Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Question of the Moment

Can it be the answer?

A Shout Out to Staff on the LRT File

We thought we'd take a moment to recognize city staff for the good work and professionalism they have been displaying on the LRT file. 

It is often difficult speaking "truth to power" especially when the LRT issue has caused such division amongst council and the public. 

Still we find staffers such as Paul Johnson, Chris Murray, Gary Moore and we are sure countless others, doing their best to fulfill their roles of providing good information and advice to their political masters. 

We are also certain that additional information requests to help make a determination on this thorny issue has caused staff to be working long hours behind the scenes. In addition, the media lens can offer up yet another challenge and on behalf of The Hamiltonian, we can only say that staff have responded to our requests respectfully, promptly and professionally. 

On behalf of The Hamiltonian and all of us, thank-you.

The Hamiltonian

Monday, April 24, 2017


The following are some tips on conversing online on The Hamiltonian or at other sites:

1. Be prepared to be right and wrong. Someone once said that it takes no special talent to be mean.  Conversely, it takes great strength and eloquence to concede part or the whole of a position you took, when necessary.

2. Argue your points with spirit but don't surrender your respect for others.

3. Don't attempt to ridicule others by referring to them by anything other than the proper name or handle they identify themselves with. 

4. Whether you agree with others, understand that they are here because they have an interest in the well being of our great city. That, we can all agree on.

5. Don't make a nuisance of yourself. The Hamiltonian remains a not for profit service to Hamiltonians, and it is unfair to expect our staff to intervene in schoolyard like tactics. 

6. Try to have fun. Its all about our great city.

Pipe Dreams or Needed Enhancements?

Despite clarity being provided at the recent meeting, there appears to continue to be some confusion, at least amongst some, with respect to the need for replacing pipes in the LRT corridor, should the LRT project proceed. So, we went to  Gary Moore, Director of Engineering Services, City of Hamilton.

The following questions pertain to the pipes within the context of Hamilton’s 11km proposed LRT line:

1. In a recent meeting, it was said that these pipes are 20 years in to a 100 year expected life span. Is this true? 

This was a generalized statement in regard to the overall life left in the underground infrastructure as an asset class. It was meant to confer the idea that the underground is in very good condition and is relatively early in its life cycle condition. Relatively speaking, approximately 20 years old out of a one hundred year expectancy.

2. If LRT was not planned, or if the LRT plan does not go forward, would the city be doing any significant work related to pipes on this stretch, or are they in stable/good shape to continue on as is, barring any catastrophe? 

We don’t see any large scale work expected in the corridor to deal with condition, however there may be capacity related works to permit development that have to be done.

3. If LRT was to proceed, what is the opportunity(ies) that present themselves related to pipes/infrastructure, and how would the city seize them? What is their worth to the city? 

The single largest opportunity with respect to the underground infrastructure and the LRT is with respect to upsizing to facilitate development and address existing capacity issues. To construct the LRT, Metrolinx would have to move just about every pipe in the corridor. Although the network of pipes, both water and sewer, are in good condition they have been placed over a long period of time, as required and not necessarily in the optimal location or arrangement but economical at the time. This provides for an opportunity to have the system optimized and upsized at a fraction of what it would have cost the City to do the same work on its own. This work is conservatively valued at $160M to $180M+/- and the cost to City by leveraging the LRT work is estimated to be less than $10M.

4. With respect to the opportunities you may have identified in the answer to question 3 above, are these essential changes that the city would otherwise have done within the foreseeable future, or are these simply opportunities that are based incidentally, should LRT proceed? In other words, are they must haves that would have otherwise been done, or nice to haves based on opportunity to get them done?

They may or may not be done as they may be unaffordable otherwise. If the work was not done it would not eliminate the opportunity for development along the corridor but it would increase the Developer’s cost to the point where it may not be as attractive an investment. The underground infrastructure work, associated with the LRT initiative, should be seen an opportunity to get something that would be very beneficial and likely otherwise unaffordable.

Thanks Gary for this information and for your prompt response. 

Note: Comments that are disrespectful or otherwise unprofessional will not be published.If you don't see your comment published, rethink how you are conveying your thoughts.

Quote of the Moment

"The reality is, social media is too often a swamp of derision, rudeness and bad manners. The belittling excesses we're witnessing over the LRT debate are, regrettably, to a large extent also a sign of our times. But this dark side of the LRT debate goes well beyond social media or personal encounters."
Andrew Dreschel of The Hamilton Spectator

The Hamiltonian agrees that discussion can often times become belligerent in all forums, and hopes that we can model good behavior here while discussing LRT and any other issues.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

LRT-The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?

There is no doubt that ailing infrastructure is a real problem for many municipalities.  However, attaching the problem to LRT may result in casting LRT as a misdirected solution. Hamilton is attempting to find the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs. If it proceeds with LRT as its choice, the fact that it will involve access to and replacement of a selected 11km stretch of infrastructure is incidental.

While allowing that some incidental benefits would result, by virtue of access and repair/replacement/and enhancement (in some cases) of infrastructure and technological features, the thirst to address these issues which, arguably should have been done as part of good statescraft and governance, may be having the adverse affect of sending LRT adrift.

As part of Tuesday's meeting, a certain degree of strain was apparent in efforts to cast LRT as an opportunity for replacing and upgrading underground pipes, allowing for upgrades in utility technologies and even a reference to the mitigation of storms caused by climate change. Staff did an excellent job of responding forthrightly to questions concerning auxiliary benefits a LRT implementation could offer.

For example, staff indicated that the pipes along the stretch were in pretty good shape and one staffer stated that they were 20 years in, on a 100 hundred year life expectancy. Having said that, the staffer also allowed for the opportunity of upgrading the pipe to a bigger capacity.

And while we would not dismiss that this type of implementation, based on its degree of  penetration of existing infrastructure, can provide for auxiliary benefits albeit confined to an 11km stretch that may, in some cases, have a greater city wide impact (but not necessarily the case in all instances), treating LRT as salvific in this context, can serve to make people wonder about whether we are considering its implementation for the right reasons.

Hamilton is attempting to find the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs. We sincerely hope that it finds the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs.

The Hamiltonian