By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday, June 10, 2014
With some Hamilton Liberal candidates dissenting on the idea of a light rail transit (LRT) line for the city, Premier Kathleen Wynne says it makes it more important for the province to hear from the city on its transportation priorities.
“As these decisions are made, the provincial government must partner with municipal government and make sure the priorities of communities are heard and that the investments are made in the best way possible,” she said Saturday morning during a campaign stop in Waterdown.
“I know that there has been a lot of conversation about the LRT.”
Wynne’s campaign bus paid a visit to the Waterdown Farmer’s Market and then Liberal candidate Ted McMeekin’s campaign office in a mall in Waterdown. McMeekin, who has been in the legislature since 2000, is seeking re-election in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and faces a tough fight from Progressive Conservative candidate Donna Skelly.
In the afternoon, she visited the Hamilton Mountain campaign office of Liberal candidate Javid Mirza. About 100 people, including other candidates, attended what was billed as the ‘Rally in the Alley’ to hear the pep talk from Wynne. They believe Mirza could take Hamilton Mountain from New Democrat Monique Taylor.
“It’s a very tight election,” the premier told the gathering. “We’ve got to make sure we connect with everybody.”
City council is on record supporting an east-west LRT – from McMaster University to Eastgate Square – providing the $800-million cost is covered by the province. LRT for Hamilton is suggested in Phase 2 of Metrolinx’s The Big Move, but there is no timeframe. Meanwhile, Hamilton East-Stoney Creek Liberal candidate Ivan Luksic and Hamilton Mountain Liberal candidate Javid Mirza don’t support LRT and say citizens tell them there are more pressing transportation needs. The premier recently said her government would support funding “rapid transit” in Hamilton, which would include buses.
The premier touted her party’s pledge to bring all-day GO service to Hamilton at the new James Street North station. A GO station is also proposed at the CN mainline and Centennial Parkway. GO has also looked at extending its service into Niagara.
“Every time I come to Hamilton region I hear about the desperate need for that,” the premier told reporters and about 50 people squeezed into the campaign office. “That has become a very high priority for us.”
There is talk CN is not too excited about having more commuter trains run along its mainline from the New York State border, but the premier said her government will find a way “to work with our partners to ensure we get full day, all-day GO service. It’s too important for the region not to do it. That’s a priority we are focused on.”
The Progressive Conservatives do not support a Hamilton LRT, saying the province cannot afford it, but the NDP have it in their campaign platform. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)