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.
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