Light Rail

Mayor's Refusal to Champion LRT May Doom Project

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 08, 2011

Mayor Bob Bratina told the Spectator editorial board yesterday that he is not going to champion light rail transit (LRT):

"In the case of LRT, we need to let the chips fall where they may ... and see what the best outcome and best use of the money is, as opposed to the kind of champion that some seem to want to have," Bratina told the paper's editorial board.

"If somebody wants to stand up and be the champion, please go ahead. I'm going to be the champion of careful use of taxpayers' money."

As if investing in LRT is not a careful use of taxpayers' money that generates significant net benefits to the city in new investment, revitalized land use, increased tax assessment and improved economic and social vitality.

As if it doesn't matter whether a city's leadership is actually pushing for LRT in cooperation with Metrolinx, the reginal transit coordinating body.

John Howe, vice-president of investment strategy and project evaluation for Metrolinx, says cities definitely need to champion their projects.

"LRT will be very difficult if we don't have a strong partner alongside it," Howe told a meeting of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce's transportation committee.

It's simple: if Hamilton does not champion LRT, the money will go to another city whose leaders do champion LRT. After everything that has happened over the past several months, Bratina cannot plausibly claim not to understand this.

Nothing has changed since the summer, when Bratina openly disparaged LRT, mocked and insulted those who supported and advocated for it, said on CHML that it is "not a priority" and indicated to the Province that they don't need to make Hamilton's LRT a priority either.

He has merely become more circumspect in his unfathomable reluctance to support this transformative investment in essential urban infrastructure. That vacuum of leadership continues to leave the LRT project in jeopardy.

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 Thane (anonymous) | Posted December 08, 2011 at 07:42:26

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 08, 2011 at 08:13:34

So now we have a mayor who doesn't want to do anything. This is what the Ambitious City has been reduced to? So sad.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 08, 2011 at 10:19:32

"If somebody wants to stand up and be the champion, please go ahead. I'm going to be the champion of careful use of taxpayers' money."




AHAHAHAHHAHAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAH ahahahahahahhaaahahahahahahohohohehohohohohohohheh




wipes tear from eye


Comment edited by Pxtl on 2011-12-08 10:20:09

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By z jones (registered) | Posted December 08, 2011 at 10:22:20 in reply to Comment 72006

After reading that I had to do a double take on the username, thought it was MyStoneyCreek at first.

Though it is pretty funny that the guy who gave us IWS2 is talking about 'careful use of taxpayers money'.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 08, 2011 at 10:25:34 in reply to Comment 72007

That's kind of my point. He lost even the vaguest claim to fiscal conservatism when he made a plan without checking if the massive, fundamental place where money would be saved - refurbing the North Stands - was possible... and then stuck to it when it turned out it wasn't.

BoBra can't admit the truth of the matter. He bargained away the LRT to the Liberals in exchange for All Day Go and a stadium for the Cats... and in exchange, he has to make sure it always looks like this is all his idea so the Liberals don't take flak for going back on a promise.

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By The Ego (anonymous) | Posted December 08, 2011 at 10:39:03

When I listen to Bratina brag about Council's accomplishments thus far in his term, I get the distinct feeling that he wants nothing to do with LRT because he knows there's no way he'd ever get the credit. By the time we get it built, some other Mayor will be around to take the glory.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted December 08, 2011 at 14:03:59

z jones, remember that the process of a stadium was started by Fred Eisenberger who, even in his own infinite wisdom, could not have 100 percent predicted where exactly the stadium would be located. For that though I will say congrats to the former Mayor for starting the process.

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By George (registered) | Posted December 08, 2011 at 14:52:59

Seems like he is aware of what the potential benefits are for having an LRT.

However, he seems focused for the short term and not concerned with having a vision for longer term benefits for the city.

Hopefully staff report will leave him no choice but to become a champion of LRT for the city as public "clamour" increases and he realizes you can't be a champion for the city without championing LRT with all its substantial benefits.

Championing both the city of Hamilton and LRT must be inextricably linked. Go staff, go!

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 13:17:27

Please Please Please tell me how we can vote a Mayor out of office in there first year in office !

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 13:29:31

Hey can you tell me if us pls can vote out a mayor out of office in there first year ?

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted December 12, 2011 at 07:59:42

I read an article in Walrus magazine about Toronto and it could have been an article about Hamilton. The culture of "no" is very much in existence in Toronto too. We want a world-class city, but are not willing to pay for the foundational items that contribute to being world-class - like a good transit system.

One thing I found interesting is the article mentions that Metrolinx is supposed to be non-political and fund transportation options that are needed and that studies show are feasible. So why do we keep going back to the perception that we have to have a mayor who's onside? It should be irrelevant. If the studies show that LRT is the way to go for Hamilton it should make absolutely no difference what our mayor is saying or not saying. Metrolinx and the province seem to be trying to wiggle out of the commitments they made. Dalton McGuinty for one is already well aware that Bob Bratina doesn't speak for his constituents. If we lose our opportunity for LRT, it will be because Metrolinx doesn't place a high priority on Hamilton's needs.

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By theOther (registered) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 18:40:47 in reply to Comment 72137

It will be useful to the Premier in the imminent era of extreme fiscal austerity to maintain the pretext that Hamilton isn't really interested in LRT, because that's what its Mayor is telling him. Of course this little charade was arranged when said Mayor needed help to lock down financing for a stadium for his master(s) on Jarvis St. I can see how he wouldn't feel too enamoured of LRT though: the profile of your typical streetcar is much too low to accomodate the body of a city staffer when you're caught in a lie. Throwing department heads under HSR buses still works just fine (well, theoretically....).

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By Spruce Caboose (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2012 at 06:34:34

What goes around comes around.

Notice that the only lock for transit spending is Toronto. All too predictable even last summer, if you weren't busy trying to schedule meaningless photo ops.

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By Spruce Caboose (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2012 at 06:43:48

Ottawa's LRT apparently survived the budget cull as well.

Good thing Hamilton has an airtight business case for all-day GO Train service!

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