The new Hamilton City Council that will be elected in October will have at least four new faces thanks to redistribution and incumbents choosing to move on. But unless there is some kind of seismic voter revolt, which frankly seldom happens, there will be familiar faces around the council table come November. Whoever is elected they will be called upon to make a decision on transit and infrastructure that will have far reaching consequences for years to come. We could go on about how successive Hamilton Councils were asleep while LRT zealots incrementally pushed the scheme forward step by step; alternately assuring council that the key decisions were yet to come, and then telling councillors they had voted on the matter 60 times and it was too late to turn back. The propaganda, junk science and outright lies about the benefits of this project are well documented. We have shown in this journal how the public consultation process was rigged from the beginning to eliminate more practical transit solutions from consideration. It culminated a year ago in May with an orchestrated power play where council was threatened with losing the $1 Billion earmarked for transit altogether, unless they voted for LRT.

But that is all behind us now. The bullies have been sent packing. A new government is in place with a promise to allow Hamilton to spend the transit money as it sees fit. The door is open for the new council to make a bold move that will greatly enhance transit in Hamilton through implementation of the bus-based BLAST plan that will serve both city and suburbs—extending transit to all; and at the same time provide funding for GO and other pressing infrastructure needs.

The only element in question is whether there is leadership enough on council to change direction. The province has removed the threat of losing the funding, which was the main factor in last May’s vote. As ATU President Eric Tuck, who knows something about transit, has said elsewhere in this edition, the money spent planning LRT so far is not wasted. That research and planning will still be of value when we reach a point sometime in the future where we are actually ready from a ridership perspective for LRT. So it really comes down to council, because the province has opened the door but they are not going to carry council across the threshold.

The irony here is that in its so-called 60 votes in favour of LRT (a complete fiction, by the way); Council has also approved the Ten Year Transit Plan which involves buses first, building up ridership  to an eventual justification for higher order transit. Right now Hamilton transit usage is only about half of what is normally considered sufficient for Bus Rapid Transit. It’s really time to end the madness. Voters need to question candidates closely on this issue and not settle for the “qualified yeses” and “not necessarily’s” that some of our council members provided in the recent Spectator questionnaire.

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

9 Comments to: Time to take a stand

  1. jim graham

    August 20th, 2018

    time for Mr .Jackson to demonstrate some leadership, and make certain we get the best value possible out of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Quit dithering, take a stand, and lead us out of this morass,
    Courage Tom, you can do it, we’re with you.

    Reply
  2. Marshall

    August 22nd, 2018

    The province and federal governments cover capital investment in transit. The city foots the bill for operational costs, which is why council cuts HSR service levels rather than mothball area rating for transit or approve modest tax levies to support the Ten Year Local Transit Strategy. The HSR’s operating budgets are about half of what council has agreed they should be. And this chronic underfunding has been going on for the last 20 years.

    Regardless of what transit technology you prefer, the file needs to be depoliticized and council needs to commit to long-term funding support.

    Reply
    • jim graham

      August 22nd, 2018

      $1B is long term funding support, and as you rightly note, the Conservative’s remain committed.

      Reply
      • Marshall

        August 23rd, 2018

        You grasp at least half of my point.

        The province can deliver $1B in CAD 2018 over the next 100 years and it will be a promise kept.The province can promise $1B with the proviso that the City matches them dollar for dollar, and it will be a promise kept. The province can promise 41B and take that money out of existing provincial funding to the City and it will be a promise kept. Until a deal is signed and sealed, this is an elegant ruse. At the moment, there is absolutely no concrete detail on what the alternative funding arrangement would be or what it would be funding. No doubt council will come to some sort of a consensus and then follow that path for a decade or so before changing its mind again.

        Ford’s antipathy toward handouts and history of opposition to any transit that is not a subway are important elements of the premier’s commitment. Not that he can’t flip-flop: Look at his flailing when found out on his greenbelt pledges to sprawl developers. Likewise, the Conservatives are committed to whatever is put in front of them. They are as fickle a party as one could hope to find in the legislature, and in the past year have occupied opposing sides of most issues. Give them enough time and they’ll form a third, Bernier-style.

        Reply
        • jim graham

          August 24th, 2018

          you didn’t make a point. Simply the musings of a misfit.

          Reply
          • Marshall

            August 24th, 2018

            You’re entitled to your blind faith and sporty blue MOGA hat. I just find that viewing political promises and pronouncements with a critical eye (and a view to the historical precedents) is strategically valuable.

            If you consider $1B in long-term funding to be of high strategic value and fret about value-for-money, why not identify the legal and linguistic loopholes that could come back to haunt the municipality?

      • Marshall

        August 24th, 2018

        By “council needs to commit to long-term funding” I meant “council needs to commit to long-term municipal funding at the operational level,” lack of which is the main impediment to the service deficits so widely bewailed.

        Reply
        • jim graham

          August 27th, 2018

          no they don’t, they need to prioritize transit recipients for the impending windfall.
          1. BRT
          2. D.A.R.T.’s
          3. Safe cycling infrastructure.

          and it couldn’t be easier.

          Reply
          • Marshall

            August 31st, 2018

            Capital funding is easy. Operational funding is where transit commitment is most evident. it’s nice that you feel $1B should be spent on transit and sustainable transportation, but unless you imagine that the HSR & DARTS are going to be privatized, the cost of running frequent, convenient transit into every corner of the city will come at considerable cost to taxpayers. There’s a reason why the HSR flared into crisis, and it’s this: council refuses to properly fund the operation of local public transit. Believing that drivers and mechanics are going to be paid in positive vibes doesn’t change that fact. There are measures that have been identified and that are available to council today to fix the transit crisis, but of course they won’t take those steps because commitment makes them uncomfortable in a work environment where you spend at least a quarter of your time (one year of every four) trying to worm your way back into voters’ good graces. Task them with a long-term project if you never want it to happen.

            On top of which, I don’t know if you follow politics, but the Ford PCs are not spending money on anything but defending themselves in court. Whether you’re wishing for a Hamilton-to-Niagara 400-series highway or added lanes on the Red Hill or BRT or LRT or a moon-powered monorail, it’s just wishes. He’s shredding campaign promises at breakneck speed. His word is meaningless.

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