Hamilton’s LRT debate took on a novel twist when Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla introduced a notice of motion to stop all discussion of LRT by Hamilton City Council until after the June 12 provincial election.
The Merulla motion read as follows:
MORATORIUM ON LRT DEBATE UNTIL AFTER PROVINCIAL ELECTION
COUNCIL MEETING – WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2014
Whereas the City of Hamilton has been working on the Rapid Transit initiative since 2008;
And whereas the City of Hamilton first completed a feasibility study of Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the B-Line in 2008;
And whereas the City of Hamilton has also completed 30 percent detailed design on the B-line;
And whereas in 2010, a Benefits Case Analysis by Metrolinx was undertaken with respect to LRT in comparison to BRT on the B-Line;
And whereas Hamilton City Council has provided unanimous support for LRT as described in the Rapid Ready Report, which was approved on February 27th, 2013;
And whereas the City’s Rapid Ready Report also speaks to the importance of investments in the entire transit system;
And whereas City Council has provided Metrolinx with reports on funding tools and an investment strategy on May 8, 2013 and September 25, 2013 relating to Council’s position of 100 percent capital funding;
And whereas, Council requested at its GIC meeting on April 16, 2014 that Transportation Minister Glen Murray be invited and attend an upcoming GIC meeting;
And whereas, Minster Murray has declined to attend a meeting;
And whereas, a provincial election has been called and will take place on June 12, 2014;
Therefore be it resolved:
That City Council put a moratorium on any LRT debates until after the June 12 provincial election.
The motion prompted this exchange between Ward 9 Councillor and registered Mayoral candidate Brad Clark and Councillor Merulla:
Clark: Mayor and Councllors,
Please note that I will never support any motion that effectively silences Hamilton councillors, on any matter, during a provincial election!
Merulla: I’m not surprised that you would put your candidacy for Mayor ahead of what is the right thing to do for the residents of Hamilton.
Merulla: Perhaps Candidate for Mayor Clark needs to understand that he has supported a position and we are awaiting an answer from the province accordingly, and that answer can’t be forthcoming prior to the new government forming. Hence, not supporting a moratorium is supporting a nonsensical, useless and self serving platform which only benefits his spin. For political purposes and the the reality of the issue on practical purposes that serves the city needs rather than Clark’s shameless political wants.
The facts still remain:
1) The rest of your colleagues have been reviewing the Rapid Ready Report, talking to business owners along the route, speaking with unbiased experts and consulting with the public.
2) Your colleagues and the public heard me ask direct, non biased, questions to Don Hull General Manager HSR. He answered every single question as a consummate professional civil servant, without any political interference.
3) Mr. Hull confirmed my interpretation of the Rapid Ready Report. There are a little over $100 million in transit upgrades over 5-7 years designed to increase ridership , including 100 buses, that are required before we are even ready for LRT.
4) He also confirmed that we could improve BRT now for the B line, improve city wide connectivity to the James St Go Station and even the A line.
Given that the majority of residents do not support LRT. Given that our approved Rapid Ready strategy improves transit across the whole city with connectivity to Go Transit.
Personally, I want a response from every political leader on our Rapid Ready Report, not just LRT, before the election.
Why don’t you?
Merulla: We have a position and we need an answer from the province accordingly. Once we receive that answer we can then discuss a change in council’s position. Thank you,