Statement by Hugh MacLeod
Hamilton was public promised a fully funded rapid transit system by a Premier and MPP during the throws of the last provincial election. Apparently we had to vote Liberal to keep this plan afloat, preventing the Conservatives from killing this billion dollar project.
Now 4 years later it feels like Hamilton's Light Rail Transit has been shelved in manner that has the most horrible optics.
The illusion of a priority switch was created by our mayor's office. The unilateral decision to pursue all day GO (which we need), and dismiss Light Rail Transit (which we need even more) was made outside of the regular decision channels. At no time did my elected councilor get to vote on the shelving of LRT. At no time was this highly advertised change in course discussed by our elected council. Tragically this usurpation of process was endorsed by our Premier while an entire city, and elected council, ogled in shock.
Toronto is enjoying more than $9 billion dollars in transit development from a shared pot while Hamilton has received NOTHING. All day GO is wonderful and fully supported but it represents a capital expense for Hamilton. The Metrolinx Light Rail Transit is more important and represents a billion dollar investment in Hamilton. All day GO is something attached to Light Rail Transit, there is no reason to pit one against the other.
So it appears that the Mayor's unilateral action, and the Premier's support of this action, is an engineered way for the province to escape from a fabulous promise. A fabulous promise that could transform our city. If our council rejects light rail that is fine. If there is no money for light rail that is fine, but less fine. But when light rail is shelved by the apparent collusion of our Mayor and Premiere that is not fine. The fact that our Mayor is publicly standing with Liberal Candidates does not help this perception. The optics are very dark, if not completely opaque.
So to correct this I ask that our Premier, local MPPs, Mayor and councilors stand up for the promise made to an ailing city. If we our council rejects the committed investment, so be it. The way it is being handled now darkens everyone's view on the entire decision making process.
Hugh MacLeod, BPE, MD, CCFP
owner The Staircase Cafe Theatre
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