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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mayor Doubles Down on LRT

On the heels of what we are sure was a difficult meeting for all involved, including the mayor, Mayor Eisenberger provided the following response to our question re: LRT

Mr. Mayor:

We acknowledge your frustration when councillors by pass the office of the mayor and write directly to other levels of government and note that it has been done by different councillors in the past on different topics. Recently, Clr. Whitehead appeared to frustrate you by writing directly to the provincial government asking if the 1 Billion is unmoveably wired to LRT as we presently know it, or if there is room to repurpose the money for alternative transit strategies in Hamilton- should that be or become the will of the people. You had stated that the Clr. knows the answer to this but simply does not like it.

Putting aside the appropriateness or inappropriateness of councillors writing to other levels of government, and given some of the angst that continues to haunt the LRT file, would you agree that Clr. Whitehead's question, while perhaps mis-channeled, could be a talking point between yourself and the province. Or are you of the view that the issue is carved in stone and there is no room whatsoever for further discussion. If the latter, is there not a risk that we may be becoming tone death to those who still have concerns over LRT?


Mayor Eisenberger's reply:

The one billion dollar investment from the province of Ontario is very clearly directed solely to the LRT project. Specifically, it is to fund the building of the east-west line, plus a north-south spur connecting to the newly opened GO station in James St North. We should now be focused on the specifics of the implementation plan, including Impacts to businesses during construction, connectivity with existing infrastructure and communicating consistently with the citizens of Hamilton on progress reporting.

20 comments:

  1. More accurately, the $1B is not irrevocably wired to LRT as we presently know it. It is wired to GTHA transit priorities identified by Metrolinx. Council can decline the project that they petitioned the province to support and finance, in which case the money returns to the province to fund the next GTHA transit initiative awaiting priority funding.

    This was made clear in Brampton a year ago this week:

    The Globe & Mail, Oct 28 2015

    The decision came after an earlier attempt to sway a crucial swing vote on council backfired. A pro-LRT councillor introduced a motion to amend the province’s route slightly. When Bruce McCuaig, CEO of Metrolinx, the regional transit agency that would operate the line, said that such a modification could be possible, critics pounced, arguing that more substantive changes were thus possible.

    “It was a route that I asked [for] … to see if we could look at alternate routes,” said Councillor Michael Palleschi. “There’s an opportunity here to look at alternate routes. I’m all for that.”

    It’s a high-stakes gamble. The province had given Brampton until the end of this month to make a decision, all the while making clear that the pledged funding was for their preferred route only. Planning and approvals for a new transit line would be expected to take at least five years. And the money that had been coming Brampton’s way will no longer be available.

    “If council chooses to re-start a process, to look at other alternatives, then the funding that was set aside for the project would return to the Moving Ontario Fund, and it would be available for decision making by the province in the future on other priorities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area,” Mr. McCuaig explained.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/brampton-says-no-to-millions-in-provincial-transit-line-funding/article27015937/

    And Brampton is still getting half of the LRT originally planned. It's the northern half of the route, budgeted around $200M, that they rolled the dice on.

    Sigma Cub

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    1. Toronto Star, Nov 13 2015

      Brampton can't count on hanging on to the money that the province had allocated as its share of the Hurontario-Main LRT, says Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca.

      "It is disappointing," he told reporters at a conference on Tuesday of that city's decision not to accept the province's offer of an LRT that would run down Main St. to the Brampton GO station.

      The money will be reinvested in transportation infrastructure, said Del Duca. But where it goes depends on an analysis of priority transit projects by provincial transportation agency Metrolinx.

      "We will proceed with the plan to build the LRT from the Port Credit GO station to Steeles and the balance of the funding in question will flow back into the (province's) Moving Ontario Forward plan to be invested in priority transit projects in the region, which in theory could be a project or more than one project in Brampton but is not necessarily going to be Brampton," he said.

      "I can't say at this point it will be in the 905, the 416, in Toronto, in York Region, in Durham, in Brampton because we'll continue to do our work, our analysis," said Del Duca.

      https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/2015/11/03/brampton-should-not-count-on-lrt-funding-says-minister.html

      Sigma Cub

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    2. Glad to see that Brampton had the good sense to walk out.

      The Dark One

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    3. Brampton is still getting half of the LRT they wanted, and still backing LRT for the remainder of the route — they just second-guessed themselves on where the route should go. They didn't walk out so much as step out for a smoke.

      Sigma Cub

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  2. I admire Eisenberger's tenacity and I agree that Whitehead was out of bounds with his letter, but aside from my being against LRT, I think it is very unfortunate that the mayor does not support a referendum. The election of this council was bazxed on a very meager turn out at the polls, and I think there is an onus on the mayor to allow for a referendum.
    Sorce

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  3. Tone deaf

    The Dark One

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  4. WEST HARBOUR RESIDENTOctober 28, 2016

    OH my goodness. The level of arrogance by Fred is astounding. For or against LRT, his humility is missing. Perhaps he needs a reminder of who pays his wage? I see that absolutely nothing has changed since his last efforts to be Mayor. Sad.

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  5. according to the City, while conducting the recent information open house meetings, over 48% of those who responded expressed opposition to this proposal.

    Given today's revelation that the City of Toronto is now responsible for "tens of millions" in expenses for 'operating and maintenance cost's' originally thought to be absorbed by the Province, and the complete dichotomy between Wynne and McMeekin, I think Whitehead was prudent to place the onus on the Premier for clarification.

    I would like to see Fred and Kathy, side by side, recorded for posterity, confirming the options (it has never been LRT or nothing) and the funding commitments. I think it could help both improve public credibility.

    I sent an email to the Mayor and the Councilor expressing my position, and both were generous enough to take the time to call me directly and defend their respective positions. I admire the determination of both.

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    1. Toronto's LRT routes were DBFM procurements, meaning that they should not have been surprised by having to bear operating costs. That'd be the O in DBFOM, which is reportedly the Hamilton LRT procurement model (as it is in Waterloo Region). So Hamilton faces a different scenario than the TTC (under DBFOM, the third-party consortium would operate and maintain the Hamilton LRT).

      Even so, Toronto's laissez-faire approach to contractual agreements and optimistic assumptions about TBD details should stand as a reminder that councillors and city staff must be vigilant and proactive.

      They might also consider what their proposed alternative scenario would be, and the attendant costs and inconvenience attached thereto.

      Agreed that neither Mayor Eisenberger nor Councillor Whitehead want for drive and determination.

      Perspex

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    2. in the October 2012 "Master Agreement" with the Province, Metrolinx stated as owner they would "assume responsibility for subsequent operation and maintenance of the Finch, Sheppard, and Eglington Crosstown LRT's" and as such "councilors understood that the operating and maintenance cost's of the provincially funded LRT lines on...would be picked up by the Province."

      So perhaps you were prepared. Toronto taxpayers? Have they been afforded clear accurate information on which to make an informed decision? I think your confidence that our crew will somehow become the poster people for effective implementation is misplaced. I see no reason for optimism.

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    3. p.s. I watched the Mayor last night on "City Matters" on Cable 14 wherein he references the Toronto deal with the assurance he can broker "exactly the same deal as Toronto on our LRT"

      John Tory campaigned on a promise to fund LRT in Toronto using "TIF's" yet the report concludes TIF's and "property tax increases or equivalents will now be required"

      Cue up the evolution from "free" to "manageable" to.....?

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    4. Also worth a look is Ben Spurr's Oct 27 article about moves to reopen the debate over the $3.6B, single-stop Scarborough subway, in order to study a new route alignment on which the public has yet to be consulted:

      https://www.thestar.com/amp/news/gta/2016/10/27/scarborough-politicians-push-big-bend-for-subway-route.html

      The monthly cost for delaying construction on the project has been estimated to be something on the order of $12M a month.

      https://www.stevemunro.ca/2016/10/28/another-scarborough-subway-boondoggle/

      Ward



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  6. I believe that Terry Whitehead will go down in history as the man who had the guts to stand up to a ludicrous plan that would have ruined Hamilton. Keep at it Terry!

    Sammy from your ward

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    Replies
    1. Terry will go down as the narcissist, classist, selfish councillor he is. He voted what, 40, 50 times in favour of this, then decided after it was a reality he didn't actually know what he voted for and wanted out. Ward 8 is in favour of this. Let's get it started already!

      Middle class family from Ward 8

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    2. how do you arrive at your conclusion "Ward 8 is in favour of this?" Selfishness?
      how does a medically trained professional, -capable of rendering online psychiatric assessment-(anonymously), remain middle class?

      Delete
    3. Because I do what you do, Jim. I go on my gut, I go by what I read, see, hear, learn and understand, I speak to my neighbours, I get involved in community groups and events, and I have yet to hear someone speak against it in the ward. Sure, Terry's told us there is some sort of majority here that only tells him they are against it, but we never see names or faces that confirm it.

      PS - Look at all the companies in favour of LRT. Plenty that live, are based, or do work in the ward. Get over it, LRT is going to happen, so instead of bellyaching about all the potential for failure, come on board and be a part of the team to ensure it's success!

      Middle class family from Ward 8

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    4. I mistook your opinion as tenable, my apologies. One would have to wonder why anyone would believe the City would misrepresent the feedback it has received to date, data obtained at information sessions/open houses hosted by decidedly pro LRT partners.

      Given the response that those who have publicly opposed the project have received- mostly opposition from anonymous online crusaders-I can understand the reluctance of business owners to paint a bulls-eye on themselves.

      "...but we never see names or faces that confirm it" The irony.

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    5. It must be incredibly difficult to go through life being the victim all the time, Jim. I've yet to see you articulate why you're against LRT, only that you are in fact against it. Maybe an op-ed piece here would help people understand you better, rather than your snide comments. It must be getting lonely up on that pedestal.

      Middle class family from Ward 8

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    6. I can't remember the last time I was cast as a victim, thanks for the giggle. Given the frequency with which I post on this topic (here, and elsewhere, always using my real name) perhaps your issue has more to do with comprehension/retention. Regardless, here you go....

      This light rail proposal, unto itself, addresses no compelling need while radically altering existing (and preferred)infrastructure. Ignoring identified shortfalls-like a $3B infrastructure deficit-while investing in the imagined is the epitome of negligent irresponsibility. In essence, in my opinion, a poor use of scarce funding.
      Comprende?

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    7. Hamilton's $1B should be reallocated toward the highway needed to open up the Ring of Fire.

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/plans-for-roads-to-ring-of-fire-development-in-limbo-with-inconclusive-study/article31555369/

      Oookpik

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