The following is an article written by Councillor John-Paul Danko, originally published for the Hamilton Spectator’s June 13 issue.
For more details, please continue reading below…
LRT deal is as good as Hamilton could get
JOHN-PAUL DANKO JUNE 13, 2021
For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as transformational as LRT, it is necessary to ask: why LRT?
There are five reasons the federal and provincial governments will invest $3.4 billion to benefit the residents of Hamilton:
Vision: LRT is about building the Hamilton we aspire to be.
Transportation: LRT is the first stage of Hamilton’s citywide rapid transit network, improving transit services across the city.
Economic development: LRT is the catalyst for millions of dollars in new property tax revenue, benefiting every taxpayer from Waterdown to Binbrook to Stoney Creek.
Growth: LRT promotes high-density development along a defined corridor, saving precious farmland and relieving the intensity of growth that will otherwise be required on the mountain, Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook and Stoney Creek.
Jobs: As the Canadian economy recovers from COVID-19, Hamilton’s LRT will provide more than 7,000 high-paying local jobs, along with billions in economic spinoff for Hamilton businesses from Stelco and ArcelorMittal Dofasco to the restaurants where workers buy their lunches.
LRT has been reviewed, analyzed and debated for more than a decade. Every question that could be asked, has been evaluated.
Here are the facts.
The $3.4 billon capital investment from the federal and provincial governments is for LRT and LRT only. There is no BRT, no electric buses, no “spend the money on whatever you want” — the offer is LRT or nothing.
Metrolinx will own Hamilton’s LRT system. As the owner, Metrolinx is solely responsible for the contract budget, cost overruns and the entire life-cycle cost of all heavy maintenance.
The City of Hamilton’s sole contribution to LRT will be the day-to-day operating costs, easily offset by double the fare revenue collected, phasing out millions of dollars in grants and development charge exemptions and incremental property tax revenue resulting from billions of dollars in new transit-oriented growth.
To put things in perspective, before any offsets are applied, the City’s annual gross $20 million LRT investment is roughly one per cent of Hamilton’s annual budget.
Metrolinx would like a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) approved by Hamilton Council as soon as possible. Once approved, construction will start in early 2022.
Yet, some may choose to dismiss the professional analysis of experts as speculation. Some may choose to think that turning down a $3.4 billion federal and provincial investment won’t have decades of severe negative repercussions. Some may even still believe that because they won’t personally ride LRT it won’t benefit them. However, the reality of the facts does not change.
Fundamentally, the decision before Hamilton City Council is to support Hamilton as a great city that should ambitiously strive to improve and grow as other great cities around the world have.
The choice is no longer if we will build LRT, but how do we leverage this transformational investment to benefit all of Hamilton.
The deal on the table for Hamilton’s LRT is as good or better than any transit deal ever offered to a Canadian municipality — it is as good as it could possibly get.