Light Rail

Mayor Tries to Wiggle Province out of LRT Promise

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 30, 2011

In an email to a number of people who posted statements through the Hamilton Light Rail campaign, Mayor Bob Bratina disputes the claim that the Province promised funding for LRT in Hamilton.

His email reads in part: "The following information shows that no funding for LRT has been promised" by the province, and includes a link to a list of MoveOntario 2020 projects from June 15, 2007.

Under the heading "Subway and Other Rapid Transit", the list includes item 32: "Hamilton east-west rapid transit on King/Main Streets from Eastgate Mall to McMaster University" and item 33: "Hamilton north-south rapid transit on James/Upper James Streets from Rymal Road to King Street".

At the bottom of the list of projects is a footnote:

*Projects subject to the review of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority.

This asterisked caveat, according to Mayor Bratina, means the Province didn't actually promise to fund Hamilton's rapid transit lines but merely proposed them. (Note: the Greater Toronto Transit Authority was later renamed as Metrolinx.)

However, the main Ontario Government press release about MoveOntario 2020 from the same day reads in part:

MoveOntario 2020 will build 902 kilometres of new or improved rapid transit, starting in 2008.

It will create 175,000 jobs during construction and deliver 52 rapid transit projects. These include:

  • The extension of the Yonge St. subway line to Highway 7
  • Increasing speed and reducing emissions by electrifying the GO Lakeshore line and expanding capacity on all GO lines
  • Expanded express bus service across Highway 407
  • Two rapid transit lines across Hamilton, and
  • Toronto's Transit City vision for light rail across the city.

The government will work with the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA) to implement the plan. The GTTA will report back to the Province in early 2008 on a detailed plan for moving forward. [emphasis added]

A few months later, on September 12, 2007, the Ontario Liberal Party issued a press release that read in part:

In Hamilton, the Conservatives would put rapid transit projects through MoveOntario 2020 - including two light rail lines across Hamilton - at risk.

It is hard to see this as anything other than a promise to build "two light rail lines across Hamilton" - at least insofar as such a promise might persuade Hamiltonians to support the Liberals in the election.

In the November 2008 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) The Big Move - the "detailed plan for moving forward" promised in the MoveOntario 2020 announcement - Metrolinx identified "Rapid transit in Downtown Hamilton from McMaster University to Eastgate Mall" as one of the top 15 priorities for completion within the first 15 years.

The plan notes:

projects identified in the regional rapid transit network will undergo a more detailed Benefits Case Analysis to determine the most appropriate technology.

In other words, Metrolinx announced its intent to carry out due diligence on rapid transit projects in cooperation with municipalities before going ahead with the projects.

As part of this due diligence, the City of Hamilton completed a detailed feasibility study for rapid transit on the B-Line in October 2008, and Metrolinx completed a Benefits Case Analysis for rapid transit on the B-Line in February 2010.

Both studies concluded that LRT will cost more to build but will provide a bigger overall net benefit in economic development and neighbourhood revitalization.

It goes beyond fastidious to try and wiggle the government out of its commitment to build LRT in Hamilton by noting that the Province originally stated in a footnode that it would carry out due diligence on its announced projects, when we are now four years later and that due diligence has already been completed.

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 red24 (registered) | Posted September 30, 2011 at 18:24:52

There was a Spec article in Jan or Feb 2010 stating that the City was expecting to break ground by late 2011.

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By George (registered) | Posted September 30, 2011 at 18:25:47

Mayor Bratina was on the Bill Kelly show today again talking about GO and LRT and he mentioned the same June 15, 2007 link and the same "Projects subject to the review of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority" as an out for funding.

He also repeated a few times that it is well known that the province would not commit any funding until 2013. Not sure what he was referring to.

I'm sure that interview will be posted here ,although it's not there now at the time of this posting.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted September 30, 2011 at 23:40:03 in reply to Comment 70226

Much like the stadium last year do you get the feeling the Bill Kelly is essentially have the same interview over and over?

If played a tape of an interview with Bratina from 2 months ago would anyone know the difference?

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 30, 2011 at 20:22:29

I'm sure the province is more than happy to follow the lead of a mayor who is telling them consistently that he doesn't want funding for his city. They have hundreds of towns and cities lobbying hard for provincial funding for various projects. I'm sure the provincial government thinks they've struck gold having one of it's largest cities turning down funding and not trying to advance our economy or future. Gives them a better chance to drum up support by freeing up money for places that really want it.

Comment edited by jason on 2011-09-30 20:23:07

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted September 30, 2011 at 22:22:33

beyond fastidious

quoted for emphasis.

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By Bob Bratina (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2011 at 09:28:05

The following was posted on the My Stoney Creek Blog July 6, 2011. I submitted this to Mr. McGreal but hasn't to my knowledge been made available to readers of this blog.

"As a result of discussion on Raise the Hammer concerning LRT that had begun with this Spec article, I was prompted to get in touch with Councillor Clark for some clarification on quotes such as this:

"Clark says the city’s first nodes and corridors land use study that looks at planning for high- and mid-rise development along Queenston, Main and King streets from Eastgate Square to McMaster University (dubbed the B-Line after the HSR express bus line) should be focused instead on Rymal Road, where he says development is happening without any sort of plan in place."

Here's what he had to say in an email correspondence:

"The City is about to start the next phase of our urban official plan process which is the planning for Nodes and Corridors.

There are a number of Nodes and Corridors that need to be completed: including but not limited to Upper James, Rymal, James Street, Lower Centennial Parkway, Fennell, and the B- Line. Staff brought forward the B-Line as the first Corridor to be planned. They argued that their decision had nothing to do with the LRT. Yet, upon further discussion, we learned that the B-Line was not the planning staffs first choice. In fact, the only reason it was pushed forward was that they could use money from the LRT project.

The facts are that the council has not adopted or set any principles for corridor planning. James Street and Centennial have a sense of urgency since Go Transit has indicated their preference for access points at those locations. Upper James has merit for inclusion as a preference because of the development as well as Rymal.

Here were some of my questions.... Why isn't council setting the priorities? Why have we not had a status update on LRT since the beginning of the year? Why have we not had an update on the status the $3 million LRT fund? Why are our planning priorities being sidelined for LRT that may or may not come? What is the status on the funding request to pay for LRT? How much will Hamilton have to contribute?

Ultimately, we need answers to these and other questions before anyone makes a decision.

To be very clear, Council has not approved LRT. Council approved designating LRT as the preferred option for the City and directed staff to develop the business case and requisite assessments. At the time, council supported the concept to get the data required to make a decision. The province gave us $3 million to complete the studies.

Nobody on council has stated that they oppose LRT or that we are reconsidering. We are acting with all due diligence, waiting for a decision from the province on funding at which point we must make a final decision.

Respectfully, proponents of LRT are over-reacting to councillor's rationale, reasonable and appropriate questions."

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By Synxer (registered) | Posted October 03, 2011 at 10:21:10 in reply to Comment 70243

Explain to me why Rymal Rd is of interest to council? I want to hear your theories as to how Rymal's development will create an influence on our existing areas that have been - and continue to be - left behind.

The only logical reason I can see for council to be so excited about Rymal Rd is that they feel as though it might be a catalyst for investment in Hamilton. If this is the case, please point me to other examples where outlying areas of our city caused an influx of investment. I can't think of one. Over the last 30 years, Waterdown has become a community in it's own right - yet Hamilton's inner city does not benefit from Waterdown's success. How about Ancaster? Ancaster is doing well. So why do we still have crumbling infrastructure within our city?

LRT would create investment. The RHVP is a conduit to Rymal Rd. for developments within that area. If you need proof of that, take a look at Centennial Parkway. CP's traffic and congestion woes were supposed to be solved by RHVP. And yet, it's as clogged as ever. But we have new stores on Rymal. Hooray.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted October 02, 2011 at 12:43:12 in reply to Comment 70243

Thanks mayor Bratina but can you just answer the following; do you personally WANT LRT in this city and two, will you say publicly your answer?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2011 at 10:22:02 in reply to Comment 70243

For the record, I sent an 'FYI' to Ryan about my post...and he responded by telling me he'd replied here:

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By letsoccupycityhall (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2011 at 14:49:53

Bob said" Respectfully, proponents of LRT are over-reacting to councillor's rationale, reasonable and appropriate questions."

Because we want to be ahead of the curve this time instead of being out of luck when the final decision is made. You can't blame us for not believing council has the city in its best interests. History has proven that Hamilton's decision makers have often made the wrong ones - leaving us where we are today...

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2011 at 05:38:43 in reply to Comment 70250

Bob said" Respectfully, proponents of LRT are over-reacting to councillor's rationale, reasonable and appropriate questions."

Uh, no... Mayor Bratina didn't actually 'say' that. Councillor Clark had. Almost the entirety of that 'comment' was what I'd cobbled together from an email correspondence between the Councillor and myself:

For clarity's sake, it might help a lot to go to that original post.

I still find it bizarre that Mayor Bratina would be offering up wholesale material from someone else on Council as a response to the community. Doesn't this seem a bit...odd...?

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-10-02 05:39:28

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By Actually (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2011 at 10:57:21 in reply to Comment 70257

banned user deleted

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By BratFan (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2011 at 16:35:57

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 04, 2011 at 20:29:18

It is too soon for the province to commit capital funding for two planned light rail lines in Hamilton, said the head of Ontario’s regional transit agency.

Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig responded Tuesday to a motion from city council last week calling on the province to confirm capital funding for two LRT lines in Hamilton.

McCuaig told city manager Chris Murray “the timing of council’s request does not allow for a government response” because of the election, according to a summary of the conversation circulated to councillors.

The summary adds it is “premature to comment on capital cost responsibility” until the city finishes its design and engineering studies for the light rail lines that were pitched by the Liberals during the 2007 election campaign. Metrolinx will consider the studies in 2012.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted October 05, 2011 at 08:17:41

Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, “.. told city manager Chris Murray that “the timing of council’s request does not allow for a government response” because of the election, according to a summary of the conversation circulated to the councillors.”

McCuaig’s statement ignores the fact that the election did not prevent Premier Dalton McGuinty from committing $178 Million for all day GO service to Hamilton. Why should the election prevent McGuinty from reaffirming his 2007 commitment to fund two LRT lines in Hamilton?

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By GO Platform Schmatform (anonymous) | Posted October 05, 2011 at 13:37:09

Emma Reilly on Twitter:

BREAKING: Mayor Bob Bratina officially endorses Liberals #HamOnt #voteON

Bratina has been appearing alongside Liberals during the campaign, but had denied he was making an official endorsement. #HamOnt #voteON

"He's either showing bold leadership or he's being reckless" - Councillor Terry Whitehead on Mayor Bob's Liberal endorsement #HamOnt #voteON!/EmmaatTheSpec/status/121638522628218882!/EmmaatTheSpec/status/121636262204551170!/EmmaatTheSpec/status/121636871091666944

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 05, 2011 at 15:09:49 in reply to Comment 70341

With friends like Bratina...

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By GO Platform Schmatform (anonymous) | Posted October 05, 2011 at 13:41:47 in reply to Comment 70341

“The surest way to continue the progress of the last four years and ensure the fulfillment of commitments to GO service and the uploading of social service costs is to return the McGuinty government with a majority,” he said at a Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce meeting today.

“Neither Mr. Hudak nor Miss Horwath have had any communication with my office” about their parties’ stance on uploading and GO service, he said.

“I’m convinced these initiatives will be lost if this government is not returned.”

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted October 05, 2011 at 19:18:52

Well, if the Liberals do get in then we should be in for some positives but..... If they don't..... big trouble in little China.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted October 11, 2011 at 22:39:14

Emma Reilly of the Hamilton Spectator reports tonight that a motion by Councillor Whitehead was passed by city council today to limit Mayor Bratina's unilateral negotiations with upper levels of government "...unless he is in the company of other councillors and the city manager."

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 22:40:07

Here is the link to Emma Reilly's follow up article titled "Mayor's muzzle replaced with gentle lead" on the city council meeting tonight where the motion which passed at yesterday's GIC meeting to limit Mayor Bratina's unilateral negotiations with upper levels of government "unless he is in the company of other councillors and the city manager" was revised and toned down to make it optional rather than mandatory.

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