By RTH Staff
Published August 11, 2011
The City of Hamilton's Rapid Transit Citizens Advisory Committee (RTCAC) sent the following letter to Mayor Bob Bratina and Council on August 4, 2011, signed on behalf the RTCAC members by Alaric Woodrow.
I write on behalf of the Rapid Transit Citizen Advisory Committee (RTCAC), regarding recent comments in the media concerning the future development of Light Rail Transit within Hamilton.
The RTCAC members, who represent a broad cross-section of citizens, have been extensively involved with engaging the public in this project over the last year. Based upon this interaction in various locations across the city we believe that there is strong public support for the LRT proposal. Recent statements of city representatives to the media would indicate that there is a mis-reading of public support for the LRT by certain members of Council.
The fact is that current planning work has not been finished and so the current "public" message from City representatives appears to indicate a premature loss of interest in LRT, one taken BEFORE all the facts are known. In light of this, the RTCAC strongly believes that the recent decision by the City Manager to curtail planning and evaluation of the LRT is unfounded and unwise, and it has given the public an inaccurate message that the project has been stopped in its tracks.
The recent statements also make it appear for our choice to be between GO Transit and LRT. It is well known, understood and agreed that GO Transit is a prior priority and will be implemented first, and largely paid for by the Province through Metrolinx - with the city-building LRT to be completed as late as 2020 or even later.
Therefore the RTCAC believes it would be appropriate for City Council to make it clear to the public now that there is continued support for the LRT proposal on Council, subject, of course, to the necessary funding being secured.
Further, although there is a perception that LRT will have significant costs there is no current message given by City City representatives to reassure the public of the benefits of such a system, nor of of the efforts being made to secure funds.
Given these perceptions, we feel we must emphasize that public messages should be based upon accurate and up-to-date information that only develops as all aspects of this significant endeavour are explored in the planning stages. Without such information, any statements to the media are subject to misrepresentation of where the City stands on the issue.
The members of the RTCAC believe that it would be beneficial for our city to have both the LRT system and daily GO service. It is not a matter of an either/or scenario, since both are considered important for the city, although for different reasons.
As a practical measure to be taken now, we also believe that planning for the City's 2012 budget should include funding for the continued study of LRT and for the staff required for such studies.
Given that this LRT project represents an opportunity to develop the city in a manner that will serve all of its citizens well for many generations and provide millions of dollars in much-needed tax revenues, the RTCAC believes that we cannot afford to be left out in the cold while other cities move ahead by accepting the funding opportunities offered by the Province. To secure such commitments, it is vital that we do not lose our momentum, and continue the diligent planning for this project.
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