Hamilton·Hamilton Votes

Campaign Briefing: LRT supporters mobilize to 'correct the record'

A group of light rail transit (LRT) supporters have launched a campaign to try to sway the vote on Oct. 22.

Also: term limits, growing the tax base and a telephone town hall

This model shows what Hamilton's LRT system would look like. (Metrolinx)

A group of light rail transit (LRT) supporters have launched a campaign to try to sway the vote on Oct. 22.

There's already a No LRT group, and several members are running. Now #yesLRT has launched a website and YouTube channel to rally people in the project's favour.

"We want to help correct the record," says group leader Karl Andrus.

"From every perspective, the economy, infrastructure, property taxes, transit and development, environment and road safety, LRT is the right choice."

The group wants the city to boost ridership via Hamilton's 10-year strategy. That aligns — not conflicts — with launching LRT in 2024-2025, Andrus said.

This image shows the BLAST network as outlined in the 2013 Rapid Ready plan. (City of Hamilton)

Mayoral incumbent Fred Eisenberger supports that too. Vito Sgro, likely his closest challenger, wants to cancel LRT and beef up express bus service along the BLAST network, a city-wide rapid transit plan.

Sgro's website says B-line LRT isn't the first stage of the BLAST network. Andrus says it clearly is — it's the B in BLAST.

"Remove it and transit in Hamilton is 'last', yet again."

"No LRT" members have mobilized too. At least three are running — Carol Lazich in Ward 1, Gaspare Bonomo in Ward 13 and Milena Balta in Ward 3.

From Lazich's platorm: "Implementation of the HSR BLAST system using environmentally friendly electric buses will service all Hamiltonians and provide connectivity to all wards."

Advance polls

Voting officially starts tomorrow via advance polls. Here's a list from the City of Hamilton website:

  • Thursday, Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Telephone town hall

Sgro is holding an invite-only telephone town hall at 7 p.m. tonight. PC MPP Donna Skelly (Flamborough-Glanbrook) and Liberal MP Bob Bratina (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek) will participate.

They'll give their party's stances on LRT, Sgro said. 

Skelly says she's not there to take sides. She'll just reiterate the province's pledge — that the $1 billion can be used for LRT or other transit and infrastructure.

The previous provincial Liberal government committed that $1 billion in 2016 to build LRT. Ford said Hamilton could use it for LRT, or something else.

"I will wait to see what council decides and if they decide against the LRT, under a PC government, the funding will stay with Hamilton," he said.

Another mayoral candidate, Michael Pattison, took to Twitter.

Term limits

Ian Thompson, a candidate in Ward 10, says if he's elected, he'll press for city council term limits and online voting.

Thompson says he'll introduce "an unprecedented motion within the first 90 days." He'd like to see a two-term limit. "Public service was never intended to be a lifelong career."

He's running against long-time incumbent Maria Pearson, Jeff Beattie and Louie Milojevic.

Our recent election stories:

All-candidates meetings

Ward 7

When: Saturday, Oct. 6 (meet and greet)
Where: Eastmount Community Centre, 115 East 26th St.
Who: Mountain Kidz Klub
More info: kathy_archer@rogers.com. Turkey soup lunch for a $3 donation. Open to the community.

Ward 3

When: Monday, Oct. 8, 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: The Pearl Company, 16 Steven St. 
Who: Crown Point, GALA, Keith and Stinson neighbourhood associations
Info: Because of space restrictions, anyone who wants to attend should get a free online ticket

Ward 13 

When: Tuesday, Oct. 9, doors open at 6 p.m., debate from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Where: Dundas Town Hall auditorium, 60 Main St., Dundas
Who: Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Dundas division

Mayor

When: Tuesday, Oct 9, 6:30 p.m.
Where: 754 Barton St. E.
Who: Afro Canadian Caribbean Association in partnership with the African Canadian Action Congress

Ward 1

When: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2 p.m.
Where: To be announced.
Who: McMaster University Students Union.

Social media

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She often tweets about Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

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