While we think city council made the wrong decision in allowing the LRT to proceed that’s not what this is about. We have no quarrel with those members of council who have consistently supported the project from the beginning and who stuck to their guns. (That is not to say we approve of some of their bullying behaviour towards those who held different views on the topic). But what is one to make of Councillors Tom Jackson, Terry Whitehead and Chad Collins, three councillors who for much of the past year were in the anti LRT camp or LRT skeptics but who nonetheless voted for LRT, not because they think it is the best transit solution for Hamilton, but apparently because they didn’t want to be blamed for walking away from a billion dollars? Throughout this lengthy chapter, particularly in the last year as decision time approached; we were repeatedly warned by Ancaster Dundas Flamborough Westdale MPP Ted Mc Meekin that we would lose it all if we turned down LRT in favour of BRT or some other solution. Interestingly, for her part, Premier Wynne repeatedly avoided such verbal brinkmanship. Last May she declared “It’s never been LRT or nothing,” and then just days before the big vote she once again carefully avoided the “LRT or Nothing” mantra and said the money was for transit. Almost immediately McMeekin ramped up the scare rhetoric again, repeating his warning that we would go to the back of the line in a pool of transit supplicants that apparently includes 6 other cities. It was a bluff, of course, but it worked. McMeekin’s warning coupled with a handful of orchestrated constituent phone calls to the trio was apparently all that was needed to do the trick, and just like that, LRT opposition meekly folded. We’re talking about three councillors who regularly swamp their opponents in elections, and had little to risk in voting their consciences, but there it is. The recent Forum poll suggests the three are offside with a significant number of their constituents, so it will be interesting to see if they have for perhaps the first time in their lengthy council careers, handed a real wedge issue to a potential opponent in next year’s municipal election. It’s interesting to note that in the face of losing the vote it was four women — Judi Partridge, Donna Skelly, Maria Pearson and Brenda Johnson– who, (in addition to Doug Conley) stood up to the onslaught and in so doing showed some of their male counterparts who really wears the pants on this council.

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One Comment to: Bullying works, apparently

  1. Demi

    May 17th, 2017

    Amusing. So government is in the business of handing out blank cheques, and there’s no way that the province would expect the city to put forward a business case before coughing up $1B? Thinking like that should be an anathema to self-styled fiscal conservatives, not a point of pride.

    That a former Tory candidate and Brown loyalist and a handful of suburban councillors (two of whom are rumoured as PC nominees-by-decree in Flamborough-Glanbrook) opposed this investing in transit is hardly a bolt out of the blue. It’s consistent with their voting record, and it’s not brave so much as the opposite — looking to make it easier to campaign in 2018 by posing as a tax crusader (while arguably risking nothing, since with Clr Ferguson and Mayor Eisenberger onside, majority was reached by the time Clr Whitehead assented).

    Insisting that Minister McMeekin’s position was a “bluff” assumes that your readership is roundly ignorant of the terms of the Moving Ontario Forward funding stream and the obvious historical precedent of Brampton — which, given that Peel Region is a Liberal stronghold, would be a strong candidate for political favouritism.

    October 28, 2015:

    Brampton city councillors voted early Wednesday to reject a controversial transit project that would have seen an LRT route run along Main St. through the city’s downtown.… MetroLinx CEO Bruce McCuaig said the provincial money that would have funded the Brampton portion of the defeated LRT plan will now be available for other transit projects across the province. But he made it clear that any alternative transit plan Brampton now decides on could still be considered by the province for funding. “That would have to be evaluated,” he told councillors. Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/10/28/brampton-council-rejects-downtown-lrt.html

    November 3, 2015:

    Brampton can’t count on hanging on to the money that the province had allocated as its share of the Hurontario-Main LRT, says Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. “It is disappointing,” he told reporters at a conference on Tuesday of that city’s decision not to accept the province’s offer of an LRT that would run down Main St. to the Brampton GO station. The money will be reinvested in transportation infrastructure, said Del Duca. But where it goes depends on an analysis of priority transit projects by provincial transportation agency Metrolinx. “We will proceed with the plan to build the LRT from the Port Credit GO station to Steeles and the balance of the funding in question will flow back into the (province’s) Moving Ontario Forward plan to be invested in priority transit projects in the region, which in theory could be a project or more than one project in Brampton but is not necessarily going to be Brampton,” he said. “I can’t say at this point it will be in the 905, the 416, in Toronto, in York Region, in Durham, in Brampton because we’ll continue to do our work, our analysis,” said Del Duca. Whatever project gets the funding, it “will still provide tremendous advantage to the people of Peel Region,” he said. Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/2015/11/03/brampton-should-not-count-on-lrt-funding-says-minister.html

    February 9, 2017:

    A new report headed to committee next week recommends spending more than $4 million to study alternative route options for light rail transit.…Transit planners have drafted the terms of reference for the EA studies and expect the process to take three years to complete. In all, the report to committee notes the planning process could take up to seven years, as planners tackle a range of technical and environmental issues, identify potential intensification opportunities and economic benefits, and conduct public consultations. Source: http://www.bramptonguardian.com/news-story/7112119-city-to-consider-4-4m-on-new-lrt-route-studies/

    Metrolinx and the Minister of Transportation, with some help from the headstrong Brampton council (who saw value in LRT but simply wanted more of it and on an alternate route) made the stakes clear. Something or nothing. Brampton risked far less — $200M-$400M in funding, and they will still get half the LRT that was originally pledged as part of the terminus of the Hurontario LRT because they are lucky enough to be attached to Mississauga at the hip. Hamilton, on the other hand, stands alone.

    And really, what possible advantage would the province gain from scraping together the largest pool of transit funding in living memory, only to make eligibility a non-issue and treat it like an open cookie jar? And to set that precedent — which would only lend weight to the opposition’s caricature of Liberals as irresponsible spendthrifts — in a city where they are almost entirely extinct and have little hope of making inroads? It makes no sense. But when a pundit plays the “cuck” card in hopes of shaming councillors who voted their conscience, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to find alternative facts growing like dandelions.

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