Full steam ahead The LRT debate is tired, so why was it the only prominent issue this election?


This past municipal election came with special significance.

It served as a pivotal moment for Hamilton, a moment that would decide whether the city would be moving forward with the $1 billion light rail transit system or not. While I’m grateful for those who fought tirelessly to bring something so obviously important to a city like Hamilton, I’m disappointed.

I’m disappointed that so few councillor candidates discussed the issue of affordable housing at length when today, Hamilton has the highest inflation rates in rental properties across Southern Ontario.

I’m disappointed that so few councillor candidates discussed the issue of poverty and homelessness in our city when poverty rates in Hamilton are higher than both the provincial and national averages.

I’m disappointed that so few councillor candidates discussed the surge in hate crimes in Hamilton, when the city has the highest rate of police-reported hate crimes in Canada.

Most of all, I’m disappointed that despite the fact that the city has conducted countless votes and approvals, the LRT turned into an election issue when the top mayoral challenger ran on a single-issue platform, leaving the other issues that the city faces in the dust.

Sure, there are a wide range of reasons to be against the LRT, but these reasons weren’t even touched throughout the campaign period of this election. Instead, those who were against the implementation used obvious lies to persuade voters, claiming the LRT is inaccessible, expensive and privately owned. All of these things can be so easily fact checked to prove otherwise.

Hamilton is a city with complex issues, from affordable housing, to poverty, to economic development or to the surge in hate crimes in our city. Implementing the LRT is not a complex issue, nor a debate. It’s an obvious choice, now let’s move on from this.

For a municipal election to turn into a referendum on whether or not we should be moving forward with the LRT says a lot about the “ambitious” city. Are we really that ambitious of a city if we’re afraid of change? More importantly, are we really that ambitious of a city if we’re not showing up for those who need us?

There are more prominent issues at the table to be so obsessive, yet divided, on a crucial investment for Hamilton. While I’m glad we can finally put this argument to rest, let’s work together to be the ambitious city that Hamilton needs.


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Author: Emily O'Rourke

Emily is a recent Communication Studies grad. Now you can find her in the big seat as Editor-in-Chief for Volume 89. She mostly talks about PR, meme culture, coffee and dogs. Emily was also voted biggest klutz in her high school's graduating class, FYI.