Light Rail

Bratina, Clark, McGuinty on LRT in Hamilton

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 23, 2011

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina replied in an email to my statement to the Hamilton Light Rail initiative:

City Manager Chris Murray's directive to staff regarding completion of the mandated work means Council will soon be dealing with its contents. Commitments made prior to receipt and analysis of the staff report would be contradictory to the proscribed process and therefore irresponsible.

Shortly after, Councillor Brad Clark emailed this response to the Mayor:

You do make an excellent point! Likewise a commitment or even debate on the pending LRT staff report without a funding confirmation from McGuinty would be pointless. But then again, advising the government that the un-budgeted Go Transit expansion, which has yet to be approved by the legislature, is Hamilton's priority over Metrolinx's budgeted and legislature approved Big Move 2020 could also be seen "as outside the prescribed process and therefore irresponsible."

[By the way], at my town hall last night, every single person (20) agreed that we must confirm the funding commitment from 2007 before we proceed. "Let's not lose the money."

I also understand that [Progressive-Conservative leader Tim] Hudak does not support the LRT. Andrea [Horwath, NDP leader] has publicly agreed to LRT and has requested that McGuinty clarify his position. It is more than a little ironic that it was the McGuinty government that promised the funding in 2007 and now he is the only one that has refused to clarify his position on Hamilton's LRT funding.

If you have not yet already added your voice to the call for Council and the Province to commit to LRT, please do so.

McGuinty 'Will Not Recommit'

Meanwhile, according to Spectator reporter Emma Reilly in two posts on twitter, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty would not recommit to keep the Liberals' 2007 campaign promise to build two LRT lines in Hamilton:

Got to ask my #LRT question. Premier will not recommit to 2 LRT lines in #HamOnt. #voteON


He said #LRT is "up to city council" and he will continue the discussion. #HamOnt #voteON

So the Ontario Premier says it's up to City Council to decide whether it is committed to LRT, while City Council says it can't commit to LRT without a funding commitment from the Province.

The people of Hamilton need to send a clear message to all of our leaders - municipal and provincial - that these games need to stop. They need to work together to bring LRT to completion instead of passing the buck back and forth.

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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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 15:58:22

When does the work that staff has already done get presented to council?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 23, 2011 at 16:24:28

A couple of things, having attended the 'round-table' town hall that Councillor Clark put on last night...

1) He has a motion to put forward at next week's Council meeting requesting a confirmation of commitment of LRT from the province:

2) I asked him what kind of conversation we'd be having about transit in Hamilton had the Premier not made the promise for LRT back in 2007. His response: "Whether or not the HSR would be raising fares."

As my bet is that no matter who forms the next government, the economic landscape has changed so much since 2007 that LRT funding simply won't be there, I'm curious as to what this city (and concerned and engaged residents) will be focusing on next.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 23, 2011 at 17:13:20 in reply to Comment 70010

I could see the NDP going ahead with LRT in Hamilton if they took the reins, but I also could see a new market for supernatural air-conditioners that operate by shunting frost from Hell if that happens.

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By Guilty Bystander (anonymous) | Posted September 24, 2011 at 17:31:27 in reply to Comment 70014

This made me laugh. Thank you :)

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By Keynes (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 16:42:01 in reply to Comment 70010

This is a great time for governments to invest in big capital projects like Light Rail. It stimulates the economy, provides jobs, and it's usually cheaper to build because the slow economy means big contractors don't have a lot of work.

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By AETHERMAN (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 20:48:30

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted September 24, 2011 at 11:00:18

I'm not sure what's worse.. MgGuilty lying about providing money for LRT or someone else honestly saying they wont fund it.

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By Fred STreet (anonymous) | Posted October 04, 2011 at 20:03:57

"The Liberals have a shopping list of projects from “the next phase” of their transportation strategy. This implies there was an earlier phase that was part of a strategy. All they’ve served up in eight years is a series of photo-ops to announce the same projects over and over again.

Of these skimpy, politically motivated offerings, the only one with any traction is the Liberal promise of two-way, all-day service on GO Transit’s rail routes, which they’ve announced twice before. It remains appealing. But a pre-election promise is one thing and post-election delivery is another.

If GO expansion is going to happen this time around in these straitened economic times, where’s the funding? Never fear, say the Liberals. Thanks to their repeated promises to roll it out, the required $6.8 billion is allegedly covered in future unapproved budgets, so it’s not a new cost at all.

Other details suggesting this is a real plan are similarly lacking. Will this be hourly or half-hourly service? Is there an agreement with Canadian Pacific and Canadian National, over whose lines many of these trains will operate? Will the new trains be electric or will hordes of noisy, emission-producing diesels thunder through neighbourhoods across the GO network? The Liberals are mute.

This is obviously another back-of-the-napkin scheme to grease a re-election bandwagon’s wheels. That’s one hell of a way to run a publicly owned railroad."

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