LRT line in Charlotte, North Carolina is "kind of an old-fashioned quaint trolley to connect to their waterfront"...

I live in Charlotte...not only is the Lynx LRT not a "trolley" (although we do have one that runs on weekends only...Charlotte does not have a waterfront. It is nowhere near any sort of waterfront. We have a river that runs 15 miles west of Charlotte and a couple of lakes north and south of us...but, uhhhh no waterfront.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 18:32:55 in reply to Comment 66181

You need to call the mayor out on this error (since none of the mainstream media here has). Attached is his contact info:


Perhaps contact the local Charlotte media as well?

Comment edited by Vod_Kann on 2011-07-14 18:35:27

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2011 at 18:14:35 in reply to Comment 66181

I don't know who tipped off Charlotte to our mayor's gaffe, but I'm really enjoying the visits we're getting from down south to correct him.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted July 16, 2011 at 02:18:02

It is staggering what is going on here. I am very concerned that a changed provincial government may kill Hamilton's LRT. The developing pattern is highly reminiscent of the TiCat Stadium debacle. What I don't understand is why they would block the LRT. Why would any mayor balk at $800 million dollars in infrastructure funding? I could see the stadium thing, pure cronyism, the lines of old/present employees and media connection. But blocking LRT?

The memes are getting pretty consistent between the blog trollers, CHML and the mayor's office. Population is not dense enough, no business model, Hamilton is not city X, and tax increase. The counter memes must begin.

1) Hamilton deserves it. 2) The risk is worth it, Hamilton is tough. 3) There is no business model that shows failure. 4) No rapid transit has EVER been removed by a city. 5) Taxes will only go up when property values go up. 6) Developers can build anywhere.

People's eyes will glaze over with words like density, urban renewal, innovation, transportation system, urban design, attractiveness, poverty reduction, etc. Anyone who cares about that stuff is already on board. If we try and battle gut responses with polysyllabic words Hamilton will lose to the dinosaurs again.

We know who the blog trolls are. Listening to CHML is fracking painful but may be necessary. The mayor could do anything at any time :)

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By Me 109 (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2011 at 12:36:21 in reply to Comment 66273

insult spam deleted

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 17, 2011 at 20:30:03 in reply to Comment 66276

It has nothing to do with the intelligence or education of either side, it has to do with the fact that unless you're truly interested in the project, all you're going to retain is the sound bites.

Simple sound bites almost always defeat reasoned argument. In order to promote, LRT, reasoned argument must be condensed into simple sound bites to counteract the simple sound bites that the dinosaurs are already using.

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[ - ]

By How's My Driving? (anonymous) | Posted July 17, 2011 at 12:15:36


"These priorities are about building a vibrant, healthy community for all citizens. This requires a team effort from everyone - government, business, service groups, social agencies, police, schools, healthcare workers, volunteers and the people of Ward 2."

Honesty and Integrity

* Support the appointment of an integrity commissioner
* Demand transparency and due process at City Hall
* Ensure responsible spending of our taxpayer $$ (living within our means)

Community Involvement

* Encourage more direct citizen participation at City Hall
* Create a neighbourhoods networking organization
* Establish a Ward 2 interactive website highlighting issues and events

"My routine includes regularly walking the streets and neighbourhoods of this ward, observing problems firsthand, talking to people directly, and listening to their concerns. Meeting people face to face, individually or with community groups, is the most effective way to understand the issues. I also want everyone to feel welcome at City Hall. You have the right to be heard at committees and other public meetings."

Transit Links

* Continue to work for the return of Via Rail service to the Downtown
* Help develop a new bus rapid transit plan
* Make Hamilton more bicycle friendly with dedicated lanes, bike racks on buses

"Getting around Hamilton should be easy, convenient and affordable. I am a strong advocate for low cost and environmentally friendly public transit that provides an alternative to the family car. We need to work with the taxi industry to make sure that we have a safe, efficient service for both passengers and drivers."


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By JohnTheRoofGuy (registered) | Posted July 17, 2011 at 14:04:50

I sent this email to all of city council, from a link provided on this web site.

As a professional residing in Ward 2, I’ll admit I need a car to ply my trade as my work is almost entirely performed outside of the city of Hamilton. In fact when I’m home I enjoy the convenience of being able to walk to get my groceries and enjoy activities that do not require my car. It’s both the boon and bane of my existence. That said; I think Light Rail Transit has a unique opportunity to transform not only the lower city, but the entire region by altering the life style choices of not only those who already live in Hamilton, but by attracting young, educated, ambitious people starting their careers either in Hamilton or the GTA, by affording people an opportunity to commute in a reliable, civilized manner.

‘Car Culture’ is going to go the way of the dinosaur. It costs me more than $12,000 / yr to keep a car on the road. I have to earn almost $20,000 to pay for that. I’d take a lower paying job in the city (not to be confused with a minimum wage job), if I didn’t need a car. Fact is those jobs don’t exist in Hamilton... They exist in Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton and Vaughan.... Cities much younger than Hamilton, developed around ‘Car Culture’.

Many of the jobs being developed in a ‘knowledge based economy’ don’t require a car. Hamilton has a unique opportunity with its proximity to the GTA and its available commercial space downtown, to attract businesses that provide this type of employment for young professionals. But, they won’t come if appropriate transit amenities don’t exist. Sorry... the bus doesn’t cut it... they’re subject to the same traffic woes as cars. Whether you like it or not, there is a stigma attached to ‘riding the bus’ as it is seen as transportation for the those too young, too infirm or too poor to drive. Light Rail Transit not only dispels this stigma, but it is truly ‘mass transit’; something a bus is not.

We need leadership and vision from our elected officials... We need people with a ‘make it happen’ not a ‘let it happen’ philosophy. It simply boils down to this... We have to build it and promote it to attract the type of development and future we want. The Copps Coliseum example doesn’t apply; basically an entertainment complex, albeit underused, that doesn’t really create jobs. That said; Copps might stand to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of LRT, attracting more ‘A’ list entertainers if more people could get to that venue without the hassle of driving. More pedestrian traffic along an LRT corridor would also likely mean more walk-in traffic for business and more eyes on the street always means less crime, not more. The positive spin-offs are enormous.

Too the nay sayers, I suggest you take a closer look at the success of Light Rail Transit in the cities of Raleigh, NC and Portland, OR; two similar sized cities that have seen both the economic benefits and ridership levels initially projected, exceeded, significantly. The image of these cities being a ‘cool’ place to live and work has been transformative.

To those who complain about their taxes going up, think of a tax increase to build LRT as an investment; not some short sighted ‘get rich quick’ scheme.... the influx of business and a more affluent demographic will contribute greatly to the city tax coffers, helping keep taxes down in the entire city (Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek, Waterdown etc.), in the long-run.

In closing, I urge members of council to take long, hard look at pointing this city in the right direction for the rest of the 21st century and not just the 40 months remaining in your term; to wrangle enough votes to get re-elected. Let’s be honest, as an incumbent in any municipal election you’ll already have an enormous advantage over any challengers based upon name recognition alone. Don’t be afraid of success, you might like it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 17, 2011 at 21:13:13 in reply to Comment 66303

fabulous letter. Great finishing sentence.

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By AETHERMAN (registered) | Posted July 18, 2011 at 20:07:11

LOOK MOM, IT'S A TRAIN DRIVING ON OUR STREETS! NO SON, IT'S A BUS! * IF people are so impressed with the look of the proposed LRT train photo's, why not build new buses to look like them? This way, no rail tracks or overhead wires will be required, they can drive almost anywhere on rubber tires, they can be towed away when they break down, they are not prone to be struck by lightning or die when the power grid is down, they don't connect to arcing overhead power wires that are known to cause annoying "snap, crackle & popping sounds" on Radio's & TV's, they are a much cheaper alternative to build and operate, the streets don't have to be bastardized with rails to accomodate them, other vehicles don't have to dodge around wet slippery rails, they can stop on a dime, etc., etc., etc.! (db) :-)

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By AETHERMAN (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 20:12:57

LRT = Lost Revenue Tomorrow! IF LRT happens, it will make RIBBONS happen in peoples underpants when they see increases on their property tax bill, year after year! Oh ya, don't forget about the excuses for increasing the fair costs for passengers year after year! Hamilton needs it's roads and infrastructure repaired FIRST before any Luxury Rail TranSHIT!

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