Special Report: Light Rail

We Own Hamilton's Only Backpackers' Hostel, and We Support Light Rail

We live in Hamilton, and it's very hard for us to see our own city as a tourist attraction.

By Tanya Ritchie
Published October 26, 2016

The following is the text of my delegation to the October 25, 2016 General Issues Committee meeting on Hamilton's Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak today. My name is Tanya Ritchie and my husband Tim and I are the owners of the Hamilton Guesthouse, which is the city's only backpackers' hostel.

We've been in business for a bit over six years now and we've been proud and privileged to welcome tourists and travellers from all over the world to the city.

We are both personally and professionally in favour of the light rail project for Hamilton.

We live in Hamilton, and it's very hard for us to see our own city as a tourist attraction. Many Hamiltonians ask me: "what do people come to Hamilton for?" or even "do people really come to Hamilton?"

For us, the locals, this is where we wake up, get dressed, and drag ourselves to work. It's hard to conceive of the notion that someone from Japan or Chile is scheduling their vacation with us in mind.

The Hamilton Guesthouse is a small business - we only have ten beds - and yet we have welcomed thousands of guests from every continent on earth, excepting Antarctica. (The many large hotels in the city accommodate orders of magnitude more people.)

For just this year to date, we have had guests from 137 different countries, which is about two-thirds of the countries of the world.

The vast majority of these people arrive by plane and train. They're not driving here from France or from Nigeria. When they get here, they need to be able to get around.

They travel to every single ward in the city, to see our many attractions. Historic sites, natural wonders, concert venues, college campuses, and far more.

With these thousands of people come thousands and thousands of dollars to spend in our shops, theatres and restaurants. But only if they can get there. And they want to get there.

They want to get to Dundas and Waterdown and Flamborough and Stoney Creek and Ancaster and all over the old city of Hamilton. They want to enjoy everything that we have to offer, everything that we take for granted every day.

For this reason, I ask you all most earnestly, not only to move ahead with the first stage of this project, the B-Line, but to follow it up with the rest of the BLAST network without delay.

It's often said lately that Hamilton is a well-kept secret. Well, the secret's out now and we have to make the most of it.

Tanya Ritchie is an immigrant who moved to Hamilton ten years ago and lives in Ward 3. She is the co-owner of Hamilton Guest House, Hamilton's only backpackers' hostel.

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