It's Time to Commit to Light Rail Transit in Hamilton
Back in 2007, the Provincial government promised to fund LRT in Hamilton, and the City began a six-year comprehensive planning and design process with unprecedented levels of public engagement.
That process included engaging with thousands of Hamiltonians, which found overwhelming support for LRT.
The City's planning work was independently assessed by Metrolinx, the Provincial arms-length regional transit organization. Metrolinx completed a Benefits Case Analysis that found LRT would deliver the biggest overall net benefit.
Hamilton City Council completed its comprehensive Rapid Ready LRT plan in February 2013 and submitted it to the Province. Our LRT plan is on the Metrolinx list of Next Wave projects waiting for a funding commitment.
We are still waiting for the Province to keep its promise of full capital funding.
During the recent Provincial election, Premier Kathleen Wynne once again promised to provide 100 percent capital funding for Hamilton's rapid transit line - but then she confused the issue by claiming that Hamilton still has to make its intentions clear.
Ted McMeekin, Liberal MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, has also been claiming recently that Hamilton has not made its rapid transit intentions clear and that we still need to do detailed design work and develop a business plan before the province can commit to funding.
Our intentions are completely clear. Rapid Ready is a comprehensive plan that specifies an LRT line running along the east-west corridor between McMaster University and Eastgate Square.
We have completed the Class Environmental Assessment, 30 percent engineering and detailed design and a complementary land use study for the route.
We've done everything the Province asked us to do.
LRT route alignment past Gore Park (Source: City of Hamilton)
In the recent election, the Liberal candidates for Hamilton Mountain and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek ran on anti-LRT campaigns. They both lost to candidates who explicitly support LRT. This should send a clear message to the Liberal government that support for LRT is strong citywide.
Now Mayor Bob Bratina wants to bring Ontario Transport Minister Steven Del Duca to Hamilton to speak with Council in July or August.
It is imperative that Council and the Province hear loud and clear from Hamiltonians that we know what we want and we expect our civic leaders - both Municipal and Provincial - to stay the course and deliver on their promise.
Light Rail Transit (LRT) on the east-west B-Line is a tremendous, once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Hamilton into a thriving, economically diverse centre.
Some people have begun saying we should ignore all the studies and reports that went into the Rapid Ready LRT plan, change course and implement an inferior bus rapid transit plan or even focus on a different north-south route instead.
This would be a terrible mistake. LRT on the B-Line has the best potential for success and will deliver the biggest overall net benefits to the city. The B-Line has the ridership, the land use and the impressive uplift potential that are the hallmarks of highly successful LRT implementations.
Daily LRT boardings per Kilometre, Hamilton and other cities (Source: City of Hamilton)
Distribution of new taxable assessment with and without LRT (Source: Canadian Urban Institute)
The LRT plan represents $800 million in direct provincial investment in our economic sustainability, an investment that is proven to deliver a huge overall net return in greater economic activity, new transit-oriented development, greater mobility and improved quality of life.
If there was ever a time for our Councillors to remember the evidence presented before them, trust their own legacy of support, uphold the courage of their convictions and reiterate their commitment to LRT, that time is now.
Don't let fear, confusion and misinformation conspire to defeat this opportunity. Make your voice heard! Sign the statement and add a personal message of support for our LRT plan.
Please help us run a constructive civic campaign by refraining from the use of personal insults and derogatory language when submitting a statement. This is a tremendously positive opportunity for Hamilton: please focus on the positive.