LRT takes over Dundas mayors’ debate

News Oct 08, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

It was a mayors’ debate that was suppose to focus on social issues.

But the two-hour event at the Dundas Baptist Church, sponsored by the Association of Dundas Churches, which attracted a standing room only crowd that was estimated at over 300 people despite a persistent rain storm, was instead hijacked by the contentious light-rail transit proposal prompted by a former mayoral candidate’s question.

Mahesh Butani, who ran in 2010, accused former mayor Fred Eisenberger and Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie, of deliberately misleading the public on the benefits of LRT.

“You are continuing to provide the wrong case for LRT,” said Butani. He was citing a McMaster University researcher, Christopher Higgins, who in a report found LRT wasn’t as beneficial to Hamilton as bus rapid transit.

Eisenberger dismissed Mahesh’s accusations, but said the report proves more discussion among the public is needed on LRT. Eisenberger has promised to create a citizens panel that would last about seven months to sort out the “new” information surrounding LRT and BRT.

“It’s unfortunate we had that kind of accusation,” said Eisenberger. “Mahesh has his view.”

McHattie, who backs LRT, pointed out council has voted overwhelmingly for LRT and has identified the proposal to the provincial government as its preferred option.

“There is no confusion (about LRT and BRT),” said McHattie.

The Ward 1 councillor told the crowd they should be “very, very careful of some of the people (who) communicate on social media making up information.”

Butani urged the candidates to put Higgins’ study on their websites. Then he interrupted the proceedings telling both candidates “you can not turn around and accuse me of lying.”

The exchanged prompted Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark, an advocate for BRT, to defend his support for the transit option. He said council “drank the Kool-Aid” when they voted for LRT in 2013.

“It’s unaffordable. There is information that has not been shared with the public,” he said. “The facts are the facts.”

Eisenberger, though, pointed out thatClark“supported (LRT) for seven years.

“A month ago he changes (his mind).”

The spat among the so-called three main contenders prompted candidate Ejaz Butt to say it is typical that all three of the politicians were arguing among themselves because they have been doing it all the time at council. Butt advocated holding a referendum on LRT.

“The people should decide whether for LRT or not,” he said.

Michael Baldasaro called for a LRT that runs a loop from the GO station in downtown Hamilton to the waterfront, along with funding more transit vehicles. The project would mean more development for the downtown.

“I’m a socialist. Everyone should have a piece of the pie,” he said.

Warrand Francis talked about his proposal to build a two-lane magnetic monorail system from downtown to Stoney Creek along Barton Street.

Michael Pattison, who is campaigning to provide more democracy to residents, said the LRT question should be put aside to focus on more important issues and raise the needed money to operate the project.

Clark also had to respond to a question about amalgamation and what he did while a cabinet minister in the Mike Harris’ Tory government. A questioner accusedClark of voting for amalgamation, something he never did.

“I opposed amalgamation,” said Clark, including when he was a cabinet minister.

He then pointed the finger at Eisenberger, saying when he was on Hamilton-Wentworth Regional council he supported the merger.

“Fred voted for amalgamation,” he said.

Beyond the LRT statements, a number of the questions from the public centred on social issues, particularly on poverty and affordable housing.

All of the seven candidates who turned out supported continuing the city’s affordable transit fare programs for low income and senior riders.

“We have developed the affordable transit pass,” said McHattie, pointed out council recently approved extending it. “It has been touted across the country.”

All candidates also supported providing more affordable housing, but with differences in how to build them, either through raising more revenue, as suggested by Clark, or by establishing an inclusionary bylaw, which McHattie and Eisenberger back.

Candidates also supported providing a living wage to all city employees.Hamiltonprovides the $14.95 per hour living wage rate, higher than the current $11Ontario minimum wage, to its full-time workers, but has yet to extend it to part-time employees. McHattie said it would be a council decision to expand the program.

Francis said he would “love to see you raise it to $14 per hour”, since there are too many people living in poverty and working “garbage jobs.”

Eisenberger used a question about protecting farmland to say an LRT system would mean less urban sprawl for the city, since LRT would mean more development in the downtown area.

“The more we sprawl, it costs more,” he said

As to how the city will pay for all the new programs and projects being offered, Clark said the city has to recruit international businesses to invest in Hamilton. He said local CEOs will help sell Hamilton to the world.

“We don’t have a foreign investment strategy inHamilton,” he said. “We need to embrace newcomers and work with them to sell Hamilton.”

Eisenberger, who pointed out he directed an extra $1 million to the city’s economic development department early in his 2066 to 2010 term, has provided dividends, such as Canada Bread and Maple Leaf.

“We don’t necessary have a spending problem,” said Eisenberger. “Our biggest issue is a revenue problem.”

Crystal Lavigne cancelled her appearance at the last minute, according to organizers. But a statement from her was read to the audience. Other candidates who were not present were Mike Clancy, Nick Iamonico, Ricky Tavares and Phil Ryerson. They have registered to run for mayor, but they have yet to appear at a debate.

LRT takes over Dundas mayors’ debate

News Oct 08, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

It was a mayors’ debate that was suppose to focus on social issues.

But the two-hour event at the Dundas Baptist Church, sponsored by the Association of Dundas Churches, which attracted a standing room only crowd that was estimated at over 300 people despite a persistent rain storm, was instead hijacked by the contentious light-rail transit proposal prompted by a former mayoral candidate’s question.

Mahesh Butani, who ran in 2010, accused former mayor Fred Eisenberger and Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie, of deliberately misleading the public on the benefits of LRT.

“You are continuing to provide the wrong case for LRT,” said Butani. He was citing a McMaster University researcher, Christopher Higgins, who in a report found LRT wasn’t as beneficial to Hamilton as bus rapid transit.

Eisenberger dismissed Mahesh’s accusations, but said the report proves more discussion among the public is needed on LRT. Eisenberger has promised to create a citizens panel that would last about seven months to sort out the “new” information surrounding LRT and BRT.

“It’s unfortunate we had that kind of accusation,” said Eisenberger. “Mahesh has his view.”

McHattie, who backs LRT, pointed out council has voted overwhelmingly for LRT and has identified the proposal to the provincial government as its preferred option.

“There is no confusion (about LRT and BRT),” said McHattie.

The Ward 1 councillor told the crowd they should be “very, very careful of some of the people (who) communicate on social media making up information.”

Butani urged the candidates to put Higgins’ study on their websites. Then he interrupted the proceedings telling both candidates “you can not turn around and accuse me of lying.”

The exchanged prompted Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark, an advocate for BRT, to defend his support for the transit option. He said council “drank the Kool-Aid” when they voted for LRT in 2013.

“It’s unaffordable. There is information that has not been shared with the public,” he said. “The facts are the facts.”

Eisenberger, though, pointed out thatClark“supported (LRT) for seven years.

“A month ago he changes (his mind).”

The spat among the so-called three main contenders prompted candidate Ejaz Butt to say it is typical that all three of the politicians were arguing among themselves because they have been doing it all the time at council. Butt advocated holding a referendum on LRT.

“The people should decide whether for LRT or not,” he said.

Michael Baldasaro called for a LRT that runs a loop from the GO station in downtown Hamilton to the waterfront, along with funding more transit vehicles. The project would mean more development for the downtown.

“I’m a socialist. Everyone should have a piece of the pie,” he said.

Warrand Francis talked about his proposal to build a two-lane magnetic monorail system from downtown to Stoney Creek along Barton Street.

Michael Pattison, who is campaigning to provide more democracy to residents, said the LRT question should be put aside to focus on more important issues and raise the needed money to operate the project.

Clark also had to respond to a question about amalgamation and what he did while a cabinet minister in the Mike Harris’ Tory government. A questioner accusedClark of voting for amalgamation, something he never did.

“I opposed amalgamation,” said Clark, including when he was a cabinet minister.

He then pointed the finger at Eisenberger, saying when he was on Hamilton-Wentworth Regional council he supported the merger.

“Fred voted for amalgamation,” he said.

Beyond the LRT statements, a number of the questions from the public centred on social issues, particularly on poverty and affordable housing.

All of the seven candidates who turned out supported continuing the city’s affordable transit fare programs for low income and senior riders.

“We have developed the affordable transit pass,” said McHattie, pointed out council recently approved extending it. “It has been touted across the country.”

All candidates also supported providing more affordable housing, but with differences in how to build them, either through raising more revenue, as suggested by Clark, or by establishing an inclusionary bylaw, which McHattie and Eisenberger back.

Candidates also supported providing a living wage to all city employees.Hamiltonprovides the $14.95 per hour living wage rate, higher than the current $11Ontario minimum wage, to its full-time workers, but has yet to extend it to part-time employees. McHattie said it would be a council decision to expand the program.

Francis said he would “love to see you raise it to $14 per hour”, since there are too many people living in poverty and working “garbage jobs.”

Eisenberger used a question about protecting farmland to say an LRT system would mean less urban sprawl for the city, since LRT would mean more development in the downtown area.

“The more we sprawl, it costs more,” he said

As to how the city will pay for all the new programs and projects being offered, Clark said the city has to recruit international businesses to invest in Hamilton. He said local CEOs will help sell Hamilton to the world.

“We don’t have a foreign investment strategy inHamilton,” he said. “We need to embrace newcomers and work with them to sell Hamilton.”

Eisenberger, who pointed out he directed an extra $1 million to the city’s economic development department early in his 2066 to 2010 term, has provided dividends, such as Canada Bread and Maple Leaf.

“We don’t necessary have a spending problem,” said Eisenberger. “Our biggest issue is a revenue problem.”

Crystal Lavigne cancelled her appearance at the last minute, according to organizers. But a statement from her was read to the audience. Other candidates who were not present were Mike Clancy, Nick Iamonico, Ricky Tavares and Phil Ryerson. They have registered to run for mayor, but they have yet to appear at a debate.

LRT takes over Dundas mayors’ debate

News Oct 08, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

It was a mayors’ debate that was suppose to focus on social issues.

But the two-hour event at the Dundas Baptist Church, sponsored by the Association of Dundas Churches, which attracted a standing room only crowd that was estimated at over 300 people despite a persistent rain storm, was instead hijacked by the contentious light-rail transit proposal prompted by a former mayoral candidate’s question.

Mahesh Butani, who ran in 2010, accused former mayor Fred Eisenberger and Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie, of deliberately misleading the public on the benefits of LRT.

“You are continuing to provide the wrong case for LRT,” said Butani. He was citing a McMaster University researcher, Christopher Higgins, who in a report found LRT wasn’t as beneficial to Hamilton as bus rapid transit.

Eisenberger dismissed Mahesh’s accusations, but said the report proves more discussion among the public is needed on LRT. Eisenberger has promised to create a citizens panel that would last about seven months to sort out the “new” information surrounding LRT and BRT.

“It’s unfortunate we had that kind of accusation,” said Eisenberger. “Mahesh has his view.”

McHattie, who backs LRT, pointed out council has voted overwhelmingly for LRT and has identified the proposal to the provincial government as its preferred option.

“There is no confusion (about LRT and BRT),” said McHattie.

The Ward 1 councillor told the crowd they should be “very, very careful of some of the people (who) communicate on social media making up information.”

Butani urged the candidates to put Higgins’ study on their websites. Then he interrupted the proceedings telling both candidates “you can not turn around and accuse me of lying.”

The exchanged prompted Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark, an advocate for BRT, to defend his support for the transit option. He said council “drank the Kool-Aid” when they voted for LRT in 2013.

“It’s unaffordable. There is information that has not been shared with the public,” he said. “The facts are the facts.”

Eisenberger, though, pointed out thatClark“supported (LRT) for seven years.

“A month ago he changes (his mind).”

The spat among the so-called three main contenders prompted candidate Ejaz Butt to say it is typical that all three of the politicians were arguing among themselves because they have been doing it all the time at council. Butt advocated holding a referendum on LRT.

“The people should decide whether for LRT or not,” he said.

Michael Baldasaro called for a LRT that runs a loop from the GO station in downtown Hamilton to the waterfront, along with funding more transit vehicles. The project would mean more development for the downtown.

“I’m a socialist. Everyone should have a piece of the pie,” he said.

Warrand Francis talked about his proposal to build a two-lane magnetic monorail system from downtown to Stoney Creek along Barton Street.

Michael Pattison, who is campaigning to provide more democracy to residents, said the LRT question should be put aside to focus on more important issues and raise the needed money to operate the project.

Clark also had to respond to a question about amalgamation and what he did while a cabinet minister in the Mike Harris’ Tory government. A questioner accusedClark of voting for amalgamation, something he never did.

“I opposed amalgamation,” said Clark, including when he was a cabinet minister.

He then pointed the finger at Eisenberger, saying when he was on Hamilton-Wentworth Regional council he supported the merger.

“Fred voted for amalgamation,” he said.

Beyond the LRT statements, a number of the questions from the public centred on social issues, particularly on poverty and affordable housing.

All of the seven candidates who turned out supported continuing the city’s affordable transit fare programs for low income and senior riders.

“We have developed the affordable transit pass,” said McHattie, pointed out council recently approved extending it. “It has been touted across the country.”

All candidates also supported providing more affordable housing, but with differences in how to build them, either through raising more revenue, as suggested by Clark, or by establishing an inclusionary bylaw, which McHattie and Eisenberger back.

Candidates also supported providing a living wage to all city employees.Hamiltonprovides the $14.95 per hour living wage rate, higher than the current $11Ontario minimum wage, to its full-time workers, but has yet to extend it to part-time employees. McHattie said it would be a council decision to expand the program.

Francis said he would “love to see you raise it to $14 per hour”, since there are too many people living in poverty and working “garbage jobs.”

Eisenberger used a question about protecting farmland to say an LRT system would mean less urban sprawl for the city, since LRT would mean more development in the downtown area.

“The more we sprawl, it costs more,” he said

As to how the city will pay for all the new programs and projects being offered, Clark said the city has to recruit international businesses to invest in Hamilton. He said local CEOs will help sell Hamilton to the world.

“We don’t have a foreign investment strategy inHamilton,” he said. “We need to embrace newcomers and work with them to sell Hamilton.”

Eisenberger, who pointed out he directed an extra $1 million to the city’s economic development department early in his 2066 to 2010 term, has provided dividends, such as Canada Bread and Maple Leaf.

“We don’t necessary have a spending problem,” said Eisenberger. “Our biggest issue is a revenue problem.”

Crystal Lavigne cancelled her appearance at the last minute, according to organizers. But a statement from her was read to the audience. Other candidates who were not present were Mike Clancy, Nick Iamonico, Ricky Tavares and Phil Ryerson. They have registered to run for mayor, but they have yet to appear at a debate.