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Council-province meeting on LRT may be getting closer

 

Council-province meeting on LRT may be getting closer

John Best

It appears the proposed appearance by Metrolinx and the province before City Council to explain what is going on with the Hamilton LRT project may be getting closer. City Manager Janette Smith told councillors she has been in touch with both provincial bodies and while no date for a meeting is set, she does not feel Hamilton “is being snubbed,” in answer to a question from Clr. Tom Jackson. The discussion centered around what was more or less a housekeeping matter—a notice by the province that it intended to have the provincial legislation that allows transit projects to be fast tracked apply to the Hamilton project The legislation largely applies to local zoning and environmental issues.

But Hamilton councillors, increasingly leery of the manner in which the LRT project has been advanced by third parties like the Labourers International Union without authorization from council, balked at even the fast-tracking notice which allowed for a short comment period from interested parties. Clr. Clark wondered how anybody on council could comment on anything involving the LRT project without first having a full discussion with the province and Metrolinx about how much money if any Hamilton will be expected to pay for LRT.

The elephant in the room however, is that a growing number of councillors, possibly a majority, are not in favour of the LRT project at all and want to find out what alternatives are possible using the $1 Billion the province has promised. That was the thrust of a comment from Clr. Tom Jackson.

Jackson had said earlier this month that his preference and that of his constituents, would be for Bus Rapid Transit, the BLAST network and electrification of Hamilton’s bus fleet. Councillor John=Paul Danko said recently that he was “intrigued” by the idea of an A-Line BRT serving his ward, and Clr. Nrinder Nann said she was interested in a system that were serve the whole city. They join Clr. Lloyd Ferguson and Crl. Chad Collins among councillors in the last council who voted for LRT when it was presented as “LRT of nothing,” but now wish to explore the Ford government willingness to have the $1 Billion pledged  used for other forms of transit.

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