There is a misleading straw man being trotted out in this act 3 of the LRT saga. That is, that should Hamilton reject LRT we will get nothing. Maybe the mayor actually believes that, but Queen’s Park veterans like Ted McMeekin should and do know better. The premier has stated less than a year ago that it was “never LRT or nothing,” she went on to say that she is eager to hear what transit plan Hamilton favours. A government sitting as low as this one in the polls is in no position to punish municipalities, especially since the minister of transport and Metrolinx are not nearly as dogmatic about LRT as are Fred and Ted. We have always understood that the government’s funding envelope was earmarked for transit only and could not be used for infrastructure like roads and sewers, and it is disingenuous to suggest that LRT skeptics are promoting that use of funds. (It is interesting, however to note that the most recent justification for LRT is all the free sewer and water mains we will get). Last Friday we asked Ted McMeekin to clarify whether alternatives to LRT, like BRT would be eligible for funding as the premier suggested last year and to date have not received a response. He did tell reporters that there were”five or six” other Ontario communities looking for transit cash and the 1 Billion dollars could be gone in a flash. One wonders which communities these are since Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa and Mississauga have already received transit funding commitments. London is looking at BRT, but that would be funded out of a different envelope than the one earmarked for the GTAH. The fact is that based on its population Hamilton is entitled, yes entitled– to somewhere in the area of $600 Million in transit cash—an amount sufficient to fund a significant transit program for the area. A former Metrolinx head once jokingly referred to the “Santa Claus” school of infrastructure funding—where benign ministers descend on communities, not once, but sometimes two or three times, making the same funding announcement. Hopefully we’ve all grown up and understand that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be bribed with our own money, or in this case have what is rightfully ours taken away.

John Best had enjoyed a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

One Comment to: It won’t be zero

  1. Demi

    April 7th, 2017

    February 28, 2014:

    [Minister of Transportation Glen] Murray says full-day GO will have to wait until the stretch of track between Hamilton and Aldershot is ready, and that could be another couple of years after the Pan Am Games. “That’s expensive. We’re talking $2 billion of investment to buy the track, upgrade the track and to get the equipment.” (1:00 to 1:30)

    October 28, 2015:

    Brampton city councillors voted early Wednesday to reject a controversial transit project that would have seen an LRT route run along Main St. through the city’s downtown.… MetroLinx CEO Bruce McCuaig said the provincial money that would have funded the Brampton portion of the defeated LRT plan will now be available for other transit projects across the province. But he made it clear that any alternative transit plan Brampton now decides on could still be considered by the province for funding. “That would have to be evaluated,” he told councillors.

    November 3, 2015:

    Brampton can’t count on hanging on to the money that the province had allocated as its share of the Hurontario-Main LRT, says Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. “It is disappointing,” he told reporters at a conference on Tuesday of that city’s decision not to accept the province’s offer of an LRT that would run down Main St. to the Brampton GO station. The money will be reinvested in transportation infrastructure, said Del Duca. But where it goes depends on an analysis of priority transit projects by provincial transportation agency Metrolinx. “We will proceed with the plan to build the LRT from the Port Credit GO station to Steeles and the balance of the funding in question will flow back into the (province’s) Moving Ontario Forward plan to be invested in priority transit projects in the region, which in theory could be a project or more than one project in Brampton but is not necessarily going to be Brampton,” he said. “I can’t say at this point it will be in the 905, the 416, in Toronto, in York Region, in Durham, in Brampton because we’ll continue to do our work, our analysis,” said Del Duca. Whatever project gets the funding, it “will still provide tremendous advantage to the people of Peel Region,” he said.

    February 9, 2017:

    A new report headed to committee next week recommends spending more than $4 million to study alternative route options for light rail transit.…Transit planners have drafted the terms of reference for the EA studies and expect the process to take three years to complete. In all, the report to committee notes the planning process could take up to seven years, as planners tackle a range of technical and environmental issues, identify potential intensification opportunities and economic benefits, and conduct public consultations.

    According to former MTO Minister Murray, the province already earmarked $2B for the acquisition of tracks necessary for all-day GO train service — more than three times the $600M to which you feel we’re entitled. The City has zero leverage in the event that councillors impetuously decide to spurn the offer of $1B in infrastructure investment. Metrolinx and the Minister of Transportation, with some help from the headstrong Brampton council (who saw value in LRT but just wanted more of it and on an alternate route) have made the stakes clear. Something or nothing. Brampton risked far less — $200M-$400M in funding, and they still get half the LRT that was originally pledged as part of the terminus of the Hurontario LRT.

    Hamilton, on the other hand? It’s all or nothing.


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