Will the proposed $1 billion light rail transit (LRT) project be the catalyst for ‘transformative’ change in Hamilton? Or will it be a fiasco of unprecedented proportions?

After the province confirmed it was providing $1 billion to be used exclusively for the construction of a LRT (running along Main Street and King Street from the Queenston traffic circle in the east to McMaster University in the west with a spur line along James Street North to the new GO station), Council established a committee to monitor the process. Among the appointees was Flamborough Chamber of Commerce (FCC) Executive Director Arend Kersten (who has also been appointed to Hamilton’s Open For Business and Government Relations Committees).

After attending his first meeting, the FCC Board of Directors prepared 15 questions related to the project.

Frankly, many of the answers provided were disconcerting and raised even more questions and concerns. For instance, what happens if there is a change in government when Ontarians go to the polls in 2018? (“We can’t speculate what might happen in the future.”) With the LRT replacing buses on both King Street and Main Street, will HSR passes be totally transferable with LRT? (“This level of detail is not known.”) Who will be responsible for the annual operating shortfall? (“Decisions on operating and maintenance costs and responsibilities will be addressed at a future time.”) Will the (2019-2024) project be constructed in stages or will the entire route be under construction at the same time? (“This level of detail is not yet known.”)

To further familiarize itself with the LRT project (especially as it relates to taxpayers in Flamborough), the FCC is hosting a Business Roundtable beginning at 12 noon NEXT WEDNESDAY, May 25 at the Harry Howell Arena for members and guests. Staff from both Hamilton’s LRT division as well as Metrolinx will be on hand to describe the project and answer questions.  As usual, a light lunch will be provided.

We apologize for the late notice but the LRT situation has been very fluid. After the most recent meeting of the LRT committee, East Hamilton Councillor Sam Merulla presented a motion last week calling on Council to reaffirm its support for project.

Thanks to the efforts of East Flamborough Councillor Judi Partridge, Council decided by a vote of 9-6 to refer the motion to yesterday’s meeting of the General Issues Committee (GIC) so that the entire Council could receive an update on the status of project from staff.

But after five hours of discussion at yesterday’s meeting, Merulla’s motion was punted to the June 15 meeting of the GIC.

To be fully prepared NEXT WEDNESDAY’S Business Roundtable, please confirm your attendance by return email to admin@flamboroughchamber.ca as soon as possible. Space is limited and will be available on a strict first-registered basis.

The 15 FCC LRT questions and Metrolinx answers can be found HERE.