Special Report: Light Rail

International Village BIA Letter to Council on Disbanding LRT Sub-Committee

BIA Executive Director writes that it was 'insulting and unprofessional' to propose eliminating the sub-committee without first consulting key community stakeholders.

By RTH Staff
Published November 17, 2016

Susie Braithwaite, executive director of the International Village Business Improvement Area (BIA), has written a letter to Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Hamilton City Councillors calling to retain the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Sub-Committee.

The letter is in response to a notice of motion by Flamborough Councillor Judi Partridge, who wants to eliminate the LRT Sub-Committee and have all LRT reports and updates come directly to the General Issues Committee (GIC) for consideration.

Braithwaite writes that it was "both insulting and unprofessional" to propose this motion without first consulting the community stakeholder advisors on the Sub-Committee.

As the representative for business owners in the International Village who will be directly affected by how the LRT is implemented, Braithwaite writes, "it is imperative that our businesses have proper representation".

She writes that it is "unacceptable" to consider "going backwards with this archaic idea to eliminate ... perhaps the most important sub-committee in the history of Hamilton."

Following is the full text of the letter:

Dear Mayor Eisenberger and City of Hamilton Councillors,

I am both confused and disappointed in Councillor Judi Partridge's consideration to eliminate the LRT Sub-Committee. I was never consulted by Coucillor Partridge once before this went public. As a key community stake-holder advisor on the LRT Sub-Committee I find this both insulting and unprofessional.

The mandate of the LRT Sub-Committee is as follows:

  • Reviews, provides input and approves reports brought forward from the LRT Office.

  • Provides input and guidance to the project team on significant issues and decisions.

  • Engages the broader community on a regular basis throughout the design, planning and construction process of the LRT.

The Terms of Reference for the LRT Sub-Committee is as follows:

On May 26, 2015, the Government of Ontario announced a $1B investment for light rail transit (LRT) in the City of Hamilton. The B-Line route for the LRT would be from McMaster University to Queenston Circle, with another line connecting the West Harbour GO Station. A pedestrian walkway would connect passengers to the Hamilton GO Centre.

Council at its meeting of May 27, 2015 passed a Motion brought by Councillor Merulla, Item 7.5 respecting Fostering the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project that required the following:

a) That the City Manager be directed to report back on creating an office to facilitate the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, working closely with Metrolinx;

b) That a Light Rail Transit (LRT) Sub-Committee of Council be struck; and

c) That the affected Councillors along the B-Line corridor be asked to participate on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Sub-Committee.

I was asked to sit on the LRT Sub-Committee as a community stake-holder advisor to represent members of the International Village Business Improvement Area who will be directly affected by this project. It is imperative that our businesses have proper representation as they will be the most affected by the light rail transit project in Hamilton, especially because our strip of the corridor is the narrowest and presents the greatest challenge.

I am able to be a voice for the businesses affected and also bring back important information to them from sitting at this table. Had I not had the opportunity to sit as an advisor on this committee, we would not have been able to gain our BIA an LRT stop as quickly and efficiently as we did. There was no prior plan to implement a stop directly in International Village when the original plans were made public in May.

If I did not sit on this committee, I would not be able to effectively bring forth the issues and opinions of our membership that should be listened to closely throughout the process of implementing this project in our city.

Historically, the City of Hamilton has created sub-committees around large projects so that there is transparent and open dialogue with both city councilors and city stakeholders. How is it that now we are going backwards with this archaic idea to eliminate a sub-committee that is perhaps the most important sub-committee in the history of Hamilton? How can council not allow its key stakeholders who will be dealing with construction right outside of our doorsteps to be heard? It's unacceptable.

Our board and members were very satisfied to hear that I would have the opportunity to sit as an advisor on this committee and I can assure you, they will be furious if that opportunity is taken away. This project requires input and time to ensure it is done right while sticking to the important timeline set forth by City of Hamilton and Metrolinx LRT staff. It does not need to be added to a laundry list of agenda items at a General Issues Committee meeting. This project requires a dedicated sub-committee to ensure its implementation is both efficient and completed on time.

I urge you to turn down Councillor Partridge's preposterous idea to eliminate the LRT Sub-Committee and let's move in the direction we have been going in. Let's continue to follow the mandate and terms of reference set out by yourselves on May 27th, 2015 where we can work collectively and efficiently to ensure that light rail transit in Hamilton is an open and transparent project and where all councilors are able to sit in on LRT Sub-Committee meetings and provide comment. Do not silence and insult the businesses in International Village by removing our voice.

Sincerely,

Susie Braithwaite
Executive Director
International Village BIA

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted November 17, 2016 at 19:55:57

I thought these suburban councilors were already looking out for the businesses downtown? They certainly said that when they wanted your one and only bus lane erased from existence. I find it very interesting that councilors who don't want anything to do with the LRT project, seem to want the project and the people in control of it to respond directly to them and other politicians only and throw away any representation by anyone else who is directly effected by the LRT Line construction program. I guess the public representation of the current LRT Subcommittee has too much contact with the public and because of this, they might find out that a majority of the area's residents, business employees and most businesses owners actually want this LRT thing after all!

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust Announces Financial Results and 9% Growth in Operating Income for the Third Quarter of 2016. They linked the growth in their Canadian portfolio directly to the growth caused by future investment because of infrastructure spending, specifically LRT construction in Toronto, Ottawa, and Waterloo. There is much excitement around potential growth in downtown Mississauga as their LRT project enters the RFQ/RFP stage!

Ottawa's "Condo Queen" Marnie Bennett says that despite the slow economy, the Confederation Line LRT project alone is responsible for up to 1000 condo unit sales a year in the core of the city. She believes that LRT is almost singularly responsible for the redesign and intensification of the Lebreton Flats area west of downtown Ottawa. "The 10,000+ condo units expected for the Lebreton Flats development neighborhood over the next decade and a half, would not happen at all without LRT. The Transitway was there for three decades and no development occurred in the Flats. You couldn't even get the players involved to come to an agreement to pay for and build the updated infrastructure needed in the area (The players are the development industry, the city, the National Capital Committee and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec). As soon as LRT was seriously proposed to replace the Transitway in the core and Lebreton Flats area, Boom! An infrastructure renewal agreement happens, construction of the infrastructure begins almost immediately and development starts in the Flats."

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted November 17, 2016 at 21:01:57

Oops, that should be National Capital Commission not Committee!

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