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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pic of the Moment

Mayor Fred Eisenberger at his visit to the Waterloo Region’s LRT.

Here is the text of the Mayor's letter to Councillors, that was included inn this media release:



Dear Councillors,

I would like to take this opportunity to update you on my visit to the Waterloo Region’s LRT open this past Saturday.

As I arrived at the LRT’s maintenance and storage facility in Waterloo, I could not help but be impressed by the crowd of more than 1,000 people who lined up to see the LRT car and inspect the first LRT car firsthand. There were literally people of all ages on hand, from small children to seniors.

I was greeted at the open house by Ken Seiling, Waterloo Region’s chair. He explained to me that Waterloo Region has branded its LRT with the name ION. GrandLinq is the Region’s public-private

partner, which will design, build, finance, operate and maintain ION over the next 30 years.

The capital cost of their LRT is $818 million and is funded by three levels of government: the Government of Ontario ($300 million), the Government of Canada ($265 million) and the Region of Waterloo ($253 million).

In other words, local tax payers are contributing directly to the capital cost of the project. As you know, this is in contrast to Hamilton’s LRT project, which is being funded 100 per cent by the Province.

It should come as no surprise that the very first thing any public official from Waterloo says to someone like me, from Hamilton, is how on earth did we convince the Province to pick up the entire capital cost of our project. I have to tell you, it is said with more than a little envy.

The LRT car itself is quite impressive, and – yes – it has that new car smell. It was made in Thunder Bay by Bombardier, and the balance of the 14 cars will be made in Kingston and delivered before the end of this year. It is longer than any street bus or street car, and is articulated in five segments. It can carry more than 200 people, and because it is not in traffic, the LRT comes frequently, with predictable regularity, so line ups of passengers will be cleared quickly.

By the way, the LRT fare will be fully integrated with Waterloo’s transit system. That is, passengers will pay the same fare whether they take a bus or an LRT, and transfers are free.

I was pleased to meet Tom Galloway, an elected councillor who is their chair of planning and public works committee.

An operator has been selected, Keolis, which is partnered with GrandLinq, and they are currently hiring. An operating agreement is in place, with an annual operating cost of $8 million per year.

However Tom, an accountant by training, said he is not at all concerned about what the operating costs land at because the LRT is already generating increased revenue through assessment growth and development charges resulting from new residential and commercial development all along the route.

I took the time to speak to several people who were in line to see the car. Some of them were LRT skeptics in the beginning but were turned into supporters based on the cost-benefit case. Even Tom confessed to be an early LRT skeptic but was convinced purely on the numbers. He is now their council’s political lead on the project.

After the open house I drove the entire 19-kilometre length of the LRT route from Waterloo to the south part of Kitchener. Much of the track is already completed although there is a stretch in downtown Kitchener that is still being worked on. I got out of my car several times to take a close look. Left-turns and U-turns are provided at specific signalized intersections. In the downtowns where there is a curbside rapid transit lane, traffic will be able to cross the LRT to get in and out of driveways. I was impressed by how nicely the tracks fitted in the streetscape as well as the modern-looking poles for the overhead lines that will power the LRT. I was also impressed by the construction cranes I saw along the route over new developments.

Of course, another huge aspect of the project is the replacement of the road and underground infrastructure. They literally found wooden and brick pipes over a hundred years old. As old as they are, they will not last forever, and as Tom said to me, you are going to be digging up the road and replacing all that sometime in the future. It is only a question of when and at what cost. Here in Hamilton, that infrastructure will be replaced and paid for by the Province as the LRT project advances. If there is no LRT, the underground infrastructure will still be replaced, but the cost would be paid by local taxpayers. It is terribly expensive, and I for one like the idea of the Province paying that under our LRT agreement.

What I have described here is phase one of Waterloo Region’s LRT project. They are already planning a phase two which will extend the LRT line from Kitchener to Cambridge extending the length from 19 kilometres to 37 kilometres. Waterloo Region’s population, currently at 535,000, is expected to grow by 200,000 over the next 20 years. As Tom Galloway said to me, you have to start somewhere, and the sooner you get building, the more you save, because building costs over time will only go up. So let’s get at it!

As I left Waterloo Region, I could not help but reflect on the similarities between our two communities. There was opposition to their project as well. But as the project progressed they overcame it. Now it is close to completion. As much as we love our neighbours in Waterloo Region, they are in many ways our competitors in terms of investment and the war for talent. If they can build an LRT successfully and reap all those rewards, I am confident that we can too.

I extend to all member of Council an invitation to visit the LRT facilities in Waterloo in the coming weeks for which I will make all the arrangements.

Cheers,


29 comments:

  1. I wonder why nobody else went, pro or con?

    Could they not bolster or refute claims based on their visit?

    ~Mountain Man

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    Replies
    1. My prediction. Councillors Whitehead and Skelly will never visit Waterloo. They will never reach out to anyone from Waterloo with questions.

      Allan Graham

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    2. Or they've already talked to people from Kitchener Waterloo who don't spout the party line but rather express their views

      Delete
    3. cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/Ion lrt frustrates kitchener residents.

      kitchenerctvnews/major problems-with vehicle-manufacturing-delay-lrt-launch

      mike orangefield

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    4. So mike orangefield cant provide ANY citations about the Waterloo LRT being overbudget, behind schedule, numerous business closings, or anything else relevant to the actual conversations. What can mike orangefield supply to "prove" Waterloo LRT build was the crushing failure him and his anti LRT crowd predicted? A cbc news article almost two years old where SOME locals are frustrated with the build. Well I guess mike orangefield wants to stop EVERY infrastructure build that 'frustrates" someone.

      Jim Taylor

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  2. Anyone with access to the Hamiltonian or the Spectator has access to local Waterloo news. The anti LRT people in Hamilton started out talking about how LRT couldnt be planned built or launched successfully. Well Waterloo has done it. Anti LRT people in Hamilton talked non stop and still do of massive cost overages, builds taking far longer than promised, Waterloo commerce would be destroyed, and no one in Waterloo wanted the LRT. Well none of that happened in Waterloo. The opposite in fact. Now we know how much it costs to run, the fares, how it integrates with existing transit structure, the rate in transit levies for funding and so on. Hamilton LRTS still talk of all the "unknowns". We now have a neighbour an hour away running the same system we will and it is hard to imagine how anti LRT people in Hamilton will be able to continue to say "LRT will NEVER work" when it clearly does.

    James Taylor

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    Replies
    1. yet to be built or launched, by why let facts get in the way at this point?

      Delete
    2. "yet to be built or launched, by why let facts get in the way at this point?" The Waterloo LRT isnt built?

      Jim Taylor

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    3. nothing resembling anything that could be qualified as a success. You are bowled over by a photo-op

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    4. according to the Mayor (if you had read the article) all of the rail is yet to be installed, none of the medium voltage switchgear required to energize the system is on site yet, and only one model rail car has been delivered (late) But you and Fred could probably push that car down that track "successfully" as a dry run for when the same unfolds here. Your penance to the community for advocating for such nonsense so obsessively.

      francis buxton

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    5. One stretch of track. Completion date known, on sched, on budget. The switchgear should be in directly, on sched on budget. Here a guarantee. The Waterloo LRT could be running smooth for years and you wont admit its success. It will be something like "Well all the REAL problems that will blow it up come in year ????" Go to home page for Waterloo LRT.

      Allan Graham

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    6. "the Waterloo LRT is not built?"
      Will all of your future commentary be as well considered?
      As factually sound?
      Go to Waterloo.

      Delete
    7. Yes, Jim. Keep holding onto that life preserver. "the Waterloo LRT isnt built. The Waterloo LRT isnt built" Keep saying it to yourself, over and over. This can be your mantra. Saying it over and over again doesnt make it true but it will give you peace of mind.

      Todd King

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  3. without a single passenger boarded, Jim is prepared to declare the initiative an unparalleled success. Your Utopia awaits, and just a quick bus ride away.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jim misrepresents what was posted. Oh well. "without a single passenger boarded, Jim is prepared to declare the initiative an unparalleled success" No. Didnt say that. Just reminding all the anti LRT people about all the predictions they made about how Waterloo LRT planning and build would fail. And about all the talk from anti LRT people that because Waterloo LRT would be a massive fail, it was clear evidence that Hamilton Lrt would also be a massive fail. That this was a constant refrain from many in the anti LRT camp is indisuptable. Anti LRT people talked about how Waterloo LRT would be a disaster. It wasnt. We heard endless chatter from anti LRT people in Hamilton that the Waterloo LRT build would be over budget. It wasnt. Anti Lrt people said Waterloo LRT build would be behind schedule. That never happened. Anti Lrt people said Waterloo LRT build would kill Waterloo commerce during the build. That also didnt happen. Anti Lrt people said the build would be subject to endless delays and complications that couldnt be foreseeen. Again, that also never happened. The anti LRT people talked about how Waterloo LRT build would result in massive tac increases for local Waterloo taxpayer. yet again, that hasnt happened. Just highlighting the dismal track record anti LRT people in Hamilton have for getting things right. So that people will be aware that anti LRT people in Hamilton are likely to continue to be wrong. Unless Jim Grham has some evidence or facts disputing the success of the Waterloo LRT build, lets call it a success.

    Jim Taylor

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  5. This is what Jim Taylor says "without a single passenger boarded, Jim is prepared to declare the initiative an unparalleled success" That wasnt the case. But if it was how is it different than Jim Graham calling Hamilton LRT a failure before we started to build? Well one way its different is we see a very successful LRT build an hour away. In regards to the Waterloo LRT build, we have already seen all the predictions of disaster by Hamilton anti LRT people disproven. Heres a question. Lets make it hypothetical. IF the the operation of Waterloo goes well, and IF its got the projected ridership and IF it goes smoothly what will Hamilton anti LRTs say? Ive already seen on other Hamilton media anti LRT say "Well yea, it went really well in Waterloo. But it wont here" When asked why there is no answer. A drowning man clutches at straw. Or anvils.

    Allan Graham

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    Replies
    1. Allan, show me where I said "LRT is a failure" anywhere, ever. Only those unable to defend their respective positions resort to nonsense and misinformation.
      I say LRT success is predicated on demand that does not exist, and as such is a poor use of scarce funding. It is not an upgrade to existing service, it is an option. One mans choice.
      You shouldn't dive into the deep end without support Allan. Backstroke.

      Delete
    2. Captain HamiltonApril 13, 2017

      I don't think that because we get LRT people will suddenly start taking it. The same people who take HSR now will likely take LRT.

      Think about it. It only goes to the traffic circle.
      The Captain

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    3. Jim Graham doesnt use the word "failure?" Ok. Has Jim Graham posted here comments about LRT that use words that have the same meaning as "LRT will fail"?

      Heres one: jim grahamOctober 13, 2016 The Hamiltonian

      " Some are taken aback by the ensuing chaos. I believe anarchy is now inevitable" True, the words "LRT failure" werent used. That Jim Graham thinks that the LRT success would result in "anarchy" or "chaos" is probably a Freudian slip. The success of the LRT will bend creat anarchy AND chaoe - in Jim Grahams reality.

      Heres another form the same comment:

      " Where you see a dangling carrot, I see an already rotting albatross." Great image.

      That Jim Graham can say in "LRT will fail" in many different ways without using the word fail, and then proclaim "Nah nah nah na nah, I never said LRT would FAIL. Show me where I said LRT would fail." and expect anyone to take him seriously..? Thas hilarious.

      Jim Taylor

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  6. Captain HamiltonApril 13, 2017

    As a kid, I'd line up for the ice cream truck.

    Fact is, the Waterloo line is by no means a mature line. It is a new toy on the block. And our needs and environment is much different than theirs. Also, they don't have our city council.

    Enough said i think

    The Captain

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  7. "We are a Region that is blessed in so many ways and is the envy of many other communities. Yes we have our problems and issues, but in comparison to many others, we continue to move forward on many fronts. This is not just an accident but, I believe, a product of a history which has seen many transformational moments which have been seized and acted upon rather than let pass...

    This Regional Council, those of you sitting here today, are in the position of making decisions on one of the most transformational projects we will see in our lifetime and the decisions you make will be felt for many years to come in this Region. As our population continues to grow, we are well on our way to the more than 200,000 additional residents predicted. We must shape that growth and manage it....

    Our Light Rail Project… has been studied and discussed for many years. It is a project which has significant Federal and Provincial support, the largest infrastructure investment this Region has seen from senior levels of Government.

    The choices you make will have a lasting impact. A decision to proceed will curb urban sprawl, increase urban intensification, lessen automobile congestion, reduce road construction costs and preserve neighbourhoods, encourage investment both in development and jobs, both short term and long term, enhance the quality of life in our communities, and keep us on the leading edge of innovation.

    A failure to move forward will doom us to pressure for increased urban sprawl, to the need to attempt to build a larger and more costly road system than we would need (if indeed it were even possible), to become a community that would look more like the GTA with its gridlock, to less intensification, to end up being a community less attractive to investment and job creation, and to be seen as a community which failed to manage it growth and lost the economic vitality and the quality of life which we all seek to preserve.

    Yes, this will be a transformational Council, one way or the other. I have every confidence that you will be the Council whose legacy will be recorded as the one that, in the tradition of this Region, chose the path to move us ahead, that had a vision of what the future needed, and that left our children and grandchildren the community they deserve."

    – Ken Seiling, Chair of Waterloo Region

    http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalGovernment/resources/ChairInaugural.pdf

    Noted

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our lrt project has nothing to do with urban sprawl

      Delete
    2. That speech above is very moving and it did give me a second or two of pause. But LRT is not right for Hamilton and BRT should be pursued. No fancy words can deny that brutal fact.I'll still be driving my car regardless.
      Sorce

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  8. Hamilton has a very effective way of curbing urban sprawl. All the attention and money is given to the inner city lol

    Stoney Creek Boy

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  9. hey. where was everybody today?lly? i thought us anti lrt ers were gonna show up on masse? not one single anti lrt person showed? i couldnt make it but i thought the other 14 of us would show.

    mike orangefield

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  10. Apparently many people need to be educated on these last several days. Thursday was deemed Holy Thursday- the day where Christ was seized. Good Friday was the day he was crucified. Saturday was the day the tomb was found empty and Sunday is Easter Sunday.

    I understand that not everyone is a Christian, but those of us who are, understand the importance of these days. A LRT rally is not even on the radar.

    Christian

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  11. About 3-400 people show up in a city of over half a million. I am so impressed. It was nice going for a drive today in my beamer in the uncongested streets of Hamilton
    Sorce

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    Replies
    1. The anti LRT people were advertising all week about the huge "counter rally" that was going to happen. Of a city of over half a million you would think ONE anti LRT person would have come out. Jim Graham thinks anarchy and chaos is coming as a result of LRT. Even he didnt show up. Where was the crew from Gilberts? Proves what many knew all along. That there are only a handful of anti LRT people in Hamilton.

      Jim Taylor

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    2. if I had known you were attending, and if you had the courage to publicly identify yourself, I would been certain to stop by and introduce myself. Clearly not something you considered.

      Delete

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