Special Report: Light Rail

The Facts Support Hamilton's LRT Plan

It is disappointing that letters like this even have to be written after Council already voted 52 times for LRT and agreed to implement it with Metrolinx.

By Johanna Bleecker
Published April 09, 2017

The facts support Hamilton's Light Rail Transit (LRT) plan. There is no way around that.

LRT is being fully funded, and we do not get to use the money for anything else if we don't implement LRT. I was shocked to hear City Councillors who should know better implying otherwise at the March 28 meeting.

If we don't implement LRT, there will be a financial loss for taxpayers, as their provincial taxes will not be going toward a project that benefits them directly, and the city will also be on the hook for the $70 million that has already been spent on the LRT preparations.

A consistent refrain of LRT non-supporters is that we don't know how much LRT will cost.

We will not know the exact number until the RFP has been announced and a winning bidder has been selected. At that point, the City will participate in negotiations for the Operating Agreement and council will have the final say on what we pay the operator.

If the fact that we don't know the cost is being cited as a downside of LRT, why wouldn't we go ahead with the RFP and negotiations so that we can work with the bidders and Metrolinx to get the answer to that question, and make sure that it's a reasonable amount?

LRT will also create new revitalization and development. There may be some temporary hardship for businesses along the construction route. In fact, my workplace in the East End, New Hope Community Bikes, has received a notice of potential expropriation.

However, we are still strong supporters of LRT. We know we can weather the storm and find a new location in the neighbourhood, and that in the long run, the uplift that will be brought to the neighbourhood and the increase in active transportation that will accompany the LRT will be well worth it.

The greater development and investment in Hamilton will bring a surge of tax revenue for the city.

LRT will create more opportunities for active and sustainable transportation. As an active member of the cycling community, I have been impressed with Metrolinx's commitment to replace any cycling infrastructure being removed to accommodate redirected traffic with infrastructure that's as good or better.

I see many opportunities for future collaboration and I'm excited for Hamilton to have a modern rapid transit system which will contribute to complete streets and act as an important step in the BLAST plan.

To be honest, I'm disappointed that I even have to write this letter, given that Council has already voted to support LRT 52 times.

I spent five hours of my day on March 28 sitting in council in order to deliver my five-minute delegation. I am unable to do that again on April 19 as there is only so much staff time a small charity can spare, so I'm hoping this letter can stand in my stead.

It's a real shame that this process has been so held up after so many citizens have dedicated so much time toward holding Council accountable to the Memorandum of Agreement in which they agreed to "proceed expeditiously, diligently and in good faith and in a co-operative and collaborative manner" to "facilitate and expedite the construction and completion of the Project."

Council has heard from us. Council has heard from Hamilton's Anchor institutions. Council has heard from the many businesses who are featured in the now-famous LRT support poster.

Councillors, you are all smart, hardworking people who do a lot for our city. It's time to look at the facts and please come forth as a strong, outspoken supporter of LRT if you haven't already.

Johanna Bleecker is the Education and Community Outreach Coordinator for New Hope Community Bikes and the Vice-Chair of Cycle Hamilton.

7 Comments

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By Deleted User (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2017 at 19:56:22

It's not "fully funded." I stopped reading after that. If you get your main fact wrong what's the use in reading on? The MOA expresses clearly: we get $1 billion *worth* of LRT. They're not building an LRT. They're spending $1 billion on as much LRT as they can get. If it goes over budget they reduce the scope of the project. They've already begun by eliminating the James St spur. That's not how they framed it but that's exactly what's happening; politics. Fully funded also implies operating costs which clearly are not included. Please read the MOA and see that what I'm writing is true. This is an important distinction. The project is capped at $1 billion. It's not capped at "one LRT from point A to point B" which is quite a different promise.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2017 at 06:49:19 in reply to Comment 121176

Poor JimC, the mask has slipped off entirely, laying bare the troll behind the concern.

The James North spur was not removed because of cost overruns. It was removed because Metrolinx did a value-for-money analysis and determined that it doesn't make sense to run LRT for that short a distance given the expected ridership.

The money that is saved by removing that segment is being re-directed toward a full A-Line BRT from the waterfront to the airport.

The estimated cost for the LRT is actually around $900 million, but a final capital cost will be determined through the RFP process once a proponent has been selected to win the contract.

It is pure trolling on your part to make so much noise about the extremely unlikely event that no bids come in under budget.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted April 10, 2017 at 09:30:52 in reply to Comment 121185

I know it's exhausting responding to JimC but since his goal seems to be to spread misinformation and sell half-truths it is necessary. Ignoring his posts only gives his fake news traction.

It is now obvious he is grasping at anything - and on such a nice weekend too - now that's dedication...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:24:26 in reply to Comment 121186

Ironically, the fact that Metrolinx advised removing the James North spur due to poor value-for-money actually supports the conclusion that this project is being driven by good policy, not bad politics.

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By cyberfarer (registered) | Posted April 09, 2017 at 20:25:43 in reply to Comment 121176

How sad are you JimC that you troll every post on RTH? You're so pathetic I doubt you read the nonsense you write. The logical twists and turns would be hilarious if they weren't so painful.

Johanna is correct. The LRT is 100 per cent capital funded. So she is right. While claiming she is wrong while demonstrating she is right, you omit a salient fact. We can have all the LRT we want, from Eastgate to McMaster, and the spur, if the City of Hamilton would cough up an investment.

It is the city, and in particular those same flip-flopping, now-we-want-it-now-we-don't councillors, who insisted on a 100% capital funded project 'cause Hammy Town don't do no transit.

And once the province says, well we will put up a billion, those same councillors, cheered on by trolls like you, move the goal posts inflating and exaggerating operating costs and usage simultaneously.

Please, your BS is tired and tiring.

Comment edited by cyberfarer on 2017-04-09 20:26:12

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By George (registered) | Posted April 09, 2017 at 22:26:14

The fact that it is fully funded is reason enough to be excited about this. Huge gains for Hamilton.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted April 10, 2017 at 13:01:45

Here are so more facts. On Saturday April 8, Grand River Transit had a little open house so people could visit their LRT Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility and see the first of 14 Light Rail Vehicles. The place opened to the public at 1 pm, by 2:30 pm the line was 200 metres long and required you to wait 30+ minutes to get in. In total 2670 people came to see a LRV that was stationary and which the public won't be able to ride for many, many months! I'm glad so many people in the Waterloo Region came out and got to see something that, Jim C doesn't want Hamilton to have and said in the past that, "people would have no interest in" and would be "wasteful spending", considering the high debt levels of the province of Ontario. I pleased to see so many in Waterloo didn't agree with Jim C. I think Hamilton will be the same as Waterloo when it gets to see its LRV's for the first time!

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