Special guest research blog by nine-year veteran REIN Member Erwin “Mr. Hamilton” Szeto of MrHamilton.ca.
When the government hands you a billion dollars to spend on light rail transit (LRT), it’s not as easy as it sounds to deliver even though the benefits are massive and will be felt for generations.
The benefits of the B-line LRT will mostly be felt by the lower city, within approximately 800 metres of each of the 14 station stops from the western anchor, McMaster University and Hospital towards the east for 11km, ending at the Queenston traffic circle. Phase 2 includes future plans to continue east to Eastgate Mall on Centennial Parkway, just down the street from the future Confederation Go Train Station expected to be complete by 2019.
However, Hamilton is made up of many wards including several in the suburbs and rural areas that do not benefit directly and therefore would like to see the money spent in other ways. To add to the challenges, the provincial government organization Metrolinx is designing and implementing the LRT with “input” from the city. Could you imagine the government making decisions in your backyard and you can only provide input?
The latest is the A-line, which was announced to be bus rapid transit (BRT) instead of the originally planned LRT. For the close observers, this makes complete sense considering the A-line travels north-south including up the escarpment, up a steep incline, steeper than any incline travelled by an existing LRT, hence the feasibility was already extremely challenging. Every Hamiltonian knows the drive up the “Mountain” (as we call the escarpment) is treacherous during snowy winter days, let alone being a trail blazer in light rail technology.
Of course challenges remain for a BRT as James and Upper James Streets, the path of the A-line are very busy streets - Hamilton’s equivalent of Yonge Street in Toronto - therefore dedicated bus lanes will be a contentious issue for automobile drivers.
On February 2, the Province issued requests for qualifications, the pre-qualification stage before requests for proposals, for a company to design, build, operate, store, and maintain Hamilton’s LRT system.
Construction of the LRT is scheduled for 2019 to 2024 so you’ve been warned, should you want to be both offensive and defensive in your strategic real estate investing.
Erwin Szeto is the leader of the Mr. Hamilton Team, a team of savvy, investor specialist Realtors. He is an active investor, philanthropist, lives an active lifestyle which includes Crossfit, and the occasional extreme activity to test his limits.