Special Report: Light Rail

Letter: Great Leaders Make Decisions Based on Big Picture

Being able to look beyond the minutiae and see the bigger picture is what many of the world's best leaders are known for and has always being a primary catalyst for getting things done.

By Tyler Pearson
Published April 26, 2017

I want to reach out to Council regarding the Wednesday, April 26, 2017 City Council meeting and reiterate just how important moving forward with the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project is for the City of Hamilton.

As you may know, I've also been very vocal about my position surrounding LRT, as outlined on the cover of the April 18, 2017 issue of the Hamilton Spectator.

As a businessman who has invested millions of dollars into the City of Hamilton over the last handful of years, I feel obligated to let you know that it would be a major catalyst for us to begin shifting our focus and capital base to other, more forward-thinking cities if the LRT should not move forward.

As the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. As a result, I find it extremely concerning that certain City Councillors opposing the LRT are basically playing a game of chicken with the province when it comes to an unprecedented $1Billion investment.

One Councillor who is opposing the LRT actually just told me yesterday, "The City's Director of Finance estimates that upwards of $600 million could be secured for infrastructure improvements if the $1 billion should not materialize."

My immediate response to this is the $600 million is not guaranteed - unlike the $1 billion - and even if the $600 million was approved, it still is a whooping $400 million less than what we have a guaranteed commitment for.

I have no problem stating that the LRT strategy is not perfect, nor will it ever be. However, I'd rather have a slightly flawed LRT system that can be improved over time as opposed to no LRT, which is what we are absolutely facing.

I can appreciate Council's relentless pursuit to gather all of the information and facts on this matter but the reality is we will never have every single answer, nor will anyone.

All great leaders make decisions every day without having all of the facts; it's quite frankly an indisputable proven trait of being a great leader. Being able to look beyond the minutiae and see the bigger picture is what many of the world's best leaders are known for and has always being a primary catalyst for getting things done.

It is honestly disgusting that Council has dragged this out for as long as they have, and if for whatever reason this initiative should not get approved, it will absolutely go down as one of the greatest failures for the City in recent memory.

In closing, I really do hope that you can get behind this incredible opportunity that we have before us, or at the very least be one of the very first people to take responsibility when significant investment dollars begin to immediately flow out of the City if for whatever reason this initiative should not move forward.

Trusting you will see the bigger picture here and make the right decision.

This was sent as a letter to City Councillors on the fence about the LRT plan.

Tyler Pearson is managing partner and co-founder of Malleum Partners, a private equity fund based in Hamilton.

14 Comments

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By bobby2 (registered) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 07:32:01

Is LRT a Gold Nugget or Fool's Gold for Wards 1 to 4 property owners. This year, due to increased value assessments some Wards experienced substantial Property Tax increases. If LRT brings all the value of the area around LRT to sky high heights, it's Gold if you are planning to sell & well open your wallets if you are there long term. Yes, sometimes good things can have downsides? Funny, Councillors in Wards 1 to 4 don't talk about this?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 26, 2017 at 07:39:01 in reply to Comment 121366

You are trying to suck and blow at the same time. You can't predict that the project is not going to be successful and also complain that it will raise property values around the line, which will only happen if the project is successful.

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By Deleted User (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 17:15:56 in reply to Comment 121367

Suck and blow at the same time? Like how Merulla came out again today and said that Ontario transit dollars allocated for Light Rail *Transit* has "nothing to do with transit? I wonder if the Transportation Minister would care to comment?

Putting that aside, bobby2 is pointing out that the project can fail as a transit project but still "succeed" as a development magnet. However, is that how taxpayer dollars should be spent? On projects that only serve to enrich the 1%? Ryan, how do you feel about building stadiums for private sports teams? This is no different. Let developers pay for the projects that allow them to fleece the 99% by increasing rents and displacing small businesses and replacing them with corporations. When Joe's Coffee is kicked out for Starbucks you'll no doubt point to the "success" of the project; most people, on the other hand, will realize we were fleeced. Do not spend taxpayer dollars to enrich developers.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted April 27, 2017 at 09:44:48 in reply to Comment 121378

bobby2 is pointing out that the project can fail as a transit project but still "succeed" as a development magnet.

Yeah, no. Being close to rapid transit is what makes it a development magnet. If it fails as transit it won't attract development.

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By bobby2 (registered) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 18:31:27 in reply to Comment 121378

Jim, I have always thought of Raise the Hammer as a forum to express diverse opinions! More & more lately Ryan has decided, especially with LRT issue, that consideration of alternative views is totally wrong as they may cause people to think of downsides along with upsides. It's Ryan's forum & he can react as he wishes. My post, was simply to bring attention to an issue that residents in the area of LRT may not have thought of. LRT may be a good decision for Hamilton but considering all + and -'s seems a reasonable path. Sucking or blowing, Ryan look in a mirror my friend as there may be two people looking back at you? Just an opinion, just like yours:)

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 20:03:57 in reply to Comment 121379

I think Ryan may have just scanned your post without reading it fully, because his comment doesn't really make sense in reply. It's uncharacteristic, and maybe I've misread something; but people make mistakes.

In response to your original comment, as a home owner in the lower city I can tell you that municipal taxes have increased very little compared to the insane escalation in property values. It could push people out long term, that's gentrification, but people won't be booted out of their house overnight. And if they can't afford it? We'll, they will be compensated handsomely. Things could be a lot worse.

Comment edited by Dylan on 2017-04-26 20:06:06

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 22:16:18 in reply to Comment 121380

The point Ryan was making is that you can't argue on one hand that the project is going to be a failure ( see bobby2's previous posts ) and then turn around and argue that increased tax assessments as a result of the projects success will hurt people. Which is it - a failure or a success?

I've seen a lot of detractors use this 'throw anything and see what sticks' strategy and it needs to be called out.

Regardless, bobby2, feel free to argue your points any time. Just don't fall into what I'd call 'the debate club trap' where you feel that you can never change your position. Personally, when all of this started years ago I was ambivalent towards the LRT and just couldn't understand the passion people had for it. The more I educated myself on the subject, however, the more I could see its merits and understand the importance of not throwing away this rare opportunity.

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted April 27, 2017 at 07:07:05 in reply to Comment 121381

Ah, so it was also in reaction to comments outside this post. I see.

Hamilton is already gentrifying at a pretty good speed, and that will only accelerate with LRT. A lot of people will be priced out their own neighbourhoods. It's an unfortunate side affect that the city will have to deal with. Though it sounds like they're trying to incorporate subsidized housing in a lot of the new developments along the line.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted April 27, 2017 at 15:50:26 in reply to Comment 121382

Every great city-building project will inevitably have some downside for someone somewhere. Building Hamilton's 19th century water system eliminated cholera epidemics, but put private water sellers out of business.

Our present transportation system is causing a cancer epidemic. Currently motor vehicle operators poison and kill an average of 93 people in Hamilton every year. Zero is the only safe dose of their cancer-causing fine particles.

We improved our water system in the 19th century to eliminate cholera, typhus and other water-borne diseases. In the 21st century we can improve our transportation system to save the lives of the 93 people per year who are currently being poisoned and killed by motor vehicle operators.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2017-04-27 15:50:59

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By Crispy (registered) | Posted April 26, 2017 at 11:13:19 in reply to Comment 121367

and also is redundant

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By Deleted User (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2017 at 06:56:59

This is the "vision" for Hamilton that people point to when advocating for LRT:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/05/06/real-estate-boom-threatens-parkdale-rooming-houses.html

LRT supports constantly point to "economic development" and "uplift" and "increased property values" as though they're goals to be worked towards. The sad irony is that these goals always benefit people who are already rich and the poor will be left further behind. If you reject the basic premise that these are goals to be worked towards then why should I accept the solution you're proposing to get us there?

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted May 06, 2017 at 08:00:24 in reply to Comment 121486

Home ownership in the lower city is around 75%. These owners all stand to benefit a lot from gentrification and most of these people are relatively poor, and they're certainly not rich. Check out the "neighbourhood" tab on MLS listings, it will give you ownership and income numbers. You are referring to the very impoverished which make up a pretty small segment of the population, and there's no reason to believe subsidizes housing cannot be built for them.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted May 09, 2017 at 12:52:17

Great leaders are people you agree with.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted July 11, 2017 at 11:24:40

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