Special Report: Transit

Mayor to Introduce Motion for Citizens Forum on Transit

Proposed Focum will be modeled after the 2011 Citizens Forum on Area Rating and will consider rapid transit and local transit plans.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 06, 2015

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger will bring a motion to today's General Issues Committee asking Council to approve the formation of a Citizens Forum to review the City's Rapid Ready LRT plan, the proposed Ten Year Transit Plan and the Transportation Master Plan.

The Citizens Forum will be modeled after the 2011 Citizens Forum on Area Rating: one member from each ward, selected at random and representing the city's geographic and demographic diversity, called together to review the studies and reports and converge on a set of recommendations.

Mayor Eisenberger ran for election last October on a campaign to "hit the reset button" on Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) plan through a Citizens Forum. The motion he is introducting today would also draw the Ten Year Local Transit Strategy under the auspices of the Forum.

In a February 6, 2015 op-ed, Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Waterdown MPP Ted McMeekin wrote:

During the municipal election, Mayor Fred Eisenberger campaigned on a promise to engage citizens in Hamilton on transit options for the city. I look forward to seeing that process unfold.

Following is the text of the motion:

WHEREAS, the City of Hamilton is committed to enhanced citizen engagement;

WHEREAS, investments in public transit will both move people and build community;


(a) That Council establish a meaningful community dialogue with the people of Hamilton to discuss all transit options outlined in the 10 Year Transit Plan, the Rapid Ready Report and the Transportation Master Plan along with any and all other documents related to transit in the City of Hamilton;

(b) That Council estbalish a transit community engagement process based on the Citizen Forum Model of randomly selected citizens;

(c) that staff be directed to develop the terms of reference, including but not limited to: an independent steering committee, project team, reporting mechanism, schedule, estimated cost and report back to the General Issues Committee by March 20, 2015;

(d) That membership composition be based on 1 person from each ward for a total of 15 members, and employ the same method as the Citizens Forum on Area Rating selection process;

(e) That, once individual citizens are selected, the list be presented to the General Issues Committee for consideration no later than May 6, 2015.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Core-B (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:04:45

Ted McMeekan tweeted this morning (6March) "Look forward to any 'update' on city transit vision. Prov. Budget pending so getting any amended request for $$'s should happen quickly."

I understand the Mayor wanting to keep an election promise, but doesn't that put a large chunk of money at risk?

Comment edited by Core-B on 2015-03-06 11:05:24

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By LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:20:49

This is what I was afraid of.

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By elhambra (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 11:52:09

what's with the 'citizen' wording? Are municipalities some kind of nation state? Seems to me the residents of a municipality are 'residents' and there's no need to bring their passport into this. Maybe someone's gotten the civitas confused with the city??

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 12:59:49 in reply to Comment 110017

The same term is usually applied to both concepts. "Citizen" is a common phrase for a resident of a city, and not merely a legal term of art applied to a passport holder of a nation state.

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By RadioHead (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 12:11:37

We do it to ourselves, that's why is really hurts. I was at the Useless Knowledge Society event and thought the greatest moment was during the slide show from Waterloo where the presenter said we need strong leadership. Raucous laughter ensued so much that Mayor Fred turned around looking shocked and hurt. As though he was sayin "I'm right here guys!" Ryan. What is his end game?

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By RobF (registered) | Posted March 07, 2015 at 10:54:34 in reply to Comment 110019

What is his end game?

Be Fred. And get re-elected?

He is who he is ... he wasn't a communicator in his first term from what I gather, nor did he manage to build a strong enough coalition of public support or council support to move his agenda. Fred 2.0 seems to be more like Fred 1.1 ... same Fred with a few maintenance patches to his firmware. Unless he can shift course and reverse his shift to irrelevance he's on the path to bricking entirely as mayor. That would be Bratina the sequel with a "nicer", more thoughtful person in the chair.

Or, maybe the Hamilton governance model is simply broken and all but a few people would find it impossible to manage or steer out of managing decline in the lower city and sprawling growth at the edges.

Whatever the case, the Council is divided and dysfunctional on key issues and no amount of Useful Knowledge will overcome differences if people don't see Hamilton's problems from a common set of facts. Knowledge is power, but power is also knowledge ... power is what determines what counts as knowledge, at least in the short run. This is the problem ... as a city we don't see problems as shared, and we don't agree on the basic facts or parameters of debate.

Comment edited by RobF on 2015-03-07 10:55:21

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By Stever (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 13:45:35 in reply to Comment 110019

Fred should know by now he's not the poster child for strong leadership.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted March 06, 2015 at 13:39:06

Just got back from the GIC session at City Hall. Wasn't able to stay past 3 hours, but I suspect it's going to be long afternoon for all concerned; the whole thing began with the announcement that there wouldn't be an actual 'presentation'...at which point the hue and cry went up... Was funny, really. Even 'touching' to see so many concerned Councillors. (In the end, a presentation was made.)

With his opening 'salvo' at the mic, Mayor Eisenberger made it perfectly clear that he was loaded for bear for the actual 'debate' to be held after the Q&A.

Looking forward to viewing the rest of the proceedings.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 08, 2015 at 01:27:28

And the refrain from the right Is "We can't afford it". No amount of evidence seems enough to sway this train of thought.

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