Special Report: Light Rail

Could AEGD cost Hamilton LRT?

Hamilton has a great case for light rail in population growth and economic development potential. In land use, though, the Aerotropolis decision is our latest embarrassment.

By Meredith Broughton
Published November 15, 2010

Two days after the Airport Employment Growth District was approved in October, I was channel-surfing and caught the word "Hamilton," on what turned out to be an episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Arriving midway through the discussion, I went online to view the entire thing.

Among the guests on that show was Jeff Casello, an Associate Professor in the School of Planning and the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo, giving an introduction to LRT and why Waterloo's case was the strongest in Ontario.

The introduction followed the typical triptych of a light-rail primer:

  1. "Not streetcars."
  2. "Signal priority and dedicated lanes".
  3. "Watch a video of Portland, it'll make sense."

Their discussion began on land use and how LRT is "a tool to affect how our cities are actually formed," Mr. Casello highlighted again that there's a combination of transportation and land-use policies that are essential in making light rail happen in a city or a region of a half-million people.

Do you want those jobs and those people to be at the edge of town, where a car is the only option for them? Do you want to consume farmland, do we want to have to extend our infrastructure all the way out there? Or do we want them to be in our already developed area?

And the way that you bring them into the already developed area is you give them transportation alternatives, like light rail. So you build a station, you put in infrastructure, you provide amenities, you give economic incentives to the development community, and you say: "This is where we want you to build and this is where we're going to support building."

LRT in Hamilton

After a bit more discussion on the Waterloo context (worth a watch), we came to the place where I heard Hamilton mentioned. (And while a Waterloo professor likely would admit a regional bias, remember that their provincial funding has already been committed - all the way back in April.

"Your region's half a million people."

"Yes."

"Hamilton's half a million people. Do they have a good case for the LRT?"

I'm not as familiar with the Hamilton case; I'll say this as a disclaimer before I make the comments. But I think that one thing I struggle with in Hamilton is that when I look at the region of Waterloo, I see growth of 250,000 people [in the next 20 years], I see growth of a lot of jobs, but I see other things.

I see land use policies that say: "This is the boundary outside of which we're not going to allow you to grow." I see infrastructure investments coming into the core. I see the Canada technology triangle, the economic development group in the region of Waterloo, supporting the light rail project because they realize that the kind of jobs that they want to bring to the region of Waterloo are the kind of people who want to use LRT.

When I look at Hamilton and I think: Are the land use controls there? I'm not sure. Are the, is the economic development as strong of a case in Hamilton as it is in Waterloo? I'm not sure. Is the population growth there? I'm not sure.

When did this interview take place? Two days after Council ratified the Airport Economic Growth District (AEGD).

Land Use and LRT

When I look at Hamilton, the city I live in and love, I would definitely invite Mr. Casello to see that population and economic development are equally compelling reasons for light rail in Hamilton, but I can't say much to how we're proceeding with land use.

The city of Hamilton - by the decisions of its councillors, and by extension its people - invests over $200 million into the AEGD. In the meantime, it turns a blind eye to a few significant blocks of downtown - even though those few blocks alone turn off thousands of visitors, commuters, and students every year, and represent millions of dollars lost in tax revenue and jobs not located there.

Mayor-elect Bob Bratina is the only elected official I've heard bring it up. Perhaps during his term this will change. (And let's not even mention the one-way streets yet again.

What incentive do other levels of government have to fund density-producing, corridor-improving light rail if Hamilton has its focus, money, councillors and developers almost exclusively putting their eggs in the "get through town fast, expand on the edges" basket and constant neglect of the core?

When will this city realize it's a city, with valuable rural areas surrounding it, and revel in that identity instead of running away?

I look forward to good things from our newly elected Council, and I think Hamilton is beginning to change their perspective. But will we ever be in a place where they say "the kind of jobs that they want to bring to the region of Hamilton attract the kind of people who want to use LRT"? I don't know, but I sure hope so.

Hamilton has a great case for light rail in population growth and economic development potential. In land use, though, the Aerotropolis decision is our latest embarrassment. I am glad that attitudes are starting to change.

In the meantime, however, when it comes to light rail, I also sure hope two out of three is enough.

Meredith Broughton is a pastor to students and board member of the Hamilton Civic League. She is completing two graduate programs, one in theology at McMaster Divinity, another in echocardiography at Mohawk. Meredith lives downtown with her husband Jarod and loves showing visitors and newcomers all the good things Hamilton has to offer.

106 Comments

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By Reality (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 08:14:05

Check out this morning's paper to see what is happening in Waterloo where a concerted anti-LRT effort is going on. It is sobering. As soon as Hamiltonians wake up to the costs, just watch what will happen. Waterloo Region is a look into our future!

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 08:28:22

Although Mayor-elect Bratina, when he was Ward 2 councillor, voted against the motion in favour of AEGD at the last city council meeting before the 2010 municipal election, he followed that up with a public statement about a week later that he wanted to prioritize a North-South LRT (from the airport to the harbourfront) ahead of an East-West LRT (from Eastgate Square to McMaster University). His position on LRT location leads one to wonder whether he is soft in his opposition to AEGD.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 08:42:35

AEGD, which will surely run over $1 billion, will cost us a lot of things.

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By cityfan (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 10:36:08

AEGD and the LRT need to happen. What is the alternative. Status Quo.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 10:47:42

AEGD is the status quo. It's servicing and paving over farmland to provide cheap land that residential homebuilders can use to throw up more sprawl houses. We've already got loads of shovel ready highway accessible industrial employment land and the home builders keep threatening to go to the OMB so the city will rezone them to residential. Nope, AEGD is just status quo sprawl by another name.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 10:49:09

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 10:54:40

The AEGD will be a combination of Hybrid Prestige and Light Industrial business. Specific industries will be as follows:

Prestige Business Park

Business/financial services, research and development, prestige/light industrial, warehousing, wholesale trade, transportation, communication and government services.

Airport-Related Business

Businesses requiring airport access such as freight forwarders, logistics, transport companies, regional integrator operations, onsite customs brokers.

Light Industry

Light industry, warehousing, repair, wholesale trade, office, distribution, transportation, communications, utilities.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 10:57:53

Wow too funny. Now you are down voting the actual land use of the project as being false. Too funny

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 11:01:35

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 10:55:32

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 11:15:21

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By Confuzled (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 12:00:43

So you agree with ryan but disagree with jones even though they're saying the same thing..Huh??

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 12:07:31

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 11:09:08

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By joejoe (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 12:15:28

Successful cities invest in their neighbourhoods. The downtown area houses the most critical neighbourhoods. Neglect that and everything else will fail.

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By Confuzled (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 12:31:02

"Jones says its about housing which it is not." What do you think will happen to the land when it doesn't bring prosperity? The residential home builders will be salivating all over it.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 12:40:06

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:16:19

The residential home builders will be salivating all over it.

They already are. And as zjones suggested, they are already fighting the industrial zoning at the OMB. It's hopelessly naive to think this isn't about housing.

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-11-15 12:17:16

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:18:18

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 12:22:23

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:26:56

You clearly didn't read the article.

The city’s massive urban boundary expansion onto airport area farmland is facing a dozen separate appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board – most from developers wanting residential or commercial uses to be permitted on their properties instead of the industrial employment designations in the aerotropolis plan. Two community groups are challenging the boundary expansion itself as a violation of both provincial and city policies on protection of agricultural lands, and making priority use of existing industrial lands.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:29:42

FYI - many people were put on alert during the final council meeting with Pasuta asked if the land can be rezoned for housing in the future if the jobs and companies don't show up. He was told by staff that it is possible, but not very simple. The staff person who answered said that "the council of the day would have to approach the province about rezoning the land for housing". Pasuta said he wanted that option available so that the land doesn't sit empty.
The project is nowhere near starting and already there are serious concerns that a) companies won't want to locate there, and b) there will be a push for residential.
Hamilton's history teaches us that both of those points probably have a 99.7% chance of happening.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-11-15 12:30:28

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:33:22

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 12:34:32

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:34:36

the AEGD is not about the airport. The 'A' is a feint. It's about greenfield development, the next step is to make a case for more highways to connect to it, each of which will provide a nice frontage of more shitty 'prestige industrial', you know those styrofoam boxes covered in two cm of stucco.

I have an idea, the city should buy all the brownfields, clean them up and plant alfalfa on them. Call it a greenfield and the developers will come running.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:39:53

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 12:41:30

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 13:48:58

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By Turbocharged (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 14:00:16

I think people are disagreeing with the relentless troll who spends more time commenting on downvotes than considering his comments before pressing "post comment."

I read RTH for the (often) well-informed comment. Turbo, you're ruining my experience and devaluing the entire 'dialogue' here (and in other threads). You make me tired, and if your goal is to keep me away from this website, I guess it's working.

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By PseudonymousCoward (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 14:10:43

Indeed. The best way to deal with this obvious troll is simply to down-vote and otherwise ignore him. Every reply just encourages him to continue trolling, which deters legitimate contributions and brings down the overall quality of discussion.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 14:37:12

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 15:27:57

Simply put, Hamilton needs to STOP THE SPRAWL. There seems to be this idea that adding sprawl will suddenly give Hamilton the tax dollars it needs to fix everything, however increasing sprawl only increases infrastructure costs which hurts city finances in the long term. City council should immediately either vastly increase the costs of, or outright ban greenfield development. However this won't happen as far too many are in the pockets of either construction companies or developers who don't want to go through the effort of brownfield remediation.

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By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted November 15, 2010 at 15:30:08

@Turbo - there is thoughtful discussion using measured, well reasoned points, and there there's

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn...

I think the main criticism people have of your posts is that you only provide two or three sentence posts without providing any background, context, or attempt to prove your argument. If it's going to be a discussion, rather than just a naysay, the arguments need to be fleshed out and explored in much greater length. A good example was the back and forth between you and Ryan over Peak Oil, where Ryan presented graph, after fact, after resource, and all you really responded with is "I don't believe you, no it's not."

It's not that your responses are necessarily wrong, it's just that they aren't substantive enough for anyone to be able to decide.

That is why people label you a troll.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 15:38:01

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 15:41:08

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 14:44:17

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 15:45:51

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By Irony Policy (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 15:51:33

Sir, yes, you sir, Mr. Turbo. I'm going to have to ask you to pull over and step out of the vehicle.

Did you see that back there? You know, the devestating 'critique' you levelled on a concept (Peak Oil) that has racked up tens of thousands of words of discussion on this website, and billions more out there in the real world? Well, sir, unfortunately willingly providing no evidence when arguing that someone else hasn't provided enough evidence is a crime punishable by everyone thinking you're bat-ass crazy.

So I'm going to have to revoke your "debate" license while we check to make sure you understand what you're saying. We might also have to put a breath-alcohol ignition system on your computer so you don't continue to endanger rational debate while you're out there on the internet.

No, no, sir, please sit down. Getting angry won't help this. I really do think you need to go and read a book. Any book. Start at one and keep going. After a few dozen, once your thoughts have slowed down a bit and you start controlling that urge to splooge your ideas all over the internet without thinking about them or backing up, we can talk about getting your license back so you can get back to 'debating.'

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 16:09:18

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 15:14:28

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 17:04:44

I think I've figured it out.. even when Turbo is agreeing with you, you think he's disagreeing with you. Move along people!

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 17:09:27

Ryan, can we get get a system going where if 90% of someone's comments are below the viewable threshold, then all of their subsequent comments are automatically hidden? It would kind of be like the posting to yourself and nobody would really know about it. I think this would save a lot of keystrokes all round.

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 17:10:42

Also Ryan, once the system is in place you could probably put the site on a smaller server because of the drastically decreased number of postings!

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By observer (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 17:15:05

I'm sure this is inappropriate, but still: perhaps "turbo (registered)" is Andrew Dreschel/Rob Ford/Larry Di Ianni/Marvin Caplan/and yes, even good old Dave Mitchell [and let's throw in George Mammoliti who some Hamiltonians will have heard of], all sharing in one disguise. Years ago, on the old TVO Studio two, a screamer from the Toronto Sun yelled at the late Ian Scott that Scott was "ranting". Scott was assertive but not ranting: the complainer was, of course, ranting--but exactly. It is possible to rant and be coherently logical and persuasive, but it doesn't happen very often. What people in a response thread like this can do is reply to all but the demonstrable "I believe it therefore it is and you're WRONG" posts--and that includes "I have no idea, therefore you are wrong and nuts."

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 18:42:06

@Turbo - I agree, however keep in mind though the property and development values in the surrounding municipalities is already ludicrously high. Especially in Toronto, Oakville, Mississauga, Waterloo, Guelph and Burlington. The attraction of Hamilton is that it has always been fairly cheap to develop here in comparison, because property values have been kept low because of the city's poor image. In truth, Hamilton already has it's share of developers already, and one needs only look at the development explosions of the Meadowlands and the East Mountain. The problem though, these are areas that are increasing sprawl and are far cheaper to develop then properties bellow the mountain. However despite this fact, I can't imagine it being substantially cheaper to re-develop in Hamilton then it would be to develop in the other municipalities. Especially since said municipalities are, to quote the article, settings boundaries outside of which they are not allowed to grow.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 19:01:00

To further add, the city already does make use of several downtown tax incentives to further help the case of redevelopment. There is of course a need to boost infrastructure and image to draw investors still, but at this point we simply lack enough intensified urban development to warrant further expanding our boarders, as our infrastructure costs are already outrageously out of control. We have too much infrastructure to maintain over too wide an area, and not enough of a permanent tax base to handle it. Any new tax base as a result of this sprawling housing and box center development, is lost by the infrastructure costs to maintain that area, because it's simply not providing enough density and the city's core image keeps the property values lower as well, so you can't tax as high as you'd like either. It's robbing Peter to pay Paul. Halting expansion, and intensifying existing areas is the only way to fix that, and allowing for additional sprawl is only going to make the problem worse.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 19:30:21

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By free time (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 20:08:16

17 comments later... turbo, you seriously need to find yourself a job or a volunteer position or something. You've obviously got way too much free time on your hands.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 20:23:29

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 20:27:41

This is just the problem Turbo, the "but that we need to be aware of" is the cause many issues. It's hard to attract long term residents to the city. Students out of college and McMaster are finding jobs outside the city, but can't afford the initial costs of living in Toronto, Oakville, Burlington...etc. They are commuting, and then moving away once those costs are affordable. Why? Lack of jobs, because companies aren't coming to Hamilton due to image issues that need fixing and a high tax rate compared to other municipalities. Once more, this is caused by sprawl that cripples both businesses and residents from staying here. So long as we are allowing sprawling, greenfield development, brownfield remediation, north end redevelopment and core renewal are a neigh impossible sells and as we both acknowledge, only serves to hurt the city further. We are shooting ourselves in the foot by allowing it.

I will admit, existing development is a harder sell, but there is quite a lot of incentive to renew a downtown property. The city is offering tax breaks (although more long term ones would be nice) and the property down there is fairly cheap to purchase, even compared to other greenfields and certainly to the redevelopments of the other municipalities. The problem is there isn't enough to deincentivize greenfield and sprawl development. Why spend the same amount of money on an existing area with a poor reputation when I can build from scratch here at the border of the city. Simply put, Hamilton should not be in the market at this point for new development, until we have dealt with the problem areas of the city and can support this sort of sprawling growth, which just isn't sustainable at this time.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 20:39:47

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 19:46:06

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 20:41:49

The big point, I think I want to stress and get across is low density housing (housing, townhouse condo developments) and big box commercial development is at best, revenue neutral and at worse a detriment for the city's task base, at this point. Sprawl is fine, but density needs to go with it, or else taxes get out of control and services get stretched to the point that the city suffers, and you don't typically get high density development at the border of a city, as it's too risky for the developer to sell.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 20:51:53

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-15 19:52:34

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By get a job turbo (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 21:51:25

21 comments between 9:49 a.m. and 7:51 p.m. ... dude, you seriously need to get a job.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 22:07:30

Well, the stadium is another can of worms all together. Publicly owned stadiums need to be in a spot where the city can recover the large maintenance costs of the stadium. This requires two things. A) A profitable team to whom you can charge rent and B) Surrounding development of whom you can tax. The problem is A) isn't the case right now and the future is unknown at any new site, where as there is some things that can be done to support B). It's why Confederation Park is such a bad site, due to the lack of development, or potential development.

Moving on though, I think both agree sprawl is a bad thing. Where we disagree is I think that banning sprawl development will stop sprawl which will do little to no harm at worst (allowing us time to get our finances in order) and benefit the city at best (forcing developers to re-develop areas), whereas I think your position is banning sprawl may offer some benefit at best (might draw developers), but at the cost of alienating or cause a lack of developer attraction (developers want easy areas to build), to which I can only say, we should not be seeking out developers at this point who want to build sprawl.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2010 at 23:00:46

This site needs a proper discussion board.

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By Developer (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 00:20:40

Housing developers are not the problem. They are just attempting to serve a market. The problem is the house buyers who prefer a pretty backyard in a former farmer's field to a house downtown. We also have to remember yesterday's suburbia is today's downtown. Ivor Wynne, built as Civic Stadium in the 1930's, was built in a farmer's field and subsequently surrounded by suburbia, and is now considered downtown.

We do need good public policy to figure out how to ensure we are not subsidizing the costs of building new suburban houses over the cost of maintaining downtown houses. But the important fact is we cannot, and should not attempt to, tell our fellow Canadians where they can and cannot live.

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By sprawl (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 07:11:00

The great downtowns in Canada like Vancouver and Victoria are the towns where sprawl for the most part is limited by the geography (ie., it is difficult to grow bigger). The continuing pushing out of the urban boundary allows developers to be massively subsidized instead of forcing them to think outside their greenfield box.

The airport is being used as a 'buzz word' to allow the development of more green space. Airport?

Come on it should be 'railport' employment growth and residential development (aka downtown access to the rail and light rail).

So it is time for a land swap. Give the developers that own land on the edge of the city (and are good financial backers of our politicians) a serious discount on city owned land within the downtown (not parks) and in return hand over their green space at the edge of the city for the Hamilton Conservation Authority to manage. This would create an agricultural green belt but one complete with an ever increasing trail network around our city.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 08:34:05

The problem with the land swap idea is that the city doesn't have a large inventory of inner city industrial/commercial land available to swap. IMO its a far better use of FF money to buy up sites, clean them up and sell at a small loss than to finance mega projects that cover only a small area of real estate. Basically what I'm suggesting is taking a site like Rheem and cleaning it up for sale and eating about $5M on the deal. This would allow the city to buy 10 sites for the proposed city cost of building a stadium there. With the Longwood site the city is getting 4 to 5 times the acreage developed for the same $45M.

Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-16 07:38:02

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By bobster (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 08:57:04

that's a great idea turbo. But also get rid of the incentive for property owners to leave land vacant. It's crazy, we complain of our brownfields and imbalanced tax base and yet then we cut taxes by 2/3 on brownfields! This also handily lets city staff tell us we actually don't have any brownfields, because property owners aren't willing to sell.

Now just wait until Hudak comes into power in 2011 and actually advocates for sprawl, rather than his likenesses sitting behind Chamber of Commerce walls and making it happen on the sly...

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 10:05:00

Spending half a billion dollars (at least) to create a suburban office park on the very edge of town is sprawl, one way or the other. Even if we did not have enough serviced, shovel-ready land in the City (which we do) is a little irrelevant when it now seems like we may not even have a Stelco next year.

We drop taxes on vacant properties in the city, do absolutely nothing to chase property/business owner's who stick taxpayers with millions in toxic remediation costs, and then we're going to spend hundreds of millions on a suburban business park? What other outcome would these policies drive?

For the record, though (no pun intended), as someone who's now mastering the art of the "shortcut to Waterloo" (the Cambridge/Kitchener highways are a mess, and the airport route isn't), they certainly aren't free of industrial or residential sprawl either. In a fair fight over which city would be a better case for LRT, I'm not sure that Hamilton would lose. Not that it should be a competition.

Oh, and Turbo, you're trolling.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 10:17:19

Housing developers are not the problem. They are just attempting to serve a market.

I'd agree with that if not for the huge subsidies for sprawl. If people had to pay what sprawl actually costs, the market would be a lot smaller.

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By sprawl (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 11:48:56

>If people had to pay what sprawl actually costs, the market would be a lot smaller.

exactly. But don't the developers 'support' the politicians?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 12:21:34

We need to leverage our unique strengths rather than try to emulate nearby cities. We need to hand pick other peoples' success stories only when they are applicable to us.

We have built a brand new highway and have done little to attract business park development to it. We should be focusing on our already built infrastructure before building anew at the aerotropolis.

But fringe business parks are not the true answer for this city. We need urban development (both commercial and residential) to develop a beating heart which will nourish the business parks that currently sit empty.

How can we build this heart? Solutions have been elusive, mainly because of "chicken-or-egg" scenarios. We need good jobs to attract a workforce to the core. We need a good workforce to attract employers to the core. Getting either started without the other is almost impossible.

Without a workforce and employer base, any projects the city invests in are simply a veneer on a crumbling core.

I propose a two pronged approach to providing the catalyst for attracting employers and employees. Once the trickle starts, there will be a positive feedback loop that results in a greater influx of both.

Left Prong: attracting employees. We have long suffered in the shadows of Toronto. We do not want to be considered a "bedroom community" of this neighbouring behemoth. We want our own identity and we are too proud to admit that we already rely on Toronto. Well guess what: the entire province (and country) relies on Toronto. It is the business centre of Canada. This reliance is never going away.

We are in the enviable position of living an a true city with a real core that is within spitting distance of Toronto. Let's leverage it instead of lamenting it.

I propose we aggressively position ourselves as Toronto's only true "urban suburb". Let's use Toronto's huge employer base to attract a young, urban workforce to Hamilton. The reality is, you can live in an urban space close to many amenities within walking distance of the GO, and be swept to your Toronto job in under an hour. Many Torontonians suffer longer commutes than this despite living geographically closer to downtown Toronto - and they live in areas less dense than Hamilton and pay more money to do so. Let's give them a true urban living option. This approach will require some hard fighting on our part - 24 hour go service would be nice. More trains including "Express-to-Union" options. Some of this is already on the table - we can't let it slide off. But there are some easier parts too - for one, a pure marketing shift. Hamilton cannot market itself effectively. We really suck at it and we need to change that. We need to swallow our pride and hire a marketing team that can get the urban suburb message out to the people who count: already-employed Torontonians who suffer long commutes and overpriced accommodations. The message? Own a home in Hamilton for less than rent. Or rent for less still. Live in an urban setting with all amenities. Spend less time commuting and more time living. These messages can help us add Toronto's job dollars to our tax base. A little friendly rivalry is fine, but we need to bury the "F*ck T.O." attitude asap. If we can build a trickle of employed outsiders in, amenities will improve, attracting more people, and eventually a critical mass will be reached where downtown Hamilton is seen as a livable place, and high quality employers will come to leverage this workforce to their advantage. We need to help build the trickle into a flow through infrastructure and planning changes. LRT will definitely help (but it needs to be built intelligently - that's another post unto itself). Improving life for pedestrians and cyclists will make downtown more attractive to young professionals. Revamping building codes to allow for denser residential, more mixed use, and relaxed parking requirements will help current landowners leverage their properties to better effect. There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, but none are unattainable.

Right Prong: attracting employers. Having good jobs downtown will alone do more to attract people than all of the incentives mentioned above combined - but how can we achieve this goal? We need to make it easy and cost effective for companies to open up shop here. This means everyone from mom and pop's pizza all the way up to major banks etc. Building infrastructure and changing zoning in a way that proves we are serious about downtown redevelopment will help. but more importantly, we need to use cold hard cash as an incentive. Rather than spending on new fringe infrastructure we need to invest downtown and provide real financial incentives in the way of tax breaks to incoming businesses. Whether it's a property tax freeze or even a sumbsidy for a certain number of initial years, we need to make it economically viable to locate here. Right now we have cheap land but the taxes are ridiculous, as is the red tape.

By combining smart planning and investment in attracting businesses with smart marketing to attract people we could kick start a positive feedback loop that will revitalize the core.

We need to get busy looking at many of these small tasks instead of focusing on a few huge and expensive projects that will do little to help us in the long run.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 13:09:23

Anyone notice the latest presentation made on the metrolinx website includes a PDF version of a powerpoint presentation?

The last slide of that presentation includes a map (probably the "ideal" transit system.). It includes three light rail lines in Hamilton:

1. B-line - East-west from Eastgate to McMaster.
2. A-line - North South from Downtown to Airport
3. ?-line - East/West from...some "mobility hub" between the downton and eastgate, up and across the city to some terminus in Ancaster.

Anyone know what the third one is all about? It reminds me of that BLAST proposal, but I don't remember metrolinx picking up on anything but the A-line and B-line.

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By Tartan Triton (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 13:18:09

http://www.theonion.com/video/obama-replaces-costly-highspeed-rail-plan-with-hig,18473/

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 13:23:19

My best guess is it is showing the mobility hubs of Centre Mall and Limeridge Mall out to Ancaster as laid out in BLAST but without detail.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 13:30:52

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-16 12:36:21

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 14:07:08

@Reality

Yup.

Now, I think the first step to getting people to understand LRT not to call it LRT. People think streetcar.

It's a street-level subway. It's taking two lanes of traffic and puttin a subway line on them at street level.

Hamilton wants a subway. Then people get it. People who've taken the TTC subway get it, fast.

But then people ask about those two lanes*. King street giving up streetside parking? For half a billion dollars? Are you on crack?

Once LRT takes centre stage, expect the legions of quiet suburbanites, even the ones in denser residential areas like Rosedale and Ainsliewood, to scream in protest.

footnote: * King needs streetside parking - imho it should stay one-way if it gets LRT, just to save that parking lane. Oh, and has anybody thought what's going to happen to the traffic on Dundurn with King no longer being a good alternative to Cannon/York Blvd?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-11-16 13:08:11

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 14:45:17

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-16 13:50:44

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 15:12:00

Ryan, can we get get a system going where if 90% of someone's comments are below the viewable threshold, then all of their subsequent comments are automatically hidden? It would kind of be like the posting to yourself and nobody would really know about it. I think this would save a lot of keystrokes all round. - adam2

Should we all wear "brownshirts" too?

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By LRT (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 15:22:06

actually it brings all of the benefits of a subway - and more - for significantly less money.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 15:43:52

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 15:59:28

OK, I will start with your list and tell you why you are wrong:

It does not remove the transit vehicle from traffic and weather problems making it subject to delays

  1. LRT runs in a dedicated right of way with no vehicular traffic, and it has dedicated prioritized signalling. It is NOT a streetcar which shares a lane with turning vehicles etc. So yes it does remove the transit vehicle from traffic.

  2. Besides the fact that we have MAYBE 3-5 days a year where weather affects traffic, LRT has the ability to clear the snow itself using a special car or attachment, so the lines can be cleared faster than the roadways.

it does not free up street lanes for truck and auto travel

Yes it does. One LRT car can carry the same number of people as several buses or over a hundred cars. So while the absoulte number of east west lanes may be reduced by one or two lanes total, the relative number of vehicles will be reduced by a greater percentage, with the mathematicl result being equivalent to adding lane capacity: cars versus trains

and it does not open up business opportunities

Yes it does. It has been shown over and over and over that when a city invests in light rail infrastructure, it shows a clear message that it is serious about development along that route. Coupled with smart zoning laws, LRT results in huge investments from private developers. Living and working along an LRT line is desirable, and that desirability is reflected in deveopment when the builders cash in on the trend.

like the underground in Toronto

Do you mean the path system? We tried moving development indoors (at jackson square) and it does not work. We need street level vibrancy, and that comes from street level LRT, not from subways. LRT enhances development along its entire line whereas subways enhance development mostly at station stops (and buses enhance development nowhere)

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-11-16 14:59:55

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 16:18:54

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 16:24:36

LRT is not a streetcar. Do some more reading and come back to chat. I am not going to argue with you unless you inform yourself.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 17:41:13

@Turbo

  1. Yes, but typically due to the speed of the rail system, such delays are minor, and there is the possibility to run under or over major intersections to avoid any such delays in traffic if they become problematic.

  2. Wrong, it is not any more subject to weather conditions then road traffic, if anything less so because it's a dedicated transportation corridor and clearing it takes priority.

  3. Yes, however I would say an acceptable sacrifice given the business spin-offs a nearby stop could offer.

  4. I see you point, but I personally feel it is wrong. Whenever you make public transit more efficient and accessible you have people opting for it instead of car traffic. To what extent is debatable though.

  5. I'm still not getting it. You are correct, that there won't be underground opportunities on a predominantly surface based rail line, however any nearby stop locations would likely benefit from increased pedestrian traffic and ease of access.

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 20:59:22

My thoughts on the matter after reading a great blog by Jarrett Walker (link therein)

http://robertinnes.ca/LRT.html

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 21:43:21

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-16 20:49:31

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 21:49:16

Tired of Turbo? I wrote a bookmarklet that lets you deal with him with just one click. Right now, it only works in Chrome. But it's worth downloading Chrome just for that reason. If anyone's interested, I can make a version that works in Firefox and probably Internet Explorer too.

Go get it

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 21:50:12

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By GiveItUpTurbo (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 22:10:18

Turbo, leave these people alone..the mere fact that Raise the Hammer and its acolytes support LRT means that it will NEVER happen...remember the West Harbour Stadium? Stop the Aerotropolis? Stop the Expressway?

These guys just don't know it, but they are batting 1000, just the other way!

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 22:20:39

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 22:26:09

Bob, I agree with your points about a wary approach especially when it comes to capital expenditures. This is why I have a different idea about phasing for LRT. A couple of points that you overlooked in my opinion...

I will assume that we can agree that a functional and useful transit system is an essential serice for a real city. That is to say we cannot eliminate transit costs entirely.

My first point is about tracks being an operating cost. This is true, of course-it falls under maintenance. Proper planning would eliminate surprises (huge expenditures in one year for example). A huge difference with buses is that the maintenance cost of the travelling surface is already being burdened by taxpayers, and is not brought into the maintenance calculation. Your post implies that roads are only 'completely replaced' once per generation, but tracks need to be replaced every 10 years. This is entirely inaccurate if it is indeed what you meant to say. Anyone who has taken a close look on streets heavily travelled by buses (especially at the stops - where more buses travel in the exact same lanes) can see the additional burden they put on our streets. When comparing rail versus rubber, we easily overlook this cost since "we pay it anyway" (road maintenance). It would be interesting to see calculations regarding the true additional cost buses create in the yearly road maintenance budget.

My second point is about the need. There are certain routes upon which hamilton does need significant transit improvement from a ridership standpoint. East/west is the biggie. Ridership numbers along this route are already near the numbers which justify light rail. It is certainly not a stretch to project increases in ridership after installation. On this route, even a modest ridership increase will bring us well into the proper range for LRT justification.

Regarding development, I don't think anyone who has seriously considered LRT for Hamilton has claimed that LRT alone will spur development. It is a package deal that requires proper transit oriented development zoning. Luckily, the city's rapid transit office understands this need and is incorporating it into the studies and planning. I would love to see development before laying tracks, but unfortunately it has been shown to simply not work that way. As you said, developers will wait for the "perfect storm" before signing cheques, and the rails are a huge part of the requirements (if we are shooting for transit oriented development).

Another point that is completely missed in your post is the rising cost of hydrocarbons. If we continue to purchase buses and expand our system with vehicles and routes that rely on on-board combustion engines, we are going to be tying our transit costs to the cost of oil for the foreseeable future. Before anyone accuses me of crying "peak oil", please consider that the cost of gasoline is rising and there is no reason to believe it will fall. Gas is simply not going to get cheaper. Whether or not we have reached peak oil - whether or not peak oil even exists - I think that we can all rationally agree that oil prices will not only climb, but the rate at which they climb will also increase. Tying a new transit system to this volatile pricing is bad fiscal planning period.

Hamilton will be upgrading and expanding its transit system. There is no doubt about it. So we need to think long and hard about how we do it. If we expand simply by buying more buses, we are committing to a vehicular generation of rising oil costs, high maintenance costs and a real risk of not being able to meet ridership demands. IF we build BRT, we will be committing to an even longer timespan of rubber and oil based transit. We need to do this right the first time, and I think that there are some routes where LRT is a must.

Having said all that, I do personally question the current LRT plan. I think the first step should be to determine what the minimum track length is to justify building the infrastructure, buying trains and providing storage/maintenance facilities. THen we need to decide if the ridership projections (over say the next 10 years) justify building that minimum amount. If so, then we should green light LRT but only on the routes which justify it based on these projections. I do not have the means to provide these numbers, but my gut tells me that Hamilton could easily justify LRT from mac to wentworth on ridership numbers alone. My gut tells me we cannot justify traversing the escarpment yet (or maybe ever if they are serious about building that godforsaken tunnel). My gut tells me that servicing the airport would be a mistake this early on. My gut tells me that a small loop downtown would be much more useful to many more people than trying to build out the a-line too early. But regardless of my gut, we need to make our transit decisions based upon all of the evidence before us. We can't afford to selectively ignore things like rising oil prices, which will be a huge deal in driving bus operating costs up and driving more people from cars to transit.

My vision is that we build our system with a smalland efficient LRT where we know we will need it over the next decade. WHen it is successful, we will more easily justify expanding tracks where necessary. I agree that we cannot afford to blow a ton of cash on building a huge sprawling system all at once. But luckily, LRT (unlike the stadium or aegd for example) is a project that can be built in a rational, phased manner.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 22:30:44

Hilarious. Who is this "they" you are referring to?

And what makes you, turbo, think that you represent the "silent majority" that you keep referencing? You nkow, that silent majority that agrees with everything you say, but especially agrees (silently) when you disagree (loudly) with one of "them" on RTH (whoever "they" are). What is keeping this majority silent? They don't know how to use computers? The comments section here is open to everyone in the world. I suppose the silent majority elected you as their spokesman? Amazing - they did so in such a silent manner that you're the only one who knows it happened!

There is no "agenda" and no one is being belittled. You are inventing a conspiracy that does not exist.

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-11-16 21:32:20

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 22:35:38

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-16 21:36:04

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 22:39:14

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-16 21:41:37

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 23:34:45

By turbo (registered) Posted November 15, 2010 10:50:11

Truth is the entire city feels this way guys

That is an example of your pretensions that you represent a silent majority.

You then speak of "they" as if you are referencing some collective group of RTH members... There is no club, no agenda, no ulterior motive in the posts and comments here. This is simply a website where many people post news and opinion, and everyone is free to comment.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 23:41:31

Back on "track" so to speak.

I did not claim that trains are carbon free, but it is well known that electricity is much more flexible when it comes to sourcing it than ICEs. We could also say "why don't we run the buses on vegetable oil" but it's just not practical. We (mankind) are actively researching alternative power sources, and the delivery of such sources is often in the form of electricity. Portable alternative power supplies that are contained within vehicles are notoriously elusive. We are much safer investing in infrastructure which relies on distributing electricity from a large generating plant than to hope for conversion of diesel buses to some mystery power source later on.

I have no problem with investigating electric trolley buses or other options, but so far these have not come up at all. Perhaps we should be looking at a mixed approach where the busiest lines are built with full LRT and the less busy ones are powered by electric rubber tired buses? Again, I don't claim to have all of the answers, but for some reason you are willing to absolutely dismiss LRT without having all of the answers yourself!

The truth is, it is an absolute travesty that our previous rails and electric trolley cables were ever ripped out.

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2010 at 23:54:43

Hi Sean, thanks for having a look.

I'll mainly respond to the track issue since electric trolleys address the peak oil issue and the upgrading-anyway issue is beyond my ken, although I have heard about frequent drivebys after school at Westdale.

Regarding the tracks, you might want to read the last page or two of comments on Jarrett's article. I seem to recall some confirmation of the 10 year cycle for tracks and a discussion of Toronto in particular, and left a comment to that effect also. Yes, asphalt does have problems at bus stops and cities often have special pavements installed at these locations. Can i point to Burlington Street as a generation long pavement cycle??!!!;-) But mostly, i'm reacting to the sheer magnitude of the task I see ad infinitum going on with track replacement in Toronto. The latest was near High Park, I think on College. Constrained workspace, ongoing car traffic AND streetcar traffic, lots of workers milling about. Good for employment i suppose. There has to be a better way! We all love streetcar rides and someday, we may be able to afford a line of our own. We gotta build the need with exciting jobs (read tax revenues) at a time when the US dollar is about to implode so we have our work cut out for us.

Your idea of a limited length phase-in is certainly the best implementation approach and it's quite possible that the West end might be accepting of more high density development since there is some there already. A dedicated ROW presents a challenge and Jarrett's article/ comments discusses the right turn problem. I'm really having trouble seeing how a track system can beat a trolley unless Hamilton discovers a pot of gold and can rebuild everything to suit the track, something like the system on Spadina or St Clair.

Cheers, Bob

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 16, 2010 at 23:58:22

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-16 23:02:13

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2010 at 08:59:02

Hold on a second turbo, let's rewind.

This all started with Pxtl comparing LRT with subways instead of streetcars - which while not totally accurate, is a good way of loking at it since LRT is a dedicated rail line like a subway - it just happens to run above ground.

You then asserted that LRT doesn't bring any of the advantages of a subway. And you did so quite rudely.

I happily responded to each of your three reasons for saying that they are not similar, and you rudely shot back to me that I was wrong, complete with thinly veiled personal attacks.

Then someone else tried to explain what you were missing, and you solidified your argument of "LRT is not a subway" (which most of us understand by the way - we are just trying to get across that is is a closer relative to subways than to the streetcars we all know in Toronto):

My point is not that LRT is bad but rather that its not similar to a subway and yes it is a streetcar even if its on dedicated lanes. People should read the bobinnes link. That article nailed how I feel about LRT and the fact that I am not a believer in build it and they will come planning

You then took a side track to talk about "Raise the Hammer and its acolytes" with an anonymous troll - speaking as if everyone who posts here (other than you) was in some secret club trying to push an agenda.

I then made a long coherent post about how we could smartly leverage LRT in a phased approach and called you out on your conspiracy theory. You cherry picked one point form my on topic post and kept harping on the off topic stuff.

Now you say "I have suggested an alternate but you ignored it if you think I proposed nothing"

The only thing you proposed during the entire "discussion" was to read someone else's blog post about the topic.

So yes, I think you proposed nothing and I will now be installing adrian's script.

Please vote me down so this off topic stuff can disappear.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2010 at 09:09:29

Bob,

My understanding about "upgrading anyways" is that the provincial mandate is to build transit to match population projection growth (the main purpose of metrolinx etc) and Hamilton is on the table for transit improvements no matter what.

We will be installing dedicated lane transit on the B line, the big question now is what sort of system to build.

So far (and we are years into the studies now), there have only been studies for BRT and LRT. I would love to see electric buses be thrown in, but that is something that should have been considered from the start.

So if we accept the presumption that we are building a b-line system (definitely) and also an a-line (very likely, but not for another 10 years), then we need to focus on how to best spend that money.

In my opinion, LRT is most definitely justified from a ridership standpoint from at least mcmaster to wentworth. I believe it is justified from a "potential for intensification" standpoint along the enitre breadth of the city from dundas to stoney creek.

If we are going to build a physically separated busway regardless (which is the case unless the transit plan so far is a complete sham), then now is the time to weigh the benefits of laying rail instead, since it can be looked at as an "upgrade" cost rather than a whole new cost.

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-11-17 08:09:53

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By Turdbo (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 09:59:02

Please for the love of god stop trying to reason with the troll--it is impossible. He is rude, misinformed, and self-righteous (without being right). So give him what he wants: a conspiracy of all RTH readers voting down his comments so they're hidden, and just plain ignoring him. Eventually he'll just go back to calling into AM radio stations, leaving us alone.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 11:21:18

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-17 10:25:57

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 11:46:25

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 12:10:14

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 12:27:35

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-17 11:32:14

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2010 at 13:17:46

So, 92 comments later... does anyone want to talk about how the city might be persuaded of the fact that their dedication to expansion of the urban boundary could cost us initiatives like LRT that have much greater ability to catalyze transformation of residential and employment uses along the line?

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 13:32:48

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-17 12:33:31

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 13:59:44

I'm ignoring you guys

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2010 at 16:19:53

Sorry Meridith, we got side tracked into our discussion silos!;-)
I have trouble with your basic question because I believe quite strongly, that before either can be designed, let alone initiated, the money will dry up. Ontario is >222B in debt. Just today, BNN showed a chart of US Muni Bonds crashing. We are not in such bad shape but our situation will rhyme.

My attempt to describe this outlook is here

http://www.robertinnes.ca/FutureVision.h...

The same logic means that despite Seancb's optimism about our transit plans, I don't believe they are solid at all. I'd guess that Hamilton will have to chose between basic repairs (sewers, roads etc.) and improvements. I hope it choses the former - for now. Later on, when depression 2 is in full swing, we might be able to, if we have any real savings, do what we did during the last, which, according to my dad, was to build the Piggot building. That was private money so if that history holds again, the city will have no money. During the election, i heard that the city is about $400m in the hole which kind of puts our Future Fund into proper perspective. The trick this time will be to protect savings from the ravages of the inflation being unleashed in the US (and anticipated by our tax codes). So, with good planning, LRT or BRT could be tomorrow's Piggot project and with any luck, might once again be based on quiet electric.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 16:38:32

Some very sobering projections Bob. Fundamentally our monetary system is broken I'll agree. I believe it comes back to Henry Ford's philosophy and how the world economy has strayed from it. Ford believed that everyone working in his plant should be able to afford his car or he'd have no customers and therefore no need to produce the car. Its a really simple concept that world trading seems to ignore by moving production to areas of cheap labour decimating the marketplace of the former country of production thus shrinking the market and eventually looking a total collapse. Add the real possibility that transportation costs will rise dramatically and its almost a sure thing the world economy will fail if left to follow its current path. I know it sounds like I'm defending Peak Oil but in reality I'm arguing that squeezing the middle class by removing jobs and sending them to a country where the workers don't receive similar compensation is the major factor.

How does this relate to the LRT???? On the one hand there will be a greater need for public transportation and on the other there will be less money to spend on it and the benefits of investment due to either BRT or LRT will be minimal but rather the benefit will be simple maintainace of the status quo at best This suggests to me that we need to get the most for the money in real terms not hopeful term

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2010 at 19:16:12

For those who prefer listening over watching, here is the podcast link Casello http://feeds.tvo.org/~r/TheAgendaWithSte... Saunders http://feeds.tvo.org/~r/TheAgendaWithSte... Kotkin http://feeds.tvo.org/~r/TheAgendaWithSte...

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2010 at 19:38:37

Turbo, you got it about right, assuming you draw the box around Canada/North America/The West - take your pick. If you draw the box to include the world, the Chinese are happy to receive the jobs, sweatshops notwithstanding. And why not? Do we really want to keep most nations in abject poverty? So i think most of my generation went along with free trade, perhaps too naively. So now we are 'equalizing' with China, is how i look at it. But will China play fair, is the question or is it just dog eat dog? In which case, we better wise up.

But to blame free trade is to miss the simple truth that China is just the most recent nation to learn oil driven technology. Then one asks, where will technology reside? With the recent riots/ wage strikes in China, jobs may move to India. And then to Africa/ Middle East (i forgot the new acronym for that area). Only when the whole world is equal, can we have stability - probably at far lower levels. The question is will trade friction make WW3 come first?

The fascinating part is that 300 years after Tulipmania, the Dutch still make/ export tulips! What will Canadians be doing when the future arrives?

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 22:33:07

I actually have no problem with manufacturing going to China providing they play fair with their workers and the world market grows to include them with us. I actually would encourage it. If all nations shared in the wealth I believe that there would be more wealth to share and the WWIII scenerio you paint would be avoided

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2010 at 01:20:00

Re. If all nations shared in the wealth I believe that there would be more wealth to share.

Well, we get back to the oil thing as wealth is more or less synonymous with oil. As I discuss under Ryan's Rising Prices piece, even allowing production may increase, it seems Chinese demand will increase even faster, which will squeeze out Canadian/ US demand. Mostly because our dollar (USD really) will crash relative to the Yuan. That's how the sharing thing will work and it wont feel good in this area. Wish I had a happier ending! but it seems we just gotta smarten up real fast. We could probably do it too if we could just get rid of the Spectator!;-)

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 07:16:50

I'm not sure the Spectator has any bearing on the world economy, in fact I'm sure it doesn't. This type of comment is not helpful in an honest discussion and just diminishes your credibility to many even with the smiley .

Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-18 06:18:27

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2010 at 10:15:17

I'd guess that Hamilton will have to chose between basic repairs (sewers, roads etc.) and improvements. I hope it choses the former - for now.

This is a huge reason that I wish we would scrap the AEGD and the Stadium, as well as take a good logical look at the transit plan.

The AEGD and Stadium are huge up front expenditures with zero chance of financial (let alone societal) payback. We might as well dump our tax money into the bay. LRT could follow the same fate if we are not smart about our plan. Pie in the sky initial spending could bury us. I am speaking specifically about nutty ideas like burrowing a tunnel throgh the mountain to run tracks, and running lines out to the fringes where ridership demand is nowhere near high enough.

Better to focus the transit plan on where we know we need it, and intelligently future proof where we know we'll need better transit in the future. Then when the initial smaller system succeeds we will have clear justification for expanding.

Along the same lines, a huge mistake would be to build the entire system as BRT from the get-go, only to realize in 5 years that we actually need higher order rail transit on key lines, and have to build that from scratch (or continue to suffer from underserviced lines).

So let's figure out where we can justify rail now, where we will need it in the future, and where we may never need it, and plan accordingly.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 10:32:42

Along the same lines, a huge mistake would be to build the entire system as BRT from the get-go, only to realize in 5 years that we actually need higher order rail transit on key lines, and have to build that from scratch (or continue to suffer from underserviced lines).

And once you have ridership depending on BRT, you can't suspend it for 2 years while you build LRT.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 11:17:15

Its the new investment that really sticks out as being pie in the sky dreaming. Also are you talking actual costs or are you factoring in savings due to decreased auto usage which really are not part of the cost equation?

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 11:23:04

The numbers I get from Metrolinx are as follows BRT(220) Full LRT(784) phased in LRT(655)

These numbers don't seem to jive with your numbers Ryan. Am I missing something? It appears that LRT is 3.5 times the capital cost of BRT which even given the cost of a vehicle being 100% of the project puts LRT as a more expensive proposition unless the operating costs are significantly different excluding replacement costs

Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-18 10:27:14

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2010 at 00:17:43

Ryan. If Hamilton can get commitments on your 1000-2000% ROI then I'll jump on the bandwagon. Even better if they put up $100-200M as some cities are demanding per article on my site.

Otherwise, we need to do a risk analysis on the HLR numbers estimating $92M increased tax revenue. HLR is not unbiased - would LRT make sense if the ROI/ revenue turns out to be half?

The article that influenced me suggested that any private investment depends on a host of favorable factors, not just an LRT. Can the boosters point to any such committment?

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