Posted October 26, 2014
This Monday, October 27 is municipal election day in Hamilton (and across Ontario). We will be electing a new mayor, city councillors and school board trustees.
If the last four years have taught us anything, it is that the people we elect as our representatives make a real difference in how this city is governed. That, in turn, has a direct impact on our lives.
We have a historic opportunity to transform Hamilton's future by fulfilling the promise to complete our light rail transit plan with full capital funding from the Province.
We need a Mayor who understands the potential, endorses the plan, marshals support and advocates strongly to the province to keep its funding commitment.
Three distinct choices.
Among the mayoral aspirants, three candidates have a serious chance of winning. Each of them represents a distinct choice when it comes to LRT.
Brian McHattie supports Hamilton's LRT plan, which Council approved in 2013 and submitted to the Province. He wants the City to negotiate with the Province for full funding from a position of strength.
Fred Eisenberger personally supports LRT but wants to "hit the reset button" by establishing a citizens' panel to review the studies and reports and make a recommendation.
Brad Clark opposes LRT, even though he voted for it consistently as a councillor. Instead, he merely wants to add some buses to the B-Line express route and call it "bus rapid transit", which it is not.
Outgoing Mayor Bob Bratina, who has done so much to confuse and undermine the case for LRT during his four-year term, just endorsed Brad Clark's candidacy.
We've been here before.
Three decades ago, Hamilton had an opportunity to receive full funding for a modern rapid transit system. Amazingly, the Council of the time could not agree on a route, did not understand the strategic vision and ended up voting to turn the opportunity down.
The technology that the Ontario Government wanted to invest in Hamilton ended up going to Vancouver to serve as their hugely successful Skytrain.
"Losing a fully funded light rail transit system in the early 1980s was the biggest missed opportunity that I witnessed in my entire political career. Hamilton is still paying the price for such short-sightedness."
—Bill Sears, Former Hamilton-Wentworth Region chair
Incredibly, today we find ourselves in a situation where our Council may once again turn down the opportunity of a fully funded modern LRT system. If that happens, it may well be another three decades before such a chance comes around again.
Hamilton simply cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
Every single vote counts.
Your vote matters. We urge you to look carefully at the mayoral candidates' positions and vote for the candidate who you believe can best champion this plan, rally Council and deliver a full funding commitment from Queen's Park.
The outcome of this election will shape Hamilton's future for literally decades to come.