Hamilton LRT: Where does your councillor stand?
We break down councillor positions, ward by ward
Mayor Fred Eisenberger
Eisenberger is a stalwart LRT supporter, and is trying to rally support ahead of Wednesday's vote.
He told CBC Hamilton late last week that council not supporting the project and the $1 billion investment would be a "disaster" for the city.
Eisenberger is a one-time president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute, which produced a report about the economic uplift LRT will bring. During his 2014 campaign, he said he'd appoint a citizens jury to look at LRT. "(Citizens juries) can decide on someone's life," he said then. "Surely they can decide LRT."
That was before 2015, when the province announced $1 billion to build the system, which firmed up Eisenberger's pro-LRT position. The jury happened though, and recommended touting the benefits of LRT abd scrapping area rating for transit. Eisenberger, presumably not keen to ruffle feathers right now, said he doesn't plan to pursue the latter at this time.
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Aidan Johnson, Ward 1 (west end)
Johnson was first elected in 2014, and campaigned on being pro LRT. He's held that position since then and has written and spoken in favour of it.
Jason Farr, Ward 2 (downtown and area)
Farr was first elected in 2010 and has been in favour of LRT since then. He chairs the city's LRT subcommittee.
Matthew Green, Ward 3 (central lower city)
Green was first elected in 2014 and campaigned in favour of LRT. He's one of the project's most vocal supporters.
Sam Merulla, Ward 4 (east end)
Merulla has voted in favour of LRT for the past 10 years – first to investigate it, then to implement it. He likens it to the Red Hill Valley Parkway, which he said many of his residents didn't support, but that he felt was for the good of the city.
Merulla has used several political maneuvers over the last two years. That includes a motion last year to formally accept the $1 billion project — a sort of challenge to fellow councillors to vote against a project they previously supported. "If the support's not there," he said, "(we) might as well know now." He also threatened to bring back the area rating debate for transit, which would see the suburbs pay more for transit, if they didn't support LRT.
He was also one of nine councillors who participated in a survey of residents to gauge their thoughts on LRT, in part so he'd get a say in which questions were asked.
Chad Collins, Ward 5 (Red Hill)
Collins voted in favour of investigating LRT, and asking the province for the money to build it. He says while campaigning in 2014, though, residents told him they didn't want it, and he modified his position. He's the only councillor who has consistently voted against it since then.
Tom Jackson, Ward 6 (east Mountain)
Jackson has voted numerous times for LRT with full capital funding from the province. Since 2015, he's voted to sign the memorandum of agreement and establish the office, but his support has some caveats. He wants any buses freed up along the route to go to the Mountain, which Eisenberger is trying to accommodate. He also prefers that unionized HSR drivers to operate it, although that seems unlikely. Metrolinx has said the system will be operated via a public-private partnership, although those drivers may be unionized.
- HSR workers should operate Hamilton's new LRT system: Jackson
- Mayor wants to offer more buses to Mountain in bid to get LRT support
Donna Skelly, Ward 7 (central Mountain)
Skelly was first elected in a 2016 byelection. Her predecessor, Scott Duvall, wanted LRT with full capital funding. During her campaign, she expressed skepticism over the project. She won the byelection by only 92 votes over LRT supporter John-Paul Danko. She's been vocal against the project since being elected.
Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 (west Mountain)
Whitehead has voted for LRT with full capital funding, and like every councillor but Collins, has cast votes to implement the project. In the last year, though, he's investigated the issue and become the project's most vocal skeptic.
He spent a few thousand in his own ward money to compile a report on systems across North America, and says the project needs park-and-ride facilities to work, and more robust ridership. He also prefers the original route to Eastgate Square. Last year, he unilaterally wrote to the premier asking to meet about the project, and held a February press conference that was hijacked by Green and an anti-LRT protestor.
- Terry Whitehead releases 58-page LRT report — to mixed reviews
- Terry Whitehead's LRT press conference derailed by councillor, protestor
- Mayor says Terry Whitehead LRT letter to premier is 'disrespectful'
Doug Conley, Ward 9 (upper Stoney Creek)
Conley was elected in 2014. He was against LRT when he was elected, saying "it might be something Toronto can use, but not Hamilton." Nevertheless, he has cast votes this term to move forward on the project. He's been fairly quiet about his position.
Maria Pearson, Ward 10 (lower Stoney Creek)
Pearson is a regular transit user who's demonstrated a past willingness to support transit projects, but she hasn't stated a firm position. She voted for LRT pre-2014, and has cast votes this term to move forward on the project. She last spoke on it in 2014, saying she was "about 50/50" on her support, but that was before the provincial funding announcement.
Brenda Johnson, Ward 11 (Glanbrook)
Johnson, a one-time Environment Hamilton employee, cast pro-LRT votes prior to 2014, and has since. But she wrote on her site last fall that she can't support LRT with the current lack of information. Whether she's satisfied with the answers she's gotten remains to be seen.
Lloyd Ferguson, Ward 12 (Ancaster)
Ferguson, a construction industry veteran, used to be skeptical of the project, but traveled to other cities with LRTs and saw it in action. Since then, he's supported the project, saying it will benefit future generations.
Arlene VanderBeek, Ward 13 (Dundas)
VanderBeek said when she was elected in 2014 that she was open to LRT, but didn't see it as a priority. She wanted the existing transit system beefed up first. She's said little about her LRT position and appears to be undecided.
Robert Pasuta, Ward 14 (rural Flamborough)
Pasuta has cast pro-LRT votes prior to 2014, and has cast some since to move forward, but has said in interviews that he is undecided.
Worth noting: Pasuta is recovering from a farm injury and will not be present for Wednesday's vote.
Judi Partridge, Ward 15 (Waterdown and north Flamborough)
Partridge voted to ask the province for LRT money in 2014, and has cast votes to move forward on it post-election. She is opposed now though and explained why on her website in a piece called "Why I no longer support the LRT project."