Posted March 21, 2017
This coming Tuesday, March 28, Councillors will receive a major milestone in the city's Light Rail Transit project: the Environmental Project Report (EPR) Amendment is coming for approval. This should be a mere formality, but LRT opponents want to use this vote to obstruct, delay and ultimately kill the project.
The EPR is part of the mandatory Environmental Assessment for any large transit project. Council first approved the EPR in 2013 and submitted it to the Province (the Rapid Ready report). When the Province committed full capital funding for a phased B-Line terminating at Queenston Traffic Circle, the City and Metrolinx had to prepare an amendment to that original report to take the design changes into account.
Council directed staff to prepare the amendment and it is now complete. Because the City and Metrolinx are co-proponents of the LRT project, Council needs to sign off on the amendment, which is why this is coming to a vote.
The project is being developed on a tight timeline to ensure that a final contract to build the line has been signed before the 2018 Provincial election, and so far the project is on time. Unfortunately, it looks like LRT opponents - including some Council members - want to use this vote as an excuse to slam on the brakes.
An obstructionist delay at this point means LRT could become a political football in 2018 instead of a done deal. If LRT supporters don't make a strong showing at the March 28 meeting, Council could use that as an excuse to claim that the project no longer has public support and let it die on the vine.
What You Can Do:
Read the agenda for the March 28 General Issues Committee meeting - there are a lot of important decisions being made that day. http://hamilton.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1147
Attend the March 28 meeting. It will be held in Council chamber at City Hall, 71 Main St W, starting at 9:30 AM. (Map to City Hall)
Make a delegation to Councillors in support of LRT. LRT opponents are trying to muster a collection of anti-LRT delegations like they tried last October, and Councillors needs to hear a strong pro-LRT message next Tuesday. There is an online form where you can request to make a delegation: https://www.hamilton.ca/council-committee/council-committee-meetings/request-speak-committee-council-form
Send a pro-LRT email to Council and copy the City Clerk. If you live outside the lower city, your voice is even more important because it will be harder for certain Councillors to dismiss you as an 'urban ideologue'. You can find the Council emails here: http://raisethehammer.org/council and the Clerk's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign this petition if you have not already: https://www.change.org/p/mayor-hamilton-ca-can-we-please-move-hamilton-forward-with-lrt. If you have, please share it with your networks and encourage others to sign.
As always, you can send a message to Council via the Hamilton Light Rail support form: http://hamiltonlightrail.ca/statements/new. Again, please share it with your networks and encourage others to sign.
Council needs to hear loud and clear that we expect them to lead on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the future of the city. We can't let cynicism and fear of change derail this project now that it is so close to completion!