by Mac Christie Flamborough Review
Anti-LRT supporters in the room where a technical briefing for the media and a press conference were supposed to be held in the Sheraton Hotel Dec. 16. – John Rennison/Torstar
Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge is celebrating the Ontario government’s decision to pull the plug on Hamilton’s LRT and sees it as an opportunity to build a transit system that connects the entire city.
The cancellation of the 14-km light rail transit project which would have connected McMaster University to Eastgate Square due to purported cost overruns was announced Dec. 16 by Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney following an aborted news conference in downtown Hamilton. The province has said it will create a task force to examine alternative options for the $1-billion funding put up for the now defunct project.
In a December press release Partridge, who came out in opposition to the LRT in March 2017 and campaigned against the project during the 2018 municipal election, said she was encouraged by the province’s cancellation of the “wasteful and unnecessary downtown LRT project.”
Partridge said in an interview she wanted to put out her position on the cancellation and said the announcement that Hamilton can use the funding for transportation and other approved projects is a “once-in-a-lifetime windfall that will benefit every corner of our city — not just the downtown corridor.” “I believe this is a real opportunity that we need to take hold of.” – Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge
“I believe this is a real opportunity that we need to take hold of,” said the Flamborough councillor, while stressing that the $1 billion is not coming directly to the City of Hamilton, but instead going to Metrolinx to invest in Hamilton. “We’ve got to find a way to work with this provincial government.
“We might not like all the decisions that they’re making or the way that they’re making them, but my golly, out of all the municipalities in Ontario, Hamilton is the only one that is staring the face of a $1-billion opportunity and we don’t want to blow it.”
Partridge said she — as well as other councillors — have been frustrated by a “lack of transparency and co-operation” from Metrolinx and city LRT planning staff.
In terms of transit for Waterdown and Flamborough, Partridge said she believes strongly that with the fast-growing communities throughout the city, Hamilton needs a transit system that better connects all the communities together.
“The status quo of what we’ve been doing is not working and we need to look for more innovative ways to move people around,” she said. Partridge said solutions could include ride sharing and smaller on-demand electric buses which would take people to where they want to go within a neighbourhood.
She said jobs in Hamilton are located in business parks in Ancaster, Flamborough, or in Stoney Creek and the biggest residential booms are in Upper Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Glanbrook and Waterdown.
“Those are the folks that we have to move around and get them to work and at the same time have the connectivity into the rest of the city, into the downtown to give them more flexibility.”
She said that in order for transit to work, it has to be cost-effective, efficient and comfortable.
“If it’s going to take somebody an hour and a half to get from Waterdown to the downtown of Hamilton, or even up to Mohawk College, they’re not going to take it.”
She said the city includes six downtowns in the various communities of Hamilton — such as Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Dundas, Waterdown and Binbrook.
“They’re all downtowns, so to speak, that people need to be able to get access to,” she said. “To our libraries, to our hospitals, to our schools.”
While she is personally in favour of a bus rapid transit system, Partridge said all options should be considered.
“I think if we try to limit to one thing, we’re missing the boat,” she said. “I don’t think there’s any ‘silver bullet’ here — it needs to be a combination — whether it’s HSR, GO, Uber.
“We need to at least look at that.”
Partridge said she thinks there are also needs to be connections with the GO Transit system.
“Right now, the GO goes to McMaster University and to the downtown,” she said. “We have the (GO) maintenance barn up here at Clappison’s Corners and I’ve been saying for five years since it was built — ‘Why can’t we have a GO bus that goes from the centre of Waterdown and connects down to McMaster?’”