Home / Opinion / MY TAKE: HAMILTON LRT ASSESSMENT CLAIM IS CAUSE FOR CONCERN
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MY TAKE: HAMILTON LRT ASSESSMENT CLAIM IS CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Any conclusion that there would be a property assessment boom if a Hamilton LRT were built is problematic.

The Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) Study asserts that the financial benefits of a B line LRT  [1] are in the order of $82 million over 15 years. However, what the Study did not make clear is that virtually all of this development near the proposed LRT line (if indeed it were to occur) would be at the expense of property development that would have occurred elsewhere in the City of Hamilton.

The report does not include clear statements, such as those included in the 2010 Hurontario LRT Study that: “Any (LRT related) development will, however, be a transfer of development that would have taken place elsewhere in Mississauga or Brampton.” [2]

The assessment increases that would have taken place in other areas of Hamilton should be deducted from the alleged LRT scenario assessment increases to arrive at a net estimated assessment increase. The net assessment increase is a small fraction of the amount that has been implied. The same is true for development charges and permit fees.

The CUI report asserts (on Page 35) that a 1.3 % annual growth rate would occur for Hamilton with LRT, and a lower 1.2% growth rate would occur without LRT. The suggestion that the mere presence of LRT would attract additional city-wide development investment was not referenced nor verified with experienced property developers as developers were apparently not included as  participants  in  the  Study.  This  unsupported  assumption  has  the  effect  of  inflating  the estimated taxable assessment by $743 million in the “LRT scenario”.

LRT does not rewrite the laws of supply and demand. Property value increases that may occur near rapid transit stations are countered by slower property value increases for properties located farther away from transit stations – a probable net sum zero game.

Light Rail Transit is an important and effective means of public transportation in cities with populations in excess of 750,000 and with downtown core employment in excess of 50,000. Other complimentary demographic conditions are also needed to warrant the implementation of LRT.  For smaller cities, LRT is not viable and LRT’s alleged benefits and business cases do not withstand close scrutiny. The risks are: onerous on-going operating deficits; business and residential tax increases; and conventional transit service reductions to support a system that is not the best transit solution for the municipality.

Jim Hindson

Jim Hindson is a retired public-sector transportation engineer and municipal information systems manager from the City of Hamilton and Region of Hamilton-Wentworth. He has since been engaged in business consulting work and the forensic auditing of several proposed transportation projects. He is an environmental activist and is opposing pipeline and fracking projects in Western Canada and actively working to promote measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation sector.He drives an electric car.

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One comment

  1. That the development will go downtown instead of elsewhere is a very positive thing – in fact that’s probably the biggest case for LRT. If that development goes to the fringe it requires more roads, more sewers and more tax dollars from city residents to enable. It will also be largely car-dependent, meaning that those locating there will have the added cost of a car to think about when they pay wages or decide what kind of housing to live in.

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