While they fall in love, I’m falling out

RE: Hamilton LRT Funding

(Our letter to the Premier & Transportation Minister)

Hamilton – It’s Christmas Eve-Eve. The stockings are hung. Cookies for Santa are baked. Big, crunchy carrots all set for Dasher, Dancer et al. Eggnog? Check. Breakfast items for the big day in the fridge? Check. Presents wrapped? Check. House clean and ready for the special visitor? Not so much.

It’s a crazy time of year for those who celebrate Christmas and especially for those with kiddos chomping at the bit to wake up at crazy o-clock December 25th. There is always one more thing to do and t-minus zero hours left to accomplish everything we want to make it a memorable and joyous day.

The last thing I am sure most of us want to do, even those highly engaged in political conversations in our communities, is talk politics. Yet here we are in Hamilton, only 35 hours, 56 minutes, and 54,3,2,1 …. seconds until Christmas bells strike 12 not only talking partisan shop, but for the 12th Christmas in a row, visions of trains are swirling around our brains.

I should be vacuuming. I’ve got songs to download for the annual Christmas CD I make for my girls each year.  There are a few odds and ends to pick up, laundry to fold and put away, cookies to try not to eat before the big man arrives, but here we are. Scrambling to save the political hail marry that has bounced around in the air so many times over the years between local and provincial indecision, misinformation, and dueling yes and no LRT campaigns. 70 votes from our Hamilton city councilors. 7 provincial and municipal elections where LRT was the ballot item. All in favour of moving this project forward.

For me, it isn’t important which side you are on this late in the game. If after all of these years, with all of the information that has been brought forward, websites and volunteer committees travelling around talking about this project, if this hasn’t changed your original opinions, nothing will.

For me, I see the benefits and have voiced my support both personally and added INSE’s logo to the poster Graham Crawford put together to show the local business support of the project. I’m not even going to list the benefits I see but as a whole, it’s about the city I want to leave for my children with hopes that they might continue to chose Hamilton as home after college, university, or high school because it has everything they need to thrive in the 21st century. For me, LRT was part of that vision.

Poster by Graham Crawford

You may disagree with me and that’s fine. A difference of opinion is what strengthens our cities and families and in this case, it forces us to work harder to support our side and ultimately, the end result is that much better for the effort required to show that all sides of the conversation are important to the decisions those tasked with the votes make each and every day – so many of those choices difficult and often contentious ones.

This project touches every aspect of our city from infrastructure, telecommunications providers, transit, businesses big and small, and of course you and I – the residents of this city. Hamilton isn’t alone on this course to build light rail transit across Ontario but at the rate of our self-inflicted and random bombs from the birds of paradise above, we’ll likely be the last to see it dart across our lower core for the first time.

It will happen. There are too many big players with their arms up in the air for the Province not to respond with getting this project permanently back on track. The question is how long will it take to finally get us to a point of no return for real this time? How many relationships broken? How much time wasted debating and arguing over this one issue when there are so many pressing conversations that deserve their turn to be front and centre?

This is not a time for yes or no. Too much effort has been spent by thousands of people online, in the media, and in local conversations discussing for and against talking points.

A dear friend whom we lost this year, was one who delegated at city hall, was a huge booster for the project in general, and he could be found commenting on almost every conversation on line discussing the pro’s, providing the real facts, in an effort to tirelessly do his part to help our city see this project through. If he wouldn’t have been taken from us so suddenly, he’d be back at it again this past week in fiery but professional rebuke of opposition. This is just one example of the time that cannot have been for not because this passion for our city I am quite sure was a factor in his early demise. He cared too much and could not rest until he knew the projects near and dear to him, were safely on their passage through the home stretch.

We’ve fought about this project for too long. It has long divided us and continues to tear us apart and I blame leadership for that. From ‘could that $1B be used for other infrastructure projects’ right out of the gate to the recent announcement that a task force would be organized by the Province to determine best use of that ‘$1B still promised to Hamilton for infrastructure’ other than LRT.

I feel like I have been right up there with the passionate and proud Hamiltonians for most of my life from sport, education, architecture, nature, and our people but I’ve had enough. From LRT, the Stadium Debate, Red Hill x2, Pride, sewergate, Parkview, and the quick and continuing loss of local education facilities. 

It’s not easy to stay proud and positive when you’ve not only had to deal with these big local issues over the past 15 or so years, but Hamilton as a whole until recently was not held in high regard to outsiders throughout most of my existence. It’s difficult to see out-of-towners finally fall in love with our landscape and built architecture enough to move here, but for them to quickly become attune to the political drama not only in our city, but between our Hamilton, provincial and federal counterparts.

While they fall in love, I’m falling out.

Hamilton is a great city. It has so much to offer. It truly has everything my family needs. Politicians do not define it. The people that have built this city, those that have come to eagerly help it grow yet maintain its uniqueness, to those that were here long before any of us. They are what make this city what it is. A friendly, passionate, and compassionate little big city.

Let’s make sure if nothing else, that the real LRT costs are known. Allow those close to providing their quotes for the projects, to have their chance to show us their estimates. We know the numbers provided for Hamilton are not at all in line with other Cities costs/estimates, so let’s be transparent at least.

It’s not about yes or no. We have made this decision time and time as a city. What are the numbers? That is where the next steps lie.

Stop pitting city vs. province vs. people.

I want to love my city again.

Yes – Add your voice to the message to Premier Ford to get this project back on track:

http://hamiltonlightrail.ca/

No – Site discussing the other side of the LRT discussion:

Just the facts – We ask Premier Ford and MPP Mulroney to at least share their full costing analysis of the Hamilton LRT because there will be no closure in Hamilton, if this project dies at the hand of a simple one page chart.

Email:
Hon. Caroline Mulroney (York-Simcoe) caroline.mulroney@pc.ola.org
Hon. Doug Ford (Etobicoke North) doug.fordco@pc.ola.org

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