By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 28, 2014
Fred Eisenberger elected mayor of Hamilton
The Spectator declared him the winner over mayoralty front-runners Brad Clark and Brian McHattie about an hour after the polls closed Monday.
Voting results posted on the City of Hamilton website showed Eisenberger with 41.54 per cent to Clark’s 30.21 per cent and McHattie with 19.76.
Since Hamilton was amalgamated in 2001, the city has only experienced one-term mayors – Bob Wade, Larry Di Ianni, Eisenberger and Bob Bratina, who leaves office in January when the new mayor takes over.
This is Eisenberger’s fourth try at mayor: He won in 2006 but lost in 2000 and 2010.
A total of 366,000 Hamiltonians were eligible to vote but total voter turnout was not yet available about an hour after the polls closed. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
TWO WINNING CARTOONS DEFEATED
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 4, 2014
Pull the plug on Hamilton LRT: Mayoral candidate Brad Clark
Mayoral candidate Brad Clark is officially calling on Hamilton to pull the plug on a contentious bid for an $811-million LRT system in favour of negotiating cheaper bus rapid transit with the province.
The Stoney Creek councillor said he will oppose pursuing the 14-kilometre light-rail line from McMaster University to Eastgate even if the province provides 100 per cent capital funding for the project.
“We have to make decisions based on our needs,” he said at a Wednesday campaign announcement. “We want LRT. We don’t need LRT.”
With the announcement, Clark officially positions himself in clear opposition to council colleague and mayoral candidate Brian McHattie, who has championed the LRT plan as a city-building effort with dramatic potential to boost development and business along the east-west route.
Clark argued the transit overhaul is still too expensive for local taxpayers once land expropriation, underground infrastructure improvements and other traffic changes are factored in.
He dismissed the economic uplift arguments found in past studies on LRT as uncertain and overly “rosy.”
Clark said the city should instead begin negotiating with the province over a bus rapid transit system for the same B-line that he estimates would cost closer to $350 million and require fewer local infrastructure and land costs.
At the same time, he urged expanding HSR bus service as recommended in the Rapid Ready report that supports LRT.
Mayoral candidate Crystal Lavigne has said she favours better bus service over LRT, while Ejaz Butt only supports the project with 100 per cent provincial funding. Michael Baldasaro and Nick Iamonico have both expressed support for the project. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, July 26, 2014
Province not ready to commit to $811-million Hamilton LRT
The province isn’t ready to commit to an $811 million LRT line in Hamilton and there’s no timeline for a decision.
Ontario’s new Transportation Minister, Steven Del Duca, emerged from a controversial private meeting at the city Friday to repeat the Liberal government’s commitment to paying 100 per cent of capital costs for a new “rapid transit” project in Hamilton.
But he couldn’t say what that project will be, when the city will get an answer or define what is covered by “capital construction costs.”
“It may very well be LRT,” he said in response to persistent questioning after the meeting with Mayor Bob Bratina, city manager Chris Murray and four other councillors.
But he said he wasn’t in a position to “make an announcement” Friday, although he added he was clear the city’s official request is for a light rail line, despite recent public musings of some councillors on the idea of a bus rapid transit alternative.
Del Duca also acknowledged the city needs an answer on what will be covered by provincial capital funding, for example expropriation and other land costs. He said he would consult with provincial officials and Metrolinx and get back to the city on the “interesting” question.
Councillors had varying reactions to the meeting.
Mayoral aspirant Brian McHattie said he was “blown out of the water” by the “positive” meeting, adding he was relieved the minister was not confused by mixed messages coming from individual local politicians.
Councillor Brad Clark, also a mayoral candidate, said he didn’t hear “very much new information” from the minister, but appreciated the chance for a direct conversation.
Clark said it was made clear Hamilton has more work to do, to make its case for a rapid transit project, but added the specifics will come from Metrolinx and senior provincial staff in the coming weeks or months.
McHattie, by contrast, said the minister praised the work already competed by Hamilton and seemed to think “we’ve done enough” to take the next step. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
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)