Special Report: Light Rail

Dreessen to Hamilton Council: Vote Yes on LRT

Ottawa architect Toon Dreessen has written a personal letter to Hamilton City Councillors calling on them to vote for 'long-term gain in a great future' for the city.

By RTH Staff
Published April 24, 2017

Architect Toon Dreessen, President of Dreessen Cardinal Architects Inc and former president of the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), has sent a personal letter to Hamilton City Councillors calling on them to "vote yes" on the ciy's light rail transit (LRT) plan.

Dreessen writes that he has "come to love Hamilton and all that is possible in a great city" after an OAA visit to the city in 2012 and a major conference in 2015.

Noting the "short-term pain from construction", Dreessen also points to "long-term gain in a great future" as LRT helps to "make Hamilton even more of a place to visit, live, work and play."

Noting the well-understood increase in land values and new developments around LRT lines, Dreessen encourages the city to help maximize the benefit by "locating key projects like affordable housing, community centres, and social infrastructure (schools, libraries, etc.) along this route."

He warns: "Resist the temptation to let parking and private car traffic (the status quo that is destroying our cities) decide your vote."

Following is the text of the letter:

I'm writing to you as an architect, based on my time in, and experience of, Hamilton. I'm not writing as past president of the OAA in an official capacity.

I'm not a resident of Hamilton but have many friends and colleagues in the city. I was an integral part of the OAA conference committee that visited Hamilton in 2012 and made the decision to bring our 2015 conference to Hamilton. I've been back many times as OAA president, to meet with local architects, host a chamber of commerce event, meet with Mayor, Councillors and staff and present to council on procurement policy.

I've come to love Hamilton and all that is possible in a great city. I see a strong correlation between Hamilton and Ottawa, the place I've called home for the past 24 years.

I encourage you to vote yes on LRT; it will be an opportunity to replace and upgrade key aged infrastructure, create a more walkable and accessible city, bring economic development to the core and set Hamilton on a path to a prosperous future.

There may be short term pain from construction, but there will be a long-term gain in a great future. This is the future you will vote on; this future will likely not affect you directly, as economic investment like this can take years to pay off. Instead, the vote you make will set a path for excellence and economic prosperity for your children and grandchildren.

An LRT is proven technology. It's not experimental, and brings better access than simply adding more buses that clog the streets.

It's been said that people come to visit for the place, not the parking. Take this opportunity to make Hamilton even more of a place to visit, live, work and play. Resist the temptation to let parking and private car traffic (the status quo that is destroying our cities) decide your vote.

Voting yes on LRT improves land value along its route. The swath of land, blocks deep, along the line will increase in value, bringing greater property values and payoff in property taxes over the years ahead. Buildings last for decades, building well (investing in architecture) reaps positive results.

It would be beneficial to capitalize on this decision by locating key projects like affordable housing, community centres, and social infrastructure (schools, libraries, etc.) long this route. Increasing density, and opportunities to increase population and mixed uses brings more people to the core, making a strong city even stronger. Architects play a role in making cities livable, dense and sustainable.

I've taken the liberty of copying this message to Mayor Watson, whom I respect enormously, and whom I credit with the decision to bring LRT to Ottawa; where we can already see a renewed sense of optimism in development along nodes near stations.

I encourage you to vote yes on LRT. I'm at your disposal if you have questions.

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By john1242 (registered) | Posted April 24, 2017 at 08:10:32

Architect Toon i agree with you facts But Short-term pain another 10 years to complete LRT for b-line for long term gain. In your opinion do you not agree 13.9km LRT is economical benefit for the future of Hamilton to-day with cost of raising construction cost in 5-10 years. Why to experts like yourself not encourage Council to go all in for a 13.9 km route for the long term gain. The Mayor and others said we got to start somewhere had the courage of your conviction to build a WORLD Class LRT for investor to come to HAMILTON !!

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