Special Report: Light Rail

Our Right to a Healthy Environment Includes Light Rail

We have the right to breathe clean air, and City Council has sworn to protect this right.

By Chris Parkinson
Published October 26, 2016

The following is the text of my delegation to the October 25, 2016 General Issues Committee meeting on Hamilton's Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

On February 18, 2015, every single member of our current council, except one, in a standing vote, unanimously passed a motion declaring every Hamiltonian's Right to a Healthy Environment. A proud moment for our city, we were the first in the province to make this declaration.

This was your promise to us, and future generations that we had turned a page. No longer would the moniker 'Gritty City' apply. We had the right to breathe clean air, and you had sworn to protect this right.

Yet in a Spectator article from four days ago, we found out that downtown Hamilton has the worst air pollution in Ontario. The worst.

In the substance of the declaration of our Right to a Healthy Environment, you pledged to support infrastructure projects that protect the environment, including air quality. You vowed to prioritize efficient public transit, cycling, and walking.

And you have done that. You've substantially increased the number of bike lanes, you've invested in more walkable streets like Concession, brought in traffic calming measures, and for the past decade you've been planning and approving the development of the BLAST network. Very forward thinking councilors. We commend you and thank you.

You responsibly fought to have this first stage of this LRT system paid for in full by the province, protecting against raising our property taxes.

Waterloo had to subsidize their LRT with $285 million by raising their taxes 1.2 percent. They understood it was a good investment and were willing to pay. You understood LRT is a good investment, and you even had it paid for. We congratulate you.

Eventually, the city's population will move quickly and cleanly through your planned BLAST grid of inter-connected LRTs, fed from outer areas by electric buses. This is visionary and the way we must proceed for our future growth, the quality of our air, and the health of our children.

Hamilton was once called the 'Electric City'. Nicola Telsa brought AC current in to our city, the first in Canada, sparking the growth of industry and attracting companies such as Westinghouse, Proctor and Gamble, and International Harvester.

We now need to attract the industry, innovation, and entrepreneurs that will fuel the greatest economic opportunity in the history of the human race - the conversion of fossil fuels to renewable electric. Electric. Hamilton was ahead of its time.

And now we're getting back on track.

Your progressive BLAST network vision sends a signal to the businesses and industry that we want to attract, that Hamilton understands the future. That the future is electric. That efficient, clean mass transportation is important to moving the people our growth will bring.

There is a reason every major city in the world has some form of LRT along its main corridors. You've understood this, planned for this, and have taken very responsible steps to have this first leg of our LRT plan realized.

We at Hamilton Blue Dot commend you. We thank you for honouring your commitment to protecting our Right to a Healthy Environment. Please keep up this good work. Hamilton's future is indeed, Electric.


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