Given that Clr. Whitehead and M.P. Bratina’s input are but two examples of sitting politicians who may have a different take on the appropriateness of LRT in Hamilton, how will you, as mayor, ensure that there is room for these conversations and that elected representatives are not simply cast aside as obstructionists or contrarians. Or, of you of the belief that the window for such debate is over and that people need to resign themselves accordingly.
2. Have you studied the material that Clr. Whitehead has brought forward. If so, what is your reaction to it. If not, why not?
Mayor Eisenberger's reponse:
Councillor Whitehead's report advanced a point of view and I receive it in that manner. It does not represent however a balanced representation of the facts, nor an understanding of the full scope of the project. Rather, disingenuously the Councillor poses questions to which he already knows the answers or is aware will be forthcoming in Staff reports.
We cannot lose sight of the fact that the project is a $1-billion fully-funded initiative by the Province of Ontario. LRT will serve as a catalyst for economic uplift along the corridor and to spur development throughout Hamilton, advancing the redevelopment already realized in so many neighbourhoods. The LRT spur line connecting to the West Harbour GO station will provide stronger links to the GTHA and support regional prosperity. Connectivity is supported at the Provincial government level, through the Metrolinx support for West Harbour GO station and planning the Centennial GO station in Stoney Creek, with bridge changes now complete, and construction set to begin in 2017 as a link to later reach Niagara.
Overall, this is 1.2 Billion dollar investment in our entire transit system. $200 million for GO - with $150 million to address the in-line capacity issue from Aldershot and $50 Million for the Centennial Parkway Station.
The LRT initiative is a starting point that will mean growth for our entire transit system city-wide. Will more funding be needed to maintain the LRT line and expand the train network across Hamilton? Absolutely. On July 26, the LRT implementation subcommittee voted to re-affirm the City’s commitment and work to secure additional funding to build the balance of Hamilton’s BLAST network; part of Hamilton’s transportation master plan and the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Master Plan.
Trepidation around a project of this magnitude is normal, we are committing to transformational change for future generations; planning today for tomorrow. This is an opportunity for us to plan a transit system now to avoid future congestion issues and managing smart growth.
We have the political will and support required to move the project forward. We have an outpouring of community support; my office has received 1,202 letters, calls and emails in favour of LRT, while only 55 have been received in opposition to LRT. We demanded a fully funded solution for LRT, and that has been delivered. We are moving ahead in earnest, continuing to build a world class city worthy of our collective pride.
Thanks Mayor Eisenberger for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian.