By Zachary Spicer
Published May 08, 2014
Mayoral candidate Fred Eisenberger wants you to know that he supports LRT. He makes his support clear on his website in this release, which states:
Eisenberger says he supports LRT because it will bring millions of outside investment dollars to our community, resulting in thousands of new employment opportunities, growth and re-urbanization, and huge potential for economic uplift and additional revenue for the entire city.
Eisenberger is correct. LRT is a game-changer for Hamilton. His recognition of this is commendable, but his elaborate consultation strategy is not.
He states in his release that the city requires a "consensus forum" and that people need "more information". The city has already done this.
The public has had their say. Council has affirmed and re-affirmed their support for LRT. The time is right to push for funding and get the project going. Eisenberger's position simply sets the process back.
There is nothing wrong with wanting the public's input. In fact, it would be terribly irresponsible to proceed without it, which his why the city put in place a fairly elaborate system of consultation and information sharing. Revisiting this process at this stage would result in unnecessary delays in the project.
He is right to acknowledge that there are some people that have concerns about LRT. Chances are there always will be people who criticize the plan. Very few public policy initiatives receive 100% community support. Going back to the public consultation stage to placate the project's critics is counter-productive. It truly is time to move forward.
There is a good chance that Eisenberger knows this as well. He is a smart man after all. By focusing on additional public consultation, he is trying to have it both ways: appease LRT proponents by appearing to move the project forward and appease LRT opponents by leaving the door open a crack for cancelling the project or converting it into something like BRT.
The only problem is that this "LRT if necessary, but not necessarily LRT" stance does not satisfy either side.
If Eisenberger does truly support LRT as he claims, he needs to clearly demonstrate it. As the old saying goes, fortune favours the bold. Hopefully Eisenberger finds his voice on the subject as the campaign continues.
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