Elections Don’t Change Council

Posted on 2015/01/15

Watching the #HamOnt Bus Lane saga in council yesterday was embarrassing. These are adults behaving like spoiled children.

From the suburban and rural councillors who only vote in favour of what they think urban wards need – rather than what urban councillors tell council is required within those wards – to the inability of long-term councillors to utilize the advanced technology of ‘microphones’ (looking at you Captain Mumbles).

The real problem though is that while we had an election last October and now have a Mayor who acts like a mayor, the thinking patters are deeply ingrained.

Here’s an email exchange between me and ye olde mayor Bratina last summer encouraging him to get LRT underway:

To: Mayor Bob (and a long list of others at provincial and municipal level)
From: James

I have previously made public statements as part of the Hamilton Light Rail Initiative as well as in other public forums – my support of the Hamilton LRT has not wavered.

I find myself in absolute awe of the various politicians, but most especially Mr. Bratina, as they prevaricate on what has been said, what has been voted and what has been done on the LRT portfolio in Hamilton.

The province has committed both during election campaigns and during the normal course of business to support transit initiatives which will increase Ontario’s productivity while managing the ecological impact of that productivity.

The city has completed not only the public consultations, but also the business case for investment, the environmental assessment and the 30% engineering plan for the B-Line (East West) LRT in Hamilton. (A significant proportion of this work was completed using funds from Metrolinx.)

Hamiltonians have come out strongly in favour of the investment in LRT. Regardless of what some councillors and election candidates have said, this remains true.

Hamilton, like most of Canada, has an aging population with a large demographic bubble of individuals who will require public transportation as they become infirm and are no longer able to drive or able to afford increased insurance premiums (elderly are 3x the insurance risk of teenagers). At the same time, Hamilton’s youth are facing a future where vehicle ownership is less and less appealing as the costs for fuel and insurance skyrocket. We need public transit. We need GREAT public transit. And we have needed it for some time. The loudest voices protesting the investment of provincial money into LRT in Hamilton are the voices who will need it most in the coming years and the voices who are unwilling to offer support to youth.

Hamilton has more potential than is currently being realized. Many native Hamiltonians can be identified by their “Hamilton Sucks.” attitude. There are a large (and increasing) number of Hamiltonian-by-choice people who have seen the potential of Hamilton and are bringing positive attitude, economic activity and new vision to Hamilton. My family are among this group. We are INTENTIONAL HAMILTONIANS – we have a deep love for our adopted city and a vested interest in its success.

Hamilton has been known as the Ambitious City.

Hamilton has languished under poor management and underfunding for too long.

It is time for the province to invest in Hamilton. It is time for Hamiltonians to invest in Hamilton. We have a brilliant future ahead of us.

James Arlen

And his response – spacing added for clarity.

To: James
From: Mayor Bob

Dear Mr. Arlen,
Thanks for your message. I generally don’t respond to personal attacks but you are likely basing your statement that I “prevaricate” (i.e. Lie) from misinformation published on Blogsites. Close to $10 million has been spent on LRT studies in Hamilton, $3 million of which came from the Province. It came to a surprise to most of us when we found out that we had funded the rest.

Your point on the aging demographic puts too much emphasis on the infirm. Seniors who drive cherish their operator’s licence. My late father in law was angry when at the age of 93 he was required to stop driving. There are many reasons why seniors favour their own automobile for transportation, and I urge you to do more investigation into that issue, since it affects so many Hamiltonians.

I’m pleased that you are an intentional Hamiltonian, but surely you are aware of the progress that has been made in the past few years. At present, Council’s position is stated in the Transportation Master Plan presented in February 2013 which advocates extensive investment in active transportation, acknowledging that increased active transportation is an outcome essential to achieving Council’s Vision for Hamilton. The entire Rapid Ready report which is a must read for anyone interested in the future of transit in Hamilton can be found here.

The report states the following: “The first key contributor to becoming Rapid Ready in Hamilton is to invest in improving transit services and reconfigure the transit network in anticipation of rapid transit. These early investments would increase ridership, elevate the role of public transit in Hamilton, and prepare customers for rapid transit implementation.” So it is critical that immediate improvements be made to the current system with standard buses. Pending project funding from the provincial government, the earliest construction start date for an LRT system is following the completion of the 2015 Pan Am Game with a length of phased construction estimated to take 5 to 7 years. In other words a functional LRT service for Hamilton would commence by 2021 or beyond.
Thank you again for your interest.

Mayor Bob Bratina.

Damn Blogsites again.

Tell me what has changed since then? A few new faces – same complete lack of forward thinking.

Welcome to #HamOnt – we get the city we deserve – and based on our own inability to elect people who are not also assclowns, we live in assclown central – Hamilton Ontario.

Small additional note: I’m thrilled when the system works and we pull no-longer-capable drivers off of the road. The fact that Canada’s Worst Driver is often filmed in Hamilton just adds to the hilarity.

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