Three years ago, Brad Clark was adamant that there was no business case for all-day GO train service and that Hamilton would be crazy not to hold the Province to their promise of full capital funding for LRT.
By Ryan McGreal
Published September 11, 2014
It's amazing how much Brad Clark's positions on all-day GO Train service and light rail transit (LRT) have changed since he decided to run for mayor.
Just three years ago, Clark was adamant that there was no business case for all-day GO train service and that Hamilton would be crazy not to hold the Province to their promise of full capital funding for LRT.
Now he has reversed his position on both issues.
The Province promised to build two new GO train stations in Hamilton - at James Street North and Centennial Parkway - with all-day GO train service to start some time after 2015.
In a September 2011 interview with RTH, Clark claimed there was no business case for all-day GO train service. "It's very costly and there's no business case for it. It's a commuter train service, with less volume in off-hours. It's very expensive."
The former Transportation Minister under Premier Mike Harris said, "There has not been an economic development case for expanding all-day GO Transit service. If it's such a great win, why didn't GO Transit do this in the last 20 years? They have looked at it time and time again. They have to justify the service based on demand."
But today, the mayoral candidate issued a news release praising the GO stations and calling for another all-day GO Train station at Fifty Road in Winona. "GO is moving in the right direction with the new GO station downtown and work underway at Centennial Parkway in East Hamilton".
Clark wants to build GO ridership in Winona with a GO bus station that will compete with the existing GO bus station on Casablanca Road in Grimsby.
Clark also took the opportunity to make the city's LRT plan into a political football by drumming up fear that Hamilton might lose out on the planned GO expansion, an echo of Bob Bratina's oft-repeated claim that Hamilton would have to choose between LRT and all-day GO service.
Clark's release quotes him saying, "[T]he devil is in the details since the Winona station depends on ridership and potentially the City's unaffordable LRT reaching Fifty Road."
Clark plans to insist to the Province that "LRT expansion to Fifty Road is not a pre-condition to an east end GO station in Stoney Creek."
This follow's Clark's recent coming-out against LRT after hinting that he no longer supported the plan he voted for last year.
In opposing LRT, Clark made a series of totally unsupported claims about how much the City will have to pay in capital and operating costs, completely ignoring the published reports by the City and Province and alluding to 'new information' from unspecified sources. RTH contacted Clark to ask about his sources but we did not receive any response.
Again, contrast the Clark of three years ago, who compared LRT with the City's then-recent wrangling with the Province over Pan Am Games funding:
It is incredibly frustrating that we were promised this commitment and now this Council has jumped through hoops to get the Pan Am Games money, and the entire argument was, "Why would you turn down 56 percent of the money?" Well, I'm curious: why are we going to look the other way on LRT when 100 percent of the money was promised by senior levels of government? I don't get it.
In recent months, Clark has claimed he is "reading the tea leaves" and believes the Province doesn't want to fund LRT.
The Brad Clark of 2011 saw that as a leadership challenge, not an excuse to capitulate. "One would think we'd be fighting tooth and nail to get the Province to keep their promise to pay 100 percent of the capital cost for LRT."
The Clark who now believes claims we will end up on the hook for "millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars" in capital costs for LRT felt differently three years ago:
People in the media kept saying to me, Who really believes the Province was ever going to pay 100 percent? I said I believe it, because they're doing it in Toronto. So it's to our own neglect that we're not looking at what's happening in other municipalities, because Toronto asked for it and they got it.
Since then, he has gone from decrying political cynicism to engaging in it.
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