Special Report: Light Rail

Introducing the Hamilton Light Rail Initiative

A new citizens' campaign asks Council and the Province to commit to finishing the job of building Light Rail Transit in Hamilton.

By RTH Staff
Published September 23, 2011

Light Rail Transit on the east-west B-Line is a tremendous, once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Hamilton into a thriving, economically diverse centre.

It is time for Hamiltonians to call on City Council and the Province to commit to LRT and make it a top priority for completion in a timely fashion.

The City did a feasibility study in 2008 that recommended to build LRT, move quickly, and start with the east-west B-Line. In response, Council unanimously directed staff to proceed with "the functional design, detail design and construction of the B-line rapid transit corridor ... utilizing Light Rail Technology."

The Province recognized that rapid transit will transform the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The 2007 Liberal re-election campaign even promised "two light rail lines across Hamilton".

In 2010, a Benefits Case Analysis by Metrolinx concluded that LRT on the east-west B-Line would provide a much bigger overall benefit - economically, socially and environmentally - than bus rapid transit.

The Province even gave Hamilton $3 million to complete the required Environmental Assessment on the LRT line.

Mixed Signals

After three years of detailed design work, suddenly the Province and the Mayor's office are saying we need to complete a "feasibility study" on LRT before they can make any commitments. We already did this and concluded LRT is the right way to go.

Then, starting early this summer, the Mayor has made a series of disparaging public remarks about LRT. In late August, he said LRT "is not a priority" and would only make sense "if somehow a million people move to Hamilton over the next five years".

It is no longer clear how strongly the City supports LRT.

Meanwhile, Premier Dalton McGuinty recently told the Spectator that all-day GO train service "was the No. 1 ask of the city. We've had some important conversations with the mayor, and this is their priority, which made it our priority. Over time, we can enter into other discussions about things like the LRT."

Time to Move Forward

It's time to move forward and finish this.

Council needs to take control of LRT planning and make it a priority again. The Province needs to indicate that they will keep their promise to fund its construction.

No more unilateral directives to suspend work. No more disparaging remarks in the media. No more insults against citizens who believe - as the City's and the Province's studies confirmed - that LRT is the right decision. No more games.

Now it's time for the City and the Province to finish the job of building LRT. Add your voice to the campaign so that our leaders get a clear message about how important LRT is to Hamiltonians.

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By George (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 12:17:50

It would be great if there could be flyers and posters available for all the visitors to Ottawa Street's Giant Street Sale this Saturday.

At the very least some Hamilton Light Rail Initiative presence would be nice.

Comment edited by George on 2011-09-23 12:53:28

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 13:05:13

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 13:09:39 in reply to Comment 69986

Agreed!! Wait were you being sarcastic, because I think this is exactly what we need right now.

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By R Don Lyres (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 13:50:15

I love that they chose The Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot as the musical lead in.

The spirit of the song, about collectively coming together to build something BIG, that benefits us all, is truly apt. You can almost feel the urgency of the mission to build out the line, so that the country can begin to reap the benefits of its completion.

There seems to be an increasingly large constituency of people who are able see this kind of vision, and how LRT in a modern sense could provide the same benefits to a city. A pan-urban connection that leads to increased prosperity on many levels throughout the city.

(I do hope they asked Gordo for permission. If not, perhaps he could be formally approached. Maybe he would put his voice behind the initiative. He certainly managed to capture the essence of the that coast to coast 'ribbon of steel' vibe.)

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By let's roll (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 14:49:03

I like the sound of "Ribbon of Steel" - we could tie silver ribbons around trees and lampposts to show our support for Light Rail...

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 15:04:15 in reply to Comment 69997

sounds like a perfect public art project for an artist on James North....

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By AETHERMAN (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 19:47:33

LRT = Lost Revenue Tomorrow! IF LRT happens, it will make RIBBONS happen in peoples underpants when they see increases on their property tax bill, year after year! Oh ya, don't forget about the excuses for increasing the fair costs for passengers year after year! Hamilton needs it's roads and infrastructure repaired FIRST before any Luxury Rail TranSHIT!

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By theOther (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 19:59:47 in reply to Comment 70017

Don't need an aetherman to know which way the wind blows.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 24, 2011 at 18:29:20

Glad to see this initiative has been started.

I feel like it should have been started some months ago, but as I can't start these types of initiatives, I can hardly blame others for starting them later than I would have liked.

Excellent work!

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