A small business owner who moved to Hamilton because of LRT wonders why Council is threatening to renege on its commitment.
By Alistair Morton
Published April 03, 2017
In 2009, my wife and I moved to Hamilton from Toronto. We bought a gorgeous house in Ward 3 and placed our small business in Ward 2. Since then I have grown to love this city and the people in it. Also my wife and I have been working hard on building our business which now employees 12 people and is still growing.
Now, we don't hire hourly, minimum wage employees. We hire professional staff for fully salaried positions that receive full benefits with comparable incomes to Toronto. That allows people not to have to commute for four-plus hours a day outside of the city, simply to buy a house, raise a child, take care of a parent and enjoy the city that they love and spend their money, earned locally and inside their city.
Before Toronto, we had lived in Calgary. We moved east in 2006, and after three years of life in Toronto we realized this wasn't where we wanted to be. So we started looking.
Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington were the first logical choices, but none of them resonated with us, as none of them felt like an actual City. They all felt more like suburban commuter hubs for Toronto. They had no "true" downtown cores, none of the charms of a real city, so eventually we focused our attention on Hamilton.
Based on what we'd heard at the time, in regards to Hamilton's progressive policies like re-focusing economically on technology, health and having a real plan to start to rebuild the city's core as it bounced back from decades of recession.
The LRT played prominently in this decision. Coming originally from Calgary, we knew how great LRT was and how it made such a difference, not just for the working class or lower-income residents, but for also the engineers and skilled executives who used it daily.
Knowing what we did, we knew LRT would be essential for the growth of our business, and the growth of economic engine of Hamilton overall. To us, it was a no-brainer.
We bet on Hamilton, and we bet on Hamilton City Council. We moved our home, and we moved our business to both be right on the planned line, and we've since been waiting ... patiently.
So the recent rumbling that Council is now planning to kill the LRT by delaying important votes is very discouraging.
The City that we bet on might not bet on us.
I know my business doesn't have the clout of, say, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats or McMaster University, or one of the city's larger developers or employers, but we are part of a large and growing group of new small to mid-sized businesses that have all made the same bet on Hamilton.
It's really hard to understand any of the logic of any of the arguments I have heard from councillors against LRT, who are threatening to turn their backs on us now, and the people we employ, and the money we move through and keep in this city.
We all bet on Council. What Council is now doing is betting against small business and the people like us, and our kids, and the next generation.
What exactly has happened to make this so political?
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