Tuesday night, July 12, 2016, 26 people (including your reporter) gathered in the hall of Erskine Presbyterian Church on Pearl Street North for the first organizational meeting of the No LRT in Hamilton movement.
Sitting at the front table - the three lead organizers of the No LRT movement and Ward 7 Councillor Donna Skelly who gave the main speech of the evening. 2/3rds of the people present are LRT opponents and 1/3rd LRT supporters. The supporters sat in the back row, with two standing at the back of the row.
As public gatherings go, this was an interesting one and productive for all involved. There were moments of strong discourse, and even some disrespectful dialogue, but in the end there was calm dialogue and a good start to what is likely to be a very heated few months of political division as City Council stirs this issue.
The result of the meeting is that the No LRT in Hamilton movement agreed to mobilize to have a presence at summer festivals to gather signatures on a petition to stop the LRT, that more communication will occur, and when at festivals, they'll work to distribute No LRT in Hamilton signs.
Of note for the long-term LRT debate, beyond the organizing of the No Side, is the strong opposition of Skelly. Ward 7 Councillor Donna Skelly says Hamiltonians need to pressure all three provincial leaders to commit to Hamilton getting the $1-billion after the 2018, to end the "all-or-nothing" element of the debate.
Skelly told the crowd Hamilton has higher priorities and Council should be able to determine how to best spend $1-billion.
Donna Skelly's Speech
I'm clipped out Skelly's opening address outlining the reason she is against building the B-Line LRT at this time:
Terry Cooke's Speech
Former Regional Chair, and current CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation Terry Cooke spoke to the crowd during the discussion period, opening by citing his leadership on another mass transportation project - the Red Hill Valley Parkway - saying LRT represents a once in a generation opportunity for Hamilton.
Directly addressing Skelly, Cooke said if he were on Council, he wouldn't want to be pass on this opportunity.
Here's the full replay of the meeting.