Light Rail

Clark: No Existing Money for LRT, and No New Money for LRT

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published April 15, 2014

Today's Spectator editorial on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's transit plan says this about Ward 9 Councillor - and mayoral candidate - Brad Clark:

Clark has already said he won't support LRT unless the province comes up with adequate funding, and it has to be new money, not money from someplace else.

Assuming the Spectator is not misrepresenting Clark's position, this seems ridiculous.

Is Clark saying that he wants the Province to implement new taxes to fund LRT, not redirect revenue from existing taxes and fees? He also said he would refuse to accept any new "revenue tools" to pay for it.

Where exactly does he imagine the money will come from, if he refuses to support any new revenue tools and also opposes redirecting money from existing taxes, i.e. the gas taxes and HST mentioned in the editorial?

Where would the province have to find the money to satisfy Clark? They apparently can't use any existing taxes and they can't implement any new taxes or fees. Or does he just want a guarantee that no Hamiltonian will ever have to contribute anything, through any channel, toward our own LRT?

Money is fungible, so the notion of no new taxes/no old taxes/no contribution from Hamilton taxpayers is nonsensical.

I wish he would at least be intellectually honest and to come right out and say he doesn't support any money going to the Big Move transit plan, including the Hamilton LRT, under any circumstances.

At least then we wouldn't have this misleading debate about what it means for the province to cover the upfront costs of Hamilton's LRT. Apparently Clark would only accept the funding if somehow it came entirely from taxpayers outside Ontario - and doubtless he would then complain about LRT disrupting drivers and try to get the money funneled into new freeways.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.


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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2014 at 15:20:32

The question to ask is who are Mr Clarke's backers? If we do not know who, how can we honestly know his agenda? It is my opinion that he is the public face for others who have a specific agenda. Mr Clarke was part of the Harris regime. Should not we all be asking hard questions?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 17, 2014 at 00:31:34 in reply to Comment 100280

I've always figured his business is the Ontario PC party. When Bratina was blatantly helping the Liberals weasel out of their 100% funding commitment 2ish years ago, Clark took them all to task because he was trying to embarrass the provincial Liberals.

I mean, remember this guy:

This was a man who seemed positively angry that the Liberals were spending $10 billion no-strings-attached LRT construction around the GTA and Hamilton was getting passed over. Where did that guy go?

Now? Now LRT is a foul word for the PC party, so he's joined Bratina in sandbagging it.
That and the usual agglomeration of sprawl developers who have the run city hall, but they seem to own all the councilors.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-04-17 00:36:19

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By Clarkhater (anonymous) | Posted April 16, 2014 at 00:05:45 in reply to Comment 100280

I have a feeling Effort Trust, all those cash money owners, and maybe even Tim Hortons are Clarks backers. These are all leech-like, that is, blood sucking parasitic organizations.

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By ??? (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2014 at 06:01:34 in reply to Comment 100303

How is Effort Trust a leech-like, blood sucking parasitic organization?

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By Mt. Hopian (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2014 at 18:01:29

We should have a public vote!
LRT (if your not from downtown)
Is a completely useless waste of my tax
Dollars. I live nowhere near downtown I
I will never use the LRT ever and am not
Convinced it will make Hamilton better?
Every major business that comes to
Hamilton does not locate downtown so how
Is LRT going to do this ???
I'm just so sick of hearing about LRT. Hamilton
Can do so much more instead of wasting money
So people can get to Eastgate faster ????

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 17, 2014 at 16:10:21 in reply to Comment 100285

I don't live downtown, and I want LRT.

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By Bobby D (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2014 at 20:08:59 in reply to Comment 100406

I live downtown, and don't want LRT.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 28, 2014 at 20:57:37 in reply to Comment 100692

And there ya go.

Someone should alert the Spec. You see, it's not an urban/suburban divide, it's a reality-based/non-reality-based divide.

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By Bobby D (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2014 at 16:50:18 in reply to Comment 100695

Which side are you on? I'm on the reality side.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 29, 2014 at 21:11:06 in reply to Comment 100714

If you were, you'd support LRT.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted April 15, 2014 at 20:28:04 in reply to Comment 100285

You won't use it so let's not build it? Why don't we say the same thing about the road to your house?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 15, 2014 at 20:04:22 in reply to Comment 100285

If you pay property tax in Hamilton, you have a civic interest in LRT, even if you don't plan to use it.

Hamilton has thousands and thousands of kilometres of very expensive civic infrastructure - roads, water and sewer service to half a million people, many of whom are spread out over a large area. The only way we will be able to pay for all of that is if we significantly increase the number of ratepayers without increasing the amount of infrastructure. In other words, we need to significantly intensify our use of the infrastructure we already have - especially downtown, which is well-suited to high-density use and has huge opportunity for infill development on vacant and under-used lots.

LRT is a fixed, long-term investment in making the lower city a much larger contributor to the property tax base. Every new building that goes up increases the number of ratepayers without increasing the amount of municipal infrastructure. (In contrast, every new suburban house actually increases the city's net liability, since development charges and suburban property tax rates are not enough to pay the full cost of providing service to far-flung, low-density properties.)

I'm not saying everyone needs to move downtown, but it is abundantly clear that a lot more people need to live downtown than currently do so. LRT plays a huge role in making that happen, by attracting large numbers of new transit riders (eliminating car trips and reducing wear-and-tear on roads) and attracting hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in new private investment around the LRT stations.

We could double or even quadruple the number of people living and working downtown, using the infrastructure we already have and paying into the property tax base. That alleviates pressure to raise your property tax rate and allows the city to start catching up on its deferred infrastructure maintenance.

The Waterloo Region government compared the cost of building LRT with the cost of not building it, and they discovered that LRT will actually save the city money overall, by reducing the need for the costly low-density infrastructure that will accompany new suburban, car-based development.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 13:44:19 in reply to Comment 100297

...And Waterloo region has a growing opposition to their LRT. The economic benefits of LRT are so vastly over blown it borders on the ridiculous. LRT projects every where is being downgraded and re-examined. Detroit's grand project which was so hugely regaled on this site and elsewhere has been cut into a mere shadow of its initial proposal. Why? The huge amount of money involved. Right now we are looking at a budget of $1,000,000,000 to build that boondoggle in Hamilton from Eastgate to McMaster. If work ever starts on it the final bill will be much, much higher.

Such huge investments in transit only make sense in a very few select areas and the small city of Hamilton is not one of them.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2014 at 18:18:54

Mr Hopian, I believe it is more then just getting people across town faster, as we must change how we do things. My personal thoughts are that this is a little too late given the destruction of the natural world, which according to many others, much more knowledgeable then me, is worse then what you think. While, we as Hamiltonians, sit here, seemingly comfortable and protected, who is to say what the near future will bring. Given all we know, we should of change things a long time ago, however, those in power, profits before people, is the mantra that has been pounded into the minds of so many. You seem to fall into the catagory, no critical thinking skills.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 15, 2014 at 18:23:49

It breaks my heart that people that "don't live anywhere near downtown and won't ever use the LRT" speak against it, completely oblivious to the large numbers of people that will use it, as though the world revolves around them, and just because they personally won't use it automatically makes it a bad idea.

Very sad for Hamilton and a waste of potential. No matter how logical it is to put LRT where the highest density is, and redeploy buses, these arguments are lost on people who aren't even listening nor have a horse in the race.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 13:52:29 in reply to Comment 100288

The vast majority of Hamiltonians will never use LRT. Those that will are already being serviced by the HSR. That's why all those voices appose it. Transit in any way shape or form is a huge money loser in not only Hamilton but hundreds of other cities in North America. Amsterdam, Manchester, Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and the like are completely different in their structure and transit can and does pay for itself. Even in NYC and Toronto transit and even LRT and/or subways are a necessity but not so in the small city of Hamilton.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 19:10:10 in reply to Comment 100435

That is your opinion and only your opinion, right at the moment. I laugh at people like yourself, who seem to live in a bubble, of dellusion. Hamilton is not a small city, we are over half a milllion. It is people like yourself who would rather see division then working towards a co-hesive entity. I am sure, you would keep voting for the the lame brains that work for corporate entities, those who lobby, yet we have no idea they are, as there is no registry for people to track. In your opinion you say the majority will not use the LRT, where is the evidence your view is the correct one? I could ask, how much are you padi to troll here and create dissension????

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted April 27, 2014 at 23:14:56 in reply to Comment 100480

A city of half a million spread over 1,200 km2. That is a huge area which equates to a very low density. The old city of Hamilton which is probably around 300,000 or 320,000 people is probably a much better size to consider for a LRT project. I don't see cities of that size with LRT.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 28, 2014 at 08:28:05 in reply to Comment 100677

I don't see cities of that size with LRT.

Nottingham UK has a beautiful Tram system, which serviced beautiful pedestrian shopping areas, brimming with life, shoppers, and buskers. They have dedicated bus/cycle lanes painted red. They have closed some side streets to through-traffic to route their LRT.

Their population is ~300K, around ~700K including surrounding suburbs. Nottingham has its' "code red" issues too. It was striking what kind of similarities existed between my home town Hamilton, and this interesting ancient city I was exploring. Contrasts were evident too. They have some self respect and standards for their city, and take pride in being able to accomplish things such as higher order transit.

They must have really pissed off people like you while building it.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-04-28 08:34:04

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 14:43:30 in reply to Comment 100682

OH my OH my. It never stops. Nottingham UK has a population of 300,000 in an area of 75 km2. What does that have in common with Hamilton? NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING. Why not compare Hamilton to the Mars colony or Santa's village at the north pole we have just as much in common with those.

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By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2014 at 17:25:40 in reply to Comment 100863

Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberatin' and conjugatin' the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 03, 2014 at 20:04:46 in reply to Comment 100863

Metrolinx document from 2012 says downtown Hamilton has a density of 84.6 residents per hectare.

Nottingham census data from 2011 says Nottingham City has a density of 41 residents per hectare.

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By JayRobb (registered) | Posted April 15, 2014 at 20:27:48

Does anyone still believe the province will pick up the whole tab for Hamilton's $800M LRT?

In Waterloo Region, all three levels of government have put money in the pot for an $800M, 19km LRT that's gotten the green light.

The province is investing $300M. The feds have promised up to $265M. And the region is ponying up $253M. That's roughly a third of capital funding from each level of government.

We've had seven years in Hamilton to bring the feds to the table.

Seven years to figure out how much Hamiltonians could afford and how to finance it (Waterloo Region citizens are looking at an average property tax hike of $11 a year).

Seven years to get out the vote for the provincial and federal parties in power that cut the infrastructure cheques. The provincial Liberals and federal Conservatives hold just two of our seven local ridings. In the last election, we voted out a Cabinet Minister who was a Hamilton advocate at Queen's Park. If you're the Premier or Prime Minister, what's the political uplift from investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Hamilton's LRT?

And we've had seven years to come up with messaging and messengers that could win over Joe and Jane Hamilton who live in the 'burbs, don't take transit and rarely, if ever, venture downtown.

If we're serious about an LRT for Hamilton, there's just seven months left to do what could and should have gotten done in the past seven years.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 17, 2014 at 10:26:12 in reply to Comment 100298

Does anyone still believe the province will pick up the whole tab for Hamilton's $800M LRT

Well, they won't if we keep letting them off the hook for it.

I mean, does this sound like good negotiating to you?

"Yeah, I know you promised us $800 million of construction and you're spending way more than that on Mississauga and Toronto, but we totally knew you weren't really good for it. It's cool, we don't mind."

In what world does that attitude produce a positive outcome for Hamiltonians?

What, is it not enough for Clark and his fellow suburban councillors that he screwed the pooch on the Stadium, now they have to find another ball of provincial money coming to Hamilton that they want to flush down the toilet with their waffling?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-04-17 10:27:25

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 16, 2014 at 09:12:59 in reply to Comment 100298

And we've had seven years to come up with messaging and messengers that could win over Joe and Jane Hamilton who live in the 'burbs, don't take transit and rarely, if ever, venture downtown.

We were busy doing just that between 2007 and 2010, with a community outreach and consultation program that was absolutely unprecedented in its scope and reach, and which found overwhelming support for LRT across the entire city.

Then Mayor Bratina was elected - on a platform in which he supported LRT, no less. Since then, he has done tremendous damage to Hamilton's LRT plans, undermining the case for LRT at every opportunity, repeating false and misleading claims, telling the Province LRT is not a priority for Hamilton, and even suspending the city's rapid transit office - a debilitating blow that cost us a talented project manager and from which we've never really recovered.

The City has been completely silent on LRT for more than two years, during which time a steady stream of false information and nonsensical arguments have filled the vacuum of leadership.

We have a mayor who actively opposes LRT, a council composed mostly of parochial ward representatives who see no upside in taking a principled, city-wide perspective on LRT investment, and a demoralized City staff who have already written off the idea that LRT could be built any time soon.

That's why we find ourselves in the position we're in today.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2014 at 22:11:26

If Joe and Jane burb do not get it what can we do ?

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2014 at 22:18:39 in reply to Comment 100301

We can stay in our rut, of undervalued, unwanted lower city neighbourhoods, and watch other cities all around us move forward with LRT and its associated development - Mississauga, Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa. Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver already have theirs and are expanding them, BECAUSE IT'S WORTH IT!

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By Alas (anonymous) | Posted April 16, 2014 at 00:13:38

Are you for real? Seriously... it's because of the existence of too many people like this that I think the world is on a one-way street to doomsday.

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By AEGD (anonymous) | Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:17:56

It's time to grow up, Hamilton. Not out.

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By niner (anonymous) | Posted April 17, 2014 at 10:19:03

it's too bad he won't champion for a fair deal this time around but Clark made a damn good point when saying Hamilton deserves fair treatment from the province. utter bs.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 17, 2014 at 11:55:51 in reply to Comment 100389

He only said that to make the Liberals look bad. If the conservatives win the next election, he'll be towing the party line, talking about how we can't afford 'frills' like public transit when there are important zomghighwaygridlock! problems to solve by adding lanes and building the mid-pen.

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By Realist (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 18:39:00

Good observations about Brad's misrepresentation of views. Sounds almost Bratina-esque. However, he is running for mayor. With my favourite candidate, McHattie flaming out in spectacular style, I am going to vote for Fred, just to stop Brad. And I encourage others to do the same.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 17:31:25


NO money for LRT in Hamilton.


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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 19:03:36

So LOL, there is no money for LRT, there is no money for the poor, there is no money for anything which we could assign to the public good. Maybe if people were more honest about who or what has sucked the money out, then change could happen. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that you are not one of those who is ready for civil change or even discourse.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted April 23, 2014 at 22:40:20 in reply to Comment 100478

Time to start taxing the value of land, instead of the value of the buildings upon it. More than corporate taxation, which'll never fly in these days, the taxation of the value of land will eat away at those profits and invest them in public goods.

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By Clarkkk (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2014 at 14:21:33

I don't like Clark or what he stands for. I will not be voting for him, and neither will my family or friends, and there are many :)

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted April 23, 2014 at 22:40:41 in reply to Comment 100527

What's with the kkk appending Clark's name?

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2014 at 08:58:22

.@Glen4ONT awards $260M contract for #YorkRegion @vivaNext expansion along Yonge in Richmond Hill & Newmarket

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:28:40 in reply to Comment 100551

Retirement announced:

Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees (PC, age 63)

Potentially retiring:

York-Simcoe MPP Julia Munro (PC, age 72)
York West MPP Mario Sergio (Liberal, age 74)
York Centre MPP Monte Kwinter (Liberal, age 83)


Great to listen to @LoraleaC a strong advocate for rapid transit & highways. Impressed with her knowledge of infrastructure in econ dev.

FWIW, @LoraleaC is the Liberal candidate for York-Simcoe

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By Michael Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2014 at 16:23:22

I have lived in the "burbs" for the past 20 years and will probably continue for the next 20 years. I believe LRT is an absolute must for Hamilton if the city is to prepare for what the future holds. I will probably never use it but I am absolutely prepared to help pay for it! LRT is too big and too comlex and in my opnion is the primary reason most people choose to not want to understand. I firmly believe the biggest obstacle we have to LRT in Hamilton is the vast majority of individuals who currently sit as councillors. The collective vision of these individuals doesn't appear to extend past the end of their nose or at least until the next election!

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2014 at 15:53:11

100% funded and running right past a downtown cas!no.

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By Gullible (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2014 at 21:34:07

All we need are wacky views espoused by the likes of Desnoyers to bash the decision makers and keep us from having LRT. "I will never use it, but will pay for it" Now theres an endorsement!! It's ok if you are a wealthy suburbanite, but we need people to step up and agree that it's needed and are willing to give it a try! And stop bashing the politicos. They are going to make the decision. So get with it!

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By Michael Desnoyers (anonymous) | Posted April 30, 2014 at 10:47:57

@Gullibel - are you kidding me!

Your comments are typical us vs them mentality. Not everyone who lives outside the city boundary is a) wealthy or b) ignorant of the needs for a healthy and prosperous urban environment and how the lack of same impacts us ALL!

My response was in direct opposition to those "suburbanites" as you put it who say they won't use it so won't pay for it. At least I acknowledge that given where I live and where I work I likely will never use it but I recognize the transformative possibilities of LRT and what it will mean for the City of Hamilton.

It is so hard to stay civil when moron's like you spew crap!

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