Hamilton City Council is feeling the heat of having to do their job.
A different kind of heat is being felt on Parliament Hill – election fever.
Minority Parliaments have an average life span of two years, and this one is quickly approaching its two year life expectancy.
Once the election writ is dropped, the money for Hamilton’s LRT is gone, never to return. Full stop.
The agreements for the other Greater Toronto Area priority transit projects are being signed, and those shovels will be going into the ground. Toronto is happy to take yes for n answer.
Where does that leave Hamilton on the eve of yet another City Council debate on LRT?
Council’s phone lines are burning up.
On one side, nearly every Hamilton business leader is telling City Councillors to get on with the job at hand – after all it was Hamilton City Council that asked for LRT funding.
Hamilton expats working around both Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill are telling Council to take yes for an answer and stop being a national embarrassment.
Meanwhile, Hamilton East – Stoney Creek MP Bob Bratina is making phone calls telling them to stop the train and join his outrage over the federal government offering Hamilton 100% capital funding with no municipal contribution.
Hamilton Mountain MPP Donna Skelly is keeping quiet.
City Councillors are scrambling for a way out of doing their jobs as the politics of division instead of vision are catching up with them – they have to do their job and make a decision.
The LRT has served to be a great wedge issue for the past decade, why talk about sewers when you talk about something else. Now, higher levels of government have surprised everyone by saying yes to City Council’s demands for special treatment.
Division is meeting multiplication. LRT is an economic multiplier. It drives investment, drives density, and creates a tax-efficient corridor which serves as a tax positive area filling municipal coffers.
Waterloo is already planning to expand its LRT beyond the existing 19 kilometre line – which local taxpayers paid for a third of the capital cost. Their LRT is generating economic uplift.
Two weeks ago, Council tabled making a decision. Going into Wednesday’s vote, tabling seems the likely outcome again.
A vote to table is as same as voting no.
Hamilton that will lose the $3.4-billion if the federal election arrives before Council makes a decision.
It was forty years ago that Hamilton City Council turned down a fully-funded rapid transit system, that opportunity went to Vancouver and we all know it as the Skytrain today. We are unlikely to get a third chance.
Milton has a velodrome and York University has a track facility, all because Council would not get its act together during the Pan Am Games debates. In the end, we were left with a poorly built problem plagued stadium.
If Council repeats its stadium dithering, we will have Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Council, as they say, you have one job. Get on with the vote.