The special LRT subcommittee has avoided being abolished but a large chunk of its mandate has been placed under the control of the General Issues Committee which consists of all of City Council. Council voted to approve the changes after some behind the scenes negotiation between LRT subcommittee chair Jason Farr and Flamborough councillor Judi Partridge. The original motion from Partridge would have abolished the subcommittee, currently dominated by LRT supporters, altogether. The move came amid simmering tensions over a perception by some members of council that they were not in the loop as key decision points cropped up. Abolishing the subcommittee would have required a two-thirds majority vote from Council, and a source told the Bay Observer that those wanting to abolish the subcommittee felt they had the necessary votes, but the last minute agreement avoided the showdown.
Under the new system it appears the GIC subcommittee will take on more of an information-gathering role as well as continuing in its role as a forum for public input. Anything requiring funding from the City will go directly to GIC. In addition the motion calls for “any binding agreements between the City of Hamilton, Metrolinx and any other parties related to the LRT project including, but not limited to, the Master Agreement and the Operating and Maintenance Agreement,” to be vetted through GIC. Hamilton has yet to negotiate an operating and maintenance agreement, but last month the City of Toronto signed a similar agreement that called for the city to absorb those costs –a possible harbinger of what Hamilton will be asked to approve. Other items that will now be referred to GIC include “the final report of the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) and any future amendments to the TPAP, as necessary; and, any items that would result in impacts to the broader city and/or community such as traffic, infrastructure or any environmental related issues.”