Fight over east end GO Transit stations
City council is pushing for Fifty Road in Winona as the new GO Transit station serving east Hamilton. The unanimous motion responded to a perceived threat that a Casablanca station site favoured by Grimsby might be chosen, but offered no support for either Centennial Parkway or Fruitland Road options being considered by the provincial transit agency.
GO recently launched an environmental assessment process to help it select suitable stations for the extension of rail service into Niagara, including the already announced downtown Hamilton stop on James North.
Dave Mitchell got his colleagues to waive the rules at the February 24 council meeting to allow him to present “a very, very time sensitive” motion urging GO to select Fifty Road. He argued that location near the QEW offers “the opportunity to share many of these costs with the commercial development of the site” and because “the Winona site is the gateway entrance to transport residents to our downtown station and to Toronto.”
The commercial development refers to a controversial Wal-Mart centred big box retail development at Fifty Road and the QEW approved by council last July. A recent GO open house at Casablanca has convinced Mitchell that “we’re really in competition with that site with Grimsby” and hence the need for urgent action by Hamilton council.
“The consultants at the public meeting down there told all of Grimsby council – every single member went to that meeting – and the public and those councillors were told that they had not heard from the City of Hamilton politicians, so I’m very embarrassed about that,” he declared. “They need to hear from us, and they need to hear strong and clear now that we need this.&rd quo;
Brian McHattie inquired about other east Hamilton options and asked for the views of others on “whether it makes more sense to have the Centennial location or something further east.” Mayor Eisenberger said he thought that “it’s part of our development proposal there and it’s always been set aside as a possible station location.”
That was confirmed by Gerry Davis, the general manager of public works, who told councillors that this is “one of the nodes, so that’s one where we would want a transportation hub for the city of Hamilton in the east end of the city as part of the overall plans for Hamilton.”
McHattie expressed surprise at the response.
“I wasn’t aware that this location had already been chosen,” he said. “I thought there were several locations still on the table, so I guess I’m misinformed.”
Brad Clark agreed that GO Transit is “looking at a number of options and alternatives” but noted that council has “passed a motion to do a transportation study, if you will, for the multi-modal transit hub at Fifty Road”. He supported Mitchell’s contention that the city should express its views as part of the GO environmental assessment process, and suggested that the involvement of Grimsby council was revealing.
“As I’m hearing all about this in the last eight hours, my mind tweaked back to a couple of emails that I received from Grimsby town councillors asking that we oppose the Wal-Mart development at Fifty Road because it was going to hurt their downtown,” he noted. “And it’s interesting because that development included the transit hub which they’re now fighting tooth and nail to get at Casablanca. So it’s funny how things all come toge ther eventually and we understand what’s going on.”
Councillors unanimously approved Mitchell’s resolution. The GO Transit website includes maps and displays presented at its public information centres, and a comment form for resident input.
CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at www.hamiltoncatch.org
. You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to info@HamiltonCATCH.org