Special Report: Light Rail

An LRT Supporter With 'Skin in the Game'

I know that progress comes at a cost, and I want my children to grow up, and hopefully stay, in a progressive city.

By Anna Davey
Published April 07, 2017

It is occasionally fashionable to deride Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) supporters as being, somehow, un-Hamiltonian. Perhaps it will help for me to establish my Hamilton bona fides before I proceed.

I was born at St. Joseph's hospital. My paternal grandfather was a foreman for Pigott, my maternal grandfather a project co-ordinator at Stelco. My maternal grandmother sat on the Board of Directors for Creative Arts. My father and uncle worked for Camco. Diane Eisenberger was my childhood dental hygienist (feel free to tell her little Anna Dawson is still kind of afraid of the dentist).

I grew up in Ward 7, where my parents and brother continue to reside, and I am raising my own family in Ward 3. I am of this city.

It is an inexcusable cliche to argue for the future on the backs of my children, but lacking a business to argue for, I must do something to prove I have what is so often called "skin in the game."

In fact, I have four of them. Four wonderfully made skins, full of noise and potential. Certainly they possess the immediate potential to disrupt my writing this letter, if recent performance is an indicator.

My oldest is 15, commuting by transit to Westmount Secondary School in Ward 8. She was lured by a strong arts department and a self-paced curriculum, undeterred by a transit system that turns a 13-minute drive into a crowded, 45 minute slog.

She isn't sure she wants to stay in Hamilton as an adult. She has her reasons, ranging from starry-eyed wanderlust to practical concerns about job availability, and is frank that a strong transit system is a necessity wherever she lives.

While she may only be thinking of transit as a means of getting from place to place, I know improved transit draws employers, and I selfishly hope to keep her close to me.

I also know that fully implementing the BLAST network, of which LRT is Phase One, is the best hope to create a robust tax base that will give her the chance of living in a financially healthy city here.

If I cannot plan a child's birthday party without going over time and over budget, I certainly cannot expect a $1 billion infrastructure and transit project to be any different. But I know that progress comes at a cost, and I want my children to grow up, and hopefully stay, in a progressive city.

In order for Hamilton to be a progressive city, we need to embrace that cost. And in order for Hamiltonians to accept it, we need a council that will unite to promote the projects that will build us a future to be excited about - perhaps even as excited as my five-year-old is every time he sees a train.

Anna Davey is an amateur loudmouth, professional good with words person, and proud co-parent of Incipe Cooperative. She can infrequently be found on Twitter @DaveyWithEY.

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By Inhocmark (registered) | Posted April 07, 2017 at 09:08:58

Thanks for that Anna. The LRT project will not impact me day to day but I recognize that a healthy vibrant transit system is going to vital to the success and growth of our entire city, especially as we transition away from the old economy of the city. My family personally have enjoyed the benefit of Metrolinx expansion strategy as we were able to settle in a more affordable part of the province and enjoy timely transportation with GO. To deny that to others, even if there is a personal cost on my tax bill just feels wrong.

And for the record, my five year old gets so excited when we need to take the GO or when she needs to jump on the 18 Bus with me, so that's a universal truth.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted April 07, 2017 at 10:45:04

...a transit system that turns a 13-minute drive into a crowded, 45 minute slog.

There is the fail right there. A properly designed urban transportation system results in walking, cycling or public transit being the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of safely travelling from A to B. When that is not the case, the transportation system is broken and needs to be fixed.

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By JimC (registered) | Posted April 07, 2017 at 16:49:28

"If I cannot plan a child's birthday party without going over time and over budget, I certainly cannot expect a $1 billion infrastructure and transit project to be any different."

Ya lost me. So you're saying you're okay if it goes over budget? First off, Metrolinx is only committed to $1 billion. It can't go over budget according to the MOA. Instead, Metrolinx will reduce the scope of the project. The scope ladder has not been made public. So if it goes over budget by $1 billion it will run from Dundurn to Mac. Secondly, when you personally go over budget on your kid's birthday party by $20 that doesn't affect me. When the Ontario government, which is already $317 billion in debt, goes over budget on a project that they sold Hydro One to fund then, yeah, that's a major problem.

Comment edited by JimC on 2017-04-07 16:49:56

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted April 09, 2017 at 15:05:36 in reply to Comment 121150

OMG, the scope ladder has not been made public? Better just pull the plug on the whole thing. /sarcasm

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