Special Report: Light Rail

Letter from LiUNA Local 837 Supporting Light Rail Transit

Decrying loud naysayers and Council's tendency to over-debate matters, the letter calls on Council to think rationally and move forward.

By RTH Staff
Published May 24, 2016

The leadership of Labourers' International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 837 have sent a rather scathing letter to Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla expressing their support for the City of Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) plan and calling on Council not to "over-debate" this matter "to the misfortune of the hard working tax payers of this city".

The letter, signed by LiUNA Local 837 President Joseph. S. Mancinelli, Secretary-Treasurer Riccardo Persi and Business Manager Manuel Bastos, laments that they have "been following with dread the ongoing battles of City Council about the project's merits."

Noting that the union is proceeding with a new student residence at the William Thomas property next to Lister Block in part due to the promise of LRT, the union leaders write, "fear should never preclude us from moving forward."

Instead, the letter urges that Council "thinks calmly and rationally and votes to move forward swiftly on this much needed system."

Following is the text of the letter:

Dear Councillor Merulla:

Re: Hamilton's LRT

We write with great concern regarding the most recent discussions surrounding Hamilton's LRT. First and foremost we wish to reaffirm to City Council LiUNA's strong support for the 11-km east-west LRT line which the province announced for the city one year ago.

Our sentiments have not changed: the Wynne Government made a strong and positive decision in choosing to fund the LRT line and the LRT's construction will positively change the profile, not only of the lower city but of the Greater Hamilton area.

LiUNA has been following with dread the ongoing battles of City Council about the project's merits. We are reminded once again that City Council repeatedly chooses to over-debate matters, often to the misfortune of the hard working tax payers of this city.

Why are the naysayers always the ones with the loudest voice, even if they represent the smallest percentage of citizens? We cite examples including the building of the Linc/Red Hill Expressway, the restoration of the Lister Block and TIm Horton's Field as prime examples. The Linc/Expressway is heavily trafficked and is being used more than studies predicted, yet fear and opposition put us 50 years behind schedule.

The Lister Block, a symbol of Hamilton's buoyancy, sat lifeless and in decay longer than necessary but has become the beacon of economic resurgence in the core and the stadium saga ultimately concluded with the building of Tim Horton's Field, arguably not the best location.

Fate is an uncertainty, but fear should never preclude us from moving forward. In fact, LiUNA has moved forward on the second phase of the Lister redevelopment: with the introduction of much needed student housing at the William Thomas site. We have navigated our way to the construction phase, working together and with communication with City officials.

The positives of proceeding with the LRT far outweigh the negative and reopening the debate, or cancelling the proposal, will do nothing to help the City or its citizens. Reports and studies have been completed and reviewed, the facts speak for themselves, the positives of building far outweigh the negatives.

Construction is disruptive but is required for growth; the fear of businesses closing along the route during construction, is a myopic concern ... [sic] the jobs the project will create for Hamiltonians will buoy the city's overall economy in the short-term and once complete the project will attract new, more vibrant businesses.

In addition we will be developing a more sustainable community. There will be an influx of residents moving into the neighbourhoods that border the LRT and this will be an economic catalyst for the area too. The 11 km quadrant in question and its surrounding area will see resurgence similar to what has been witnessed in the downtown core with the introduction of the GO Train lines.

It's time we embrace this development opportunity and move forward. We hope that Council thinks calmly and rationally and votes to move forward swiftly on this much needed system.

We are happy to speak with you in person to discuss our hopes and concerns directly with you.

With kind regards, we are

Sincerely,

Joseph S. Mancinelli
Int'l Vice President
& President, LiUNA Local 837

Riccardo Persi
Secretary-Treasurer
LiUNA Local 837

Manuel Bastos
Business Manager
LiUNA Local 837


Please take a few moments to tell Council to take YES for an answer, reaffirm its support for LRT and accept the full capital funding from the Province that Council has consistently voted for since 2008.

5 Comments

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By Bobby (anonymous) | Posted May 24, 2016 at 10:19:34

Hamilton has outgrown City Hall: LiUNA and progressives are on the same side.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted May 24, 2016 at 15:16:49 in reply to Comment 118751

You mean the same LIUNA that bought Lister Block, let is sat vacant for years and then tried to tear it down? If they're part of the progressive side, then we're screwed!

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted May 26, 2016 at 12:21:45 in reply to Comment 118756

"The Lister Block, a symbol of Hamilton's buoyancy, sat lifeless and in decay longer than necessary but has become the beacon of economic resurgence in the core" and only because the taxpayers money was not quite there to finance LIUNAS investment. Finally with a lease in place and a sale price 20 times more than the true value will be paid by our tax dollars 20 years + down the road. Thank you LIUNA for being a good corporate citizen at taxpayers expense. For all of us please list you property investments down this king street corridor for the LRT

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted May 24, 2016 at 14:29:41

Well said Joe.

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted May 26, 2016 at 12:30:01

"It's time we embrace this development opportunity and move forward. We hope that Council thinks calmly and rationally and votes to move forward swiftly on this much needed system." I am still trying to find out who said that this system is a 'much needed system' in the City of Hamilton with a population of much less than 200,000 on this corridor. Our tax dollars could be better spent on infrastructure in Hamilton downtown core. With all the new development and our 100 million business development money council has given away I am sure they can come up with something better than back flow valves for the households. (Brampton flooding) Put our development money where it belongs in the city.s infrastructure not in developers pockets

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