LRT is an investment in Hamilton’s success

By Tim Mattioli & Ross Godsoe

The Ambitious City. Coined in the 1800s, this Hamilton moniker has resurfaced in the past few years and is an encouraging sign that our city is ready to boldly tackle the 21st century challenges it faces. Along with other deindustrializing cities in North America, Hamilton is discovering that success relies on a combination of factors: a diverse economy with job opportunities, quality housing and vibrant, livable neighbourhoods. First and foremost, a successful city must be one in which people want to live.

Hamilton is a city on the rise. We’re attracting attention from all sectors and our economic development department has been busier than ever, but there is still much work to do. Our property taxes are high, our downtown is still in recovery and the city is still trying to move beyond its industrial past.

We need to be forward thinking in our plans for the future, and we believe that light rail is one of the best ways to achieve many of the city’s goals. These include continued revitalization of the downtown core, intensification along main corridors, further economic development and a broadening of the tax base.

That’s why in 2008, the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) took an official position in support of light rail. In the six years since, our position hasn’t wavered. This is because, even in the early days, it was apparent to us that this is more than just a state of the art transportation system, it is an investment in the future.

The issue then, and the issue now, is money; how much and from where are key concerns. These concerns are absolutely legitimate. Large-scale infrastructure is expensive, however, unlike invisible infrastructure (water mains, sewers, etc.), LRT will reshape the communities through which it passes. Permanent investment spurs development. But not overnight.

The city has been studying LRT since 2008, and study after study has concluded there will be a return on investment for the B-line. The city’s own Rapid Ready report provides some very positive numbers, with the following financial benefits from LRT:

• Reduction of scheduled and unscheduled backlog capital works in the order of approximately $79 million.
• Tax benefit from new development by LRT estimated at $22.4 million.
• Potential for 6,000 construction jobs (provincial); 3,500 directly in Hamilton.
• Potential for 1,000 permanent jobs (provincial); 300 jobs in Hamilton to deliver regular operations and maintenance.
• B-Line LRT investment may result in an estimated increase of more than $443 million in Ontario’s GDP.

The Chamber of Commerce LRT task force recently passed a motion requesting the province commit to funding light rail in Hamilton. We would like to echo this request, as investment in light rail will be good for Hamilton, and for the province as a whole. What is needed most now from our leaders is the foresight and ambition necessary to champion LRT as an investment in Hamilton’s future success. We are the Ambitious City, after all.


TIM MATTIOLI is the President of the Board of Directors of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, and ROSS GODSOE is the Association’s Chief Executive Officer.

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