Posted April 21, 2017
It all comes down to this coming Wednesday. Hamilton City Council is risking the city's LRT plan in a high-stakes game and things are getting downright ugly.
Council needs to approve an amendment to the Environmental Project Report so that the Environment Ministry can complete its Environmental Assessment for the LRT. The project can't move forward until this step is finished, meaning the deadline to get a contract signed to build the system before the next Provincial election will be in jeopardy.
Knowing that, a majority of councillors are stalling and filibustering instead of approving the Environmental Report.
Councillors have already hashed over the Environmental Report over two long committee meetings totaling literally 26 hours, and at the end of both meetings they voted to defer a decision. This is despite the fact that there is no good reason not to approve the report and submit it to the Province.
The vote has been pushed back to the upcoming Council meeting this coming Wednesday, April 26. If Council defers a vote again - or, worse, votes against submitting the report, the entire LRT project will be in jeopardy.
We risk losing everything: ten years of planning and development, $1 billion investment in rapid transit, hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure replacement and capacity expansion along the LRT corridor, 3,500 construction jobs, apprenticeship programs for young Hamilton, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in new transit-oriented development that we need to grow our tax base and get the city's financial affairs in order, and Hamilton's very reputation as a serious place to invest and do business.
Through a depressing combination of partisanship, gamesmanship, lack of vision, lack of courage and fear of change, there is a very real chance that Council will kill this once-in-a-lifetime chance to transform the future.
We can't let that happen!
Between now and next week, it is absolutely imperative that your Councillor hear from you and everyone you can convince to do the same. This is especially vital if you live in the ward of one of the "swing" councillors who is still undecided and most likely to end up voting in favour:
- Ward 6 (East Mountain) - Tom Jackson
- Ward 8 (West Mountain) - Terry Whitehead
- Ward 9 (Stoney Creek Mountain) - Doug Conley
- Ward 10 (Stoney Creek) - Maria Pearson
- Ward 13 (Dundas) - Arlene VanderBeek
The best thing you can do to make an impact is pick up the phone and call your councillor. Here are their phone numbers and email addresses:
|1||Aidan Johnson||Aidan.Johnson@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2416|
|2||Jason Farr||Jason.Farr@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2711|
|3||Matthew Green||Matthew.Green@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2702|
|4||Sam Merulla||Sam.Merulla@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-4512|
|5||Chad Collins||Chad.Collins@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2716|
|6||Tom jackson||Tom.Jackson@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2707|
|7||Donna Skelly||Donna.Skelly@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2706|
|8||Terry Whitehead||Terry.Whitehead@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2712|
|9||Doug Conley||Doug.Conley@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2703|
|10||Maria Pearson||Maria.Pearson@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2701|
|11||Brenda Johnson||Brenda.Johnson@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-4513|
|12||Lloyd Ferguson||Lloyd.Ferguson@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2704|
|13||Arlene VanderBeek||Arlene.VanderBeek@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2714|
|14||Robert Pasuta||Robert.Pasuta@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2705|
|15||Judi Partridge||Judi.Partridge@hamilton.ca||(905) 546-2713|
If there was ever a time to speak up and make your voice heard loud and clear, it is between now and this coming Wednesday.
I'll be completely honest: if we succeed, this won't be the last time we have to push Council to do the right thing and stay on track. They will have an opportunity to vote on the Operating and Maintenance Agreement with Metrolinx early next year. This is a long road and we're not at the finish line yet.
But if this step fails, the whole project may well fail with it. So we have to speak up now - respectfully, optimistically, hopefully - and get through this crisis. Then we'll start planing to be ready for the next one.
No huge, city-changing project ever came easy, and this is no different. The important thing is not to become discouraged and give up. There are people around the Council table and in the city who want this project to fail, and our cynicism would be their strongest ally.
It's not too late to save Hamilton's LRT plan from fear and cynicism, but we all need to push together.