Joey’s Notepad: A LRT Proxy Debate on Upper James Transit Studies

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Handout/City of Hamilton

Rendering of Hamilton's Proposed LRT looking west at the intersection of King Street East and Wellington Street.

The following was originally published in The Public Record email edition, read the full newsletter edition for June 26, 2020 here, and sign up for the newsletter here.


We have no idea when Hamilton’s B-Line LRT project will be back at Council. City Hall is presently focusing upon on a 2026 Commonwealth Games as the COVID stimulus pitch.

Ontario Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney has the Hamilton Transportation Task Force Report on her desk, and she’ll decide what parameters will be applied to the $1-billion dollars the province is committing to Hamilton.

Due to COVID, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s regular visits to Queen’s Park are not happening, thus there isn’t the ability for them to champion the project the same way they usually do, in the continuing absence of leadership from City Hall.

A staff report on the next steps to make Upper James Street more pedestrian friendly, includes a $550,000 budget line for detailed studies and planning for A-Line transit corridor. This caused a 30 minute debate as Councillors opposed to the B-Line LRT project questioned if spending on planning for transit on Upper James is premature.

Some of them want to see the $550,000 paid for out of that $1-billion commitment to transit in Hamilton.

It was Ward 9 Councillor Brad Clark, who ran for Mayor in 2014 and is positioning to be able to run for Mayor in 2022, who led off the debate. His arguments were similar to the past about the A-Line, with the addition of how the City of Hamilton’s fiscal state is very concerning during COVID and they need to save money wherever possible.

The debate gave us a flavour of where Council is at on the LRT file. Clark’s motion to defer any action on transit along Upper James failed on a 6-8 vote. It did not exactly break along LRT lines.

Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins and Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson voted against Clark’s motion, and for the work. This reflects their pro-development stance, a delay to transit planning on Upper James will delay developers looking to build mid-rise buildings.

Nonetheless, the picture is becoming more clear, LRT’s path to nine votes in favour needs either Ward 13’s Arlene Vanderbeek or Ward 7’s Esther Pauls to be in favour, likely both.

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First published: June 28, 2020
Last edited: June 28, 2020
Author: Joey Coleman

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