The bus lane decision should have deflated me. But it only solidified my belief in the character and passion of the people living in Hamilton.
By Sean Meister
Published January 22, 2015
This is my sixth time starting this article. I guess that should have been expected, given my range of emotions about the death of Hamilton's bus lane. And oddly, they reflected the five stages of grief.
But then I found a new stage in the process. Resolve.
Many articles will be written about the negative side of this decision. And I'll be right there agreeing with them. But that's no way forward. That's not the Hamilton I've come to know. I choose to focus on how great the bus lane debate was, is and will be for Hamilton.
Last night I stopped and looked around Council Chambers and was struck by one thought and one thought only: Hamilton is an amazing city, an amazing city because of its people.
From the opening remarks about Lincoln Alexander, to the recognition of a remarkable group of Hamilton firefighters, to the sea of yellow clad transit supporters. And even those in attendance voicing distain for the bus lane. We celebrated the good in our city and witnessed the bad.
The Council Chambers was filled with people; people passionate about the future of the city and determined to advocate until that future is realized. That was so uplifting for me.
I'd never been to City Hall before last night. But a two kilometre bus lane pilot project debate got me to skip dinner, stand in a boiling hot room and watch some pretty mundane municipal government procedures. And I'm better for it.
I've never been in another city where so many people can see the long term social good of an issue that on the surface could be, and was by some, pegged as an isolated project.
The bus lane decision should have deflated me. But it only solidified my belief in the character and passion of the people living in Hamilton. So despite what certain councillors had probably hoped, this is only just beginning.
Citizens are self-educating on municipal issues, transit users are coming together with non-transit users, and downtown and suburban citizens are joining forces for whole-city development advocacy. All because of a two kilometre bus lane pilot project. How incredible is that?
Transit is just one area where advocacy is needed in Hamilton. I truly hope we see this spill over into the long list of social justice causes. Too many people are being left behind as Hamilton grows and strengthens.
So don't let a short-sighted decision on the bus lane stop the momentum built over the last few weeks. Don't let a short-term setback stop the work being done to make our city even better. Take this energy, apply it to transit advocacy, but then spread it to the other issues that will help our city grow.
The bus lane is dead. But Hamilton is alive.
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