Saturday October 1, 2016

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 1, 2016

Eisenberger takes on ‘foolish’ LRT critics

Mayor Fred Eisenberger has come out swinging against surging opposition to LRT among city councillors, which now includes a referendum pledge and “informal discussions” about approaching the province for a new transit deal.

“I think it’s unfortunate and foolish to go down this road,” said Eisenberger, vowing to do everything “humanly possible” to get council to stay the course on the $1-billion provincially-funded project.

Eisenberger warns that if council votes for a referendum it will stop the LRT implementation process dead in its tracks and possibly kill the project.

Additionally, he says it’s “foolhardy” for councillors to believe there’s an alternative deal to be had with the province to redirect money earmarked for transit into infrastructure repairs.

“I think the province will take a pretty dim view of coming back with some alternate plans to what we’ve supported, nurtured and asked for.”

The mayor was responding to Coun. Chad Collins’ promise to bring forward a motion next spring to include the contentious LRT issue as a referendum question on the October 2018 municipal election ballot.

Eisenberger says if councillors oppose LRT they shouldn’t be “hiding behind” a plebiscite.

“If they really want to kill LRT then they should own it and they should put a motion forward to do exactly that and stand up and be counted.”

Eisenberger was also taking issue with backroom talks about exploring alternatives to the project, which will run from McMaster University to Queenston traffic circle, with a spur line on James North.

Coun. Donna Skelly told The Spectator she hopes that “informal discussions” currently taking place will result in the city approaching the province for a new deal.

The outspoken LRT critic says a number of councillors are looking at options of how to secure the provincial funding for some other form of rapid transit but also put money toward the city’s $3.5 billion infrastructure deficit.  (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)

Hamilton, Fred Eisenberger, Terry Whitehead, Donna Skelly, Chad Collins, LRT, Rapid, Mass, Transit, referendum, representation