By Ryan McGreal
Published June 22, 2011
In an opinion piece published in Newscliptv.com, former Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger argues in support of light rail transit (LRT) as a "catalyst to help Hamilton reach its full potential as a city."
Calling Hamilton "an investment-ready, medium-sized city" that offers "an excellent quality of life", Eisenberger argues that LRT will help Hamilton to "move ahead of the pack of medium-sized cities, not only in Canada, but in North America and around the world".
Building an LRT system will show the world that Hamilton is serious about intensification, preserving our green spaces, and at the same time, ready for more growth.
He cautions, "LRT will not happen by itself." To achieve our potential, "we need a bold vision for modern transportation which includes LRT and expanded regional transit, and then we need to act on that vision."
Of course, every bold plan has its naysayers. To those who argue that Hamilton cannot afford LRT, Eisenberger counters, "lessons from the rail plan approved in Waterloo Region are clear examples of why LRT is something that Hamilton can't afford not to" build.
Eisenberger's call to action echoes yesterday's keynote speech by Paul Bedford, the retired chief planner for the City of Toronto, at a luncheon organized by the Jobs Prosperity Collaborative.
Bedford noted with dismay that not one member of Hamilton City Council was in attendance for the talk, in which he articulated a compelling case for a commitment to regional rapid transit to keep the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) functional and livable over the next 25-50 years.
Again and again, Bedford reiterated that Hamilton's leaders have choices to make in how to shape the city's fortunes.
The status quo is one choice - and an easy one at that - but it will not serve us as we attempt to accommodate more people and more economic activity in the region.
But a city like Hamilton to achieve its potential, says Bedford, its leaders must be bold and visionary. They must champion infrastructure like rapid transit that will transform the way we live, work and get around and serve as anchors for new investment.
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