Light Rail

Mississauga Mayor Shows Strong Leadership on LRT

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 24, 2013

I've written before about what leadership looks like when it comes to transformational transportation infrastructure, citing Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion's strong, principled advocacy for a fair, timely Light Rail Transit (LRT) funding commitment from the Province.

Now Mayor McCallion is at it again, demanding that Mississauga get the same 100 percent capital funding arrangement as Toronto has already received for the Crosstown LRT line. The Star reports:

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, frustrated with what she sees as preferential treatment for Toronto, is now demanding that Queen's Park - with its own political future in flux - pay for the entire $1.5 billion cost of the city's planned LRT.

McCallion told council Wednesday that she has advised both Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli and Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig that when the LRT running up the city's Hurontario St. spine is ready to proceed, the construction cost must be covered "100 percent by the province," as Toronto's new Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT will be.

This, of course, is exactly what Raise the Hammer has been calling for with respect to Hamilton's LRT plan.

Unfortunately, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina seems perfectly happy to accept the Transportation Ministry's warning that Hamilton will have to bear some of the capital cost - despite the fact that the Province still refuses to provide any straight answers on what that share will be.

Mayor Bratina does seem to understand and agree with the conclusion of last year's McMaster Institute of Transportation and Logistics report that LRT success requires "strong political leadership" to come to fruition. Unfortunately, unlike Mississauga, Hamilton's "strong political leadership" on LRT will have to come from someone other than our political leader.

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 jason (registered) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 09:20:44

Mississuaga is desperately trying to become a real city with LRT and a high density Hamilton used to be. Hamilton is desperately trying to become a bedroom community with a hollowed out core and sprawling across the countryside like Mississauga used to be before they realized it's a debt-inducing form of development with nothing but escalating maintenance costs and not enough tax base to support the infrastructure.

Oh ya, and they have a little airport you may have heard of in their city boundaries and still couldn't make sprawl work financially.

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By jason jr. (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2013 at 05:46:58 in reply to Comment 85473

Yeah! What he said!

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 15:51:17 in reply to Comment 85473

Not to be left behind...

"A provincial tribunal that rules on land-use disputes delivered a setback to the Region of Waterloo’s efforts to curb urban sprawl.

The Ontario Municipal Board handed down a complex decision on Jan. 21 that requires the region to significantly expand the amount of land that will be developed into new subdivisions between now and 2031.

The Region of Waterloo wanted to limit the new subdivisions to 80 hectares (197 acres) of land. But the municipal board ruled in favour of the developers who said they need more like 1,053 hectares (2,593 acres) of land."

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 21:23:45 in reply to Comment 85486

Amazing...we're going to the OMB to open up more land than we need. Waterloo, Halton and other regions go to the OMB to curb sprawl.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2013 at 16:59:16 in reply to Comment 85489

And looking at the decision they handed down it looks like they disagree with you and K-W and agree more with Hamilton. Imagine giving people what they want, single family homes. Outrageous isn't it?

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted January 27, 2013 at 13:41:32 in reply to Comment 85606

The OMB is supposed to be an independent tribunal. They are not supposed to have their own established opinion on policy, beyond respecting provincial policy and laws. Like other court judgments, decisions are to be evidence-based.

From the Q&A on the OMB website, regarding "How does the Member(s) arrive at a decision?"

"Decisions are based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the relevant law, provincial polices and the principles of good planning."

Whether that always happens in practice is something that could probably be debated. Nevertheless, the OMB has a lot of power - their decisions can be appealed, but under certain conditions and as their own info sheet states "The OMB rarely grants reviews and/or changes a decision"

There are two big factors that affect these decisions, in my opinion:

  • The depth of the case presented by each party during an appeal. And depth is often a function of how much money and resources are available to prepare the case.
  • The opinions of what constitutes "good planning" are not always clear - the province has guidelines and requirements for planning, but they're often very broad or lack teeth to be enforced (and apt to change depending on the government of the day)

The Hamilton decision is pending, but in the KW decision the developers simply made a stronger case than the region did. I would argue it has more to do with what the developers wanted, than what the people want.

Comment edited by ScreamingViking on 2013-01-27 13:42:24

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By jason jr. (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2013 at 05:47:19 in reply to Comment 85489

Yeah! What he said! Preach it brother!

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 01:19:07 in reply to Comment 85489

Yes, the Waterloo and Hamilton governments have differing perspectives on future urban land requirements.

But in this case it was the developers who brought the issue to the OMB.

When the Region of Waterloo’s official plan was approved by the province in January 2011, a long list of developers challenged it before the municipal board.

There's a useful lesson here in the power of the OMB - I don't have figures to back it up, but it seems they often rule in a way that does not align with provincial growth management goals.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 08:49:27 in reply to Comment 85494

Thank goodness there aren't any developers behind the AEGD hearings!

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 14:48:18 in reply to Comment 85473

Mississauga's 2011 population density was around 24.4 people per hectare. In 2006, the old City of Hamilton stood at 26.5 per hectare.

A contributing factor may be the fact that Mississauga's "downtown" blocks along Burnhamthorpe and Hurontario have population densities twice that of Hamilton at peak.

As it happens, these are the very neighbourhoods earmarked for LRT service. So who knows, maybe that intensification thing might work out for them.

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By JM (registered) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:34:59

this is her last term as mayor of Mississauga...... can we recruit her to run for mayor of Hamilton in 2014???

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By Hurricane (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:36:49

Hurricane Hazel vs Blowhard Bob.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 14:32:52

If only Hamilton had a mayor that... you know... did stuff.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2013 at 17:09:53 in reply to Comment 85481

Like advocating high rise high density housing instead of 3 or 4 story old walk ups. Once that is in place then and only then does LRT make sense. And that is exactly what Hamilton needs.

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By Advocator (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 04:28:47

Bring back Di Ianni!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 10:27:24

And now even Burlington is getting it.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted January 26, 2013 at 09:42:55 in reply to Comment 85502

" Residential and commercial development in North Burlington will solve financial, transportation and commute issues."

"There is a huge problem with traffic within Burlington that needs to be addressed."

Sounds like Burlington's got some Hamilton thinkers going there.


"aerotropolis: All the more reason to expand Hamilton's urban area all around the airport. People have to have somewhere to live. And where are we going to put that extra 4 000 000 people who are expected to arrive in Ontario?"

Yeah. The Spec is such a wealth of progressive ideas.

Comment edited by MattM on 2013-01-26 09:43:48

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2013 at 11:46:18

While Hamilton's council chamber were going Pop-O-Matic, Waterloo's elected representatives were getting pragmatic.

WATERLOO REGION — Regional politicians approved the first large construction project related to rapid transit Wednesday, voting to spend $8.3 million on a Conestoga Parkway overpass to make way for light rail trains.

“This is very significant,” Coun. Jim Wideman said. “It’s sort of a signal that this is a go.”

The Region of Waterloo’s $818-million rapid transit plan includes light rail trains that will need to pass under Conestoga Parkway between Homer Watson Boulevard and Courtland Avenue.

An existing overpass carries expressway traffic over a Canadian National Railway track, but there isn’t enough room a second set of tracks for light rail trains. An additional overpass will be built as part of a Ministry of Transportation contract.

The ministry is now in the second year of a four-year project to fix up and widen Highway 7/8 between Fischer-Hallman Road and Courtland Avenue, offering the opportunity tie in the overpass work.

Officials said they can save money and reduce the risk of falling behind schedule on rapid transit by adding the work to the ministry’s construction contract.

A final design is expected by July for approval, with construction to be completed in 2014. Based on the design proposal from the province, councillors could change their minds and have another look at their options.

Light rail trains are planned to run from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener. From there, express buses will run to Ainslie Street terminal in Cambridge.

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