Special Report: Transit

Mayor to Introduce Motion for Citizens Forum on Transit

Proposed Focum will be modeled after the 2011 Citizens Forum on Area Rating and will consider rapid transit and local transit plans.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 06, 2015

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger will bring a motion to today's General Issues Committee asking Council to approve the formation of a Citizens Forum to review the City's Rapid Ready LRT plan, the proposed Ten Year Transit Plan and the Transportation Master Plan.

The Citizens Forum will be modeled after the 2011 Citizens Forum on Area Rating: one member from each ward, selected at random and representing the city's geographic and demographic diversity, called together to review the studies and reports and converge on a set of recommendations.

Mayor Eisenberger ran for election last October on a campaign to "hit the reset button" on Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) plan through a Citizens Forum. The motion he is introducting today would also draw the Ten Year Local Transit Strategy under the auspices of the Forum.

In a February 6, 2015 op-ed, Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Waterdown MPP Ted McMeekin wrote:

During the municipal election, Mayor Fred Eisenberger campaigned on a promise to engage citizens in Hamilton on transit options for the city. I look forward to seeing that process unfold.

Following is the text of the motion:

WHEREAS, the City of Hamilton is committed to enhanced citizen engagement;

WHEREAS, investments in public transit will both move people and build community;


(a) That Council establish a meaningful community dialogue with the people of Hamilton to discuss all transit options outlined in the 10 Year Transit Plan, the Rapid Ready Report and the Transportation Master Plan along with any and all other documents related to transit in the City of Hamilton;

(b) That Council estbalish a transit community engagement process based on the Citizen Forum Model of randomly selected citizens;

(c) that staff be directed to develop the terms of reference, including but not limited to: an independent steering committee, project team, reporting mechanism, schedule, estimated cost and report back to the General Issues Committee by March 20, 2015;

(d) That membership composition be based on 1 person from each ward for a total of 15 members, and employ the same method as the Citizens Forum on Area Rating selection process;

(e) That, once individual citizens are selected, the list be presented to the General Issues Committee for consideration no later than May 6, 2015.

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 Core-B (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:04:45

Ted McMeekan tweeted this morning (6March) "Look forward to any 'update' on city transit vision. Prov. Budget pending so getting any amended request for $$'s should happen quickly."

I understand the Mayor wanting to keep an election promise, but doesn't that put a large chunk of money at risk?

Comment edited by Core-B on 2015-03-06 11:05:24

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:13:20 in reply to Comment 110008

This is a highly political document, designed to kill LRT under the guise of moving us toward it. Council direct staff to come up with $45 million in new local transit investments over 10 years to support the LRT that the Province is supposed to pay for. Instead, we've got a $302 million plan - including a $200 million bus mansion - with the capital costs covered by the Province and the operating costs covered by steep fare increases.

We were ready for LRT in 2008 but suddenly now we won't be ready for it until we have ten minute headways in Waterdown? The fix is in, make no mistake.

The Province will be only too happy to give us $302 million over ten years instead of the $811 million they promised us. And that will be it for the $15 billion rapid transit fund. The rest of the money will go to other, more ambitious cities that know what they want.

When Charlie Brown fell on his back, at least it was Lucy who pulled the football out from under his foot. Hamilton is in the process of pulling the football out from under our own foot.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted March 07, 2015 at 01:05:12 in reply to Comment 110011

I'm about ready to let LRT go, in the short term, and improve the situation's we have now, which is life with buses. Can we deal with better headways on the Mountain, for example? Could we have more bus shelters per stop? Could there be some way of contacting the H.S.R. without having a cellular telephone--a toll-free number and directions to the nearest pay-phone, perhaps? What about, as at the MacNab and Limeridge Mall terminals, some electronic count-down for the next bus, a sign that's solar-powered like a construction sign?

And then, the fare increases.... How are they to lead to higher ridership? What about continual pressure on the city's budget so as to divert the federal gas tax revenue, that's supposed to go toward public transit, toward that end and not toward the endless road infrastructure of sprawl?

Could we stop thinking so far ahead of the way to polish the magical bullet and deal with issues that sit in front of us now as well as ways to make those issues more amenable to living a human life in this city? Could I ask any more questions? Ai yi yi.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 07, 2015 at 11:03:14 in reply to Comment 110031

LRT is not a short term project. It will probably take 7-10 years to build from the time it is ok'd and funded. If Hamilton 's 10 year plan is to be ready for LRT, we need to plan for LRT to be ready at the end of it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 07, 2015 at 10:17:32 in reply to Comment 110031

LRT phase 1 on the B-Line will free up 18 buses for use elsewhere. Barely less than the 25 we apparently need to spend $300 million for.

I would be on board for doing both at the same time. York Region received $1.4 billion from Metrolinx. Why can't we ask for $1.1?

All the other things - real time data/apps/transit lanes/signal priority can be done now. Council refuses to give up an inch of car infrastructure or priority and the HSR is happy to scotch tape PDF's on street poles all over town.

That's just a symptom of the backwards city we live in. Nothing to do with these funding requests.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 07, 2015 at 11:05:25 in reply to Comment 110032

LRT phase 1 on the B-Line will free up 18 buses for use elsewhere. Barely less than the 25 we apparently need to spend $300 million for.

In 5-10 years when it is completed --- in the mean time we'll still need those buses to contribute to increased ridership.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2015 at 16:12:47 in reply to Comment 110036

No one disagrees, but staff was directed to fund those buses from the local levy, not by asking Metrolinx to give us bus money before giving us LRT money.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 15:47:01 in reply to Comment 110011

"- including a $200 million bus mansion -

I can understand the frustration that births your derision here, Ryan, but seriously; you need to refer to what Mr. Dixon said today at the GIC explaining why the cost had increased 8-fold from the original $25 million, what the Wentworth Street facility is currently being used for, and why it's necessary to have, what you've referred to here as a 'bus mansion'.

To be honest, considering how precise you normally are in almost all instances, this phrasing is a little out of character...more befitting some commenters' habits.

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By YouJustaFool (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2015 at 15:46:12 in reply to Comment 110026

You JustIs a loquacious ignoramus, overachieved in being an idiot.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 20:53:32 in reply to Comment 110026

Pretentious. Someone had to say it...

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By Lalalala (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 19:53:48 in reply to Comment 110026

Must be nice to naively believe what you hear from city staff.

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By core-b (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:28:56 in reply to Comment 110011

Sorry if I sound confused because I am. I thought Fred was in favour of LRT yet he wants to delay via a citizen panel when funding announcement appears imminent. The additional 300 million according to Chris Murray (at council) should not be a surprise to the Province. They have been aware of this for a couple of years.

I'm not usually an optimistic guy but are both requests really out of the question?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:40:19 in reply to Comment 110014

It was supposed to be $45 million, not $302 million, and it was supposed to come mainly from local levy investments. You can read the council-approved motion to establish the Ten Year Plan.

The idea was for the City to make the necessary investments in local transit while the Province was investing in rapid transit - like the way Waterloo Region is doing it. Instead, we're asking the Province to pay for the local transit investments we want to make and deferring the rapid transit investment indefinitely.

In 2014, we were wondering where the "L" went. Now we learn that the "R" has also been quietly dropped. Hamilton is getting screwed - and the worst part is that we're doing it to ourselves.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-03-06 11:41:14

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By RobF (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 23:26:11 in reply to Comment 110015

If more people understood what you do Hamilton won't be getting screwed by itself. Trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel on what transpired here today. Sadly, it would have to be from the Province saving us from ourselves (or our mostly vision-less councillors). Not likely.

I would suggest to understand we look no further than our Shadow Mayor who managed to stump for a return to better GO service as a priority ... this time giving him a station and service in his neck of the woods. How's that for something to run on next election?

Comment edited by RobF on 2015-03-06 23:27:34

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By LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:20:49

This is what I was afraid of.

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By elhambra (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:52:09

what's with the 'citizen' wording? Are municipalities some kind of nation state? Seems to me the residents of a municipality are 'residents' and there's no need to bring their passport into this. Maybe someone's gotten the civitas confused with the city??

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 12:59:49 in reply to Comment 110017

The same term is usually applied to both concepts. "Citizen" is a common phrase for a resident of a city, and not merely a legal term of art applied to a passport holder of a nation state.

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By RadioHead (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 12:11:37

We do it to ourselves, that's why is really hurts. I was at the Useless Knowledge Society event and thought the greatest moment was during the slide show from Waterloo where the presenter said we need strong leadership. Raucous laughter ensued so much that Mayor Fred turned around looking shocked and hurt. As though he was sayin "I'm right here guys!" Ryan. What is his end game?

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By RobF (registered) | Posted March 07, 2015 at 10:54:34 in reply to Comment 110019

What is his end game?

Be Fred. And get re-elected?

He is who he is ... he wasn't a communicator in his first term from what I gather, nor did he manage to build a strong enough coalition of public support or council support to move his agenda. Fred 2.0 seems to be more like Fred 1.1 ... same Fred with a few maintenance patches to his firmware. Unless he can shift course and reverse his shift to irrelevance he's on the path to bricking entirely as mayor. That would be Bratina the sequel with a "nicer", more thoughtful person in the chair.

Or, maybe the Hamilton governance model is simply broken and all but a few people would find it impossible to manage or steer out of managing decline in the lower city and sprawling growth at the edges.

Whatever the case, the Council is divided and dysfunctional on key issues and no amount of Useful Knowledge will overcome differences if people don't see Hamilton's problems from a common set of facts. Knowledge is power, but power is also knowledge ... power is what determines what counts as knowledge, at least in the short run. This is the problem ... as a city we don't see problems as shared, and we don't agree on the basic facts or parameters of debate.

Comment edited by RobF on 2015-03-07 10:55:21

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By Stever (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 13:45:35 in reply to Comment 110019

Fred should know by now he's not the poster child for strong leadership.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 13:39:06

Just got back from the GIC session at City Hall. Wasn't able to stay past 3 hours, but I suspect it's going to be long afternoon for all concerned; the whole thing began with the announcement that there wouldn't be an actual 'presentation'...at which point the hue and cry went up... Was funny, really. Even 'touching' to see so many concerned Councillors. (In the end, a presentation was made.)

With his opening 'salvo' at the mic, Mayor Eisenberger made it perfectly clear that he was loaded for bear for the actual 'debate' to be held after the Q&A.

Looking forward to viewing the rest of the proceedings.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 08, 2015 at 01:27:28

And the refrain from the right Is "We can't afford it". No amount of evidence seems enough to sway this train of thought.

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