Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The LRT Thing

I was sitting at my desk this morning pondering a blog topic when Joey Coleman ( tweeted that mayoral candidate Brad Clark was set to make an announcement at his Dundas campaign office at 9:15 this morning. Interesting!

You might remember from my earlier tour of the mayoral campaign websites ( that I found Councillor Clark's site somewhat lacking in content. Here was a chance to see some solid policy.

Like a tidal wave, the meat of the announcement washed over Twitter. Interesting.

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This was very timely for a couple of reasons.

First, the administrator of the Dundas Facebook page has been keen to get all Ward 13 candidates to submit positions on LRT. We've been through several rounds now. Our initial responses were all too long, which makes sense since LRT is a complex issue. We were encouraged to be more succinct and move to a point-form format. Our responses were still all too long so finally, we were given a 100 word limit. Tricky!

Second, the Globe & Mail just happened to publish a summary piece on the Hamilton LRT saga this morning ( In it, Brad Clark is quoted thusly:

"And Councillor Brad Clark, a mayoral candidate, favours instead getting a smaller sum from the province to improve the city’s existing bus service. “We have to get our house in order, improve our [bus] transit and improve our roads and, in my opinion, get back to basics before we start talking about such luxuries as LRT,” he said."

This is despite his earlier support for LRT and his vote in favour of the project. Remember, "council has voted overwhelmingly in favour of it." Interesting.

In one of my Cactus Fest wrap-up posts (, I mentioned that "Dundas has very strong opinions on LRT and as far as I can tell, they are almost evenly split "for" and "against". It seems that no matter where a candidate may sit on the LRT, someone will be very angry about it."

That makes Councillor Clark's choice of Dundas as a location for his announcement somewhat perplexing. Presumably, he feels that support for LRT is weakest in the "burbs".

At the end of the day, this probably comes down to positioning and electioneering. Councillor McHattie has already declared his strong support for LRT and it is reasonably safe to assume that Fred Eisenberger will follow suit. 

In simple terms, that means that if the election hinges on this one issue, Brad will get the 50% of the vote that is against LRT while Brian and Fred will be left to split the other 50%. 

Clever campaign math or critical blunder? I guess we'll wait and see.

Oh, and my position on LRT? I'm an engineer - I like trains almost by definition! Seriously though, I'm already on record as pro-LRT. If properly implemented and managed, I think it can be a great thing for Hamilton. And what's good for Hamilton is good for Dundas.

Here's my 98 word reasoning: 

"An LRT will strengthen Hamilton’s tax base, which is good for Dundas, though many questions remain. I believe that LRT will be good for small business and property values (endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and the Realtor’s Association). LRT will improve air quality, reduce traffic volume and lower noise levels. LRT will improve transportation for youth, students, seniors and people with limited mobility. LRT will attract young professionals who do not need or want a car. Finally, the Province has committed to capital funding, which Burlington is eager to take if we fail to seize this opportunity."

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