Brad ClarkJohn Rennison The Hamilton Spectator3/17/14

Clark: Pull the plug on Hamilton LRT

By Matthew Van Dongen / Hamilton Spectator

Mayoral candidate Brad Clark is officially calling on Hamilton to pull the plug on a contentious bid for an $811-million LRT system in favour of negotiating cheaper bus rapid transit with the province.

The Stoney Creek councillor said he will oppose pursuing the 14-kilometre light-rail line from McMaster University to Eastgate even if the province provides 100 per cent capital funding for the project.

“We have to make decisions based on our needs,” he said at a Wednesday campaign announcement. “We want LRT. We don’t need LRT.”

With the announcement, Clark officially positions himself in clear opposition to council colleague and mayoral candidate Brian McHattie, who has championed the LRT plan as a city-building effort with dramatic potential to boost development and business along the east-west route.

Candidate and former mayor Fred Eisenberger, who pushed the LRT plan during his time in office, has called for a citizen panel on LRT and city transit options.

Clark argued the transit overhaul is still too expensive for local taxpayers once land expropriation, underground infrastructure improvements and other traffic changes are factored in.

He dismissed the economic uplift arguments found in past studies on LRT as uncertain and overly “rosy.”

Clark said the city should instead begin negotiating with the province over a bus rapid transit system for the same B-line that he estimates would cost closer to $350 million and require fewer local infrastructure and land costs.

At the same time, he urged expanding HSR bus service as recommended in the Rapid Ready report that supports LRT.

He said it would be too expensive, however, to simultaneously pursue bus rapid transit along both the east-west B-line and the north-south A line that runs from the water to the airport.

Mayoral candidate Crystal Lavigne has said she favours better bus service over LRT, while Ejaz Butt only supports the project with 100 per cent provincial funding. Michael Baldasaro and Nick Iamonico have both expressed support for the project.

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

Comments
2 Responses to “Clark: Pull the plug on Hamilton LRT”
  1. Crystal Lavigne says:

    After reading this article, I have to admit I felt some disdain to the lack of acknowledgement in regards to myself and stance on the subject matter.
    Right from the start, I differentiated myself from the other candidates with my stark contrast to their respective stances on LRT. I am completely anti-LRT. Not flip-flopped like Clark, not pro like McHattie and Eisenberger.
    I do understand that I am not considered a front-runner and partly because I have chosen to run my campaign well, well, below the “required” threshold of $200,000 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/want-to-be-mayor-you-d-better-have-200k-or-be-famous-1.2750628) and I use that loosely.
    Here is and was my stance from the beginning, in a nutshell, as our transportation issues are a needs and not a wants, (as I had mentioned in my first radio interview back in…. February or March):

    I would like to see our bus system improved throughout our entire city, targeting the areas that are lacking the most. I’d also like to see improvements in our North/South routes, especially running on the east side. We have a lovely area where gondola’s could be installed at a very attractive price tag in comparison to an LRT, in that area, where not only would it serve it’s purpose as a fast north/south connection, but an excellent tourist attraction as well. This would hi-light our beautiful landscape for all to enjoy. To help compliment this, installing rental bicycles above and below this connection as well direct bus service to and from would only serve to help complete this overall line.
    As for Brad Clark, I am not aware of when he became suddenly interested in putting the taxpayer’s money towards needs first, than wants, but I am confident he is not the one to stand up for tax payer’s and make this come to fruition. I’m not sure that is possible for him to do. When he spends the money of tax payer’s on “self-improvement” classes. When his campaign budget is set over $200,000, and within that money he sees he needs to pay rent to have 4 “head offices”, I just don’t see where he fits into the whole spectrum of even understanding fully what the difference between a need and a want is.
    It seems that at least when it comes to Clark and McHattie, they will do anything for votes, and then we wonder why so many distrust politicians and the voter turnout is fairly low.

    Crystal Lavigne

  2. @TheBaldasaro I do not support an East-West LRT. Financially it would be unsustainable, at this time.
    I do however, support an LRT LOOP between the Go Bus and Go Train Stations.
    Such a Line could run North on Bay and South on James Streets, East and west between King and Hunter, and include the new HSR Station on MacNab.
    This is the only LRT Route that makes sense. It is the heart of the system to follow.
    BONUS: Such a System would serve all East and West HSR Bus Lines in the G.H.A., attract in and out-of-town tourists and Toronto commuters and hopefully will pay for itself in time. It is G.H.A.’s Transportation Hub / City Centrepiece.

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