Light Rail

Pan Am Games and LRT: Wait and See

By Grant Ranalli
Published April 29, 2010

this blog entry has been updated

Quick note: I attended the April 27 meeting organized by Councillor Brian McHattie (Ward 1) regarding the Pan Am stadium. David Adames of the City presented first, followed by a representative of IBI Consulting who discussed parking.

Adames said they were "all in" on the West Harbour site after someone asked about the other sites.

Jill Stephen was there as well. I asked about the status of Hamilton's LRT plan in light of the delays in Metrolinx funding and the fact that the Ontario government has said that "projects connected with the Pan Am Games will go ahead".

She was not exactly clear but seemed to indicate that things are going forward with the B-Line. It appeared to be hopeful optimism and a wait-and-see approach.

Adames indicated that the GO Transit upgrades were more crucial to the games than the LRT - getting people and atheletes moved between Toronto and Hamilton.

Update: this blog entry originally stated that Brian McHattie is the councillor for Ward 10. The editor and his fat fingers are to blame for this; McHattie is actually the councillor for Ward 1. Thanks to highwater for pointing out the error.

Grant Ranalli lives in Hamilton and works as an elementary school teacher.

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By Vod K (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 10:53:32

Thanks for the update Grant,

Was there any indication if they were any closer to getting the Ticats on board with the new stadium? Like it or not, That's a key component, especially as it was indicated in the Spec that the city is not contributing more than the original 60 million.

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By LRTNOW (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 16:46:49

Further to the LRT and the Pan Am games, check out Horwath's question in Provincial Parliament:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zkycgw64Js&feature=player_embedded

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted April 29, 2010 at 17:23:29

"scaremongering" c'mon.. she was being a realist. if they do not start soon it WILL NOT happen before 2015. Their document made no hard recommendations, it was a wishy washy cop out. good for Horwath for pushing the issue

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-04-29 16:48:25

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 18:40:23

The liberal minister did not answer Andreas question. Just the usual blah, blah, blah.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 29, 2010 at 18:48:34

Typo alert. McHattie represents Ward 1.

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By Donald J. Lester (anonymous) | Posted April 30, 2010 at 00:05:29

The Pan Am Games and LRT are two separate issues. What Hamilton will get from the Pan Am games will be the crumbs and in the end more debt than benefits. With the LRT maybe in another 20 years before there are any coins on the plate, GO Transit may be polished up to satisfy that something is being done. Nothing will change in Hamilton unless it can demonstrate that it can have a strong impact on the provincial scene. That means getting it's house in order through better financial management and maintaining a tax base that demonstrates to the province we don't need them, then they will come, looking for Hamilton's support to satisfy their political needs. Then and only then, will this City get the credit it deserves.

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By fender (registered) | Posted April 30, 2010 at 03:52:05

I think that Hamilton will benefit from the LRT.. Not so much the Pan Am games. I think the games will put us into debt like Donald J lester said. I think that people will look at our city and what a pain in the ass transit is their. Look at how our current Public tranist is run, granted we get a bus every 20 minutes or so but look at all the potential it could havel, look what it could do for our city/... and here we are worrying about the pan am games. its one instance in our city that could make us millions or cost us millions and its a big gamble.. just like the arizona cyotoes for crying out loud.. get your minds together and make some sense of our city and look what we can benefit from and treat Hamilton as it should be as a city and not as a town like Burlington or whatnot. Have a real transportation system for the city instead of just merley buses.. we need to get our stuff together and actually do something instead of humming and hawing...

Sorry for the rant but it needs to be said.

Dan from Market and Hess....

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By Reality (anonymous) | Posted April 30, 2010 at 10:08:38

Hamilton - LRT (Level, Raze, Tax-increases).

Burn it and start over.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2010 at 11:26:57

@ Mr. Lester,

I agree that we have to be fiscally responsible, but unfortunately, we need provincial money to improve transit. Our suburbs to the east have become Toronto bedroom communities, which has been facilitated by GO train service that we are lacking. I'm not crazy about Hamilton having "Bedroom status" but it is not the end of the world. Perhaps it is a step to the next level. When people begin to move here, the potential for the city may well be unlocked. In order to increase the tax base, we need increased pop. density. That will not happen unless transit is improved. We also need provincial money to help remediate brownfields in the north end that once drove Ontario's economy. Why would a company set up on a brown field, when green field sites are indirectly subsidized by our constant expansion of roads and highways? I am not saying we should play some kind of victim card, I'm just asking for a level playing field from the province.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2010 at 11:32:10

correction - by suburbs to the east - i meant along 403 East ie, Burl/Oakville. And I know we have very good express bus service, but I don't think that attracts a lot of new riders or leads to any significant gentrification.

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By Donald J. Lester (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2010 at 11:46:55

@Henry and Joe

This is what we are doing,"play some kind of victim card, I'm just asking for a level playing field from the province." Moreover, I am not suggesting that we don't need the LRT. When one look at this situation from the way the world works what does Hamilton have to offer the province? Now leaving this issue for the moment and take a look at the bigger picture.

Through all the discussions with Metrolinx's proposed transit for high speed transit within Ontario with future extensions across the country, who is missing at the table is the federal government. Consider that the LTR is here and the province down the road with the Feds proceed on High Speed rail, Hamilton and other communities may be left with redoing and re-building such to make the LTR a viable connection.

Secondly, the status of a "bedroom Community" in the long run is not sustainable to support such ventures. Though the present formula based on increased "pop. density" has serious limitations, in particular given our present economy. With 30% of poverty including another 30% leaving this City to bring home the bacon.

I think there is a great misconception that we can continue to raise taxes on the residences and that down the road that there won't be a major fallout. While the present focus of provincial energy is focused on the service sector as the major source of job creation, which is a non productive which has many inherent flaws to support long term sustainability.

If you take a look at what is really occurring throughout this province is that the US is offering all kinds of incentives to business to relocate. While in this province we are increasing taxes left and right. In recent days locally Labatts is not the only one going south so is Goodyear, that's only in the past two weeks...it's becoming an epidemic. Moreover, as this continues the residential market will collapse, and where is the tax base then? Where are the benefits of, "pop. density" ?

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2010 at 12:29:41

Mr Lester,

I think we are talking about two different issues. One is globalization/de-industrialization which has decimated our commercial tax base. The other is our ability to compete with neigbouring municipalities for tax paying/working residents. I agree with you on the first issue that service sector jobs are less valuable than manufacturing jobs. We are also at a large disadvantage in trying to compete with US jurisdictions that are putting huge money on the table to lure industries south. How do we stop the bleeding? I am not sure, but I think it starts with demanding protection for our jobs. It means standing up for workers in the face of lobbyist power over goverments. Unfortunately, a lot of jobs these days involve simply moving goods in and out of warehouses or moving money around from fund to fund. These people have to live somewhere. Right now, most of those people are choosing to live in the GTA rather than Hamilton. It is bizarre to me to hear arguments against a condo development because "it might attract commuters". You're right on the mark that we need jobs and liveable wages for people first, but I think we can try to increase the residential tax base by infilling as well.

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By Donald J. Lester (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2010 at 14:05:23

@ Henry and Joe
"we can try to increase the residential tax base by infilling as well" I here what you are saying but if that is not balanced with attracting jobs, business who is going to buy? All we may be doing is displacing the population that is all ready here. If you are seeking to attract the retired population it won't happen. For example I just sold my property at an excellent price but is you think I would, now retired, live in Hamilton considering the costs, take a look at this, and this is only an example.
http://chatham-kent.kijiji.ca/c-housing-housing-for-sale-Beautiful-home-with-26x30-heated-garage-W0QQAdIdZ196594444

True enough people have to live some place but when you consider what is happening with the economy, many, many will be looking for affordability including those who are and have lost jobs. What I have been hearing is that they could move, have a home and live in other communities and make less. If this becomes the trend, what you may be left with is the growing poor and government employees. That translates into constant financial inbreeding. Though you may not want hers this, once this trend begins you will not be able to stop it. Secondly, I would not be surprised if other communities independent of the province who have reasonably managed their finances will begin to to copy the same strategics as the US...offering incentives and tax breaks to attract new and to maintain their present employers.

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By Donald J. Lester (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2010 at 14:36:50

"but I think it starts with demanding protection for our jobs." will never work in the long term or short term. Business has always and will always be about profits, therefore you will never make slaves out of business and if you push that cart they will close and move to where they can make a profit or they will find other investments where that can: though that may not mean having employees. What I think will work is to come up with a formula that will counterbalance offers that make it attractive for business to relocate and if we could go one better is a long term formula that attracts business to the area. It's far better to have 1000 people working than adding a 2% tax, those 1000 employees will intern will provide a greater return and long term stability. Moreover, business have a greater potential to grow and may attract others and may themselves grow. What this city failed to recognize was diversity, placing it's eggs in one basket. As I stated in another post.

"What this City need is a broker to bring business to this city and to deal with all the red tape and barriers that are fundamental discouraging business to locate or relocate in this City. It has been apparent that the present councilors don't have the skills and anyone that does, has no intention of applying."

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 13:19:28

Hmmm??? Interesting back and forth Donald and Henry and Joe.

Just a bit of food for thought in your discussion:

I live in Hamilton work in Guelph. So Guelph gets my "job count" but I give very little to nothing back to the community of Guelph besides the odd lunch at a local restaurant. But I pay my property taxes, buy the family groceries, frequent restaurants and generally do my best to support local business in Hamilton.

So what city benefits more, the city counting my job or the city where I live?

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By Donald J. Lester (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 23:12:26

Kiely, you make a good point for the moment."So what city benefits more, the city counting my job or the city where I live?" Though for many and given time as the economy tightens they soon realize what it cost them to traverse to work and back, including time and risk. I have known many who managed in the same way, but as time passed their other half found employment in the same city and they moved. They also experienced much lower taxes and as a result their gain was greater then just the commute. Not suggestion that everyone will follow this rout.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 09:23:50

"Kiely, you make a good point for the moment." - Donald

And I do ask it honestly. Currently on the Hamiltonian there is a debate over the steel industry. Some people want steel to come back because it is jobs, while others see the potential for redeveloping those lands. But some argue that only reinforces the "bedroom community" status of Hamilton.

So it has me wondering, are 1000 jobs in a polluting roller coaster of an industry better than attracting say 10,000 new residents to the community, even if those residents are commuters? I have some opinions and notions but I'm curious what others think/feel?

What will transform a city in need of transformation the most, new jobs or new people?

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 10:44:13

I agree Ryan, I also believe you get the people and the businesses follow. This is what Richard Florida talks about (And I see one of your links references him). Attract the "creative class" and innovative businesses will seek you out. Companies aren't bricks and mortar, companies are people and they will go where the type of people they need are.

To make this happen in Hamilton, we need a shift in demographics. Trying to attract innovative businesses with an out-of-date workforce won't work. The cold hard reality is Hamilton's current workforce is not that attractive to the types of businesses that will transform this city. If it takes being a "bedroom community" for a while until our demographics are more attractive to innovative businesses than I believe that is a necessary and ultimately beneficial step in the process.

But changes in demographics and economies often aren't nice things to talk about as they are sensitive topics that create similar questions and debate as neighbourhood gentrification (i.e., Where does the current work force get jobs if they can't compete for the new jobs being created? Will they need to relocate to find work? Do these people with old economy work skills slip between the cracks and into poverty?). To me I believe those are problems I would rather deal with than a city sliding into poverty and decay, but I absolutely understand there are those that will be on the wrong side of that change and for very real reasons do not support my opinion.

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By Donald J. Lester (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 11:39:29

It's interesting that when people compare jobs they always use the "steel industry" to the "bedroom community" as the example. But let me give you one, there is an situation at present where a restaurant is attempting to open. The licensing process will take up to three months before the owners will get the ok. While they sit and wait, no work on renovations will take place until all the paper work is complete and then another 2 to 3 months before the renovations are complete. Is there not something wrong with this picture. This is a simple procedure, while many have just walked away due to such delays and have opened in Burlington or other localities out side of this City.

Others site "out-of-date workforce" but the reality is that 30% of the workforce is leaving this city daily...Lets consider the fiasco that centered around Maple Leaf and it's endeavor which would have provided 200 jobs plus. In the process of amalgamation there was a cucumber plant in Dundas but the city would not allow them to expand and rather than work with them that simply said No..they move to Brantford.

There are 100s of these examples that have contributed to the jobless rates in the City...while we justify such with,out-of-date workforce" which can be said about any city's population, but the fact remains that the aforementioned issues tarnish this cities perception of being open for buisness.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 12:16:16

It's interesting that when people compare jobs they always use the "steel industry" to the "bedroom community" as the example. - Donald

Guilty, I used them as well but mainly because that's how the debate I was referring to was being framed… there is more to it than that though Donald you're right.

There are 100s of these examples that have contributed to the jobless rates in the City...while we justify such with, out-of-date workforce" which can be said about any city's population, but the fact remains that the aforementioned issues tarnish this cities perception of being open for business. - Donald

Yep, good points Donald. Getting the people is a big part but there are plenty of other things that prevent business growth and increase the jobless rate: zoning, licensing, difficult bureaucracy, etc… all play a part.

My use of "out-of-date workforce" is only in reference to the attempt to shift the types of business we can attract, let me clarify that it is not an excuse for the entire jobless rate. We can still attract businesses with our current workforce, but they will likely be of the variety already present here and I happen to be cynical about the future of manufacturing and industrial jobs depending on "unskilled" or manual labour.

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By Donald J. Lester (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2010 at 19:08:27

Ryan said,"I'd say if Hamilton figured out how to get 10,000 new people living in a truly urban-designed downtown neighborhood, there would be plenty of opportunities to create new local sources of employment. Rather than trying to lure employers to Hamilton, we should be trying to grow our own. That gets us out in front of new business models rather than left chasing past performers."

Perhaps it's by using both, lure employers to Hamilton and grow our own. One of the difficulties with "grow our own" is that their vision is stuck in the yesterdays perception. If you take the analogy of what a new buyer in a property and while the seller has out grown their vision...Where as a new comer looks at what he wants to accomplish rather that what has been said he can't...but in all fairness this city
and the community has to become somewhat more flexible where possible, including demonstrating greater fluidity, than in the past or present, that allows thing to
occur in a timely manner.

At the moment the only thing that seem active are the Pan Am games, the LRT; it seems that we can only focus on one or two items at a time...Moreover, I have not seen any strategy form the City that encourages either, "lure employers to Hamilton and grow our own" and if anyone has please direct me to where I can find such.

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