Hamilton city councillors will vote to reaffirm their commitment to Light Rail Transit (LRT) at a council meeting Wednesday and force the mayor to represent their position.
Coun. Brian McHattie's motion will direct Mayor Bob Bratina to reflect council's stance when he talks about LRT to other levels of government. The proposed LRT line would run 13.5 km from McMaster University to Eastgate Square and cost about $800 million.
Some of Bratina's recent comments "confuse the issue," McHattie said.
"There's the perception of mixed messages when city councillors are saying one thing and the mayor is saying something else."
"If you're the province of Ontario, you wonder what's going on."
Bratina made headlines last week when he was quoted in local media as saying that Hamilton would have to commit to all-day GO service or LRT.
According to Bratina, Premier Kathleen Wynne's comments alluded that the city "would have to look at" whether it wants the province to extend all-day, two-day GO service to Stoney Creek or to reaffirm its commitment to a lower-city LRT line.
But Kelly Baker, Wynne's spokesperson, said that does not accurately reflect the province's position.
"The government is committed to all-day GO service, and that is unrelated to our plans for Hamilton LRT," she said.
Coun. Sam Merulla successfully initiated a motion to censure the mayor last year.
"The only reason I'm not seeking a censure is due to compassionate grounds surrounding his obvious issues and our need not to be distracted by nonsense," Merulla said.
By "issues," he said, he is referring to the mayor inconsistently communicating council positions.
The motion will also direct Bratina to include councillors McHattie, Jason Farr and Lloyd Ferguson — members of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce LRT task force — on correspondence with the province.
Bratina said he has no reason to oppose the motion.
"It simply reflects our procedural bylaw and the Municipal Act with regard to dealing with other levels of government, and so I have no reason to oppose it since this has always been my practice," he told CBC Hamilton in an email.
The council-approved plan for LRT is already in the hands of Metrolinx, and the next issue will be how to fund it, Bratina said.
"At some point, council will decide on how to proceed upon receiving a report from our director of finance which will show how the strategy impacts on local residents."
McHattie worries an inconsistent message could jeopardize the project.
"There are a lot of competing projects in the GTA and Hamilton," he said. "If it's easier to put money into Mississauga because there's no confusion or hint of controversy, that's where they'll put their money."
Also on Wednesday's council agenda:
- Confirming a memorandum of understanding between the city and the Hamilton Port Authority to take control of Piers 7 and 8. The city plans to open the waterfront lands to commercial and residential development.
- Confirming Wi-Fi installation at 26 city recreation centres, community centres and arenas.
The meeting starts at city hall at 5 p.m. CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs (@SamCraggsCBC) will tweet throughout the meeting.