Final reminder: Hamilton overwhelmingly supports light rail transit (LRT)

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Published October 14, 2021 at 11:09 am

Artist rendering of an LRT stop in Hamilton. (Metrolinx)

Hamilton’s light rail transit (LRT) project is kicking into high gear with properties along the planned route set to be demolished in the coming months and shovels are expected to hit the ground next spring.

This is a project that has been 14-years in the making and has received overwhelming support from all sides of the community, but it doesn’t always feel that way. That’s because social media will always skew public opinion towards the perpetually angry.

At least one of these comments are guaranteed under every LRT story on social media:

  • This is a waste of money!
  • LRT is a train to nowhere lmao
  • What about all the homeless! (typically posted by an individual who has done absolutely nothing to help or advocate for individuals who are home and food insecure)
  • My tax dollars are going to something I won’t use!!!

For starters, the $3.4 billion project is being funded by the provincial and federal governments. Yes, the City of Hamilton is on the hook for operating costs but it receives all of the revenue. Additionally, multiple feasibility and benefit studies were conducted and concluded that the project will provide positive economic spinoffs in the form of new infrastructure, development, investments, and jobs.

Oh, and LRT can also provide a bit of relief for this little environmental crisis we’re in. In case breathing is your thing.

This model shows the proposed streetscape design approach for the LRT. (Metrolinx)

According to the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Hamilton’s population is expected to increase to 780,000 by 2041, while the number of jobs will increase up to 350,000. There is going to be a whole lot of demand to move people throughout the city and connect them to employment and the services and supports they need. Today, 70 per cent of Hamiltonians work in the city and nearly 40,000 people commute into Hamilton to work.

As for the individuals who don’t want their tax dollars funding a resource they won’t use, I say: “Welcome to a functioning society!”

The LRT is, of course, a train that goes somewhere. In fact, it’s a train that stretches 14 kilometres and contains 17 stops, from McMaster University, through downtown, to Eastgate Centennial Park in Stoney Creek. Downtown Hamilton is also the single biggest employment cluster in the city, by the way.

LRT is also only the start of what will be known as the BLAST network — connecting residents from the lower city to the mountain and the waterfront to the airport.

In the era of social media, it can be easy to get trapped in false perceptions of public opinion. Especially now that we know anger drives engagement, meaning things are never really as negative as they appear. It’s just what we’re more likely to see.

The reality is, the Hamilton community has spoken several times on this issue, garnering support from business networks, developers, educational institutions, health care organizations, and environmental advocates.

Even our own survey conducted through Instagram this week resulted in 71 per cent of voters supporting the LRT plan, compared to 29 per cent that didn’t. Questioning the validity of an Instagram survey is fair, but this was also decided in the 2018 mayoral election — billed as a referendum on LRT. Pro-LRT candidate Fred Eisenberger won the election by 54.03 per cent. His opponent, Vito Sgro, whose only platform was “No LRT,” garnered 38.06 per cent of the vote.

For the final time, Hamilton wants LRT. Don’t let the social media comments under this article fool you.

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