The good news that arrived in today’s newspapers was that Hamilton City Council voted to proceed with the LRT project by a vote of 10 to 5.
There are new provisions put on the project. The spur line that was to go down James Street North to the Waterfront has been cancelled, and Queen’s Park has agreed to study an extension of the 11 kilometer route by another 3 kilometers. It appears that the extension was what made the vote possible.
To me, that makes a lot of sense. The east terminus of the LRT was to be in the Eastgate Mall. It should extend to Stoney Creek. In the west, the end of the line was to be at McMaster University. It will be much better to have it extend to Dundas and help to get people out of their cars.
What is most exciting about the LRT line is that it will play no small part in revitalizing Hamilton’s downtown core. This has long been the dream of those of us who care about the city, but it was handled so badly by those who promoted the Urban Renewal in the 1960s that it hastened the evacuation and deterioration of the downtown to the point where it became virtually derelict.
Today cities across North America are revitalizing their downtowns. People are moving back into urban cores, bringing businesses, jobs, strengthening retail, promoting culture, street life and new vitality.
This has already started along James Street North and South. The new Waterfront will also play a part in bringing life back to the centre of the city. There are magnificent old buildings just waiting to be renovated and repurposed.
But there are still major problems. Downtown Hamilton has an excessive amount of vacant property in the form of acres and acres of underutilized parking lots. The city needs housing in its core, especially affordable housing that can attract young people who are fleeing the high prices of Toronto and the rest of the GTA.
The new LRT line and all day service to the West Harbour GO Station will make a major contribution bringing people, jobs and businesses to the downtown.
This is good news for what used to be called Steeltown.