LRT, King Street route reaf­firmed

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­pec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

Plan­ning for Hamil­ton’s light rail tran­sit project is rolling full steam ahead de­spite a re­cent coun­cil­lor’s re­port chal­leng­ing it, an­other coun­cil­lor sug­gest­ing a lack of pub­lic sup­port, and a busi­ness leader de­cry­ing the con­fu­sion over whether it is pro­ceed­ing.

The LRT, and its route on King Street — which con­tinue to be de­bated not­with­stand­ing re­peated ap­provals — were reaf­firmed at Tues­day’s five-hour LRT com­mit­tee meet­ing. But not be­fore there were heated dis­cus­sions caused by dis­agree­ment from Moun­tain councillors Terry White­head and Donna Skelly.

White­head re­leased a re­port Mon­day chal­leng­ing the $1-bil­lion lower city project from Queen­ston traf­fic circle to McMaster Univer­sity, but on Tues­day said it was a po­lit­i­cal re­port meant to pro­mote care­ful over­sight.

“To make it work, we bet­ter un­der­stand the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said about the con­struc­tion im­pacts on busi­nesses and traf­fic, and if there will be enough rid­er­ship.

Skelly said she is hear­ing “a tremen­dous amount of op­po­si­tion” and ques­tioned the sup­port the com­mit­tee has been shown. “If you re­ally want to gauge pub­lic sup­port, put it to a ref­er­en­dum,” she said.

Mayor Fred Eisen­berger re­minded ev­ery­one the com­mit­tee’s pur­pose is to im­ple­ment the LRT.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Su­san Braith­waite of the In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage BIA, how­ever, said busi­nesses on King Street are un­sure the project is go­ing ahead.

“There is con­fu­sion based on what we hear and read in the me­dia,” she said, adding busi­nesses need bet­ter lead­er­ship on pre­par­ing for the im­pact of the street dug up for an ex­tended time. “We need to hear that the LRT is hap­pen­ing — 100 per cent.”

De­bate then en­sued among councillors on whether the project was “a done deal.”

An­caster Coun. Lloyd Fer­gu­son urged the com­mit­tee not to go “down that track.”

“We’ve been hav­ing this de­bate for sev­eral years. This train has left the sta­tion,” he pleaded. “A ma­jor­ity of coun­cil sup­ported this … so please, can we get on with this …”

City man­ager Chris Mur­ray said the city has an agree­ment with Metrolinx to build the LRT.

Busi­nessper­son Mary Aduck­iewicz of Den­ninger’s told the com­mit­tee her store and oth­ers wanted the LRT to go on Main Street, where con­struc­tion won’t hurt as many busi­nesses as it will on King.

“We’ve weath­ered a lot of storms, ups and downs over 62 years,” she said of Den­ninger’s. “We’re not sure if we can weather an­other ex­tended con­struc­tion pe­riod.”

City LRT project man­ager Paul John­son said King is the ap­proved route since 2011, when the prov­ince ap­proved an en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ment on the city’s orig­i­nal LRT route that ex­tended to East­gate Square. Among the rea­sons for re­ject­ing Main is that it is a truck route, and that the LRT is in­com­pat­i­ble with the 403 in­ter­change.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Coun. Matt Green talks with Mary Aduck­iewicz of Den­ninger’s dur­ing pre­sen­ta­tions Tues­day from King Street busi­ness own­ers. Busi­nesses heard once again LRT is well un­der­way and the route brings it down King Street.

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