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Minutes from the January 21, 2009 Meeting

Discussion summary and action items from the January 21, 2009 monthly HLR meeting.


A member of the city's Rapid Transit office was unable to attend, so we just held a general update based on sharing the information the attendees had.

Metrolinx is working on a full benefits analysis of Hamilton's rapid transit needs, which will be available in July. According to Metrolinx officials, because it's a "full benefits" study and not just a business needs analysis, the case for LRT in Hamilton is much stronger, due to the potential for economic development, revitalization and intensification of a major growth corridor.

There's still a potential problem with Council's unanimous decision to support the city's light rail bid: Metrolinx has (indicated) strongly hinted that they expect the city to cover some 15 percent of the capital costs, but Council voted to support the bid only if Metrolinx pays 100% of the cost.

Metrolinx officials have indicated that this could be a deal-breaker. Even if the full benefits analysis determines the city should get LRT, Hamilton may end up with BRT if the city refuses to contribute toward the capital costs.

Some city staffers have indicated that a majority of Councillors could be shifted to supporting some capital spending for LRT.

Federal Infrastructure Spending

It looks like the federal government will announce significant stimulus spending in the budget planned for January 27, and the opposition parties have said that they can only support the budget if it emphasizes spending on infrastructure, particularly geared to urban revitalization.

In the immediate term, most of this money will go to "shovel-ready" projects (LRT in Hamilton is still approximately two years away from being shovel-ready), but governments at all levels seem to be recognizing the need to 'kill two birds with one stone' by reducing the infrastructure deficit at the same time as stimulating the economy by producing jobs.

This presents an excellent opportunity to begin organizing at all three levels of government to make Hamilton a centre for light rail manufacturing in Canada. Right now, Canada has no light rail manufacturing facilities, and Quebec-based Bombardier recently stated that they are booked solid with manufacturing orders for the next five years.

Several Canadian cities are at various stages of planning new light rail systems. It would be most unfortunate if those cities meet their needs by importing light rail systems manufactured elsewhere and loses out on the multiplier effects of local manufacturing.

HLR will contact local federal, provincial and municipal representatives about organizing a local conference on establishing a light rail manufacturing centre in Hamilton. This collaboration should include McMaster Innovation Park, the McMaster Steel Research Centre, the National Research Centre moving to Hamilton, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and perhaps other groups.

  • Action: Nicholas to prepare a case for making Hamilton an LRT manufacturing centre.

Creative Capital Fundraising

With significant pressure on Hamilton's capital budget, it may be difficult for Council to find ways to fit spending on LRT into their plans. This calls for creative thinking, and several other cities have successfully used innovative methods to raise capital funds for their rapid transit systems.

HLR will try to compile a list of examples from other cities and publish a report with suggestions for Hamilton.
  • Action: Ryan to send out a call for contributions from HLR members of examples of creative capital fundraising.

Smart Growth Meeting

The Ontario Government is hosting a meeting on February 25, 7-9 PM, at the Central Library on the provincial Smart Growth plan and how it affects Hamilton.

  • Action: Nicholas will attend on behalf of HLR.