Special Report: Light Rail

Ontario Liberals Still Trying to Wiggle Out of LRT Commitment

Contrary to Premier Wynne's claim, Queen's Park has heard repeatedly and consistently from Hamilton that we support B-Line LRT with the promised full capital funding.

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published June 10, 2014

In a recent recent article in the Spectator, Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne claimed that the province needs to hear from the City of Hamilton about whether we want light rail transit (LRT) along the B-Line.

Contrary to that claim, she has heard repeatedly and consistently from Hamilton that we want LRT, with the full provincial capital funding that has been promised in 2007, 2011 and now again in 2014.

Rendering of planned LRT line
Rendering of planned LRT line

Council sent this message loud and clear when they submitted the extremely detailed Rapid Ready LRT report to the province last year. Even Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel pointed out in April that Council's position on LRT has been "steady as a pilot light".

It is disingenuous to claim that Hamilton's position is somehow not clear because a couple of local Liberal candidates from Stoney Creek and the Mountain don't support the B-line LRT project - especially as the Liberals have said they are working with Council, not the local MPPs, on the LRT file.

So when Premier Wynne told me back in February that she understood Hamilton hadn't yet made a decision, what she really meant was that the party had backed the nominations of two candidates whose platform is counter to both Council's clearly expressed request and the Liberals' longstanding promise to build "two light rail lines across Hamilton".

It would be just a bit too convenient for the Liberals to use their own candidates' opinions as an excuse for not keeping their promise to spend $800 million in Hamilton, especially as they have had seven years to follow through on it.

Now compare and contrast the Liberal and Conservative LRT strategies in Ottawa:

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says he is now open to funding the second phase of a light rail transit project in Ottawa as he tries to win over voters in the nation’s capital, days after saying he would not.

Ottawa currently has a Bus Rapid Transit system – one of the biggest in North America – but it has struggled with to keep up with ridership. The $2.1-billion LRT project will include 13 station stops to replace a large portion of the BRT, including 2.5 kilometres of underground tracks through downtown Ottawa.

Apparently, Ottawa, unlike Hamilton, actually deserves this sort of provincial investment. Even Hudak has changed tune to support Ottawa's LRT, but still won't support Hamilton's.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By Byron Zorzos (anonymous) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 10:51:32

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:28:39 in reply to Comment 102258

This was never intended as a pro-active transportation infrastructure improvement but merely an exercise in salesmanship. Follow the money

Providing some documentation of this claim would go a long way to add credibility to your statement. Otherwise you're just another internet poster making an anti-LRT claim out of thin air. Sort of like people that post one comment on the internet and say they are a majority, based on, uh, nothing.

Anyway not to worry. Someone else will take the money and build proper transit for their citizens. Hamilton B line buses can continue to skip riders, while bike lanes throw people into rosebushes. Go ambitious Hamilton!

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:10:04 in reply to Comment 102258

amazing how many thousands of towns and cities around the world have been duped as well.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:17:28

The PCs are looking to take four seats in Ottawa, which is also the second largest city in the province (and its population has grown at a much faster rate than Hamilton, as has transit ridership).

The Liberals are looking to hold onto seats in Mississauga/Brampton (where, again, population and ridership have soared).

The NDP has the old city of Hamilton sewn up at the moment, but has little to no leverage.

Once seats are in play or in danger, unexpected windfalls may occur. That's how the LRT "commitment" came about in 2007, after all.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:28:05 in reply to Comment 102262

Minister McMeekin is the really disappointing one. He must know that LRT is a popular idea in Westdale, one of the key terminals for the project. But his seat is very safe, so he can toe the line and join the wafflers in his party.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 12:24:26 in reply to Comment 102263

It may be that their internal polls are showing that his seat is not so safe after all, which is why he has chosen to throw w under the bus to pander to adf. The fact that he chose to make his 'not a priority' announcement at a Mac debate shows you how little Westdale is figuring into his calculations.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 13:11:51

The province is broke. Don't you get it?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 14:35:54 in reply to Comment 102271

Ontario is definitely not broke. One does not have to be a professional Accountant to see the vast sums of money being wasted by wealthy people in Ontario on frivolous luxuries. Or to see that repeated provincial tax cuts have put rates of taxation to the lowest they have been since WWII.

Proper rates of taxation would effectively transform much of that waste into useful investment in education, health care and, yes, public transportation.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2014-06-10 14:36:12

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted June 11, 2014 at 12:04:12 in reply to Comment 102282

"Proper rates of taxation..."

I will take a wild guess at saying that these "Proper rates of taxation" will not affect your income.

You keep mentioning the "wealthy" or the "1 percent". These people are the ones who pay the bulk of the taxes in this country. Without them there would be a lot fewer hospitals, schools, social workers etc etc.

So sure go ahead and tax the heck out of these people. I'm sure they would have no problem taking their assets and skills to another much warmer country. After all, they can afford to leave - you can't.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 12, 2014 at 08:15:43 in reply to Comment 102330

Your "wild guess" would be totally wrong. I am a professional Accountant, and not quite poverty-stricken.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted June 11, 2014 at 15:39:39 in reply to Comment 102330

Yeah, raising the corporate tax rate by 1% is "taxing the hell out of them". Only the most devout neo-cons can delude themselves into believing this. If you think business and power is going to leave the most populous province in Canada over their taxes going up by a reasonable amount, you are in a dream world. They will be replaced immediately.

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By Crapitalist (anonymous) | Posted June 11, 2014 at 12:39:31 in reply to Comment 102330

Oh spare me the "we'll pick up our toys and leave" threats from the rich crybabies. We got enough of that from Bob Young when we were trying to give him a $150 million stadium for free.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted June 11, 2014 at 20:05:20 in reply to Comment 102334

You are correct. They have left in droves because of poor productivity (read labour cost per unit,) competition with low wage jurisdictions, American protectionism, etc. etc. Let em all leave and we can live on . . . what exactly?

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted June 12, 2014 at 09:15:14 in reply to Comment 102355

More like shareholder primacy, if anything, is making short-sighted companies move. Once you take maximum-profit-at-all-costs off the table things look pretty damn productive in Ontario.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted June 10, 2014 at 20:38:50 in reply to Comment 102282

http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/02...

There are myriad of examples of economic warnings that Ontario is reaching a threshold of debt that will reduce us to third world status. We already spend $11 billion a year on interest. Imagine what that number will be if interest rates rise to 1980's levels. We will be bankrupt.

Given that income redistribution is the largest single Ontario expense after wages, I cannot see how we are wasting money on wealthy people.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-06-10 20:39:16

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By Interest (anonymous) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 21:14:15 in reply to Comment 102298

This is why interest is prohibited in Islamic law, and it's the real reason why Western powers don't want anything to do with truly Islamic governments. Don't be fooled by so-called human rights issues.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted June 11, 2014 at 08:18:42 in reply to Comment 102300

Taking a portion of an investment is just interest by another name. Islamic lenders do not call what they take interest, but it is essentially the same thing by another name.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 10, 2014 at 13:23:35 in reply to Comment 102271

And it's not going to get any less broke. We're still going to be building massive LRT and horrendously expensive subway projects everywhere but Hamilton. An LRT line would be a boon to Hamilton's development and an investment in a sustainable future for the city, just like the ones that Mississauga and Ottawa will get.

Even if the Cons won, the province would stay broke - while they'll slash spending, they'll shunt the money into corporate tax cuts and an expressway that nobody but 407 ETR Concession Company and suburban sprawl homebuilders want. Still broke.

Maybe the Cons and the Liberals could work together to produce some balanced-spending future for the Province... but instead the Cons stayed a "party of NO" and left the NDP to court the Liberals for concessions.

There are no fiscal conservatives running in this election. Get that.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 13:53:31 in reply to Comment 102275

This so much! The cons don't want to fund $2 billion a year for transit because we can't afford it, but they want to cut $2.5-$3 billion in corporate taxes AND spend $1.8 billion on a freeway - and somehow we are supposed to believe that they are the only sensible platform for fiscal responsibility. Doesn't add up!

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 14:40:09

I live in the Riding of Hamilton Centre. Whose current MPP, Andrea Horwath, has been largely missing in action when it comes to the one provincial project that will convey the greatest benefit upon her own riding.

My wife and I are definitely voting on June 12.

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By DudeLove (anonymous) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 21:49:51 in reply to Comment 102283

Same here. Extremely disappointed that she's been a ghost in our riding, calling an unnecessary election, and yet the people of Hamilton Centre are willing to hand her a majority. It's a shame, since the NDP has done nothing for our riding.

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By Hey lolls (anonymous) | Posted June 10, 2014 at 22:53:05

Health care is 90% labour. It is a social program but can't be cut.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 12, 2014 at 08:48:44 in reply to Comment 102310

Source?

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By I_Want_That (anonymous) | Posted June 14, 2014 at 15:10:30

thesource.ca

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