Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla has revised the text of his LRT motion, which he will present to Council on Wednesday, May 11.
By Ryan McGreal
Published May 05, 2016
Yesterday morning, Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla circulated the text of a motion he plans to bring to the next City Council meeting to reaffirm Council's support for the Province's commitment to full capital funding for light rail transit in Hamilton. Since then, he has revised the text of his motion, which he will bring to City Council at the Wednesday, May 11 meeting.
Here is the revised text:
Whereas the Province of Ontario, in May 2015, announced $1.0 billion in funding for Hamilton's B-line (and north spur) Light Rail Transit (LRT) project which begins the implementation of the City of Hamilton's rapid transit strategy; and
Whereas the provincial funding covers 100% of the capital cost of the LRT project which includes investments to renew critical City infrastructure such as sidewalks, road surfaces, water and sewer lines along the LRT corridor; and
Whereas the City of Hamilton has already entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with Metrolinx signaling the City's intent to work collaboratively with Metrolinx to fully implement the LRT project; and
Whereas it is acknowledged that the LRT project is one part of the City of Hamilton's broader transit strategy as outlined in the City's Rapid Ready report and Ten Year Transit Strategy
Therefore, be it resolved, that Hamilton City Council reaffirm the acceptance of the $1.0 billion dollar investment in infrastructure and public transit that the Province of Ontario has provided for the express purpose of completing the LRT project.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger has already indicated that he will second the motion.
To a casual observer, this motion seems to come right out of left field. Council doesn't have to vote on anything until next Spring, when the Class Environmental Assessment amendment, being jointly prepared by the City and Metrolinx, will be presented for final approval before submission to the Province.
Until then, all the approvals are already in place to direct staff to work with Metrolinx, engage the public and develop the LRT plan.
Indeed, Council has voted consistently and repeatedly in favour of LRT over a large number of motions and plans stretching back to early 2008, when they first established the Rapid Transit office and directed staff to undertake a Rapid Transit Feasibility Study.
However, Council's support for LRT has recently been clouded by one or two loud and insidious voices of opposition: Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins, who has voted in favour of LRT at every turn but now says he opposes it; and Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead, who claims to support LRT even while he steadily undermines it as part of his cute war against the lower city.
One may be forgiven for wondering why anyone, even someone who doesn't particularly support LRT, would turn down full capital funding after it was already committed by a higher level of government that is willing to bear both the financial and political costs.
As Ward 7 Councillor Donna Skelly was quoted saying in a Hamilton Spectator article: "[T]o reject $1 billion? I don't think anybody is that foolhardy."
Let's hope Councillor Skelly is right. Meanwhile, it's definitely worth taking a few minutes to remind Council why they voted to support LRT in the first place.
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