Mac Christie Flamborough Review Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Amid reports that talks about Hamilton’s proposed light rail transit (LRT) are ongoing between the provincial government, federal government and the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge is reiterating her opposition to the project.
“I am very much opposed to the LRT,” she told the Review. “What I support is a more fulsome higher order transit system that will connect all of the communities in Hamilton.”
Partridge said significant job growth is coming to areas outside the city’s core, including Flamborough business park, Upper Stoney Creek, the airport and Ancaster — but she said the LRT will not get people to those jobs.
“We keep hearing about economic development, that LRT is going to be great because of the economic development along that route — well, who’s going to live there?” she said. “Because the jobs are not downtown, the jobs are out in all the business parks.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me — and what really doesn’t make sense to me is no one is really taking a look at it — that hasn’t been part of the equation.”
Councillors voted March 3 to ask officials from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx to provide details on the resurrected LRT talks after LIUNA told The Hamilton Spectator in early March that funding talks for a shorter LRT line were progressing between the federal and provincial governments. Last year, LIUNA said it would help offset construction costs and has negotiated potential funding options, including private financing from its pension arm, with the two levels of government.
Partridge said she is concerned about the lack of input council has had in any talks about the LRT.
“It’s a bit disrespectful and unfortunate that there appears to be all these different discussions going on that directly impact our community and our council — and could potentially have tremendous impact on our residents going forward, in terms of cost for operating the LRT — and if it is going to be a reduced route, what’s the impact going to be?”
In addition, Partridge said since the LRT was originally studied for Hamilton a decade ago, things have changed dramatically.
“We now have L3 (Harris) at Clappison’s with 1,400 jobs coming,” she said. “How is the LRT going to help people get to those jobs?”
Partridge said whenever she publicly opposes LRT, she hears support from people right across the city.
“I’m hearing from people in Upper Stoney Creek, I’m hearing from people in the Winona area, as well as from people everywhere within my ward, and certainly over in Binbrook and Glanbrook,” she said.
Partridge said being opposed to LRT does not mean being opposed to a more fulsome transit system — which could include bus rapid transit (BRT) or electric buses.
“The people of Hamilton deserve the best transit possible,” she said. “We have $1 billion that has been committed by the province to be invested into Hamilton.
“The $1 billion is not coming to the city — it’s going to Metrolinx to be invested in the transit system. Is LRT the best transit system, really, to serve all the people in Hamilton? I don’t think so — that’s why I’m opposed to it.”
In terms of other options, Partridge pointed to BRT or on-demand transit, such as the pilot planned for Waterdown later this year.
“On-demand makes perfect sense, and we’re running it as a pilot so we can then take a look at the data that comes out of that pilot and look at where else can we potentially replicate the on-demand service in other areas of the city,” she said. “That $1 billion could be used for transit — the premier has already said that.
“It doesn’t have to be used for LRT — I don’t understand the insistence of the LRT project, I really don’t.”