In what is becoming a habitual act of pure cynicism, the Ward 9 candidate keeps reversing his LRT position.
By Ryan McGreal
Published October 02, 2018
Brad Clark, former Stoney Creek councillor and a current candidate for Ward 9, is a veritable see-saw when it comes to the city's light rail transit (LRT) plan. Despite being on record supporting LRT since before submitting his nomination, Clark just shamelessly flip-flopped this morning [PDF]:
Brad Clark, City Councillor Candidate for Ward 9, is calling for the cancellation of the LRT. "I have confirmed that the Province of Ontario is indemnified should the current LRT request for proposal (RFP) process be cancelled. As such there is no risk of financial penalties to the City of Hamilton", said Brad Clark.
"Therefore, I can unequivocally continue my opposition to LRT without fear of legal or financial penalties to taxpayers. There are far more pressing infrastructure needs across our city," said Clark.
It's particularly cynical that he claims he will "continue" opposition to LRT when he is on record clearly supporting LRT as of just a few weeks ago. On September 12, the Hamilton Spectator quoted Clark's LRT position in their profile of Ward 9 candidates:
Yes. I can't in good conscience oppose LRT when the environmental assessment, land acquisition and the request for proposals have all been approved. Reversing that direction has serious cost implications, potential legal risks and will damage the city's reputation to potential investors. It's time to move forward and implement the approved city-wide transit enhancements on a parallel track.
You'll note that he raised a number of reasons to support LRT that have nothing to do with indemnification.
And Clark's position in September was also consistent with what Clark said this past June at a panel discussion on the city's transportation challenges:
It's been eight or nine years now where Main Street, the infrastructure on Main Street has not been improved. Pull the plug on LRT and you're going to start a brand-new EA which could be two or three years, you now will have 12 or 13 years of no work on infrastructure, water, sewer, pipes, everything. It's a mess. So they have to proceed with that infrastructure upgrade one way or the other. With LRT, the province is paying for it.
Again, it's clear that his sudden interest in the city's risk of financial penalties is just a cheap rationalization.
If we decide to kill the LRT plan, the following negative outcomes will all still be true:
We will still harm our reputation among investors, employers and developers as a reliable place to invest.
Bidders on future transportation projects will inflate their bids to account for the unreliability of the city. (This has already happened in Ottawa, which frivolously canceled an LRT system and then later decided to proceed with it after all.)
We will still have wasted $137 million in public money spent or committed to the LRT project.
There is a huge risk that we won't end up ever seeing any of the $1 billion currently earmarked for LRT. That money is committed today, after a process that took close to a decade. No one knows what process the Province will require to approve a different use of that money, but they are not just going to cut us a cheque.
Clark is a very smart man who certainly understands all this. However, political flip-flops are becoming a habit for Clark, who did the exact same thing in 2014 when he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor.
Indeed, we can go back to 2011, when Clark was a City Councillor and stated that Council "must make a final decision" on LRT once the Province confirmed funding. That funding confirmation took place on May 26, 2015, and Council did, indeed, make a "final decision" to accept the funding and work with Metrolinx to implement the line.
Regardless of how you feel about the city's LRT plan, such breathtaking cynicism should give anyone pause.
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