Special Report: Light Rail

Letter: Please Support LRT Bay Street Station

Even - indeed, especially - if you are not sure that LRT will be successful, you should be doing everything in your power to set it up for the best possible outcome.

By Ryan McGreal
Published February 16, 2017

During the February 15, 2017 General Issues Committee meeting, City Councillors rejected a proposal to add a light rail transit (LRT) station at Bay Street. That vote still has to be ratified at the City Council meeting on February 22, 2017. Please send a message to Council asking them to reconsider their vote against this important line improvement.

Dear Mayor Eisenberger and City Council,

The Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) project is going ahead on the strength of consistent, longstanding Council support and the once-in-a-lifetime full capital funding commitment from the Province. Metrolinx has already issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for interested bidders on the construction contract.

I understand that some Councillors have recently expressed concerns about the project, but the responsible course for every Council member is to give fair and good-faith consideration to the well-argued proposal for a Bay Street station that emerged during the recent public consultation period.

With a project the scale and magnitude of LRT, it is imperative that we pay careful attention to benefits-case analysis and feedback from the public and stakeholders to make the very best decisions that will ensure its overall success.

Even - indeed, especially - if you are not sure that LRT will be successful, you should be doing everything in your power to set it up for the best possible outcome.

We will all lose if the Province makes this transformative investment but the City undermines and subverts it through sour-grapes municipal policy decisions.

A Bay Street LRT station makes very good sense, as argued by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of business and community partners and reviewed by City staff.

This proposal was submitted through the recent Public Consultation process, which was specifically held in order to receive feedback on precisely this type of minor improvement.

As such, approving it will not open the door to "scope creep" - the public consultation period has finished.

The final decision will rest with Metrolinx, which is responsible for the engineering and detailed design and the final procurement process. That means the proposal will still be reviewed to ensure it wits within the budget envelope and provides good value for money.

There is literally no downside for Council to do the right thing and ask Metrolinx to consider this addition.

Again, every Councillor who sincerely wishes for the best possible outcome will vote for the course of action that ensures the most promising design elements are given due diligence.

Please, do the right thing and approve this initiative at next week's Council meeting.

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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